Community Service Worker Job Description
A community service worker provides personal, social, physical, emotional, mental, and political services to disadvantaged groups and individuals within communities. Their work helps improve the lives of the clients they serve. Community service workers may assist entire communities on a large level or work with specific groups like children or the elderly. They usually work full time. However, they may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays depending on the needs of their organization and the individuals they serve. Community service workers are mainly employed by organizations that focus on community outreach and care, including schools, government agencies, health clinics, and volunteer nonprofits. Their work can be both rewarding and demanding, therefore successful community workers must have a deep desire to work with people and create change.
Community Service Worker Duties and Responsibilities
Community service workers function in a variety of organizations. Specific duties and responsibilities may vary, but there are several core tasks associated with the job, including:
Provide Individual Care and Counseling
Community service workers counsel people facing a wide range of challenges, including poverty, mental health disabilities, physical disabilities, addiction, and family problems. Many provide case management services to help guide people to overcome personal challenges such as unemployment, illness, loss, family dysfunction, and other crises.
Perform Community Assessments
In order to create positive changes in local communities, community service workers must first carefully assess geographically specific challenges and opportunities. They partner closely with local leaders and residents to discern what local issues can be most effectively addressed and how. Community service workers take surveys, perform neighborhood evaluations, and conduct interviews in order to develop strategies that will effectively improve people’s lives. They implement community-proposed solutions by encouraging others to partner with them.
Engage in Community Organizing
The belief that people are deeply influenced by their environment is key for community service workers. Those who do not specifically work with individuals spend their days forming alliances with government, community nonprofits, and other social action groups to advocate against poverty, social injustice, and community health problems on a larger scale. They engage in political advocacy, policy analysis, and community organizers to make an impact. Community service workers continually build coalitions around specific issues to generate community awareness and social change.
Connect Clients to Local Services
A primary responsibility of many community service workers is to help families by connecting them with needed resources. They help families get access to services providing food, clothing, childcare, healthcare, daycare, etc. Many community service workers help their clients navigate the application process for national government aid and benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicaid, and more. By linking individuals with much-needed social services, community service workers help improve quality of life.
Develop Service Plans for Personal Improvement
Community service workers evaluate the strengths, needs, and goals of the individuals and groups they work with. Next, they develop a plan to help them make progress toward these goals. For example, a child community service worker may create a plan to help a child readjust to a school setting. Community service workers focused on employment may assess the vocational needs of an individual and create a plan to help them gain employment. Overall, workers aim to provide emotional support to help people and groups reach their full potential.
Community Service Worker Skills and Qualifications
Community service workers love working with people and are interested in helping them improve on an individual or group level. Many organizations prefer candidates to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree as well as the following skills:
- Human services experience – depending on the organization, skills in providing clinical-level human services may be required to successfully work with high-needs individuals, such as those with severe challenges
- Teamwork – community service workers are often part of a team and need to be able to take independent action and work well with others
- Interpersonal skills – clearly communicating with and relating to people from a wide variety of backgrounds is essential for community service workers
- Leadership skills – great organizational and motivational leadership is necessary for community service workers, particular those involved with community organizing or group transformation
- Writing skills – community service workers need excellent writing skills to produce reports, referrals, and other documents associated with their work
- Time management – community service workers usually have a large case load and need strong time management skills to successfully work under pressure
Community Service Worker Education and Training
It is common for community service workers to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in social service fields such as social work, psychology, and rehabilitation. However, some employers are willing to take candidates with a high school diploma and at least two years of experience working with the same target group that the organization serves. Employers find candidates with higher education more attractive.
Community Service Worker Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for community service workers (categorized as social workers) is $47,980. The highest 10 percent earn more than $79,740. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $29,560. The BLS notes that employment for this sector is projected to grow 16 percent through 2026, which much faster than average for all other occupations. This growth will be driven by the increased need for healthcare and social services from an aging population.
We searched the web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a community service worker. From industry groups to well-known books, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect, and engage:
National Organization for Human Services – visit the NOHS website to network with other community service professionals and access continuing education, career conferences, educational grants, and more
American Public Human Services Association – this membership network for human-serving organizations provides community service workers with career opportunities
Community Resources: A Guide for Human Service Workers – check out this book to get answers to common questions that community service workers have, plus learn the professional agencies you will need to be familiar with in order to benefit clients
Community Development, Social Action and Social Planning – this must-read guide for aspiring community service workers covers topics like working with community groups, planning projects, and taking social action
“Careers in Social Work” – this in-depth guide will help you learn about the different types of social work and how to choose the right track for your community service worker career
National Association of Social Workers – with more than 120,000 members around the globe, this is the largest membership organization for professional social workers
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