How to Become an Adoption Services Worker


To become an adoption services worker, you first need to qualify as a social worker, which generally requires a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a master’s degree in social work (MSW).


The level of education you need is set by the authoritative body that governs social workers in your region, as well the standards of the employer.


If you plan to specialize in adoption services, you will also need to complete either a mentorship with an experience adoption services worker, or a certificate program in adoption services from a college or university. Some employers may require you to complete both.


The first thing you should do however, is try to determine if this career is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits.


Does the following describe you?


• You have a deep desire to do work that has a big impact on people’s lives

• You have a keen interest in helping match the needs of children with the needs of adoptive families   

• You are emotionally mature and accountable

• You enjoy work that offers challenges on a daily basis

• You are interested in a career that is highly emotionally and intellectually rewarding

• You are intellectually able to acquire vast amounts of knowledge related to adoption legislation  

• You enjoy the idea of a career that combines face-to-face time with clients at their homes, and work in an office setting

• You enjoy working with people, and have excellent interpersonal skills


This Career Path Guide provides information that will help you get started on the path to becoming an adoption services worker. We've also included helpful information about this career, such as how much you can expect to earn, what career advancement possibilities exist in this field, and much more!



Education Needed

To become an adoption services worker, you'll likely need a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Some regions may allow adoption services workers to have only a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) or related field, although most require you to have an MSW if you want to enter this field.


An MSW program is usually two years, and teaches about social policy and practice, interviewing and assessment, human development, intervention methods and research. You'll also typically have practicum, which may vary in duration from one month to several months.


Success Tip: For your practicum in your social work degree, ask your adviser to place in you an adoption or child welfare setting so you can gain experience working in adoption or with children and families.





Adoption Services Worker Job Description

Adoption services workers are specialized social workers who make arrangements to place children with parents who wish to adopt them. The adoption services worker must assess the needs of both the potential adoptive parents and the child by consulting with them and conducting homestudies.


Topics covered in a homestudy typically include the motivation to adopt, personality, skills, childhood, and parenting beliefs of the potential adoptive parents.


Depending on their range of services, adoption services workers may arrange and facilitate adoptions within the country (domestic adoptions) or outside of it (international adoptions).



Typical Job Duties

• Conduct consultations with prospective adoptive parents

• Discuss various options with parents, such as domestic versus international adoption and independent versus agency adoption

• Advise parents on how to choose a suitable adoption attorney

• Perform adoption home study, which involves investigating the health, financial and criminal backgrounds of the parents

• Determine if the home of the prospective parents will be a suitable environment to raise a child

• Conduct a series of interviews with the prospective parents to determine the type of child they wish to adopt

• Discuss results of interviews with parents and begin to find them a suitable child

• Perform post adoption placement visit, which consists of interviewing and observing the family as well as the newly adopted child

• Prepare reports regarding the adoption and the adjustment of both parties

• Submit reports to the adoption agency or the courts

• Maintain adoption case records



Skills Needed to Be Successful

Adoption services workers need a combination of general soft skills, and specific hard skills in order to do their jobs effectively. These skills include:


Hard Skills

Assessment Skills: Adoption services workers need to be able to accurately assess the needs of each child, as well as each prospective adoptive family. If they have effectively applied these skills, they will create a great placement for both child and family.


Crisis Intervention Skills: Adoption services workers need to be able to apply systematic techniques when judging the severity of a client's crisis situation, should one arrive. They must also be able to and establish direction in helping the client cope with the dilemma, which may include getting counselors, local authorities, and other professionals involved in the case.


Planning Skills: These skills are crucial for ensuring the short-term and long-term success of child-to-family matches. In the short-term, they need to be effectively plan for the birth (in pre-birth adoption cases), plan the adoption process, and plan for the new family’s long-term success.


Knowledge of Legislation: Adoption services workers must have extensive knowledge of all relevant local and federal legislation regarding domestic adoptions (and possibly international adoptions).


Knowledge of Documents: Adoption services workers must be familiar with all common documents related to their profession, such as those required for adoption, which include financial statements and health records.


Soft Skills

People Skills: Adoption services workers need strong people skills for fostering healthy and productive relationships with their clients and colleagues.


Organizational Skills: Organizational skills are needed in a career as an adoption services worker, as they often have large caseloads, and must help and manage multiple clients.



Helpful Personal Characteristics to Have

A career as an adoption services worker is one that is very emotionally demanding. To work in this profession you need certain personal traits, including:


• Maturity and emotional stability

• Empathy, and a non-judgmental attitude

• Patience and determination

• Resourcefulness

• Accountable and willing to take responsibility for results

• Enjoy working with and counseling people

• Enjoy finding innovative solutions to problems

• Enjoy work that offers different challenges on a daily basis

• Enjoy fostering healthy and productive relationships with clients and colleagues 





Required Certification

First, Become Certified as a Social Worker

Adoption services workers are a specialized type of social worker. Because of the important role that social workers play in society, every regional jurisdiction (states, territories and provinces) requires that they have certification.


