Social Work Officers deliver professional social work services in a military setting to support the morale, efficiency and mental health of Canadian Forces members and their families. Social Work Officers offer clinical social work services similar to community mental health and social services agencies.
As well as the full range of challenges common to Canadian society, Canadian Forces members and their families cope with additional stresses associated with frequent moves and separations. These stresses can give rise to social and family circumstances that involve complex social work interventions.
The primary responsibilities of a Social Work Officer is to:
- Provide clinical intervention services
- Assist in the resolution of compassionate situations
- Consult with and advise leaders on the social circumstances encountered by personnel in their units
- Investigate and report compassionate situations
Deliver preventive and rehabilitative programs in the areas of:
- Pre- and post-deployment stress
- Suicide prevention
- Family violence
Social Work Officers work in an office at a base, wing or garrison, and deploy overseas on operational missions. They may be required to collaborate with civilian social agencies to develop appropriate referral contacts and to remain abreast of current professional development and social legislation.
The starting salary for a fully-trained Social Work Officer is $51,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (Navy) or Captain, their salary is approximately $74,000 per year.
Social Work Officers who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training. As they gain experience and knowledge, Social Work Officers may progress to senior positions that involve supervisory responsibility at Health Care Clinics across the country or at National Defence Headquarters.
After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Forces, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.
Second language training is available following basic officer training; depending on your ability in your second language, it may take from two to nine months.
Social Work Officers are posted to a base to complete twelve months of on-the-job training, where they expand and broaden clinical social work practice approaches under the supervision of a more senior Social Work Officer.
Social Work Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Training
- Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
- Emotional Focused Therapy for Couples
The minimum required education to apply for this position is a Bachelor of Social Work or a Master of Social Work degree, with a concentration in clinical practice. You will also require three years of clinical experience with adult mental health as a registered social worker (psychosocial and family counselling) gained within the last five years. Experience in cognitive behavioural therapy is beneficial but not a requirement. The minimum requirements for Social Work Officers are fixed and equivalencies are not accepted.
If you already have a Master of Social Work degree from a recognized Canadian university, are registered with the professional social work association of a Canadian province or territory, and meet the required clinical experience outlined above, the Canadian Forces may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic Military Officer Qualification training and Second Language Training are required before beginning the on-the-job training program.
Subsidized Education for Entry Level Masters
If you have a Bachelor of Social Work degree from a recognized Canadian university, are a registered social worker and have at least three years of clinical social work experience, the Canadian Armed Forces will pay successful recruits to complete a Master of Social Work program at a Canadian university. They receive a full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the Canadian Armed Forces for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must have proof that you have been accepted without condition to a Master of Social Work program, at a Canadian university in a social work school accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education.
For more information, contact Lieutenant Commander Lyn Kingsley at firstname.lastname@example.org