Being a social worker is a rewarding but challenging job. It attracts thousands of people every year in Ireland.
Being a social worker means you will assist with a variety of individuals. This will include children, the elderly and the disabled. In doing this you will be focused on helping society’s most disadvantaged people improve their lives. To do this effectively, you must be committed to social justice. You must also want to make a positive change in the community.
How does this job sound to you? If it ticks your boxes, then social work could be your ideal job.
What Does a Social Worker Do
A social worker will have particular responsibility for:
- Meeting with clients and identifying their problems and needs. From this data, you will make support plans.
- You will also need to interact with clients’ relatives, co-workers and other healthcare professionals. Indeed, every day will involve reviewing and assessing your clients’ situation by interviewing them and their relatives.
- Part of your working day will also involve team meetings.
- Appearing in court to present written reports and evidence. To do this you will need to keep up to date with changes in the law.
Additionally, some social workers in Western Ireland must be able to use the Irish language. They must also be able to deliver a range of primary services through Irish.
Who Employs Social Workers
Virtually all social workers are employed by hospitals or local health boards. All hospitals fall within the remit of the Department of Health. This department is part of the government of Ireland. Social workers are therefore classed as public sector workers.
Job Salary for a Social Worker in Ireland
Social workers’ salaries are based on experience and seniority. Working in a specialism can also bring a greater income.
There are also a variety of sources for how much a social worker is paid. One source says that social worker trainees will be paid an initial salary of around €27,000. It also indicates a social care leader will receive a starting salary of more than €47,000. Once you are qualified you can expect your salary to be €35,000 every year. This rises to more than €52,000 for a senior social worker.
The same source points to higher salaries for specialist social workers. A medical social worker or psychiatric social worker can expect around €42,000. Meanwhile, a social care manager in a children’s centre gets around €57,000. However, if you are in a very senior position, you can earn up to €70,000.
A different source places the average social worker’s salary at €34,532. Another source states the average salary is €37,268.
In addition to this, social workers practising in Dublin will usually earn at least 10% more than in other parts of Ireland. This is because of the much higher cost of living in Dublin.
General Salary Levels in Ireland
Some other figures are useful. These will allow you to compare a social worker’s salary in Ireland with other professions. And they will show how a social worker’s salary in Ireland is paid compared to averages.
According to the Central Statistics Office, the national average salary in Ireland is €45,324. That’s a salary after tax of €34,815 a year. It is also equivalent to €2,901 a month. Or you can look at it as €670 a week.
A good salary in Ireland is said to start at €45,000 across the country. This rises to €50,000 in Dublin. This translates to €2,887 every month after tax. It is also equivalent to €3,102 monthly before tax.
Further, the current Minimum Wage in Ireland is €11.30. This must be paid to people aged 20 and over. This means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is €452. Per month this works out to just under €2000. It is also equivalent to around €23,500 per year.
How Do Social Workers Get Paid
Social workers will be paid from the budget of a hospital or local health board. The salary level of a social worker will be decided by the Department of Health in the Irish Government. This body is your ultimate employer.
How Often Is a Social Worker Normally Paid
As a social worker, you can normally expect to be paid a salary every month.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for a Social Worker
The basic salary levels of social workers are set through negotiations in different ways. Most importantly, trade unions negotiate the basic overall salary level. On top of this, there will be increments and additional payments based on other factors such as experience. Another increment factor will be the size of a school. The complexity of the job will also have an impact.
What Sort of Contracts Do Social Workers Have
Social workers will have permanent contracts with the hospital or local health board. Your ultimate employer, however, is the Department of Health in the Irish Government. This will mean these contracts set out all the relevant terms of employment. Further, these contracts will be standard between hospitals.
Earning Potential of a Social Worker in Ireland
Social workers’ pay will increase throughout their careers. This is because experience and reputation will mean social workers can progress in their careers. Building a specialism can also increase your earning potential considerably.
How to Become a Social Worker in Ireland
The road to becoming a social worker in Ireland is a long and thorough one. These factors reflect the unique responsibilities and duties of the role.
