Social Worker

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

You’ll work with a range of people including children, families and vulnerable adults needing protection.

The people you’ll support could be homeless children or adults, or people with drug, alcohol or substance misuse problems. In some roles, you might support children and adults with learning disabilities or physical disabilities.

You might also work with:

  • people of all ages with mental health problems
  • looked after children and young people
  • carers and adopters
  • older people
  • people receiving end of life and palliative care
  • people in prison with social care needs
  • young offenders
  • refugees and asylum seekers
  • people at risk of abuse and neglect or who have been abused or neglected
  • victims of domestic violence

You’ll provide help and support to improve people’s lives. You may visit people in their homes to look at their needs and build relationships with them.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • 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


You’ll need:

  • a qualification in social work
  • IT skills

As well as:

  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • the ability to build working relationships with families, groups and professionals (teamwork)
  • 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
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a social worker in the UK, you will need to complete certain educational and training requirements. There are no specific GCSE subjects that are mandatory for becoming a social worker, but there are subjects and skills that can be beneficial in preparing for this career. Social work involves helping individuals and communities, often in challenging situations, so a well-rounded set of skills and knowledge is important. Here are some GCSE subjects and skills that can be advantageous:

  1. English Language: Strong communication skills are essential for social work. You need to be able to communicate effectively with clients, colleagues, and other professionals.
  2. Mathematics: Basic mathematical skills can be useful for tasks such as budgeting and financial planning for clients in need.
  3. Science: Understanding basic scientific principles can be valuable, as it provides a foundation for understanding health and well-being, which are often aspects of social work.
  4. Psychology: While not typically offered at the GCSE level, psychology can provide valuable insights into human behavior and mental health, which are integral to social work.
  5. Sociology: Knowledge of sociological concepts can be beneficial for understanding societal structures and dynamics, which often influence the lives of individuals and communities you’ll work with.
  6. Health and Social Care: If offered, a course in health and social care can provide an introduction to the field and the principles of providing care and support to individuals.
  7. Child Development: An understanding of child development can be particularly useful if you plan to work in child and family social work.

Post School

You’ll need a degree in social work.  In the UK will need to be approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

You can study as an undergraduate, which will usually take 3 years full-time. If you’ve already got a first degree in another subject, you can take a 2 year master’s degree in social work. If your degree isn’t in social work, and if it’s a 2:1 or above, you could apply to a fast-track training route.

You are likely to need criminal or security clearance from the local authorities in the county you intend to work in.

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually work office hours or on a rota. You may work shifts, including nights, or be on call.

You may work in an office. Most offices operate a hot-desk system where you’ll be expected to work flexibly.

You may visit people in their homes. You could also work in a hospital or in a day, health or residential centre.

Career Path & Progression:

During your first year in work your employer may offer extra support like:

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

You’ll likely need to pass an examination during the first 12 months of being employed so that you can get your fitness to practice certificate.

When you’ve completed this, 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.