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What is a Job in Social Work like?

28th April 21

A job in social work is an involved profession focussing on improving people’s lives. Whether that’s promoting unity within a community or working through challenging times alongside individuals. The work you do can make a huge difference to someone’s well-being.

Social workers are qualified professionals working in many areas within the community. From care homes and hospitals to mental health clinics. You’ll work closely with individuals and families to help guide them onto a better path. As well as providing access to support networks and services that will help them reach their goals.

To effectively support people social workers need to understand people as best they can. This requires studying further, covering subjects such as social, economic and cultural influences. And analysing how that would affect people’s behaviour.

Because of this, social workers need to be educated to a degree level. Plus, become a registered member of a professional body. If you choose to specialise further then you may need a postgraduate qualification too. However, once you’re fully qualified you’ll be able to start positively impacting people’s lives professionally.

What areas of Social Work are there?

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There is a broad range of areas to work in as a social worker. Generally, in England, social workers tend to work in either children or adult services. However, there’s plenty of opportunities to specialise further if there is a particular area of interest to you.

Throughout your studies, you will learn about many issues that affect people of various ages and abilities. Exploring numerous challenges means you’re able to make an informed decision on what area to focus on.

There are many options available, but some of these areas are:

Administration and Management: Social workers within this role work alongside organisations. They empower and inspire employees whilst making sure the business stays true to its values.

Advocacy and community organisation: Supporting the voices of individuals and groups within a community. Aiming to minimise the negative impact proposed changes would have for them.

Ageing: Working with elderly people to provide clinical counselling and evaluate their mental health. You’ll support them to live as independently as possible. This may include assisting in performing social, physical or financial tasks. You may also be required to support the transition into residential homes.

Substance abuse: Helping people recover from substance misuse disorders. This may involve counselling and group therapy. As well as helping them navigate community resources, secure housing and employment.

Child welfare: Protecting vulnerable children and ensuring families can raise them in safe and loving environments. Intervening if required when children are at risk.

Developmental disabilities: Supporting individuals with developmental disabilities. As well as their families. Helping them to understand their rights, protections and discover what resources are available to them.

International social work: This type of social worker works with refugees and helps them navigate a new country. Assisting their integration into communities and supporting them whilst they become self-sufficient.

Criminal justice: Working with people who are in prison, supporting them and their families. Advocating on behalf of people accused of crimes or victims of crime.

Mental health: Supporting mental health patients with their illness. This may involve medical intervention, offering resources to improve their quality of life and working through negative thoughts and behaviours.

Policy and planning: This role is research-based. You’ll help to propose legislation and suggest alternative approaches by identifying social problems.

Wherever you decide to specialise there’s an opportunity to progress with experience. Most social workers earn anywhere between £24,00 to £40,000 per year.

What does a Social Worker do?

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Usually, social workers have a certain amount of cases they’re assigned. This could be solely families or individuals or a combination of both.

Together you’ll identify areas where the people or person need help, assess the situation and their requirements. Helping them to navigate their challenges.

You may help them adjust to difficult scenarios they’re facing. Whether that’s divorce, illness or unemployment. You’ll research available community resources and refer them if necessary. Or assist those who need to apply for benefits with government agencies.

Once a goal is determined and a plan has been devised your role will be supporting them to stay on track. Allowing them to reach their goals and improve their well-being.

Sometimes you may respond to crises like domestic abuse or victims of crime. This involves completing and maintaining records with clients to make sure their situations have improved.

Where do Social Workers work?

Most commonly social workers work for local authorities in children or adult services. Although, there is an increase in opportunities to work in a variety of settings. From children’s homes and primary care trusts to prisons.

Other avenues for employment include voluntary work. Or in a private practice working alongside other mental health professionals and social workers. There is also the option of freelance work through staffing agencies.

Usually, social workers will work from an office. However, this is a lot of time spent out in the community visiting clients. So, it’s helpful to hold a driving license.

Working hours are generally 37 hours per week. Unless in residential settings or a crisis. Otherwise, you wouldn’t usually be expected to work weekends or evenings very often.

Getting Started

If you’re considering a career in social work but don’t have the qualifications for university, we can help.

learndirect is the leading online learning provider in the UK. We have a broad range of courses including the Access to Higher Education Diploma (Social Work). This qualification is equivalent to A Level study and can be worth up to 148 UCAS points. This is equivalent to three A’s at A Level.

Online learning means you can study at a place and pace that suits you around your other commitments. So you’re able to study during your lunch break, on the weekends or after the school run. It’s completely up to you.

What’s more, our courses have flexible payment options to help spread the cost and dedicated tutors to guide your learning. They’ll provide constructive feedback on your work and any extra assistance where needed.

To learn more on how to prepare for your online learning experience visit our blog here.

If you want to learn more about the Access to HE Diploma (Social Work) browse below or get in touch today!

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