Graduate jobs in social care

Jemma Smith, Editor
October, 2023

The one thing all social care jobs have in common is that they all aim to positively impact the lives of others. Explore the variety of careers on offer from adult guidance worker to youth worker

The social care sector has a number of issues, one of which is understaffing. Entry level salaries in social care can be lower than other industries and the work is demanding and emotionally challenging, meaning organisations struggle to retain their employees.

It's no surprise that employers are in need of compassionate, qualified workers. Don't let the sector's challenges put you off - the work is incredibly rewarding and starting salaries for graduate jobs in social care may be higher than you think. Here we outline a variety of social care careers so you can decide which would best suit you.

Adult guidance worker

Also known as education guidance workers, personal advisers or welfare advisers, adult guidance workers explain what education, work or training options are available to people and help them to make informed choices.

This job is open to graduates of all disciplines; entry without a degree or HND is possible for those with relevant experience, as long as you're prepared to train on the job.

Starting salaries vary from £19,000 to £25,000.

Gain an insight into the role of an adult guidance worker.

Advice worker

Providing free, impartial, confidential advice to clients on issues including debt, employment, housing, welfare and education, you'll work in advice and community centres, courts, doctors' surgeries and prisons.

While not essential, many advice workers possess a degree or postgraduate qualification.

Expect to start on a salary of £18,000 to £19,500.

Discover what it's like to work as an advice worker.

Care manager

Responsible for the running of a residential care setting such as elderly or nursing homes, children's homes, hospice care or supported housing, you'll recruit staff, manage budgets and ensure quality care is provided.

While a degree isn't necessary, many care managers have management qualifications or go on to further study in their specialism. A nursing, social work or health and social care degree can increase your chances of entry.

You can earn £25,000 to £55,000 in this role depending on the service and your experience.

Find out more about working as a care manager.


As a person of faith or particular philosophical beliefs you'll provide counselling and guidance to those in need in secular organisations. You could work in hospitals, care homes, schools, universities, prisons, in industry, community settings or the armed forces.

Chaplains usually have a degree in theology or religious studies and some are ordained within the Christian faith. However, you don't need to be ordained to work as a chaplain.

Pay varies widely depending on where you work, in the NHS you’ll usually start on a salary of £27,055, while salaries for assistant chaplain’s in a university setting are around £30,000.

Read up on what it's like to work as a chaplain.

Child psychotherapist

Graduate jobs in social care enable you to work with people of all ages. As a child psychotherapist you'll treat children and young people with depression, aggression, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, self-harming and psychosomatic disorders.

You'll need a Bachelors degree to get onto one of the accredited training routes provided by the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP) or the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), as well as experience of working with babies, children, young people or families.

As a trainee child psychotherapist in the NHS you’ll earn £35,329 to £42,618.

Discover what you could earn as a child psychotherapist.

Cognitive behavioural therapist (CBT)

CBT practitioners use talking therapy to help clients suffering with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorders to overcome negative patterns of thinking and behaviour.

You’ll need a degree in arts therapy, nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, psychotherapy or social work, as well as experience of working in mental health and a postgraduate CBT qualification.

Community arts worker

Jobs in social care also cover community roles such as a community arts worker, where you'll use art forms to engage with service users, including crafts, creative writing, dance, music, theatre and visual arts to support their development and improve their quality of life.

Look out for alternative job titles such as arts development officer, youth arts practitioner, and community projects assistant.

Salaries start salaries at £16,000 , but this rises to between £20,000 and £30,000 once you’ve gained experience.

Take a look at the qualifications you'll need to become a community arts worker.

Community development worker

In helping communities bring about social change and improve quality of life, you'll work to tackle inequality and set goals for improvement. You'll be the link between communities and other local authority and voluntary sector providers, such as the police, social workers and teachers.

This area of work is open to all graduates, but a degree or HND in social sciences may improve your chances.

When starting out expect to earn between £16,000 and £26,000.

Learn more about the salary of a community development worker.

Community education officer

Jobs in social care often overlap with other sectors such as healthcare, and in this case teaching and education. As a community education officer you'll organise and promote participation in local education or training opportunities. You'll often be working in areas of social deprivation or high unemployment.

A degree, HND or foundation degree in community education, educational studies, English or communication studies, social sciences or youth work may improve your chances.

In the public sector starting salaries are in the range of £23,500 to £28,000.

Read more about the role of a community education officer.

Counselling psychologist

You'll use psychological theory and research to help clients with bereavement, domestic violence, relationship troubles, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychosis. You'll work with children, adults, families and couples.

Within the NHS training counselling psychologists earn £32,306 to £39,027.

You'll need to undergo a high level of training to qualify. Find out more about the qualifications you need to become a counselling psychologist.


Helping people to explore feelings and emotions related to their experiences, you'll reduce a client's confusion and enable them to cope with challenges, or to make positive changes in their lives.

You don't need a degree or HND, as there are separate qualifications available at different levels.

Starting salaries are known to vary but usually fall between £20,000 and £26,000.

Find out what to expect from your job as a counsellor and discover some of the essential skills for a career in counselling.


Using the performing arts, it's your job to create a safe environment in which patients can explore and address a range of personal and social difficulties. You'll use puppetry, role play and storytelling to help both children and adults express issues in a way that's easier than talking about them directly.

Qualified dramatherapists in the NHS take home a salary of £33,706 to £40,588.

