Getting Started

It doesn't matter about your background or how old you are, if you want to help people there's a social care job for you. 

You don’t necessarily need any qualifications or previous work experience to get a job in social care. What’s really important is your values and attitude towards working with people who need care and support. 

You can help people to live more independently and have a better quality of life so it's really important you have the right values. Some of the values and behaviours you might need to work in social care are: 

  • 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. 

These values might look like this in your everyday life. 

  • Spending time listening to people to get to know them and their needs.
  • Respecting people's right to make their own choices and decisions.
  • Commitment to working as part of a team.
  • Supporting people when they need it most.

Find out what a career in care is like. At the end you’ll get a personalised report which can help you decide whether social care is right for you. 

Take our quiz: A Question of Care - the quiz is currently being updated and will be back online soon.

Some of the skills you need will be specific to the job you're applying for. However, everyone working in social care needs English, number, digital and employability skills, including problem solving and team work - together these are known as core skills. 

Download our 'What core skills do I need to work in social care' to find out more about skills you need it also has activities to help you think about transferable core skills from your previous experiences. 

English skills

The ability to read,  write, speak and listen. All of which can be used to write a care plan and read and follow a risk assessment. 

Number skills

The ability to do calculations, record numbers,  understand measurements and use timetables and plan work. These skills can be used to record fluid intake, count medication, measure and record weight and calculate staff wages. 

Digital skills

The ability to find and access digital information, use digital technology with people and complete eLearning. These skills can be used to update digital handover notes, send emails, use remote appointment systems and use assistive technologies. 

Employability skills

The ability to problem solve, work in a team, plan own learning and development and manage own health and wellbeing. These skills can be used to prioritise workloads, manage work/ home life balance, respond well to challenging behaviour and adapt to changing demands at work. 


Most social care qualifications can be completed once you start your role as the qualification offered are specific to the job you’re doing and the skills you need to do it; these are known as vocational qualifications.

Pre employment qualifications

You don't necessarily need any qualifications to start in a role in social care. However there are some you might want to do to get a taster of what it's like to work in the sector*. 

  • Level 1 Award in Preparing to work in the care sector
  • Level 2 Certificate in Preparing to work in the care sector
  • Level 3 Certificate on Preparing to work in the care sector.

You could find a training provider and pay for this yourself, or your local Jobcentre Plus or college might help. 

For some roles such as social worker or occupational therapist you'll need a degree to get a job. Or for some senior roles such as a manager or counsellor, you might need to have a relevant qualification. Read more about what qualifications you need for different roles on the Job roles pages

Whilst you’re employed 

The qualifications range from level 2 to level 5 and are evidence based so need to be done whilst you're at work. 

Other qualifications are also available as well as training to help you develop specialist skills. This could be in things like:

  • dementia care
  • autism
  • communication skills
  • stroke 
  • end of life care
  • activity provision
  • team leading. 

Speak to your employer about doing qualifications and training, you could also find short courses online, with a local charity/community group, or choose to pay for training yourself through an Advanced Learner Loan

*The current qualification in health and social care are diplomas, which have replaced NVQs. Many workers will still hold NVQs which are valid for working in the sector.

There are lots of ways you can start work in social care, including doing an apprenticeship or traineeship, finding a job through your local Jobcentre Plus, or applying for roles online. 

Become an apprentice

An apprenticeship is a great way to gain work experience, develop skills, achieve a qualification and earn a wage. 

They're a great way into the sector for people of all ages and there are different levels depending on your skills and experience.

Find out more about apprenticeships


Aimed at 16-24 year olds who are not employed but looking to develop skills such as CV writing, English and maths skills and include a work placement. 

Search for local opportunities.


Apply for an advertised job 

Jobs might be advertised on job websites such as Fish4JobsIndeedJooble or Guardian jobs.

Care organisations might also advertise vacancies on their website or on their social media accounts such as Facebook; you can find local care organisations on the CQC website or NHS Choices. Your local council might also have social care roles advertised. 

You could also keep an eye out in your local newspaper or on jobs boards in the community.

Join a care sector-routeway with your local Jobcentre Plus

The care sector-routeway is a six week programme run by your local Jobcentre Plus. It's for people who are unemployed and gives you the opportunity to gain a qualification, develop your core skills, do work experience and get a guaranteed job interview at the end. 

If you're unemployed and interested in a career in social care, speak to your local Jobcentre Plus to find out more.

If you're new to social care and want to find out if it's the right career for you, it might be useful to do some work experience or volunteering.

Your school, college or jobcentre might be able to help with this or you could contact organisations directly or look on to find local volunteering opportunities. 


Social care journey

Follow Vicky, Julian, Priya and Matt on their social care journeys, from leaving school to progressing their careers.