Starting a career in social work can be tough, but if you’re willing to study hard and work to gain the professional experience you need, it can be an extremely rewarding career. Here’s our guide to getting started and moving on up in the world of social care.
Social work has an extremely important part to play in the local community, but getting your first job can be quite challenging depending on the type of role you’re looking for and the region you live in. The good news is that qualified social workers are always in high demand, but it’s still important to do plenty of career planning before you jump headfirst into a new role. This will allow you to gain relevant experience in your chosen area of practice and increase your chances of landing the perfect job.
Choosing a social care course
Social work is a graduate profession, so you will need either an honours or a postgraduate degree in social work, which is approved by the Health & Care Professions Council. The diploma in social work (DipSW) and other qualifications are still recognised, but they are no longer available to new entrants. Most undergraduate courses are full-time and last three years, although there are some part-time courses available.
There are also a number of jobs in the social care sector that do not require a degree. For example, there are no formal entry requirements for social work assistant jobs. However, you will improve your chances of success if you have relevant voluntary or paid experience and a Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care, or a Level 2 Certificate in Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care.
It’s also a good idea to build up as much as social work experience as you can. For example, newly-qualified social workers often register with a social care recruitment agency and work in a related role to build their professional experience.
How to get ahead in social work
The Professional Capabilities Framework is a resource hosted by the British Association of Social Workers, which is an excellent source of reputable information if you want to learn more about social work. The Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) sets out the professional capabilities social workers must have from entry level up. This makes it an incredibly valuable resource for qualified social workers, who can see the formal training and specialist courses they will need to complete to further their careers.
Opportunities for progression
There are plenty of opportunities for career progression for social workers. Typically, career progression would see experienced social workers move into a management position, although there are also new principal social worker roles for experienced social workers who are committed to frontline work.
Social work skills are highly valued in the private sector, as well as the NHS and local authorities. Perhaps the biggest growth is currently in the voluntary sector, where experienced social workers can become independent practitioners or get involved in advocacy and community work.
There are a number of specialist agencies that place workers in social care roles with local authorities, private and voluntary organisations. Working for an agency can give you valuable experience across a wide range of roles and employers. This is an excellent way of building your knowledge and determining your future career path.
At Seven Social Care, we take a personal approach to every placement, cherry-picking the best roles to give our candidates the very best experience. We also provide ongoing support throughout the role, and ensure you are paid on time, every time! Get started by registering with Seven Social Care today.