Becoming a Social Worker in South Africa

If you have a passion for helping people – be it families or entire communities – finding work as a social worker might be for you. Social worker jobs allow you to help and make a notable difference in the everyday lives of people and communities.


You will have the opportunity to develop and hone your skills, thus becoming a social worker that has a specific expertise. While both men and women pursue this career, there is a demand for male social workers.

What is a Social Worker?

Social workers are professionals trained to work in a number of fields – from child protection to youth and youth programmes, with some of these professionals even involved in social policy development.

A social worker strives to improve not only the wellbeing, but also the quality of life of couples, communities, individual persons and families. They do this by using a number of techniques including direct practice, policy planning, community development programmes, research and crisis intervention.

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This career is all about the right of humans and social justice, helping people, families, communities and groups to help themselves through helping them to develop their abilities, potential and resources.

If you have an unshakeable belief in the potential of people and communities, are smart, responsible, caring and trustworthy, this is a great career choice.

The road to becoming a Social Worker

If you are interested in pursuing a career in social work, South Africa has a number of tertiary instructions that offer BA Degree programmes. These institutions range to include:

The University of Johannesburg (UJ)

If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field, the University of Johannesburg offers a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) in its Humanities faculty. Offered at its Auckland Park Campus, this degree is a four year programme and entails you registering for Majors in Social Work (for the entire four year period) as well as Sociology and Psychology (taking one of these subjects throughout three years of your four year long studies).


Because this degree is an NQF Level 8 programme, you will be recognised as completing both your degree as well as your Honours. You do have the option of furthering your studies and specialising by completing your Masters and then your Doctorate in Social Work.

With this training programme you will also be required to register for an internship. This entails that you not only attend classes but also complete a certain amount of hours of field instruction. If you receive field instruction, you are required to be registered with the South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP).


The University of South Africa (UNISA) also offers a Bachelor of Social Work programme. Also a four year study programme, this BA also has a practical component to it and will allow you to move on to completing a Masters.


Apart from having Social Work as a subject, you can choose between a number of interesting subjects including Psychology (if you are interested in counselling), Development Studies (if you have an interest in working with communities), Criminology (if you would like to work in the field of criminal justice and victims) and Anthropology (if you have in interest in working with people and how they integrate into their communities).

Other subject choices also available include Sociology, Philosophy and Communication.

University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)

If you are interested in becoming a social worker, the University of the Witwatersrand also offers a four year Bachelor of Social Work. Undergoing supervised field instruction during your studies, the BA degree programme from this university involves emphasis being placed on building people’s capabilities, diversity, multi culturalism and strength perspectives.


During your four years at Wits you will have an introductory module to social work as well as field instruction in your first year. Your second year will involve methods in social work, human rights as well as field instruction. Your third year will include theory in integrated social work as well as its practice, along with field instruction. The final year of this BA degree entails a research report, the theory and practice of social work as well as field instruction.

University of the Free State (UFS)

Celebrating its forty-third year of training social workers in 2015, the University of the Free State offers a Baccalaureus of Social Work (BSW) programme developed to equip you with the necessary theory and practical knowledge to pursue social worker jobs.


With all the core modules in this programme being compulsory, you also have to take Psychology as a subject at least until your second year of studies. You will then also have to choose between Criminology and Sociology as an elective subject.

North-West University (NWU)

You can also complete a BSW at the North-West University’s Potchefstroom campus. In order to gain entrance to this programme you will need a National Senior Certificate, a minimum APS score of 24 and write an entrance test.

Your most important subjects when studying towards a degree is, aside from Social Work, Sociology and Psychology. A great programme, you will undergo expert training learning both preventative and treatment skills for everyone from individuals to communities.


Do note that there are also other reputable institutions where you can study and become a fully qualified social worker, including the University of Limpopo, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the University of Venda and the University of Kwazulu-Natal.

Types of careers in Social Work

Within social work, you have the opportunity to go into a large number of fields and specialisations. Some of these specialisations and areas of work include:

Substance Abuse

These social worker jobs involve helping addicts re-establish a constructive balance through providing therapy.


Marriage and Divorce

A counsellor in this field work with couples that are having trouble or going through a divorce. Acting as an objective party, the counsellor here may provide couple, group or individual sessions.

Child and Family Welfare

Helping people to create a healthy family life, a social worker on this field will aid these families in altering their circumstances as well as behaviour in order to create a healthy home environment.


Geriatric Social Workers

These types of professionals work with the elderly and their jobs involve counselling, group work as well as research. These types of workers are also often found administrating institutions created for the elderly.

Occupational Social Workers

Targeted at a group of employees, this professional is in charge of the social welfare of this group, providing counselling and administering welfare programmes within the workplace. Do note that these types of counsellors work in conjunction with the Human Resource Department of a company.

The Medical Field

Social workers active within the medical field work at hospitals and psychiatric centres and make use of group as well as individual counselling techniques to help the patients under their care.


Social Welfare

Focussed on the wellbeing of individual people, counsellors active within this field provide services in order to relieve suffering in communities.

Other areas of work include schools as well as communities as a whole (dealing with issues that range from housing and rehabilitation to child care and the elderly). You can also pursue careers in personnel management and the criminal justice system (as a probation officer for example).

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The average yearly salaries, according to PayScale, for social workers in South Africa is R 145 935, with more specific fields showing the following:

  • Social Worker: R 151 705
  • Medical Social Workers: R 180 000
  • Social workers at for children, families and at schools: R 92 903
Social Worker Vacancies on Job Mail

The South African Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) Pretoria / Soshanguve is looking for a qualified individual that is bilingual (Afrikaans and English) and able to undertake both group and individual therapy.

Remuneration for this position is R 12 333 per month with the position in Ninapark, Pretoria North.


The Friend of God Church in Goodwood is looking for professional that has at least one year’s worth of experience in case management. This position is available from the first of January, 2016.


Interested in becoming a social worker or already a qualified social worker? Register your CV on Job Mail today and start applying for social worker jobs that best suit your field of expertise.

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9 Responses

  1. Letlhogonolo says:

    This app has really help me now i know which institution i should study at and in which field

  2. Mbali says:

    Thank you so much, this really helped!

  3. Lerato says:

    Hey my name is Lerato i completed my matric last year and i passed, I’m really interested in doing Social Work at University.I’ll really appreciate if u can help me

  4. Lerato says:

    I’d really appreciate if i can be updated if there are any opportunities, my contact details is 0834738819

  5. palesa adelaide lee says:

    Hey…my name is Palesa and I really love social worker. I’m 18years old completed my matric 2016 and I don’t think my results require for the course but I definitely love it and I wanna start my own organisation after getting the qualification of social worker…please help

  6. bokang says:

    hey… My name is Bokang ang aged 24, really in need of help for this social worker course, meaning I really love helping out and my results doesn’t require for the course. really need help

    • Jani Grey says:

      Hi Bokang,

      We’d like to encourage you to get in touch with any of the abovementioned universities to find out more on what they have to offer and how you can make use of it.

      If you have not registered your CV on Job Mail, follow this link:

      Once you’ve registered, look for jobs that suit your skill set at and apply for them!

      Alternatively, set up a job alert to receive the latest jobs in your field via email at

      Kind regards,
      The Job Mail Team

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