Understanding the social educational and training requirements to become a social worker is important if you want to become one. To do this you will need to have a degree first. After that, you will need to have experience in being a social worker.
Qualifications/Courses – Social Worker
To become a social worker, you will need to acquire a qualification recognised by the National Social Work Qualification Board (NSWQB). This will then lead to the National Qualification in Social Work (NQSW). Typically, you need to obtain a degree in social science. However, it is still possible to pursue a career in Social Work if you have graduated in a different discipline, such as nursing, psychology, sociology or even law.
All social workers will be required to: complete some pre-professional training. You will also need to pass a personal suitability test for becoming a social worker. This test will help demonstrate that you are fully competent and capable of carrying out the duties of a social worker.
Becoming Accredited as a Social Worker
All social workers need to be registered with CORU. This is Ireland’s multi-profession health regulator. After you’ve earned a degree, you must then register with CORU. Once you have done this you can obtain employment in the field and call yourself a social worker. This is because the Health and Social Care Professionals Act of 2005 protects the title of a social worker. The registration board also ensures compliance with continuing professional development requirements for social workers.
The Irish Association of Social Workers is the national body representing social workers. They provide more information on social work.
General Skills Required
- Excellent problem-solving and diagnostic skills are essential. You will need to be flexible and intelligent. You will also need to treat all clients as individuals. In addition, social workers must be able to deal with a wide variety of problems and issues.
- Good time management skills are essential. This is because you will be handling a range of clients at the same time.
- Social work is always developing. This means you must be prepared to keep learning about new issues and approaches in social work. This applies throughout your working life. You should also keep up to date with legal procedures and information. Doing this will enable you to mediate and negotiate on your client’s behalf.
- Excellent communication skills are needed. This is because you will be working with a wide variety of different people from different walks of life. This will include challenging clients.
- You must be a good team player. This means having the ability to work constructively with others.
- Additionally, there are a few other office-based skills needed. Such as good computer literacy to record information relating to clients.
- A clean Garda vetting check is also required. This is because you will be working with children and vulnerable people. This system of Garda vetting is conducted by the Garda Siochána National Vetting Bureau. It works by sending a vetting disclosure to the organisation that requested one.
Challenges of Being a Social Worker
- No two days as a social worker are the same. You will need flexibility and a client-centred approach. Indeed, you must always be prepared for the unexpected. This can be exciting but also challenging at times.
- You will also need to maintain a professional outlook and treat clients and families with respect. You should extend this attitude to fellow social workers and other aligned professionals. Additionally, clients or their families can be challenging. All of these factors mean the job of a social worker can be stressful.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- In Ireland, there are numerous opportunities and challenges for social workers. Nevertheless, any difficulties that arise can usually be offset by the work. This means you must always desire to help those in society who are less fortunate.
- An extremely innovative and thoughtful person makes a good social worker.
- You will also need to be someone who can apply problem-solving skills with confidence.
- Tied into this you need to be a good listener. This is because it will be your responsibility to work out what problems might arise in delivering social work.
- You will also need to be someone with a calm outlook. This includes the ability to deal with stress because the work can be very pressured.
- Additionally, you must keep up to date with new social work concepts and solutions. These factors mean you need to be someone willing to learn as your career progresses. You should also keep up to date with legal procedures and information. Doing this will enable you to mediate and negotiate on your client’s behalf.
General Expected Working Hours
Social workers usually work between 35 and 40 hours per week. However, the average working day is likely to involve working outside of regular office hours.
Location of Work
As a social worker, you would be located in an office for some of your working days. However, most of your working day will usually be with clients. Sometimes you will also need to attend court.
It is possible to build a successful and well-paid career as a social worker. You will do this by building your reputation. Further, this is likely to continue throughout your career. This is because experience and understanding will mean you can be promoted within the social work team.
An alternative path is to become a specialist social worker. A medical social worker or psychiatric social worker can expect a pay increase. Meanwhile, a social care manager in a children’s centre gets around €57,000. However, if you are in a very senior position, you can earn up to €70,000.
However, you must remember, that as you climb the career ladder, you will have fewer opportunities to perform hands-on work.