Any social worker will tell you that the main goal in their career is to help. To improve people’s lives, whether it be small gradual changes or dramatic ones prompted by a crisis. Nonetheless, the goal is to improve the well-being of others.
They achieve this by identifying an individual’s needs, based on a variety of criteria. This includes whether someone is considered at risk, lacking capacity, living below the poverty line, experiencing abuse or neglect poverty and others.
Social workers usually work in one of several areas including children and families, adult services, mental health and older people.
A career in social work is without a doubt challenging, but it is a fulfilling one. It places you at the forefront of helping at-risk individuals in your community.
As a social worker, you will assess the needs of the induvial and work with them and third-party stakeholders to put together a care plan in line with a person-centred approach. In extreme cases, you may need to remove an individual or individuals from harmful or neglectful situations. This may involve law enforcement and could call on you to give evidence in court.
Your Career in Social Work
Social work is a career that is found at any stage in life, but typically those with a spark of empowerment will thrive. It is a career of self-improvement, and enhancement, through developing your life skills.
Fulfilment in Supporting Others
The sole focus of social work is support. Social workers main goal is to improve the lives of those who need it. This support can take many forms and is largely dictated by the individual’s needs and the areas of their lives that they want to support.
A person-centred approach plays a major part in this as someone without challenges has the right to live the life they choose. So, someone needing support should have the same right. This can mean your clients may want to prioritise one area over another which can be frustrating. But your role is to support them in living a more independent, fulfilled life.
Despite the challenges and frustrations, social workers leave a lasting impact on people’s lives in different but meaningful ways. You have the privilege of supporting people through some very difficult situations.
You will build positive working relationships with your clients and the third-party service providers who will help them. You’ll also form part of a multidisciplinary team of experts – including doctors, nurses and mental health workers – to provide the best level of care.
In some cases, you will support individuals for some time, depending on the complexity of their needs. Others you’ll only see once or twice.
Regardless, the impact you have on people’s lives, young or old, sticks with you throughout your career. This sense of satisfaction is one of the reasons social workers stay in their roles for so long, despite the challenges.
The reward of knowing the changes you have made, combined with the satisfaction of seeing the positive impact of those changes, provides a real sense of fulfilment.
As a social worker, your main drive is wanting to make a difference in the lives of those you meet. Since some of the issues can include child abuse, extreme poverty, ill-health and disability, it gives you an ideal opportunity.
Find your Interests
One of the most highly sought-after parts of social work is the diversity of the profession. There are elements of deskwork, but much of your time will be spent in the community, visiting people in their homes.
The term social worker is used in over 16 job descriptions. Hence it is more common for social workers to specialise. Social workers are employed in numerous fields. Medical and public health, children and adults with special educational needs (SEN), substance misuse, youth offending and adoption and fostering. Dependant on your field outlines how you spend your day.
During your training to become a social worker you will get the opportunity to work with several different at-risk groups including individuals with mental health issues, physical disabilities and learning disabilities.
Through this experience, you will get an understanding of what it takes to be a social worker in each of these fields. From there you can position your new career to work in that area of social services.
While some aspects of the job will be the same from one area to the next, the challenges faced by your clients will vary.
As will the solutions, the teams involved and the legislation underpinning what action you can take.
Being a social worker exposes you to new challenges that will help mould your role to utilise your strengths.
How to Become a Social Worker
There are a few ways you can get into social work in the UK, but the most direct route is a degree in social work. This degree is regulated by Social Work England, a specialist regulator on enabling positive change in social work. You can also become a social worker via an apprenticeship, usually lasting around 3 years.
If you have previously completed a degree in a different subject, there is the option to complete a 2-year postgraduate degree in social work, enabling your career as a social worker.
Most undergraduate social work programs take between 3 and 4 years, covering a range of modules including placement units and independent studies. There are currently 202 institutions across the UK that offer degrees in Social Work.
For both degree and apprenticeship point of entry, you would require 3 A Levels, or equivalent. A nationally recognised equivalent to A Levels is the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social Work).
As with many other fields, lots of people who already work in the industry like to further their knowledge of the subject. Access to HE Diplomas are designed by subject matter experts to provide you with a knowledge-based qualification to further your career.
How can I kickstart my Career in Social Work?
Social work brings a new challenge every day but with-it considerable job satisfaction.
If you’re considering a role as a social worker but you lack the qualifications you need to start your training, we can help.
learndirect is the UK’s leading distance learning provider offering you the opportunity to study the courses you need to start your new career as a social worker.
Our nationally recognised Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social Work), is designed by subject matter experts to help you get on to a university social work programme.