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Social Worker

The Role

A social worker is committed to improving the well being of people. These people could have mental disabilities or drug and alcohol problems, they could be children who are at risk of abuse, refugees, homeless people, or older people who are no longer as independent as they used to be.

Social workers form relationships with these people, helping them to find solutions to problems and to cope with challenges that they face.

Social work can be split into two broad categories in which people work, with children, young people and families being the first, and adults the second.

Working with children, younger people and families can involve visiting families, running community support groups for parents, handling foster care and adoption processes, working with young people who get in trouble with the law, and those young people who are affected by illness in the family.

As for social work for adults, this may see a social worker helping people with mental disabilities to live independently or in sheltered accommodation. They could work with offenders to help them get re-established in the community and to prevent them from re-offending, and help to provide care for older people who aren’t as capable of living alone as before.

Social workers may provide personal support to people through giving advice, listening, and acting as their advocate. And sometimes they put together planned ‘packages of care’, working with people from a whole host of sectors, including police, medical staff, probation officers, and lawyers.

Employment can come from local authorities (local government), the NHS and also independent organisations and charities.

A kind and caring nature is needed for social work, as the focus of this career is to improve the welfare of other people. Patience and an ability to be persuasive are helpful, as is being open-minded and non-judgemental. This can be a stressful career, so the ability to handle pressure is also needed.


How to get into social work

To get into the profession, a degree in social work is required. This can be achieved by taking a three-year undergraduate degree on an accredited course, or a faster postgraduate conversion degree after graduation from another Bachelors degree. The qualification entails coursework and a minimum of 200 days spent in practice settings. Once you have gained your qualifications, you must then be registered with the General Social Care Council (GSCC).

Qualifications and experience

In order to get onto a social work course, a minimum of two A-Levels are needed, but grade requirements vary between institutions.

A lot of people come to social work as a second or third career, bringing life experience to their role. For young people to go directly into a university course studying social work, they are often required to display an interest or commitment to helping and caring for people. Work experience such as volunteering with a local organisation or charity may be one such way to do this.

Salary expectations

The average salary for a social worker is £29,000. A starting salary can range from £23,000 to £30,000 with senior roles raising up to £57,000, or possibly even beyond.

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