5 Attributes of a Successful Social Worker

Social work is a challenging field to work in, but it is a rewarding one too. However, there are a few attributes that an individual should have in order to succeed in the field. Of course, practical knowledge is essential as social workers need to know the laws and other rules governing what they do, but personality traits, whether ingrained or learned, are just as important, if not more so, when it comes to finding success in the field.


Although other attributes are pivotal to determining the quality of a social worker, one aspect that every one in this field must have is knowledge. Generally, an undergraduate degree from an institute of higher education is necessary. In fact, a master’s degree or Ph.D. may help push the individual into a position or noticeably improve his ability while out in the field. Attaining a master’s degree in sociology also makes sense if she has already earned a bachelor’s degree in a different discipline. Of course, learning should be continued after a full-time position has been attained as the field of social work continues to evolve as time passes.


Being able to listen is an under-appreciated art in today’s society, and it is one that a social worker needs to be quite good at doing. He needs to ensure that he does not “filter and judge others’ talk based on pre-existing assumptions, expectations and intentions” and instead keep an open mind. This is the best way to discover exactly what is going on in a home or other environment and, after taking in all of the information that is being told to her, then analyze what she now knows before asking follow-up questions and making a final decision.


One other thing that a good social worker does to help improve negative situations that she encounters is by showing empathy, understanding the situation from the perspective of those in it. In a possibly abusive household, this can include understanding the perspectives of both the one(s) being abused as well as the person or people doing the abusing. This way, the social worker can best determine what the ideal plan is for improving the negative conditions.


Patience is a virtue for a social worker for a number of reasons. In the field, having patience while interacting with sometimes difficult people is a necessity as the social worker attempts to calm a perhaps heated situation. Patience is a trait that also really comes in handy when it comes to working through the variety of cases and numerous types of laws and other guidelines that must be followed, especially when it seems to take forever to get past the red tape that is encountered.


Unfortunately, social workers experience up close and personal many of the more negative situations that exist in the world, including things such as alcoholism and other addictions and physical and mental abuse. For that reason, it is important for these individuals to be resilient and keep pushing ahead and working towards creating more positive situations in places where negativity had reigned. Note that those who go home at the end of the day and focus on their own lives at that time tend to be more resilient than individuals who take their work home with them.

It is important to note that although many of these attributes are ingrained for many, they can also be learned and improved upon. Just like someone can attend a university and major in social work and learn about the field that way, an individual can also research how to become more empathetic, patient, resilient and to listen more closely.