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Becoming a social worker

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Social Workers are the unsung heroes of our communities. If you are wondering if the role could be suitable for you, then have a read through our quick guide to the job below:

What Does a Social Worker Do?

Social Workers fulfil a wide variety of functions, but these fall broadly into two fundamental areas:

• Providing support and advice to families and individuals, often those living in the margins of society
• Helping these people access the services that are available to them and appropriate for their needs
People that Social Workers help often face significant challenges. Examples of those in need include:
• Young people who are in care
Homeless individuals
• Addicts
• Fosterers and adoptive parents
• Those with learning difficulties, mental health issues, or disabilities
Most Social Workers specialise in working with one of the following groups:
• Families
• Children
• Users of adult services

Pay and Conditions

As a rough guide, the starting salary for a Social Worker ranges from £19500 to £25000 depending on qualifications and experience. This can rise to between £26000 and £40000 for staff with more experience and additional responsibilities.
Hours can vary depending on the specific role you do. Many positions work standard office hours, sometimes with an ‘on-call’ night rota. Other roles requirement 24/7 cover, and you may work shifts as part of a team. It is worth noting that Social Work is one job where job-shares and flexible hours are often available.

In many positions the work is a blend of office-based activities, and time off-site at a range of other locations, such as hospitals, health centres, private homes and residential care facilities.

Qualifications and Entry Requirements

becoming a social workerSocial Workers in England are obliged to undertake a period of study to prepare them for the diversity and complexity of the role. A Health and Care Professions Council approved three-year undergraduate degree, or a two-year post-graduate degree is required. This study can be done full-time or, in some cases, a trainee can study on-the-job. Those with an existing degree can take a Masters in the appropriate subject, and may also be able to undertake this as work-based study.

In order to be accepted on one of the degree courses mentioned above, applicants need:

• 5 GCSEs at grades A-C, including Maths and English
• Minimum 2 A ‘Levels, a BTEC National Diploma, or an NVQ Level 3 in Health and Social Care
If your qualifications are limited don’t be put off – it may still be worth approaching a study provider as some institutions will accept relevant experience instead, whether voluntary or paid. In fact, many courses look for this in addition to academic qualifications, and view it as equally important.
Successful applicants will have to pass background checks from the Disclosure and Barring Service, but unlike teaching and similar jobs, previous criminal cautions or convictions will not necessarily prevent you from becoming a Social Worker.

Skills and Personal Qualities

Social Workers often work in very challenging environments, with a diverse range of people. That requires a certain set of skills, which include the following:

• First-rate communication and people skills
• An attitude that is non-judgemental
• Time management and organisational capabilities
• Patience, empathy and a great deal of tact and diplomacy
• Ability to gain the trust of people from a variety of backgrounds
• Be able to think on your feet and assess and respond to situations quickly
Ability to work within a team
• Resilience

Social Work can be an extremely demanding job, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. If, after reading all of the above, you think it could still be for you, then contact your local authority for more details. Today could be the first day on the path to your new career.

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, whatsapp plus,travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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