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Salary Range
€32k - €56k
Career Zone

In Brief...

Helps and advises people who have social problems resulting from illness or disability.


  • Therapy and Counseling Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Sociology and Anthropology Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.


  • Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

In Summary - Social Worker

Career Sectors

Social Workers typically work in the following Career Sectors:

Social Work
Psychology & Social Care

Videos & Interviews

Mary Ita Heffernan, Social Worker

Mary Ita Heffernan is a Social Worker who works for the HSE in Kilkenny.  After completing her Leaving Certificate she did a degree in Social Science and a Masters in Social Work. This led to a National Qualification in Social Work which is the only recognised qualification to be a practitioner in this field.

Naoise Pye, Social Care Worker

After completing the Leaving Cert, Naoise completed a 1 year course in Early Childhood and Education. She then went to Carlow College and completed a BA Degree in Applied Social Studies and Social Care. Now working in a residential unit in St Michael's House, she works to enhance, develop and support goals for people with an Intellectual disability.

Videos on the Web

Further Information

The Work - Social Worker

Social workers work with individuals and groups that are referred to as clients.  
Clients that a social worker may work with include: ethnic groups, young and adult offenders, children, families, travellers, older people, homeless people, unemployed people, those with drug and alcohol problems.

Some social workers specialise in specific areas dealing with individuals suffering from HIV/Aids, or those suffering mental health problems or a disability. Social workers often work as part of a team covering a geographical area.  
Some of the activities social workers engage in on a daily basis could include some or all of the following:

  • Using a range of skills with clients- e.g. counselling
  • Using a range of preventative supports to help clients - e.g. family support services, family centres and neighbourhood youth projects
  • Intervening in crisis situations - e.g. neglect, abuse
  • Protecting children in "at-risk" situations
  • Helping clients deal with practical issues - e.g. investigating entitlements regarding housing
  • Working with other professionals, such as psychologists, doctors, childcare workers, gardai
  • Helping to facilitate support groups and working within the community - e.g. drop-in centres
  • Talking to solicitors, preparing evidence and attending court, in relation to clients
  • Providing training to social work students and other professionals
  • Researching into social work and social policy

Most commonly reported Work Tasks

  • Advocate for clients or patients to resolve crises.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to evaluate patients' medical or physical condition and to assess client needs.
  • Refer patient, client, or family to community resources to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness and to provide access to services such as financial assistance, legal aid, housing, job placement or education.
  • Counsel clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome dependencies, recover from illness, and adjust to life.
  • Utilize consultation data and social work experience to plan and coordinate client or patient care and rehabilitation, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  • Plan discharge from care facility to home or other care facility.
  • Organize support groups or counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting the client or patient.
  • Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in clients' status.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress according to measurable goals described in treatment and care plan.
  • Identify environmental impediments to client or patient progress through interviews and review of patient records.

Most commonly reported Work Activities

  • Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.

Interests - Social Worker

This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:


The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.


The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.


Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.


As a social worker, you must be committed to working with people and helping them to solve their problems. You must have a sympathetic and caring nature, as well as the ability to empathise with clients and to win the trust of people from all kinds of backgrounds.  
Good communication skills are very important. You should be able to listen carefully, and ask the right questions to find out more about the client's needs. Report writing is an essential skill; you are also quite likely to need some basic IT skills to produce your reports.  
Social workers must be observant, able to read situations and identify problems. Although you should try to be non-judgemental and avoid imposing solutions, you must also be able to make difficult decisions and enforce the law. You must be firm, and able to act quickly and calmly, for example, if you think a child is at risk from abuse or neglect.  
You will also need strong negotiating skills, not just when you work with clients but also to arrange support services from other local authority departments or private agencies.  
This career can be emotionally and intellectually demanding. People may be hostile, and see you as an interfering 'do-gooder' with no right to get involved in their lives. You must be resilient and not become burdened by the problems you encounter. You must also be able to defuse potential confrontations, using a calm, firm professional manner.  
You must be able to manage and prioritise your own workload. You should have good team skills, to work closely with other professionals.  
Many social workers are part of a team, depending on their employer and the area of social work they are employed in. For example, you may work with doctors, nurses, psychologists, probation officers, residential care assistants and the police.  
Travel throughout the local area is usual, therefore a full driving licence can be a requirement of the job.

Entry Requirements - Social Worker

There are a number of routes to becoming a Social Worker in Ireland:

Undergraduate Entry

A Bachelor's degree which combines professional social work training - ther are 2 programmes available:

  • Bachelor of Social Studies (BSS), at TCD
  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), UCC. 

Postgraduate training is not required for holders of these Degrees.

Mature student entry 

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) at UCC is currently the only undergraduate professional social work course in Ireland catering exclusively for mature students

Postgraduate Entry 

Graduates are eligible to apply for registration as professionally qualified social workers with the Health and Social Care Professionals Council (CORU) and are also eligible for employment in a wide range of professional social work posts.

A three-year Level 8 social science degree or equivalent, followed by a 2-year Master's professional course is required.

There are two postgraduate entry routes:

~ Specific degree subject - Social work is open to graduates from all disciplines, however, entrants with an appropriate primary degree in social science can apply for direct entry to a professional training programme without having to complete a conversion course.

Other relevant degree subjects include: Law; Nursing; Psychology; Social administration; Social sciences; Social work; and Sociology.

~ Other degree disciplines  - Holders of a degree in another subject are required to take a pre-professional training course i.e. a diploma in social policy or a compensatory learning package/ assignment in order to be eligible for a postgraduate course in social work.

To practice as a professional, qualified Social Worker in Ireland:

You must hold an approved qualification recognised by the National Social Work Qualifications Board (NSWQB) that will lead to the award of National Qualification in Social Work (NQSW). The following graduate qualifications are approved by the Social Workers Registration Board for Registration with CORU.

(1) Masters of Social Work, University College Cork;

(2) Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work Studies, University College Cork;

(3) Masters of Social Science (Social Work), University College Dublin;

(4) Graduate Diploma in Social Work, University College Dublin;

(5) Masters in Social Work, University of Dublin, Trinity College;

(6) Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work, University of Dublin, Trinity College;

(7) Masters in Social Work, National University of Ireland Galway;

The list of qualifications approved by the Social Work Registration Board as meeting the standard required for registration is available here.

QQI Entry - It is worth noting that QQI Entry may also be possible. For example, Students with appropriate QQI (Level 5/6) qualifications and modules, who acheive a minimum of 5 distinctions, can be admitted on a competitive basis to the courses at UCD listed here. These include DN550 Social Science. There is also a QQI link to: DT571 Social Care at DIT and CK102 Social Science at UCC

Note: All candidates must also satisfy certain standards of personal suitability for the work.


Last Updated: October, 2017

Pay & Salary - Social Worker

Salary Range (thousands per year)* €32k - €56k

Data Source(s):

Last Updated: March, 2017

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.

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Useful Contacts - Social Worker

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