How to Become a Social Worker

If you’re suffering a case of job dissatisfaction, why not consider a career as a social worker? With the opportunity to make a real difference in your community, it’s the ideal career for those looking to bring their skills, experience and knowledge to a rewarding new position.

Social care is a growing sector that offers a wide range of career options. You may aspire to become a social worker, helping young people and their families deal with challenging situations. Or you may enter the field of adult health and social care, providing guidance and advice to vulnerable people from all backgrounds and walks of life.

It goes without saying that a career as a social worker can be challenging. But if you have the patience, empathy and knowledge required, there are few jobs that are as fulfilling and enjoyable.

Think you have what it takes? Read our comprehensive guide on becoming a social worker below. In it, we look at the duties involved and the qualifications you’ll need, so you can decide if it’s the right career for you.


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What is a social worker?

Social workers are care professionals who provide guidance and support to children and their families. They’re safeguarding professionals who protect young people from harm, liaising with parents, teachers and local authorities to solve problems and find positive resolutions in challenging situations.

Social workers are typically employed by social service departments of local authority councils. However, a growing number of health and care organisations have started taking on qualified social workers, including the NHS. These social workers typically offer targeted care in specific situations, such as when a person returns home after undergoing serious medical treatment.


social worker

Qualified social workers who are employed by their local authority are responsible for a wide range of duties as part of their day-to-day work. They’re often required to make difficult decisions in high-pressure situations, so patience, empathy and a cool head are musts for the role.

Here are some of the typical duties you’ll be responsible for as a social worker:

  • Conducting home searches to make sure children and young people are receiving the appropriate level of care
  • Liaising with school safeguarding officers, teachers, parents, local authorities and the police to resolve safeguarding issues
  • Writing up assessments and reports into a child’s safeguarding and welfare
  • Appearing in court to give evidence when required
  • Taking a proactive approach to ongoing training and learning
  • Offering support and guidance to children, young people and families in difficult situations
  • Recommending the best course of action in challenging situations
  • Participating in regular meetings with a range of safeguarding personnel
  • Accurate record-keeping and reporting

These are just some of the duties you’ll be responsible for as a qualified social worker. The beauty of the position is that it’s incredibly varied, with every day bringing new challenges, new tasks and new opportunities to develop your skills.


What qualifications do you need to become a social worker?

If you aspire to become a full-time social worker for your local authority council, you’ll first need to complete a degree in social work to enter the field. This degree must be approved by one of the four main regulators in the UK, including Social Work England, Social Care Wales, the Scottish Social Services Council, and the Northern Ireland Social Care Council.

Typically, the type of undergraduate degrees which can boost your chances of becoming a social worker include social care, social work and social sciences. However, you may also be eligible for the role with a degree in politics, public administration or legal studies, particularly if you gain postgraduate training in a relevant area.


social worker talking with woman

If a degree isn’t right for you, remember that there are lots of other career opportunities available within social care that have different entry requirements. You can still make a difference in your local community, whether you become a social care nurse or pursue a career in adult social care.

Whichever role you aspire to, most health and social care practitioners continue building on their skills and knowledge throughout their careers. Our health and social care training courses allow you to develop your skills in your free time, so you can improve on the services you offer or take positive steps towards the next rung on the ladder.


How much do social workers earn?

How much you’ll earn as a qualified social worker depends on the local authority area. While there’s no set national salary for social workers, typical entry-level salaries start at around £24,000-£30,000, later rising to £40,000+ as your experience increases.

The authority you work for isn’t the only thing that holds sway over your projected salary. It also varies depending on the setting you work in, whether that’s mental health, child safeguarding or adult social care. You’ll also receive a higher salary if you take on additional training and responsibilities.

Remember, too, that it isn’t just local authorities that employ full-time social workers. The NHS, for example, offers a starting salary at Band 6 on its pay scale, which equates to around £31,365 at the time of writing. So, once you’ve earned a qualification in social care, it’s well worth taking a good look at the job market to find the entry-level role that’s right for you.


social worker holding a group discussion


What type of person would suit being a social worker?

There’s no getting around it: a career as a social worker can be challenging. You’ll face difficult situations on a regular basis and have to make tough decisions that can have a huge effect on individuals and families.

But where there are challenges, there are also rewards. Providing help and support to people of all ages and from all walks of life, you stand to make a genuine difference in your community, lending your knowledge and expertise to those who need it most.

To help you decide if a career as a social worker is right for you, we’ve put together a list of the key attributes and personality traits that may mean you’re suitable for a career in social care.

  • Patient, empathetic and compassionate personality
  • Expert knowledge of safeguarding, wellbeing and safety
  • Keen awareness of diversity and equality
  • Work well under pressure
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Proactive approach to learning new skills, policies and practices
  • Outstanding team-working skills
  • Professional attitude
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Strong time-keeping skills


What are the benefits of becoming a social worker?

Choose to become a social worker, and a fulfilling, rewarding career awaits. Sure, you’ll face challenges and potentially upsetting situations, but you’ll also have the opportunity to put your experience to good use and help bring positive change to the lives of vulnerable people in your community.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits you can look forward to as a qualified social worker.


social worker talking to elderly man

  • Job satisfaction – there are few jobs more satisfying than social work. With the knowledge that you’re directly helping children, young people and adults deal with difficult situations and experiences, you can go home with the knowledge that you’re having a positive impact in your community.
  • People and community – that brings us smartly to our next point. A career as a social worker is ideal if you’re a ‘people person’, giving you the opportunity to meet and work with new people every day.
  • Skill-building – the role of a social worker isn’t a static position. You’ll continue developing skills throughout your career, with new policies to learn and techniques to master. What’s more, you can also progress your career with dedicated training, with the potential to earn a higher salary and make a greater contribution in your area.
  • Challenging – if you’re not interested in having an easy ride as part of your day job, a career as a social worker guarantees no end of challenges.
  • Flexible working hours – social workers typically work flexible hours, and also have some flexibility over where they work. This means a healthy work-life balance, which is critical given the demands and challenges of the job.


What career progression can you expect as a social worker?

As a qualified social worker, you have the opportunity to level up your career by attaining additional qualifications. Postgraduate courses can help you reach the next rung on the ladder or move into a different area which brings new challenges and opportunities.

As you progress in your career as a social worker, you may have the opportunity to step into a managerial role, supervising the work of other social care professionals. This brings the opportunity to take a step back from frontline service, which many practitioners prefer as they get older and more experienced.


students doing social work

Social care study options with Oxbridge

Oxbridge provide nationally recognised courses designed so you have the skills needed to work with some of society’s most vulnerable people.

For example, if you’re hoping to start your career as a Senior Care Assistant, Nurse, Support Worker, Health Visitor or a Key Worker in a residential setting, it would be worth considering the Health & Social Care Level 3 RQF.

When you enrol with us, you’ll receive excellent support, and we’ll be there to help you every step of the way. We pride ourselves on our very high standard of courses which is reflected in our high pass rates.


Are you inspired to pursue a career as a social worker? Or maybe you’re interested in a general role in the social care sector? At Oxbridge, we offer a huge range of distance learning courses that can help advance your career as a qualified social worker or social care professional. For more information and to explore our full programme of courses, visit the homepage or call our experienced course advisers today on 0161 630 3000.

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