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Social worker

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

Annual Salary

£27,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2023 was £34,963
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on a rota

Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Social worker jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

Your tasks will depend on if you work with children, families or adults.

As a social worker, you could:

  • meet individuals and families to review needs and make support plans
  • help clients develop and maintain independent living skills
  • keep clients safe and take action to protect them when necessary
  • work closely with communities, health professionals and other agencies
  • keep records, write reports and discuss cases with your supervisors

Working environment

You could work in an office, in an NHS or private hospital, at an adult care home, at a children's care home or in the community.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • a graduate training scheme

You could do a degree in social work approved by Social Work England.

You could also do a postgraduate degree in social work, if you have a degree in another subject. This postgraduate degree takes 2 years.

You might be able to get a social work bursary.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course
For more information

You could do a Social Worker Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship, which takes around 3 years.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
For more information
Volunteering and work experience

You'll need experience of working with vulnerable groups or children for most courses and jobs.

To get skills and experience, you could:

Other routes

Graduate training scheme

If you already have a 2:

  • 2 (second class) degree, you could do an intensive, work-based training programme to gain a master's degree or postgraduate diploma in social work.

The programmes are:

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

It's possible to do a degree in social work and learning disabilities nursing.

You'll need to check that the course is recognised by the relevant professional bodies. You can get advice about this from course providers.

Further information

You can get more advice about becoming a social worker from Think Care Careers.

Explore roles in child and family social work to find more information on management and specialist roles.

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Professional development

During your first year as a social worker, your employer might offer you professional development, like the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE).

This includes extra support like:regular supervision; a training and development plan; time to meet your training and development needs


With experience you could:study for a postgraduate MA in Advanced Professional Practice with a local authority; research or study for a PhD; move into management; become a practice educator and train and mentor students

Explore roles in child and family social work to find more information on progressing into management and specialist roles.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of sociology and an understanding of society and culture
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • active listening skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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