Social workers are extremely valuable employees as far as local communities and society in general is concerned. A social worker is in part responsible for working with people of all ages who are in some way socially excluded, vulnerable or undergoing some level of crisis. A Social Worker generally come into contact with the families, the elderly, young offenders and those on probation, as well as people with physical or mental disabilities or drug and alcohol problems.

The role and duties of a social worker are broad and varied, but generally they include the provision of guidance and support, with a main focus on enabling the people who have a social worker to eventually support themselves. Social workers also work in a variety of environments, with some working in schools, local education authorities and hospitals, and others working within voluntary organisations or in the homes of the people needing them.

How do you become a social worker?

Social work requires a lot of organisation and a significant level of administrative work. This is because a social worker is expected to assess, review and maintain records of specific cases, all within certain timeframes whilst achieving set standards of care, and providing the people they work with and their families with relevant legal and procedural information. A career as a social worker is accessible for anyone who already has a degree. The most suitable and relevant degrees however, are nursing, psychology, education, law and social sciences.

For those who don’t already have a degree, a diploma or foundation degree can also be undertaken, sometimes followed by an undergraduate social work degree route. In all cases, before anyone is considered as a suitable candidate for a social worker job role, they must hold a General Social Care Council (GSCC) approved qualification.

Previously a Certificate in Social Service (CSS) and the Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW) were the qualifications that were undertaken. Whilst these, alongside the Diploma in Social Work (DipSW) are still recognised qualifications for those returning to the workplace, new social work students will now undertake the aforementioned academic degree with integrated work placements.

If you think that you’ll struggle to cover living expenses whilst studying, you should also note that there are some bursaries available to help sustain your income.

Transferable Skills

  • If you’re already in a career, there are some Transferable that you could employ, you will need to:
  • Be a positive person
  • Have very good problem-solving skills
  • Have commitment
  • Be socially competent
  • Possess organisational, time-management and good communication (particularly listening and analytical) skills

These are all skills that can be transferred from other careers and professions, particularly where you have previously worked face-to-face with different sorts of people. Mediation skills are also vitally important.

Because social workers often work in a team with many other professionals, such as those in healthcare, you will also need to be an excellent team player. In some cases, team leaders will also have their own team of social work assistants, so team leadership skills may also be relevant. You will often have to liaise with a number of different agencies about different cases and individual circumstances, which requires a patience and multi-tasking ability.

In some cases, knowledge and understanding of the law and legal procedures will be of importance. While this can be covered in training, any previous  experience of this will be an absolute bonus. You should also seriously consider the benefits of working in a paid or voluntary position in a community care centre or residential home, as experience is always looked upon favourably. It will also help you to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as providing an understanding of just what sort of work is involved in a career as a social worker.

Career Development and Salary

It is assumed that the more you progress in your career as a social worker, the less practical work you will undertake. Career development in social work tends to veer towards developing a specialism, for instance working in the foster care system, or with drug abusers.

Through additional training there are also opportunities to enter more managerial and team leader positions, or even as a teacher, lecturer or political consultant.

As you might expect, a social worker’s salary can depend on experience and qualifications. However, generally a social worker can earn from £20,000 up to £40,000. Management roles will earn you up to £60,000, with senior management roles earning beyond £70,000 for a 37 hour week.

Working in social care can be extremely challenging, stressful and heavy workloads are common. However, often the emotional rewards and contributions made to individuals, communities and society can outweigh the stresses and strains.



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One Response to So You Want To Be A Social Worker?

  1. Jan Hinton says:

    I would like to use your safeguarding children image in a booklet about safeguarding in an NVQ workshop for parents who want to be helpers in school. Is it copyrighted?

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