To become certified as a social worker in general, you must typically have either a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or you must earn a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Whichever degree route you are required or choose to take, you must typically combine it with several hours (around 1,500 or so) of supervised experience.


Being certified as a social worker may be enough to get you hired through a public or private adoption agency. Some agencies however, may want you to have further qualifications, such as:


• Having a special adoption worker certificate from a college or university

• Being certified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LSCW)

• Being certified as an adoption specialist or an adoption practitioner



Getting Certified as an Adoption Practitioner

If you are required to (or want to for the sake of professional development) become licensed as an adoption services worker, you must first be licensed as a social worker, and then you typically have to meet one, or more, of the following requirements*:


• Complete an adoption services worker certificate program through a college or university

• Work under a licensed mentor for a set period of time

• Conduct a few or several homestudies under the supervision of a mentor

• Complete a few or several psycho-social assessments, either independently or under the supervision of a mentor


*The specific requirements for becoming licensed as an adoption services worker vary by region. Be sure to check with local adoption services agencies to find out the requirements in your area.



Other Requirements for Becoming an Adoption Services Worker

Depending on the specific duties of the job, and the requirements set out by the employer, adoptions services workers may also need the following:


• A clear criminal record

• A clear a child welfare intervention record

• A valid driver’s license

• The use of a vehicle

• The ability to speak a second language



Who Creates Jobs for These Professionals?

Jobs for adoption services workers are typically found with private adoption agencies or government organizations. They typically work on a full-time basis, although some work on a part-time basis. 


Average Salary Level

Having a rough idea of what you can earn as an adoption services workers is important for various reasons. Having this information allows you to imagine what kind of lifestyle this career will afford you, and it helps you anticipate approximately how long it should take you to pay back your student loans.


The salary level of professionals in this field can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience

• Other qualifications they hold, such as certification

• The amount of responsibility inherent in their specific job

• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work


Salary - Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Social Workers occupational group earn an average salary of $65,593 per year. In terms of hourly wage, they typically earn between $32.65 and $45.25 per hour.


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Social Workers occupational group is $44,200 per year. Salaries in the 10th percentile are below $27,450, and those in the 90th percentile are above $72,980 per year. 



Career Advancement in This Field

Adoption services workers that show competence in their work will have plenty of opportunities for career advancement. Among other options, those whom are highly qualified have the opportunity to choose to advance into administrative or specialized positions.


For example, some adoptions services workers may become external relations specialists, who work to build and maintain professional relationships with other social service agencies, rather than working directly with children and families.


Those that demonstrate management and leadership qualities also have the opportunity to move into supervisory and management positions, either with their current employer, or with an external employer.


Adoption services workers may also choose go into private adoption consulting, or open their own adoption agency. Alternatively, those whom have graduate degrees may move into post-secondary teaching and research positions.



Adoption Services Jobs

Our job board below has "Adoption Services Worker" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.





Typical Work Environment

Ups and Downs: Building families through adoption is one of the most demanding careers in social work. Adoption services workers must ensure they effectively meet the needs of both child and adoptive family. Making great matches for children and families can make for an extremely satisfying career.


Work Setting: Adoption services workers are often based out of an office. They do spend time travelling to outside locations to meet face-to-face with clients, which may include adoptive families, adoptive children, the biological parents of the adoptive child, and others.


Working Conditions: Adoptive services workers divide their time between direct practice, research and completing paperwork. Direct practice typically involve meeting with clients in their home, attending counseling sessions with clients, and other tasks. Paperwork may include completing assessments and other reports. Research and related tasks may include completing case studies, finding suitable adoptive families (and children) and other tasks.


Working Hours: Work in this field is typically on a full-time basis, during weekdays. Evenings and weekends however, may be required on occasion, in order to visit clients, prepare reports, and attend meetings. 



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Adoption Services Worker, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Aboriginal Housing Advocate

Child Care Worker

Family Support Worker Career

Foster Care Worker


Social Worker



References for this Career Guide

The following resources were drawn from in the preparation of this career guide:


• “Occupational Profile: Social Worker.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved August 17, 2016.

• “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers.” (May, 2015). United States Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved August 17, 2016.

• “How to Become an Adoption Social Worker.” Truex, Leslie (n.d.). Work - Houston Chronicle website. Retrieved August 17, 2016.

• “A day in the life of ... an adoption social worker.” (November 23, 2012). Guardian Social Care Network - The Guardian website. Retrieved August 17, 2016.



Relevant Scholarships for this Occupation

Looking for Canadian or American scholarships to help you on your way to becoming an adoption services worker? We’ve got you covered! Here's how to find the best-suited scholarships:


• On, our scholarship listings are sorted by major

• The “Applicable University Majors” section below shows what majors apply to this career

• Find the appropriate majors on our Sociology Scholarships, Social Work Scholarships and Women's Studies Scholarships pages


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting into this line of work. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: 
Top Banner Image Title: 
Adoption Services Worker