How do you become a Social Worker?

There is a lot you need to know about becoming a social worker. In this article, you will find out the ins and outs of starting your career as a social worker. We’ll be touching on what courses you need to take, the skills that can advance your career and what degrees you can enrol for at university. Additionally, your expected salary and additional information are important for you to know.

What do Social Workers do?

Being a social worker can be a challenging yet rewarding job. Depending on your chosen area, you may work with children, families or adults. You are required to offer counselling and support to at-risk or vulnerable individuals or families; this support can come with support plans made by you.

Ensuring your ability to use computers is crucial; keeping records of families and writing reports is a major part of your day-to-day tasks. Supervisors also have access to these reports to discuss cases, to find effective solutions and counselling methods.

Clients’ safety by protecting vulnerable people from harm and supporting those to live independently. Working with large communities, health professionals and other social workers to help families and individuals.

Independent living can be the goal for many clients, helping them develop and maintain living skills. And checking in on clients through meetings and assessments for individuals and families to update on issues and make positive changes to their lives.

Some issues which social workers help families/individuals with are psychological, health and financial problems. Assisting victims of abuse through counselling and advice on bettering their life.

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What qualifications do you need to become a Social Worker?


Becoming a social worker can require a degree and postgraduate qualifications approved by Social Work England. If you have a degree, most students continue with a 2-year postgraduate degree in social work. Enrolling in these courses requires 2 to 3 A-levels to start your degree. And a degree in any subject allows you to start a postgraduate course.

These are some of the university courses you can enrol in the UK:

  • Professional Practice in Mental Health Law Certificate
  • International Social Work
  • Health and Social Care


Instead of going to university, there are some higher education diplomas which are available to you. Your entry requirements for these courses are more accessible to the UK population; all you need is GCSEs in English and maths in grade 4 and above. These courses help develop your academic skills through researching and presenting critical thinking, problem-solving and time management.

Access courses are:

  • CERTA Level 3 Access to HE Diploma (Social Work) (QHA)
  • Certificate for Adult Social Care (Pre-Access) Level 2

Work Experience


Applying for degree apprenticeships is a great way for you to learn and gain experience through practical and academic studies. Apprenticeships in social work last around 3 years and allow you to study safeguarding and protection care plans for families and individuals. There are plenty of apprenticeships which are available across the UK.


To gain experience in social work, you have the option to volunteer. Working with vulnerable groups or children is a crucial quality and what most courses and jobs look for in a candidate. Applying for a social work assistant or support worker position are great options to develop your skills in a community setting.

Skills needed to become a Social Worker

DBS Check

When working with children or vulnerable adults, a DBS checkis mandatory to notify employers of your criminal record and to see if you are legally allowed to work with children or vulnerable adults. DBS checks normally show convictions, warnings and cautions throughout your life.


Working as a social worker can be a demanding job. Having empathy, to imagine yourself in someone else's situation and being understanding with them is a great quality to have. Possessing empathy skills helps you develop stronger relationships and bonds with your clients. This makes determining what they need easier and a unique experience.

Active Listening

Engaging in active listening in a conversation proves to clients your genuine care for their situation and difficulties. Social workers with active listening skills establish great trust and respect with clients. This trust eases clients, and they become more receptive to referrals made by social workers.

Social Workers Salaries in the UK

Salaries for social workers depend on your experience level. The starting salary for social workers is £24,000. More experienced workers or the highest paid workers can earn up to £60,000. Hourly pay can average between £17 and £19.

Social Workers Salaries in the UK

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Overview of Social Workers

Profession Group Health Care, Government and Education
Minimum Age 18 years old
Education Requirements Diploma or Degree in Social Work
Salary Indication £37,000
Related Jobs Counsellor, Teacher or Carer

FAQs about Social Workers

  • What are the functions of a Social Worker?

  • There are three functions of a social worker. These are:

    • Restorative/Curative and Rehabilitation
    • Preventive Function
    • Developmental Function

  • Can I become a social worker without a degree?

  • You are not able to become a social worker without an approved qualification, this being a BA or postgraduate masters in social work. However, you can do jobs as a social work assistant without any degree.

  • Do you need your maths GCSE for social work?

  • Yes, you need Maths and English, and three other GCSE passes.

See more of our professions guide