Sadly, society is filled with individuals who find themselves on the fringes or excluded altogether, or are experiencing some crisis in their lives. These people are often alone and need the help and support of a social worker to manage their problems. Social work has become a vital role in society and, to enter the profession, you need to be highly qualified.
To qualify for social work jobs, you will need to have at least an honours degree in a relevant discipline. These subjects include social care, social sciences, legal studies and public administration, but to be certain that your chosen subject is acceptable, you should check with the General Social Care Council (GSCC) for a list of approved courses.
Courses usually last three years full-time, but part-time study options are also available. About one third of the course involves practical training in the field while the rest is academic. On completion of your studies you could go on to obtain a Masters degree or else start work. You will, however, need to register with the GSCC before taking employment.
University entry requirements vary, but normally you will need five passes in GCSE at Grade C or above and at least two passes at A level or BTEC National Diploma Level 3 in health and social care.
As a social worker, you will have a challenging and varied role in which no two days are ever the same. You are likely to find yourself in a number of different environments. You may have to work from such diverse locations as schools, hospitals, local authority premises and even prisons, or you may have to visit clients in their homes.
You will need to be prepared for anything. Often you will find yourself working with at-risk young people such as young offenders, absentees from school and substance abusers. You could also be involved with the elderly or the homeless or with dysfunctional families. Anywhere, there are people in need of help, there you could be lending a vital hand.
Your role will be to assess and report on given situations and to recommend appropriate courses of action. You will liaise with relevant organisations to ensure that clients get the best help available and you will be expected to offer counselling and information to your clients. In some circumstances, you will even be required to give evidence in court.
For all your efforts, you can expect to be paid reasonably well. If you are newly qualified, your salary will be in the region of £19,000 rising to around £32,000 as you become more experienced. If eventually you rise to a management role, you can expect up to £38,000 and much more if you reach the directorate level. To be sure you get the salary you deserve be sure to use a reputable recruitment agency like randstad care
Is social work for you?
Social work is more of a calling than a profession. You need to have a steely determination to help those who are in need and you will get a great deal of satisfaction when you achieve positive results. Working with the disadvantaged, however, can take a huge emotional toll, so you have to be prepared; outcomes are not always going to be as you want them to be and that can be hard to take. But, knowing that you are making a difference in people’s lives and that your role is so important and valued by those you help, should be enough to make up for the disappointments.