How to Become a Social Worker

how to become a social worker

There are many roles within the Health and Social Care sector, such as Support Workers, Service Managers, Occupational Therapists, Nurses, Counsellors and Social Workers, to name a few.

This article focuses on how to become a Social Worker and the amazing role they play in so many people’s lives. If you’re considering a career as a Social Worker and are interested in learning about the process of how to become one, or you’re looking for a career change and are interested in the kind of work a Social Worker does, you’re in the right place!

What does a Social Worker do?

Social Work is a varied role that involves helping individuals who require support to live safe, empowered, independent lives.

As a Social Worker, generally you will go into either Adult Social Care or Child Social Care. You may work with people of all ages from a range of backgrounds, including children with disabilities, older people who need support, individuals with mental health diagnoses, young offenders, or children who are at risk of abuse or neglect.

You will also work with these individuals’ families, other care teams, and local authorities.

Social Work is a varied and rewarding career. This video from the British Association of Social Workers demonstrates just some of the differences you could make to someone’s life as a Social Worker.

Social Worker job responsibilities

Key responsibilities for a Social Worker can include:

  • Managing a caseload of clients
  • Offering advocacy, information, and support to your clients
  • Signposting to counselling services
  • Identifying the type of care and support each of your clients require and organising for this support to be put in place
  • Continually assessing and reviewing clients care needs to ensure they continue to receive the appropriate support
  • Attending meetings and visiting clients
  • Liaising with other care teams, local authorities, and communities
  • Referring clients to specialist services, for example, specialist mental health support services, or supported living accommodation
  • Writing reports, contributing to care plans and keeping records up to date
  • Completing Continued Professional Development (CPD) to keep your knowledge up to date

Who could I support as a Social Worker?

As a Social Worker, you could specialise in a particular area, for example mental health or child services, or you could support a mix of individuals with different needs. Your caseload of clients could include:

  • Individuals with mental health diagnoses, learning disabilities or physical disabilities
  • Bereaved individuals or families
  • Individuals who need support to adapt and adjust to life changes such as illness or disability
  • Vulnerable children
  • Homeless individuals

How do I become a Social Worker?

So now you know a brief overview of what the role entails, how do you become a Social Worker?

To work as a Social Worker, you will require a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, or a master’s degree in Social Work.

A Social Work degree typically takes three or four years to complete. Entry requirements vary between courses, but you will generally need a minimum of 5 GCSE’s A*-C, including English and Maths, and 2 A-Levels or equivalent.

A master’s degree takes 2 years to complete, but you must have a degree in another subject in order to apply.

Hands-on experience is also an important part of becoming a Social Worker. As part of a Social Work degree, you will have the opportunity to undertake a work placement to allow you to gain experience and put your learnings into practice.

If going to university to study isn’t for you, not to worry, as an apprenticeship standard in Social Work has been approved.

You will need to apply for an apprenticeship role with a healthcare provider to get onto a degree apprenticeship in Social Work. You can check for vacancies on the NHS website.

If you’re looking to change careers but are worried that a lack of experience may pose a barrier to becoming a Social Worker, consider some volunteer work to get a feel for the role and gain some experience.

Once you have qualified, to practise as a Social Worker you are required to register with the relevant care council, Social Work England, Social Care Wales (SCW), Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) or Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).

The Social Work register provides assurance that you have the right skills and qualifications to practice safely and effectively. You are required to re-register every couple of years, and you will need to complete at least one piece of CPD to do so, to show that you are actively learning and keeping up to date with best practice.

Is the role of a Social Worker right for me?

Certain skills are well-suited to the role of a Social Worker. These include the ability to stay calm under pressure, problem solving skills, and the ability to work well as part of a team.

To have a successful career as a Social Worker, you will also need to have certain personal qualities. Good organisational skills, being caring, empathetic, and resilient are must-haves.

The role of a Social Worker is varied and rewarding, but it can be challenging and emotionally difficult at times. Support is available to help in these instances. Your employer should have resources that you can access when you need support. There are also a wide range of organisations that offer advice and support across a range of topics such as emotional support or legal advice. You can find a list of these organisations on the Social Work England website.

If you possess the qualities listed above and are prepared to work with people from across different backgrounds, deal with challenging behaviour, and be understanding of the needs of others, you will thrive in the role of a Social Worker.

Social Workers and Northern Healthcare

Here at Northern Healthcare, our teams work closely with Social Workers and other Adult Health and Social Care professionals to ensure we are continually providing the best support to our residents. We will work together with Social Workers and care teams to promote greater independence and mental health recovery for adults living with a mental health diagnosis, autism, learning disability and/or brain injury.

We are passionate about supporting our residents and we love to share their stories. Sharon, a resident at Radcliffe House, settled into the service and is doing so well that her care team have stepped back, and she no longer has a named Social Worker. Read Sharon’s story here.

Find out more about careers in Adult Health and Social Care with Northern Healthcare. 

Are you interested in a career in Health and Social care? Why not check out our current job vacancies today?

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