How to get into social work Careers
Looking to get into social work? Lucy from socialworkerblog.co.uk answers some common questions and explains the different ways you can enter the profession.
What qualifications do I need in order to do a social work degree?
Required qualifications can vary slightly between each university but this shows you the basic requirements…
- You need to have at least 5 GCSE’s between A* and C. For a social work course this will need to include English and Maths
- You will also require a least 2 A Levels. Each university will have their own specifications on the amount of required UCAS points.
- Other qualifications are considered if you do not have A levels as long as they are to the same standard. An example of this is an NVQ Level 3 in Health and Social Care of a BTEC National Diploma.
It’s important to be aware that you’ll be required to have a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check completed on you prior to starting any social work relevant training. This looks into your criminal records to determine whether you are appropriate to work with vulnerable children and adults.
You will also be required to register with the HCPC (health and care professions council) and meet their standards and guidelines during your training and throughout your practice as a social worker.
What are my options if I want to become a social worker?
Social work is a professional qualification and you will require an honours degree or a postgraduate degree in social work to practice in this field, which needs to be approved by the HCPC.
To become a student social worker you’ll be expected to show an understanding of the job-role and have some relevant experience.
If you don’t have any work experience, voluntary work in the care sector will be highly beneficial to you. It can be hard for applicants to be accepted onto a social work course if they have a lack of previous experience. I found that social work programmes can be competitive due to the number of applicants and so you need to think carefully about your options of getting this experience. However, it is possible to be offered a place.
To give yourself the best chance, it’s vital that you can show your interests, commitment and skills to this profession. Here are a few ways of doing just that…
Full time/ part time Undergraduate degree BA/ BCs Hons in social work.
This is a full time course that would take place over three years (a part time course would normally take 5 years to complete). You will have a number of placements throughout the years which will equate to 200 days during the course of the degree.
The MA (Masters Degree) in social work
This is available to those who have a BA degree of 2:1 or above and allows you to train for two years in order to receive this professional qualification. Over the two years you will have two placements amounting to 170 days in total. If you have a 2:2 you’ll still be considered if you have a high level of previous experience.
Open University Course
This is available to if you’re already working in the social care remit and would like to further enhance your qualifications in order to become a social worker. Your employer needs to be in agreement with this course as there are practice elements and requirements that are essential. This course is part time and you can continue in your current job during this time.
For full time, part time, masters and Open University courses the application process will include a written exam and an interview. You’d learn in a classroom environment (except Open University applicants), studying and preparing for examinations, assignments, presentations and later a dissertation. In some cases a local authority may be willing to sponsor you to undertake training to enable you to become social worker. However, this would need to be discussed with your management before any decisions could be made.
Step up to social work
This new initiative has been funded by the Department of Education and is supported by a large number of local authorities.
This is an option if you’ve already been awarded a degree in any subject which does not include social work. There is a minimum grade requirement which is dependent on the level of the degree from the UK university you have been awarded. For example, a minimum of a 2:1 is required for a level 6 degree, a minimum of a 2:2 at a level 7 degree and a minimum of a 2:2 honours degree alongside a postgraduate diploma or certificate. It is important to note that this is offered for people who want to work in the children and families sector only.
This programme is intensive, competitive and challenging for the 14 months that it runs and is a full-time course. It is designed to cover all areas that are required to practice as a social worker. This involves a combination of intense work experience and academic training that run alongside one another. You need to be prepared for the fact that you will be working with vulnerable children early on in the course and this can be emotionally challenging.
Upon completion of the programme you will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. The benefits of this programme if you are accepted onto this course you will be awarded £19,833 to help with your expenses during its duration.
You can check on university websites to check their specific entry requirements. The HCPC website also provides a list of approved education and training programmes which can help you in the search for the right course for you.
By Lucy from the Social Worker blog
Lucy is a qualified Social Worker with a BA Degree from Nottingham Trent University. She blogs about social worker careers, advice and guidance at The Social Worker Blog. She has sound knowledge when working with children and their families and has worked in many teams including intake and assessment, Child in Need and Child Protection.