Find out more about becoming a dramatherapist.

Drug and alcohol worker

Helping people to tackle their drug and alcohol addiction, you'll assist clients in accessing counselling, healthcare and education and work irregular and unsocial hours, due to the on-call nature of the job.

There are no set entry requirements but experience of nursing, criminal justice, social care or youth work will be valuable.

Educational psychologist

Working with children and young people, you'll help solve problems that hinder their successful learning and participation in school and other activities. You'll work in a variety of ways including observations, interviews and assessments and offer appropriate interventions, such as learning programmes and collaborative work with teachers or parents.

A further aspect to the job is research and advising on educational provisions and policies.

As a trainee you'll receive a bursary of £15,950. Qualified educational psychologists can earn between £38,865 and £52,440.

Discover more about the role of an educational psychologist.

Equality, diversity and inclusion officer

Working within community services, you'll promote good relations and practices towards different minority groups. You'll support people who experience discrimination related to age, disability, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

You can become an equality, diversity and inclusion officer with any degree subject, although qualifications in business and management, community or youth studies, human resources, law, psychology or social work may increase your chances.

When starting out expect a salary of £18,000 to £28,000.

For further information on skills and work experience see equality, diversity and inclusion officer.

Family support worker

Employed by social services, local authorities or charitable organisations, you'll assist families experiencing difficulties by offering practical help and emotional support. You could help parents and children with social and personal issues, or specialise in a particular area, such as domestic abuse, bereavement or homelessness.

Starting salaries fall between £18,000 and £24,000.

Read more about what it takes to become a family support worker.

High intensity therapist

Working for the National Health Service (NHS) or a charitable organisation, you'll support individuals of all ages and cultural backgrounds who are experiencing mental health conditions, in particular moderate to severe depression and anxiety.

Working environments can be stressful and challenging, therefore, supervision by colleagues is important.

Within the NHS you’ll start on a wage of £33,706.

Take a look at what qualifications you need to become a high intensity therapist.

Housing policy officer

Housing policy officers research and develop policies for local authorities and housing associations. The work centres on affordable housing, homelessness or tenant participation. You'll need a relevant degree such as housing studies, town planning or social policy, or a professional qualification to enter the profession.

Life coach

Your main responsibility is to develop positive relationships with your clients in order to help them achieve their goals. This could be in a one-to-one setting or through group workshops, in areas such as career coaching, health and wellbeing, and personal development.

You'll need a non-judgemental, motivational attitude and a creative approach to problem solving. It's likely you'll be self-employed.

Most life coaches are self-employed and earn in the region of £40 to £60 an hour.

Learn more about the role of a life coach and discover what training to become a life coach involves.

Mental health social worker

You'll focus on working with, assessing and supporting people with metal, emotional or substance abuse issues. It's your job to empower and support individuals with these problems to lead independent, fulfilling lives.

You could specialise in working with children and young people or with adults.

An open mind, the ability to build relationships with clients and the capacity to manage a heavy caseload are essential to the job. A passion to raise awareness of mental health and improve community services will also stand you in good stead.

Play therapist

You'll need a relevant undergraduate degree, a postgraduate qualification and registration with appropriate professional bodies to become a play therapist.

Working with children, you'll use play as a communication tool to help them understand their world and to help them deal with emotional distress and trauma. The issues you deal with may be related to abuse, divorce, violence, learning difficulties and psychological problems.

Newly qualified play therapists earn £31,000 to £32,000.

Find out what it's like to work as a play therapist.

Probation officer

Working for the National Probation Service (NPS), you'll manage offenders in order to protect the public and reduce the incidence of reoffending. You'll interact with offenders, victims, police and prison service colleagues and work with offenders in court, in the community and in custody to make communities safer.

Trainee probation officers are known as probation services officers (PSO). You’ll take home a salary of £22,924, plus £3,889 London weighting or £1,100 Market Force Allowance if you're a resident of one of the home counties.

Learn how to qualify as a probation officer and discover what life is like as a probation officer.

Rehabilitation worker

Providing support to those who have suffered from illness or are recovering from an accident, you may be required to help keep patients mobile through exercises or use of specialist equipment, carry out household tasks such as cooking and cleaning, or organise social activities for patients.

Entry routes are varied, but holding relevant professional qualifications is advantageous.

Sexual health worker

Working with individuals, couples or groups, you'll provide education and guidance on a range of sexual health topics, including the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), promoting good sexual health practices and offering counselling and support in emotionally difficult situations.

Relevant experience and a public health-related degree are needed to become a sexual health adviser.

Social worker

You'll work with people and families to support them through difficult times and ensure that vulnerable people, including children and adults are safeguarded from harm. You'll work in a variety of settings such as homes, schools, hospitals or the premises of other public sector and voluntary organisations.

Social work is a graduate profession and you will need an undergraduate degree or a postgraduate qualification. You can also qualify via an apprenticeship. Other fast-track entry routes are available - see social work courses and discover how to become a social worker.

For further information on what the profession involves, read more about becoming a social worker.

Youth worker

Working mainly in the public sector, you'll guide and support young people in their personal, social and educational development to help them reach their full potential.

Relevant work experience is vital, as is an undergraduate degree validated by the National Youth Agency (NYA).

Youth support workers earn between £19,308 and £28,787, while salaries for professional youth workers range from £25,313 to £42,718.

Discover what else a youth worker does.

Find out more

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