So you’re community-minded, and want to make a difference. Social justice, equality and being a “helping citizen” are ideas that appeal to you, and you’ve been eyeing ads for Social Worker programs for years. Lately, however, postings for “Community Service Worker” (CSW) and “Personal Support Worker” (PSW) programs keep catching your attention. What do CSWs and PSWs do—and how do they compare to Social Workers? A combined description of these “helping” professions follows, to help you make your choice.

What do Social Workers, CSWs and PSWs do?

Social Workers – The Canadian Association of Social Workers states that, “Social work is a profession concerned with helping individuals, families, groups and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being. It aims to help people develop their skills and their ability to use their own resources and those of the community to resolve problems. Social work is concerned with individual and personal problems but also with broader social issues such as poverty, unemployment and domestic violence” (2014). In other words, Social Workers help people who aren’t functioning optimally in society become the best, happiest and most successful people they can be.

Personal Support Workers and Community Service Workers – Like Social Workers, CSWs and PSWs help people. Service Canada (2013) states that CSWs “administer and implement a variety of social assistance programs and community services, and assist clients to deal with personal and social problems.” PSWs, on the other hand, provide for the comfort, safety and well-being of clients in need in both institutional and community settings. They often help people facing immobility issues with the daily tasks of living, or with taking medications and self-care as needed.

Where might I find work as a Social Worker, CSW or PSW?

Social Workers – According to OntarioColleges.ca, Social Workers can find careers in the education, corrections and health fields (n.d.). The Canadian Association of Social Workers highlights that Social Workers often find employment in family and children’s aid agencies, school boards, correctional facilities, hospitals and more (2014).

Personal Support Workers and Community Service Workers – CSWs may find a wealth of rewarding employment opportunities as addictions support workers, group home support workers, community service workers or shelter support workers. They may choose to work in shelters and community facilities, among other settings. PSWs may find fulfilling employment in a number of areas, including long-term care facilities, home care agencies, senior citizens’ recreation centres, hospitals, group homes, and respite and palliative care centres.

How long does it take to become a Social Worker, CSW or PSW?

Social Workers – Social work programs at Ontario colleges range from 35 weeks to 2 years in length. A Bachelor of Social Work from an Ontario University can take from 2 to 4 years, on the other hand, depending on whether you have done prior studies in the field.

Personal Support Workers and Community Service Workers – In Ontario, you can train to become a PSW in under a year. Trillium College’s PSW program, for example, is 25 study weeks long, while their CSW program is 45 study weeks long.

Our communities need YOU:

Going into the “helping professions” is a great choice—whether you decide to become a Community Service Worker or Personal Support Worker, or simply a Social Worker. For more information about entering the social services field today, and to set up your FREE Career Planning Session, contact Trillium College at 1.855.234.2008.

We are currently accepting students into our many exciting diploma programs, and with 8 campuses around Ontario, we’re here to help you succeed.