Social worker

Social workers help to protect vulnerable children and adults from harm or abuse, and support people to live independently.

Average salary (a year)

£24,000 Starter


£40,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on a rota

How to become a Social worker

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a graduate training scheme


You'll need to take a degree or postgraduate qualification in social work approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

You could do a 2-year postgraduate degree in social work, if you have a second class or higher degree in another subject.

You may be eligible for social work funding.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) or above and 2 to 3 A levels
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

More information

Volunteering and experience

Experience of working with vulnerable groups or children is essential for most courses and jobs.

You can get experience by volunteering in the community, with a charity or through paid work. Do-it has information on voluntary opportunities in your area.

Other routes

You could apply to do an intensive, work-based training programme for graduates if you've got a first or upper second class degree in any subject except social work. The programmes are:

More information


Further information

You can get advice about becoming a social worker from the British Association of Social Workers and Think Care Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to work well with others
  • knowledge of psychology
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • active listening skills
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • offering information and counselling
  • putting together support plans
  • keeping records and writing reports
  • working with other professionals
  • supervising team members
  • attending court
  • discussing your cases through regular supervision

Working environment

You could work in an office, in an NHS or private hospital, at an adult care home, at a children's care home or in the community.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

During your first year in work your employer may offer the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE). This includes extra support like:

  • regular supervision
  • a training and development plan
  • time to meet your training and development needs

You'll 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've completed your ASYE, you'll be given a training pathway to keep your skills current and to help you progress. Each local authority will have a career pathway, with some offering the chance to study for an MA in Advanced Professional Practice.  

With experience, you'll usually find opportunities to progress into management, research or study for a PhD. You could also become a practice educator and train and mentor students from your partner university.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a Social worker right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Access to Social Work & Social Science Level 3

  • Provider: OLDHAM COLLEGE
  • Start date: 02 September 2019
  • Location: OLDHAM

Access to Social Work - Higher Education Diploma

  • Start date: 03 September 2019
  • Location: Blackpool

Get help using this service

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