This is one of the most exciting and rewarding professions around and it means helping people in the community at many different levels and in different ways too.
What’s it all about?
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 in improve outcomes in people’s lives.
Social workers are primarily tasked with supporting families and vulnerable children/adults through difficult times.They act as guides and sometimes have to be called on to make difficult decisions in order to safeguard the wellbeing and safety of their charges.
Social work could involve you working in a variety of different settings including schools and hospitals as well as children’s homes and other public sector organisations.
Your responsibilities will include:
It’s very important to remember that a social worker may well have to work with a variety of people. Their needs will be different and will bring different demands. However, the typical ‘range’ of supported people includes:
- Young offenders
- Children who are not attending school
- Drug abusers and alcohol abusers
- People in the community who have a learning disability, as well as those who have physical disabilities
- People who suffer from mental health conditions and issues
- The elderly
The list doesn’t necessarily end there. Across the community, a social worker can be asked to undertake a variety of tasks and work with many different people.
These tasks will include:
- Report writing and presentation. A social worker will find themselves working with different agencies and professionals. This involves the creation of case reports. This will often include collaboration with different agencies
- Managing support packages. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job, and involves the social worker listening to the people involved and creating care packages that are bespoke and meet the needs of the vulnerable party
- Helping people with advice that is delivered sensitively and carefully
- Attending multidisciplinary team meetings that involve multiple agencies, including education, and the police
- Preparing reports that could be used in court as part of a legal action taken by the state, or clients
- Carrying out extensive interviews and meetings with the vulnerable party to prepare casework and reporting
So how do you get there?
You will have to obtain a degree to be considered for employment as a social worker. You can complete a degree in a range of subjects and then pursue the social work qualification as a postgraduate.
Some social workers have completed a degree in social work. If you follow this route it is expected that you will have achieved honours. You can combine a degree with the postgrad degree and still have the same entry into the profession. With the postgraduate training you will be expected to have at least a 2:2 award at degree level.
There is a wide range of employers who will take you on as a social worker. The obvious first area on the list is the local authority, which has a social care department and will employ social workers directly for that department.
You can also be employed by:
- Primary care/health service trusts
- GP practices
- Children’s homes
There are also social workers who work on a freelance basis. The expertise a social worker can bring to child protection and other safeguarding matters is in demand, and a social worker can find work through a specialist agency.
Show me the money
Unlike with other public sector jobs, there are no actual national pay scale requirements with social work. As things stand, you can expect to start on around £22,000 per year.
As your career progresses and leads into management responsibility and so on, you can expect your salary to rise significantly. Some senior social workers are earning close to £50,000 a year with management and leadership experience.
If you work for the NHS exclusively, you will start on band 6. This means that you can expect an annual salary of somewhere between £26,000 and £35,000.
Is it for me?
It is a caring profession, and that is why so many people try to enter the field. The work can be very demanding though, and social workers often find themselves being part of a team that works on distressing cases.
At the same time, this is why people do it. If you’re genuinely wanting to work on caring for people in the community, this could be the career for you. Click here to find out more about social work careers.