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How to become a social worker

Written by: Chloe Herrmann
Published on: 1 Sep 2022

How to become a social worker

Social Work is a varied, rewarding but also challenging career choice with the fundamental aim of improving people’s lives. There is currently a large demand for social workers within our local authorities in the West Midlands.

For more information on what a social worker does please visit our career spotlight page here.

What skills to social workers need?

These are the skills and qualities needed to become a social worker, according to the National Careers Service:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • resilience, 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
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
  • to be organised and skills in prioritising conflicting demands and priorities

What qualifications do you need & what are the options to achieve these? 

‘Social worker’ is a protected title, so the routes to qualifying as a social work professional are regulated by the UK care regulators - only those who have completed certain training can be a ‘social worker’.

It is a graduate profession therefore an honours (BA or BSc), or postgraduate, degree from an ‘approved’ course is required. Although each university / course sets its own entry requirements, you’ll generally need the following to apply:

  • minimum of 240 UCAS points
  • five GCSEs grade A* (9) to C (4) including English & maths (or equivalent)
  • In addition, you’ll usually need to have work experience (paid or voluntary) in a relevant field such as youth work, social care or working with young offenders.

How can you achieve the degree qualification?

This can be achieved by:

  • a university course - a degree or postgraduate qualification in social work approved by Social Work England. You can also do a 2-year postgraduate degree in social work if you have a degree in another subject. You may be eligible for a social work bursary
  • an apprenticeship – through an employer with study at a local university
  • a graduate training scheme - You can apply to do an intensive, work-based training programme for graduates if you've got a first or upper second-class degree in any subject except social work. The programmes are:

What next?

If you think a career as a social worker may be for you, you’ll need to take the next step and gain relevant experience, volunteer or apply for your chosen education pathway.

  • WMJobs has a wide range of roles in social caresome of which do not require qualifications or experience in the sector – these may enable you to gain an insight into the sector and relevant experience for your social work degree application
  • Search for local volunteering opportunities e.g., through NVCO
  • Take a look at 'How to become a social worker', from the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), the UK’s professional membership organisation for social work
  • Search for university courses approved by Social Work England

To view information on careers in adult social care, plus all the vacancies within our local councils, visit our Adult Social Care Career Hub