Social Work is a profession centred around people, from babies through to older people. Social Workers work with individuals and families to help improve outcomes in their lives; whether that be helping to protect vulnerable people from harm or abuse or supporting people to live independently. They act as advocates and direct people to the services they may require. Social workers often work in multi-disciplinary teams alongside health and education professionals.
Social Workers are required in a variety of organisations; many work for local authorities in departments that provide services for children or adults, some work in NHS Trusts and many others work in the voluntary or private sector.
Social Workers are trained and qualified with a degree in Social Work BA, CQSW, DipSW or a Masters degree in Social Work. People who want to undertake the Social Work degree need to show they have an understanding of social work and have some experience of social work or social care, prior to studying. This experience can be gained from paid work, voluntary work, a work placement or life experience.
The degree is based on the new curriculum for Social Work and allows students to gain a broad base in the key issues related to social work, such as the values and ethics that underpin social work, how social policies are formulated and put into practice, and the role of the law in social work. There are also modules that focus on specific areas of social work with children and families, with adult service users and community care.
The entry requirement for each course differs between higher education providers. The rule of thumb is that in England, you will need a minimum of 5 GCSE’s grade A* to C, including Maths and English and 2 A Levels. In Scotland, the minimum requirement for a degree is 4 Highers and in Northern Ireland, 3 B – grade A Levels or higher.
If you already have a degree in another subject, some universities offer a shorter post-graduate course leading to a Masters degree in Social Work. The Masters degree is usually two years long, meaning people on the course are required to go into their practice placements fairly soon into the degree. It’s therefore vital that people on this course have a good understanding of what social work entails, prior to enrolling.
As well as holding a degree in Social Work you will also need to have the following skills and abilities:
- Excellent communication and listening skills
- The ability to build working relationships with families, groups and professionals
- Tact and understanding
- The ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- Problem solving and report writing skills
- The ability to make decisions and use your professional judgement
- Administration and organisational skills
- IT skills
Salaries range from £22,000 for a newly qualified social worker and could rise up to £40,000 per annum as you take on additional tasks and gain responsibilities and experience.
London roles experience an increase in these figures due to the cost of living being higher.
Working hours can differ depending on caseload and area of activity. You may work office hours, on a rota or work shifts. The working environment could be purely office based, could involve visiting people in their own homes, or working in a hospital or residential centre.
Career Path and Progression
During your first year in work your employer might offer you an Assessed and Supported Year in Employment. This includes extra support including:
- Regular supervision
- Training and development plan
- Time required to meet your training and development needs
You will need to pass your ASYE in the first 12 months of being employed so that you can get your fitness to practice certificate.
When you have completed your ASYE, you will be given a training pathway to keep your skills current and to help you progress.
With experience and additional training, you will usually find opportunities to progress into senior and management roles.
Lastly, all social workers must be registered with a Care Council. To maintain high standards in social work, social workers must re-register every two years and complete post registration training and learning and also meet the criteria of re-registration.
If you are looking for a role in Social Work, contact us today. All our Social Work vacancies can be found on our website.
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