Planning for your social care career: top tips for students
Starting work might seem a long way off, but there are things you can start doing now that could make a real difference in your future.
If you’re interested in working in social care when you leave school or college, here are our top five tips to help you start planning for your career.
1. Think about your GCSE and A-level options
It’s worth thinking ahead as these decisions could help you later down the line.
Most employers will ask for English and maths GCSE grade A-C, to show you have the right core skills to work in social care.
Other subjects such as health and social care, sociology and psychology might be useful.
If you want to go to University to do a health and social care related degree such as social work, occupational therapy or nursing, you’ll usually need five GCSE A*-C grade, and relevant A-levels or other qualifications.
2. Explore what jobs are out there and what skills and qualifications you might need
There are lots of jobs in the social care sector, depending on what you want to do, who you want to work with and where you want to work.
You could work with adults with learning or physical disabilities, with mental ill-health, ex-addicts, homeless people or people who’ve been in an accident.
There are lots of ways you might support these people, from direct care roles, to advice and support, advocacy or through an office role.
And this could be in a care home, a hospice, a day centre, in the community or an office.
Once you’ve worked out the type of work you’d like to do, have a look on Think Care Careers and explore what skills and qualifications you might need.
3. Get some work experience
Work experience is a great way of finding out if social care is the right career for you, and if you’re right for social care.
Lots of social care employers offer work placements, taster days or volunteering opportunities. Your teacher or careers advisor can help you find an I Care…Ambassador who offers work experience or taster days.
You could also contact your local Community Voluntary Service to find opportunities.
Keep an eye out for national campaigns such as Care Home Open Day, where care homes open their doors to the public.
4. Plan what your next step might be
There are lots of routes into social care, and it might be worth thinking about what your next step might be.
You could apply for an apprenticeship – this is a structured programme where you’ll do work experience, gain a qualification and get paid. It’s a great way to develop your skills and knowledge, and you could progress onto a management level apprenticeship.
You might choose to continue in education and go to college or University, and there are lots of social care courses and degrees you could do.
Or you might be ready to start work. You can find lots of vacancies in your area online, or you could contact local care providers or the council directly to enquire about opportunities.
5. Map how your experience and transferable skills could support your job application
You don’t necessarily need qualifications to get a job in social care – what’s really important is your values.
Here are some of the values and behaviours you might need to work in social care.
- Treat people with dignity and respect.
- Good at working with others.
- Committed to quality care and improving lives.
- Willing to learn and develop at work.
Think about how your experience (personal or professional), education or hobbies show that you have these values. You can start to jot them down on this template.