Characteristic 1: Highly knowledgeable and well-trained
In order to be a successful social worker, one must possess the knowledge and the skills to effectively do the job. In order to acquire content knowledge, a degree from an institution of higher education is necessary. Most social work positions require at least a Bachelor's degree, but a Masters degree, Ph.D, or other certification work is highly helpful to prepare for this career.
Additionally, on the job training can help a social worker to acquire the skills necessary to be effective. Content knowledge is important, but there are skills that are equally as crucial. Developing strong written and oral communication skills is a must for social workers. Strong observation skills are also useful. Finally, the ability to self reflect in order to improve and hone one's skills is important as well.
Characteristic 2: Responsible and Ethical
Social work, by nature of the profession, requires a high level of ethical awareness and responsibility. Possessing the ability to know the level of confidentiality of a situation, or how to proactively handle an issue is crucial. Much of the information that social workers deal with is highly sensitive and in order to appropriately serve those that a social worker helps, she must be able to maintain a professional level of confidentiality.
Additionally, it is important for a social worker to have a high level of responsibility so that cases are handled in a timely and professional manner.
Characteristic 3: Decision Making Skills
Social workers must constantly make decisions about the cases which they are handling. To be successful, social workers must be able to think quickly and make smart decisions in a fairly short amount of time in order to ensure that a case is handled in the most appropriate manner for all involved.
Characteristic 4: Empathy
When dealing with various populations of people, it is hugely important for a social worker to maintain compassion for those she serves. Understanding how decisions that are made will impact individuals in each case is important to make sure that the best choices are made for individuals and families.
Characteristic 5: Flexibility
Social workers are in a unique profession in which the work is fast paced and always changing. Those in this profession must possess the ability to embrace change and quickly change course as necessary.
Characteristic 6: Desire for Knowledge
Like many professions that deal with service to the public, policies and theories change, often as a result of the emergence of new research. As a result, it is important for social workers to continue to learn and grow in order to make the best decisions in their cases.
Characteristic 7: Willpower and Perseverance
Social work is often emotionally demanding as well as time intensive. A social worker must be someone who can continue to be effective and maintain professional behavior even in the most challenging of circumstances.
Characteristic 8: Patience
Because social workers encounter so many different types of people it is imperative that the person who chooses this career is one who is open-minded and able to work with all types of people. Additionally, the individuals that social workers are helping are often in high stress situations, requiring a high level of sensitivity.