The welfare career field is a broad one, spanning not only financial but also social welfare. There is generally a huge educational gap between a welfare eligibility officer and a social welfare officer, since welfare eligibility workers usually need only a high-school diploma, while many social workers gain master's degrees. However, both career requirements emphasize personal qualities of patience and empathy.
Take stock of your personal qualities and make sure you have a high level of patience and understanding with others. Being a welfare officer means you'll constantly encounter people who may be difficult to work with, and be downright rude to you despite your efforts to help them.
Decide what type of welfare officer you'd like to become. For instance, there are welfare eligibility interviewers who interview welfare applicants and analyze whether these applicants qualify for welfare assistance. In addition, there are social welfare workers who assist dysfunctional individuals and families.
Earn your high school diploma if you want to become a welfare eligibility officer. You may want to earn some post-secondary education as well, since many welfare offices now require it. Take college courses such as psychology, sociology, and economics to gain a broad understanding of the welfare sector. It is also crucial you take courses in law, so you can gain knowledge of federal and state aid programs.
Attend college and earn a bachelor's or master's degree in social welfare if you want to become a social welfare officer. Most states also require a minimum number of supervised field experience.
Gain hands-on experience during your education. For both welfare eligiblity officers and social workers, you should take internships or do volunteering in order to see what welfare officers do on a daily basis.
Gain fluency in Spanish. A good number of welfare cases include members of the U.S. Spanish population--a number that is projected to climb.
Hone your verbal and written communications skills. Both welfare eligibility officers and social welfare officers write weekly and even daily reports on their cases. It is also crucial you have well-developed listening skills.
You may have to take a civil service exam before you gain employment. You can check the requirements for your designated exam by checking your state government's website. Look for the type of exam that falls into your field; for instance, most social workers take a social welfare civil service exam.