Social work is a varied and exciting profession that suits many different types of people. These questions might help you to decide if a career in social work is for you. Are you:
- An excellent communicator who can relate to people of all ages and cultures?
- A good decision maker, with excellent problem-solving skills?
- Understanding, empathetic, patient, and honest?
- Reliable, adaptable, and able to cope with stressful situations?
- Able to keep information private and work within a code of ethics?
- Well organised, with good planning skills?
Social workers need to have:
- Knowledge of social work practice and theories
- An understanding of social and cultural issues and problems
- Knowledge of human behaviour, development, relationships, and social systems
- Counselling and negotiating skills
- Knowledge of social policy and how it is developed
- An understanding of the te tiriti/Treaty of Waitangi
- Knowledge of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga and Maori models of practice.
If this sounds like you, you may wish to learn more about studying to become a social worker.
Studying social work
There are 18 education institutes across New Zealand providing social work programmes of study, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Some programmes are taught by distance learning, so if you live rurally or your responsibilities at home or work mean you aren’t able to attend lectures, this may be an option for you. However, all programmes require a minimum of 20 days face to face teaching as well as 120 days of field education. You will need to plan how you will manage this.
At the undergraduate level you will need to successfully complete a four-year, full-time equivalent bachelor’s degree course.
If you have an undergraduate degree in another field, consider the postgraduate level programmes available.
Not all undergraduate degrees will give entry to the postgraduate social work programme as you will be expected to have completed foundational study in the social sciences. Talk to the individual institution to see if your degree would meet their requirements. You will need to successfully complete a two-year full-time equivalent master’s degree course.
Before you enrol on a course you need to check that it will lead to recognised qualification that will allow you to apply to become registered as a social worker.
Check that your programme leads to an SWRB- recognised social work qualification by downloading the following:
Newly qualified – next steps
If you have graduated and have a social work qualification, congratulations.
If you plan on becoming a social worker, you will need to apply to become registered, and apply for a Practising Certificate. Find out more here.