21 December 2014
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Becoming a social worker

Do you enjoy working closely with people, helping them to resolve problems and issues in their lives. If you do and are interested in learning about what it takes to become a social worker then this is the page for you.

Being a social worker is a responsible position. It can be a very challenging job, but also a very rewarding and satisfying one. You will be involved in changing peoples lives and shaping their future. For instance you could be trying to keep families together working in children's homes, assisting young people who are leaving care or supporting children who have problems at school.

You must have excellent communication and mediation skills as you will be working with people face to face on complex issues. Your job will primarily consist of trying to help individuals live more successful and stable lives within their communities.

Social workers can work in a variety of different locations like schools, charities, hospitals and local authorities. Specific areas you can specialise in are:

  • Foster care
  • Drug abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Mental health
  • Counselling
  • Working with children.

Training
You need to have a degree level professional qualification in social work. You should have no criminal convictions and be security cleared to work with children.

Anyone interested in becoming a social worker in the United Kingdom must have a honours or postgraduate degree in social work. Courses must be General Social Care Council approved. Your training course will include up to 200 days of practical integrated work placements.
The majority of degree courses are three years long. Most are full time, however a few universities offer part time degrees.

If you already hold a degree that is not is social work then you must complete a postgraduate course in social work.

Qualified social workers who wish to continue their education can do so by studying for post-qualifying awards under the PQ framework.

Registration
In the UK once qualified and in order to practise a social workers must be registered with the General Social Care Council.

Financial help whilst training
In some circumstances there are bursaries available to help sustain your income whilst training. For more student funding information contact the NHS Business Services Authority .

Duties and responsibilities:

  • Working with vulnerable people, their families, friends and neighbours from all social backgrounds.
  • Building relationships, establishing trust and giving practical and emotional support.
  • Assisting those who feel socially excluded by providing them with guidance and support.
  • You need good administrative skills as you will have to assess, review and maintain records of people under your care.
  • The ability to work as part of a team is crucial. You will have regular contact with other health care workers, the police, probation services, schools and voluntary organisations. You will work closely with these professionals, sharing information about vulnerable people who may be at risk.
  • You need to be a good listener and have patience.
  • You must have excellent listening and observation skills so you can accurately assess family situations and relationships.
  • Be observant and able to investigate sensitive matters thoroughly.
  • The ability to find solutions to complicated personal problems.
  • Providing advice and counselling to people you are looking after.

Career development
Once you are qualified there are many opportunities to specialise in particular fields or rise into a management roles.

Newly qualified social workers or NQSWs as they are also known as, must continue their training throughout their career to ensure they remain on the social care register.

Working hours
Mostly office based however with regular visits to see clients. On average working 37 hours per week. These can be either 9 – 5 or shift based.

Salary
This depends on your experience and qualifications.

A typically starting salary can range between £20,000 to £23,000.

Salary for first managerial roles £30,000 - £41,000.

Further information
For information on which universities provide degree courses in social work visit the
Universities & Colleges Admissions Service website at:

http://www.ucas.co.uk/
Tel: 0871 468 0 468


General Social Care Council
Goldings House
2 Hays Lane
London
SE1 2HB
Tel: 0207 397 5800
Web: www.gscc.org.uk


British Association of Social Workers
16 Kent Street
Birmingham
B5 6RD
Telephone: 0121 622 3911
Website: www.basw.co.uk


Online degree
Online Social Work degree


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