career paths available to social workers

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Maybe you’re thinking about a career as a social worker and wondering what opportunities are open to you? Perhaps you’ve already qualified and are trying to decide what’s next? Whatever your situation the great thing about social work is its diversity. There is plenty of scope for working in different areas, enjoying new experiences and helping many different people improve their lives.

fact:  A newly qualified social worker can expect to earn around £24,000 a year, rising to £40,000 with experience.

what qualifications do I need?

With any social work job, you’ll need a degree in social care approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and you’ll need to be registered either with the HCPC in England or one of three other professional bodies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

education welfare

Working in the education system can be immensely rewarding because you’ll be working alongside young people, helping to resolve any issues they face and encouraging them to reach their full potential.

You’ll work for a local education authority, often looking after a group of schools or academies in an area. The role involves identifying and working with schools to resolve attendance issues, meeting parents and pupils to explain responsibilities, working with families to access the right benefits such as free school meals, arranging education for excluded students, keeping case notes and working with parents and taking necessary action.

As well as being a qualified social worker, understanding the law around children and schools is vital. You could progress to team leader or head of education welfare in your area.

healthcare

As a healthcare social worker, you’ll work with a broad range of people from young people through to the elderly. You’ll also work with their families and other carers on anything from mental health to disabilities and substance abuse. You could work within a hospital setting or for a local authority. 

As your experience grows you could specialise in a particular area such as children’s mental health and become a senior social worker or manager.

mental health

In this role, you will work alongside other professionals in the healthcare system offering support to people with mental health issues. Your role will involve managing cases, assessing risk and safeguarding the people you work with.

An interest in mental health is vital along with experience of mental health services and knowledge of the relevant laws. You’ll also need to have Approved Mental Health Professional status from the local authority or NHS Trust you work for.

addiction/young offenders

In this area, you’ll work specifically with those suffering from substance misuse issues and young people who have come into contact with the justice system. This could involve attending court hearings, managing cases and working with other welfare or care workers. You’ll need experience working with young people as well as a thorough understanding of the UK youth justice system.

You’ll also help people to resolve their addictive behaviours by providing support, counselling and helping to implement treatment plans. As well as having excellent communication skills you must be non-judgemental and accept that frequent relapse is a real risk.

asylum/refugee

This role can include helping unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and adults get the help they need, whether that’s access to education, healthcare or accommodation. Knowledge of asylum legislation is important. It’s a role which can lead to more senior roles within asylum services or work with charitable bodies helping asylum seekers.

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