- Help to protect vulnerable children and adults from harm or abuse
- You'll need excellent communication and listening skills
- You'll usually find opportunities to progress into management
As a social worker you'll work with a range of people including children, families and vulnerable adults needing protection. The people you'll support could be homeless children or adults, or people with drug, alcohol or substance misuse problems. In some roles, you might support children and adults with learning disabilities or physical disabilities.
You might also work with: people of all ages with mental health problems, look after children and young people, carers and adopters, older people receiving end of life and palliative care, people in prison with social care needs, young offenders, refugees and asylum seekers, people at risk of abuse and neglect or who have been abused or neglected, and victims of domestic violence.
You'll provide help and support to improve people's lives. You may visit people in their homes to look at their needs and build relationships with them.
- Offer information and counselling
- Put together support plans
- Keep records and writing reports
- Work with other professionals
- Supervise team members
- Attend court
- Discuss your cases through regular supervision
You'll usually work office hours or on a rota. You may work shifts, including nights, or be on call. Most offices operate a hot-desk system where you'll be expected to work flexibly. You may visit people in their homes. You could also work in a hospital or in a day, health or residential centre.
This role would be ideal for someone with excellent communication and listening skills, the ability to build working relationships with families, groups and professionals, tact and understanding, the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, problem solving and report writing skills, and the ability to make decisions and use your professional judgement.
You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in social work approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.
You can also do a 2-year postgraduate degree in social work, if you have a degree in another subject and you may be eligible for social work funding.
Experience of working with vulnerable groups or children is essential for most courses and jobs. You can get experience by volunteering in the community, with a charity or through paid work. You can get more information on volunteering opportunities in your area from Do-it.
You can also apply to do an intensive, work-based training programme for graduates if you've got a first or upper second class degree in any subject except social work. The programmes are Frontline for children's social work, Step Up to Social Work for children's social work and Think Ahead for mental health social work.
Alternatively, you can complete a social worker degree apprenticeship.
You'll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council and pass enhanced background checks for this role.
It's possible to do a degree in social work and learning disabilities nursing. You'll need to check that the course is recognised by the relevant professional bodies. Course providers can advise you on this.
With experience, you'll find opportunities to move into management, research or study for a PhD. You could also become a practice educator and train and mentor students from your partner university.
During your first year in work your employer may offer the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (AYSE). This includes extra support like regular supervision, a training and development plan and time to meet your training and development needs. You'll need to pass your ASYE in the first 12 months of being employed so that you can get your fitness to practice certificate. When you've completed your ASYE, you'll be given training to keep your skills up to date and to help you progress. Each local authority will have a career pathway, with some offering the chance to study for a postgraduate MA in Advanced Professional Practice.