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Social Worker

What does a Social Worker do?

Social workers support individuals and their families through difficult times and ensure that vulnerable people, including children and adults, are safeguarded from harm. Their role is to help improve outcomes in people's lives. Careers can be in the charity sector or specialist roles, such as providing support for drug and alcohol users, homeless people and people with mental health issues.

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Types of social work:

Social workers work with the following groups:

  • People with learning and physical disabilities
  • The elderly
  • Young offenders
  • People with a mental health condition
  • School non-attenders
  • Drug and alcohol abusers
  • The homeless

How do I become a social worker?

If you would like to become a social worker you need to have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree related to social work. Gaining experience is also an important part of social work. You might need some prior social work experience before applying to study. The prior experience can be from voluntary work, paid or placement work, or even life experience. Lots of qualifications include work placements or internships to help you gain more experience.

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What skills does a Social Worker need?

  • Resilience to be able to deal with difficult situations
  • A flexible attitude and the ability to adapt to evolving roles, tasks and situations
  • The ability to understand different points of view
  • The ability to make good decisions under pressure and use your initiative
  • Strong observation and active listening skills
  • Understanding and sensitivity when dealing with difficult situations
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in a crisis
  • The ability to absorb legal and procedural information
  • Knowledge of psychology
  • Negotiation skills and the ability to mediate and interpret on behalf of service users
  • Good organisational skills and the ability to work autonomously
  • Empathy and a desire to improve the quality of someone’s life
  • The ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • A non-judgmental approach to work
  • Ability to think on your feet
  • The ability to work well with other health and social care professionals.

How much does a social worker earn in the UK?

A newly qualified social worker can earn between £24,000 and £30,000, depending on location and a local authority. If you start working with the NHS, you will start on band 6, with earnings between £32,000 and £39,000. With experience salaries can rise up to £40,000. More senior roles can earn around £45,000. Graduates on the Frontline social work programme can earn while studying towards a fully funded postgraduate degree and diploma.

You can receive a tax and NI exempt bursary of £18,000 or £20,000 in London during the first year of your studies. As a newly qualified social worker in Year two of your studies, you can earn a salary of up to £34,000, depending on location.

Useful links

For more information on jobs and what to expect from this career, please visit some of the most widely used sites for careers support.

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