3 Inspiring Facts About Careers in Community and Social Services
Professionals in this area of human services perform work that is unquestionably important. When you consider that a person's living and social conditions can have a dramatic impact on his or her quality and length of life, it's clear that many Canadians deserve the extra support. In fact, the need for community and social services is highlighted by stats like the following:
- About 15 percent of children in Canada live in poverty. And roughly nine percent of the nation's households deal with food insecurity.*
- Homeless Canadians experience an early death rate that is about eight to 10 times higher than for the general population.*
- Nearly 12.5 percent of Canadians have reported having a disability.*
- Drug or alcohol addiction affects about 10 percent of the country's residents over 15 years old. And many others suffer from damaging behavioural dependencies.**
- Adult Canadians with severe mental health challenges die as many as 25 years earlier than those within the general population. But community mental health services—which play a crucial role in preventing such harm—cost up to five times less than the care services based in hospitals.***
As a community or social services worker, you can assist Canadians from every walk of life deal with the challenges that make it difficult to reach their own potential. That, in itself, is reason enough to pursue this line of work. But here are three other facts about careers in this field worth considering:
1. They Offer the Opportunity for Variety or Specialization
The number of possible roles and job titles within this vocational sector is quite extensive. That's because some community and social service professionals work in a generalized capacity whereas others have chosen to primarily focus on helping people within a particular group. One path offers a lot of variety, and the other offers the opportunity to gain deep expertise on a societal problem that you are particularly passionate about.
For example, here are just some of the possible career options that frequently only require a post-secondary diploma or certificate from a short community or social service worker program:
- Community services or development worker—Often a general role that allows you to interact with people from many different backgrounds and assist them with anything from housing challenges to family problems to addiction issues to elder care to disability-related struggles.
- Addictions worker—A specialized role that lets you work with people needing assistance in overcoming or coping with behavioural or substance addictions.
- Child, youth, or family services worker—A role involving helping children, women, and families through issues like poverty or domestic violence.
- Mental health worker—An occupation that involves assisting mentally ill or mentally challenged individuals and their families cope and develop life skills for everyday living and crisis prevention. It can also involve intervening during mental health crises.
- Aboriginal outreach worker—A vocation in which you get to help some of Canada's 1.2 million Aboriginal people avoid or overcome challenges related to issues like poverty, addiction, social exclusion, and food insecurity.*
Of course, many other types of roles exist beyond those listed above. For instance, some workers specialize in areas like health care support, financial assistance, welfare distribution, or veteran services.
Plus, with additional education, you may eventually be able to pursue an even more advanced role as a social worker, which could allow you to actually diagnose certain problems for the clients you help or even go into private practice. To become a social worker and use that title in Canada, you typically must have at least a specialized bachelor's degree and be registered with a provincial regulatory body such as the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers or the BC College of Social Workers.
2. They Can Be Performed Within Many Possible Work Environments
Community and social service workers can be found performing their admirable roles in all kinds of settings. Some of the most common places of employment include:
- Family services agencies
- Group homes
- Mental health agencies
- Correctional facilities
- Women's shelters
- Community outreach agencies
- Government departments
3. They Can Provide Good Earning Potential
Careers in this field often provide the opportunity to earn a comfortable income. For example, the median wage in Canada for community or social services workers is more than $20.60 per hour, which is equivalent to a full-time salary of over $42,800. Yet, some workers make even more as they gain experience or additional credentials—as much as $66,000 or more.****
* Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts, website last visited on January 13, 2015.
** Canadian Nurses Association, website last visited on January 13, 2015.
*** Mental Health Commission of Canada, website last visited on January 13, 2015.
**** Government of Canada, Job Bank, website last visited on January 13, 2015.