Social worker

Social worker imageYou’ll offer counselling and advocacy to individuals and families, and intervene when vulnerable people need safeguarding.

You could support lots of people including older people, those with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health conditions such as people with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and personality disorders.  

You’ll usually provide support for a limited period of time to help them adjust to changes in their lives such as illness, age related problems, disability or bereavement.

Your role might include:

  • finding out what type of care and support the person needs
  • doing assessments to make sure people continue to get the right care
  • offering information and counselling
  • intervening when people need support or safeguarding
  • keeping records and writing reports.

You’ll usually work as part of a team but have responsibility for a number of different people. You’ll also need to work closely with other organisations such as the police, health services, schools and probation services.


Everyone working in social care needs English, number, digital and employability skills including team work and problem solving skills. What core skills do I need to work in social care outlines some of the skills you need and has short activities to help you think about transferable skills from your previous experiences.

There are also some specific skills needed to work in this role. These include:

  • problem solving skills to advise people on the best support for them
  • digital skills to keep records and find information online
  • the ability to stay calm under pressure
  • team working skills to work with other social care and health professionals such as social workers and housing officers.

To practice as a social worker you’ll need a degree in social work that’s been approved by Social Work England, and be registered with Social Work England.

Each University has different entry requirements for social work degrees but you’re likely to need three A-Levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications, and five supporting GCSE’s including English, maths and science. Some Universities might accept other qualifications such as a BTEC, HND, NVQ or health and social care access course. It’s also really important that you have the right values and behaviours to work in social care.

It might also be useful to have experience working in a social care or health role on your University application. You could gain this experience through a work placement, from your personal life, through volunteering or as part of a traineeship or apprenticeship.

If you already have an undergraduate degree in a different subject you could do a two year postgraduate diploma or masters in social work, or you could apply for a fast track training route such as FrontlineThink Ahead or Step Up to Social Work.

During your first year in work your employer may offer an Assessed and Supported Year in Employment. This includes extra support such as regular supervision, a training and development plan and extra time to do more learning and development.

You’ll need to pass your ASYE in the first 12 months of starting work so you can get your ‘fitness to practice’ certificate.

When you’ve finished your ASYE your employer should outline a training pathways to help you progress in your career. Each employer will have a different pathway but you might get the opportunity to get a Masters Degree in Advanced Professional Practice.

Lots of social workers join the British Association of Social Workers to keep up to date with news and do continuing professional development courses to improve their skills and knowledge. 

There may be opportunities to progress into senior social work roles and supervise others or work in different services with different people. If you already have an undergraduate degree you could do a postgraduate diploma or masters in social work to develop your knowledge.

You might progress into specialist social work roles such as a senior mental health practitioner or safeguarding and reviewing specialists. This means you would specialise in one area of work. You could also become a practice education and train students from a local university. 


Case studies

  • Social worker- Jane Haywood
    Jane works as a social worker in the health and housing department and supports older people when they come out of hospital.

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