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Occupation Details

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Social Worker

Job Zone

Most of these occupations require qualifications at NFQ Levels 7 or 8 (Ordinary / Honours Degrees) but some do not.

Related Experience
A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, you may need to complete three - four years of college and work for several years in the career area to be considered qualified.

Job Training
Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Job Zone Examples
Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, computer programmers, chemists, environmental engineers, criminal investigators, and financial analysts.

€32k > 56
Social Worker
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€32 - 56
Related Information:
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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At a Glance... header image

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

Videos & Interviews header image

1Total Records:2

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.

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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.

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Follow the links below to watch videos related to this occupation:

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Go..Social Care Workers - from: YouTube Video

The Work header image

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

Tasks & Activitiesheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported tasks and activities for this occupation


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.

Work Activities header image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported work activities in this occupation.


Assisting and Caring for Others: Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.


Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships: Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.


Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others: Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.


Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work: Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.


Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge: Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.


Getting Information: Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.


Documenting/Recording Information: Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.


Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates: Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.


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.

Knowledge header image

The following is a list of the five most commonly reported knowledge areas for this occupation.


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.


Sociology and Anthropology: Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.


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.


English Language: Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Skillsheader image

The following is a list of the most commonly reported skills used in this occupation.


Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.


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.


Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.


Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.


Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.


Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.


Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.


Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.


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.

Personal Qualitiesheader image

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 Routesheader image

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.

FETAC Entry - It is worth noting that FETAC Entry may also be possible. For example, Students with appropriate FETAC (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 FETAC 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

Further Informationheader image

A detailed description of this occupation can be found on a number of online databases. Follow the link(s) below to access this information:

Note: you will be leaving the CareersPortal Site

Go..Clinical Support Worker - from: N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Community welfare officer - from: GradIreland
Go..Family Support Worker - from: N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Social Work Assistant - from: N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Social Worker - from: N.C.S. [UK]
Go..Social worker - from: GradIreland

Related Occupationsheader image

Contactsheader image


Organisation: Health Service Executive (HSE)
Address: Dr Steevens' Hospital, Steevens Lane, Dublin, 8
Tel: 01 635 2000
Email: Click here
Url Click here


Organisation: Public Appointments Service
Address: Chapter House, 26/30 Abbey Street Upper, Dublin 1
Tel: (01) 858 7400 or Locall: 1890 44 9999
Email: Click here
Url Click here


Organisation: Irish Association of Social Workers
Address: 114-116 Pearse Street, Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 677 4838
Email: Click here
Url Click here


Organisation: National Social Work Qualifications Board
Address: 8 - 11 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2
Tel: (01) 676 6281
Email: Click here
Url Click here


Organisation: CORU - Regulating Health & Social Care Professionals
Address: 13 - 15 The Mall, Beacon Court, Bracken Rd., Sandyford, Dublin 18
Tel: (01) 293 3160
Email: Click here
Url Click here

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