what is a support worker?

Support work involves helping people with physical, emotional or mental problems to live independently. As a support worker, you provide emotional support and help your client complete their daily tasks and live fulfilled lives. The job is varied since each person has unique needs. For instance, a person with physical disabilities requires different support from someone with mental health needs.

As a support worker, you can work in a variety of settings. Some support workers work in domestic settings in people's homes which plays a role of a personal support worker, and some work in clinical settings like supported living facilities and care homes. Sometimes, you work in community settings managing facilities for people with special needs.

Would working as a support worker suit your compassionate nature and your ability to build strong relationships? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a support worker role.

support worker jobs

average salary of a support worker

According to ONS, the average salary of a support worker is £22,485 per year. When you are new to the profession, your take-home salary is £20,614 annually. Experienced support workers have a compensation package of up to £28,275 per year. Some support workers work for the NHS and are paid in Bands. A domestic support worker's salary starts at Band 1 or 2 at £18,546 per year and increases to over £20,000 annually with experience.

Apart from the basic pay, employers offer numerous benefits, such as medical and transport allowances. The NHS usually provides better benefits, including generous paid holidays and maternity leave.

How can a support worker boost their salary?

The compensation package for support work depends on the employer. Working for the NHS earns you a lower base salary, but you enjoy generous benefits. Working for the private sector increases your salary prospects, but the benefits aren't always as good. Your experience also dictates your earning potential. If you have many years of experience, your skills will earn you more than someone at entry-level with little or no experience. 

Your area of specialisation may also affect your salary. For instance, when you work in clinical settings, your earnings differ from those working in community or domestic settings.

two males sitting at a table having coffee
two males sitting at a table having coffee

types of support workers

Support workers have numerous specialisms depending on their work settings. Some include:

  • domestic support workers: as a domestic support worker, you support people in domestic settings like private residences or homes. Your job can include supporting young people, disabled adults and older people. You assist the patients in completing their daily tasks at home and with personal care.
  • clinical support workers: as a clinical support worker, you assist your patient with personal care in a medical or clinical environment like a hospital or private practice. Your job is to help the patients with their personal care routine in the hospital. For instance, you assist patients in changing into hospital gowns, using the bathroom or taking medication.
  • community support workers: as a community support worker, you support patients living in challenging situations or with an impairment in communal settings, such as care homes. You help them through physical disability or mental health crises.

working as a support worker

If you enjoy tending to people's needs and love working in a flexible work environment, becoming a support worker can be a fulfilling career for you. Let's explore the responsibilities and work schedules that make this an interesting career path.


support worker education and skills

Some of the educational qualifications of support workers include:

  • college course: to become a support worker, you can do a Level 3 Diploma in health and social care or a diploma for young people's workforce. You need 4 or 5 GCSEs to join the Level 3 Diploma courses.
  • apprenticeship: you can join apprenticeship programmes for adult care workers, young people and child practitioners. You need 4 to 5 GCSEs in grades 9 to 4. The apprenticeship allows you to gain work experience as you undergo training.
  • work experience: you need work experience to get a job as a support worker. You can gain experience through volunteering and internship programmes.

support worker skills and competencies

Some of the support worker qualifications and needs include:

  • compassion: as a support worker, you need to be compassionate. It enables you to connect well with patients and meet their needs. Compassion helps you become empathetic and show kindness to your patients.
  • trust and honesty: as a support worker, you should be honest with your patients and their doctors. Honesty also helps you build trust with your clients. Trust is important for support workers since it builds good relationships with clients, and they can rely on you when in need.
  • ability to motivate: as a support worker, you should build your clients' self-esteem and self-confidence. You should be able to encourage your patients to stay positive and overcome their physical and emotional limitations.
  • flexibility and adaptability: in support work, every day presents new challenges and obstacles. You need to adapt to the challenges and be flexible with regular changes in your duties.
smiling female
smiling female


FAQs about working as a support worker

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