For an overview of a Social Work role, please click here. To become a Social Worker, there are very different requirements than other jobs within social care.  Currently a Social Worker must either complete a three year university degree in Social Work or if they have completed another degree previously, they may be able to undertake a two year Master’s Degree in Social Work.  For the latest information about which universities will accept for individuals to begin these courses, please search online for universities offering these specific qualifications.

The majority of social care jobs (including roles such as Social Work assistant), do not require a university degree and there are various different ways to start working for such organisation (this ThinkCareCareers includes many examples of how others have done it).  Please read through the Job Types and Case Studies available to learn more about social care jobs.


For hundreds of thousands of people, adult social care is a career that is hugely rewarding­­ and satisfying experience, enabling them to progress through organisations and improve the lives of the people they work with. However, not everybody is suited to work in social care and before applying to work in care, we would recommend the following steps:

  • Use the A Question of Care resource to learn more about working in a care organisation and watch videos showing others working in the sector.  If you like what you see, this is a good sign.  If you do not, it is possible that you may want to consider other work.
  • Read more about different care roles using this ThinkCareCareers resource.  If you know anybody working in care, speak with them about their experiences, asking what they and others do in the role and what do they like and not like about the job.
  • Contact care organisations to see if they offer volunteering opportunities or open days where you can see the work that is undertaken.

You can work in adult social care from the age of 16. If aged 16 to 17, you must be undertaking a formal care qualification (which most likely should be an Apprenticeship in Health and Social Care) and the people you provide care for must give their approval (or their family member must if they cannot give this).

Due to career changes, many people are choosing to move into care jobs later in life and bring wider experiences into the role. Opportunities such as Apprenticeships are available to anybody of working age and provide an effective way to strengthen care skills, received payment and achieve a nationally recognised qualification.


How much money you will earn in social care will greatly depend on the job you do and how much experience you have in the sector. Wages can vary from £11,000 - £70,000+.  Pay rates in the sector in 2013/14 suggest average rates of £14,200 for a care worker, rising to £16,400 for a senior care worker and £20,000 for a community support and outreach worker. Registered managers can expect to earn around £29,000 and social workers £32,000.

Most social care employees are driven by their want to make a difference to people’s lives, and this provides satisfaction and motivation above and beyond the financial benefits.


Yes, some people may be very vulnerable to different sorts of abuse such as physical, emotional, verbal etc. and it is important that society protects them.

You will be asked to fill in a form and send it off with a fee and documents to prove your identity. Your employer will sometimes pay the fee for this DBS check.  The Care Quality Commission provides guidance for employers about this process rather than Skills for Care.


An Apprenticeship is a combination of on and off the job learning and development. As an apprentice, you’ll gain work experience and achieve nationally recognised qualifications, whilst earning a wage.You’ll work alongside experienced staff and learn the skills and knowledge for you to be a skilled and confident worker. 

The Intermediate Apprenticeship includes the Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care, the Advanced Apprenticeship includes the Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care, whilst the Higher Apprenticeship in Care Leadership and Management includes the Level 5 Diploma in Health and Social Care. These are all well respected and widely used qualifications across adult social care, ensuring that those who complete Apprenticeships are well placed for a rewarding long-term career.

Whilst Skills for Care does not directly recruit Apprentices for care organisations, you can find out more about the opportunity here and see a list of the Apprenticeships in Health and Social Care currently being advertised here.


No. Adult social care organisations can employ individuals without any care experience or qualifications. It is the responsibility of the adult social care organisation to provide training and supervisory support to any new member of staff as part of their induction.

The Care Certificate was introduced in March 2015. This new induction applies across social care and health and is made up of 15 standards which make new members of staff ready to practice within their specific sector.

Beyond the induction period, many employers will want to develop their staff further using Diplomas in Health and Social Care. The Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care is aimed at those new to the sector and provides important skills. The Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care is aimed at those progressing into more senior care roles, including supervisors and assistant managers. The Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care is aimed at those wanting to become a care manager. When discussing working for an employer, please ask the organisation if they would support you to undertake a formal qualification – it is often a sign of a good employer.

Please note that some care homes and care agencies are contracted by the local council. Because many councils want to use organisations who are committed to having well trained staff, they may make it a requirement that all staff are trained to a minimum level (for example; Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care). In many situations, the local councils accept that some staff are working towards the qualification and permit this

The majority of care organisations will cover the cost of induction training for their staff as both the organisation and individual will benefit from the learning.  If an organisation is asking their staff to pay for their own training, this raises concerns about how they continue to provide essential training longer term to staff.

If you are asked to pay for your induction training by your employer, check with them that they will guarantee you being given work once your training is complete.  Skills for Care has received feedback that some organisations charge for training but then do not offer any work after it is completed.

Care organisations do sometimes find that new staff receive the training and then immediately leave to work for another organisation. In these situations, the care organisation may try to recover the cost of the training that they have paid for from a staff member.


Skills for Care is focused on adult social care in England.  Adult social care is defined by the fact that the people you would provide care for are aged 18 or over.  There is currently no equivalent organisation providing careers advice related to child social care.  If you specifically wish to work in child social care, we would recommend you contact the Department of Education, Jobcentre Plus / other Careers Advisors, local councils or directly with child social care employers (which include fostering agencies, schools, children’s homes etc.)

Please note that the National Apprenticeship Service can also provide information about Apprenticeships related to child social care and what current opportunities there may be local to you.


Reading through this ThinkCareCareers website can help you better understand what care career opportunities there are available. Whilst Skills for Care is not a recruitment agency, we hope the information will help you to approach employers and be in a good position to highlight to them your understanding of care roles and how you would be a good employee for their organisation.

As you look for work, you will come across some organisations who have very stringent requirements as to who they are looking to employ. Some of these care organisations may be looking simply to employ people who already have considerable care experience and qualifications. If you do not believe you have what they are looking for, give them a call and ask – this is much quicker than applying for a role and waiting to hear back. If you are suitable, you have already established an initial relationship with the employer and if you are not, you have saved time writing out an application form or sending them your CV.

Whilst some care organisations advertise jobs online or via Jobcentre Plus, many do not due to the costs involved.  Some use recruitment agencies whilst others advertise directly in local newspapers or on their own websites. The Care Quality Commission lists a lot of care organisations across England and you may want to use information like this to approach employers directly.

If you are not currently working, you could enquire with the Jobcentre Plus or local colleges to see if they offer any introductory training (such as the Level 1 Award in Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care). Sometimes government funding is made available to such organisations to offer courses like this which provides a background to the care role.

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Careers pathway helped me find the right job which best suited me as an individual