The majority of graduates go on to practise as social workers but the skills gained are also highly relevant for a range of related social care roles...
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Family support worker
- High intensity therapist
- Primary care graduate mental health worker
- Probation officer (Northern Ireland)
- Social worker
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Adult guidance worker
- Advice worker
- Careers adviser
- Charity officer
- Community development worker
- Play therapist
- Volunteer coordinator
- Youth worker
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. If you haven't already done so, take a few minutes to answer the Job Match questions to find out what careers would suit you.
Previous work experience in an area relating to social work is extremely important for entry into the profession. This may be through paid positions or voluntary work and can include roles in community care centres, working with children or with vulnerable adults.
Any roles that show you can demonstrate empathy, along with a genuine desire to improve the quality of the lives of others, are helpful.
An interest or participation in your local community is also useful. Relevant voluntary work may be found through Volunteering Matters.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Most social workers are employed by local authority children's or adult services. Increasingly, however, opportunities are available with voluntary organisations or charities, such as:
Some social workers work for the National Health Service (NHS) in mental health trusts, community-based settings or in prisons; either employed directly or seconded from local authorities. There are also jobs available in the private sector, such as with private fostering agencies and it is possible to do supply work for social work staffing agencies.
Skills for your CV
A social work degree includes 200 days of assessed practice, carried out in professional settings, to gain essential practical skills for the role of social worker and to work as part of a social care workforce, increasingly in integrated teams and alongside professionals in the NHS, schools, police and housing.
Courses cover the study of ethics, including respecting diversity and promoting social justice. You will develop skills of judgement and become more accountable, reflective, critical and evaluative.
Transferable skills gained include:
- communication skills;
- analysing a situation and problem solving;
- managing conflict;
- negotiating plans and goals.
You will also develop effective time management skills.
In order to practise as a social worker, you will need to register with the:
- Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in England
- Care Council for Wales
- Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC)
- Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)
You will need to re-register every two years and take part in continuing professional development (CPD), which can include post-registration training, study and conferences. In Northern Ireland, newly qualified social workers are required to spend an assessed year in practice before they can register.
To progress or specialise, there are three levels of HCPC-approved, post-qualifying awards in five different areas of social work:
- children, their families and carers;
- leadership and management;
- practice evaluation;
- social work in mental health services;
- social work with adults.
These are usually studied part time in-service.
The HCPC also defines standards of proficiency in healthcare roles in England, including standards of proficiency in social care work. See each of the individual social care councils for the equivalent standards in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Options for postgraduate study for those interested in other, or related, careers include community justice, social policy, social research, counselling and teaching.
What do social work graduates do?
Almost two thirds of graduates in employment in the UK are working as social workers six months after graduation.
|Working and studying||3.9|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Legal, social and welfare||79.9|
|Childcare, health and education work||7.7|
For a detailed breakdown of what physics graduates are doing six months after graduation, see What Do Graduates Do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.