At PracticalAdultInsights, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What does a School Social Worker do?

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet

A school social worker acts as an advocate for students, guiding them through a range of issues such as emotional or behavioral problems, disabilities, and difficulties at home in order to help them succeed in school. Typical duties of a school social worker may include leading individual or group talk sessions, speaking to classes about relevant topics such as self-esteem or bullying, and consulting with students’ families. She may be based in one school or may travel to several schools throughout the week. Most schools require social workers to have an advanced degree and certification in the field of social work.

In essence, the job of a school social worker is to help students navigate the many challenges that may confront them, both in school and outside of it, as they proceed through their education. Some of these students may face serious issues, such as abuse in the home or mental health difficulties. Others may need advice as they begin to consider a career path or find themselves subject to peer pressure. In some cases, a school social worker may intervene for teachers who are having trouble connecting with a particular student. The goal of the social worker is to help students manage their unique challenges so they can succeed in school.

A school social worker may counsel teens.
A school social worker may counsel teens.

Some school social workers spend a large part of their workdays leading individual or group talk sessions during which students can discuss their problems and seek advice. They may also speak to classes in order to educate students about relevant topics, such as resisting drugs or handling sexual abuse. Often, a school social worker acts as a liaison between a child’s school and his family. As such, the social worker may be required to meet with parents either at their child’s school or in their home to discuss the child’s progress and, in some cases, to evaluate the safety of the home environment.

Certain school social workers are fully based in one school. Others are hired by a district to serve several schools. These social workers usually visit each assigned school on a rotating basis.

A school social worker can address situations involving bullying.
A school social worker can address situations involving bullying.

While the exact requirements to become a school social worker vary by country or region, many schools hire only those individuals who have completed a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in the area of education. Furthermore, many countries or states require school social workers to hold certification in the field. Often, this certification is earned through the completion of a master’s degree as well as a social work internship.

Discussion Comments


@iluviaporos - It's possible that your school just gave the title "social worker" to someone who was more like a guidance counselor or something like that.

I know the social worker who was in charge of our district was far too busy to take groups for games and things like that. She was too busy doing school social work, which was the same as social work outside of school, dealing with violence and poverty and so forth.

It's definitely not a career that I'm interested in. I admire anyone who can help people like that, but it must be so disheartening to constantly see the worst people have to share.


@KoiwiGal - I remember when I was a student that we did sometimes go to the social worker in groups. I'm not sure how they selected who was in the group, or if they just got everyone to go at different times (I can't remember). We mostly played logic games and talked about meditation and our feelings.

I don't remember ever seeing her by myself, but then that could have more to do with my circumstances than anything.


Something that must be very satisfying for a school social worker is that they can work one on one with the students and get a lot done that way.

I'm a teacher and one of the things that I find very limiting is the fact that it's so difficult to get one on one time with all my students. There are just too many of them to handle except as a full class or in smaller groups.

I guess a school social worker's salary is probably less than even a teacher's but I almost think being able to leave behind classroom management would be worth it.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A school social worker may counsel teens.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      A school social worker may counsel teens.
    • A school social worker can address situations involving bullying.
      By: michaeljung
      A school social worker can address situations involving bullying.