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Careers Centre

Social work

About this sector

You can read information about role responsibilities, salary, working hours, what to expect, qualifications, skills, work experience, career prospects and related roles on the following Prospects Job Profile:

You might also see other job profiles of interest in the Social care profiles page (which gives links to the 19 profiles in the sector).


How to gain experience/internships

Whether you wish to work with young people or adults, getting experience is crucial in not only understanding the needs of your potential client, but also learning how to go about meeting these needs without compromising yourself emotionally. Social Work is a competitive degree choice, so finding the right and most relevant experience can take some time, perseverance and patience. Relevant experience in a social work/social care setting is also vital before being accepted on to any postgraduate course. Some universities specify a minimum amount of time to be spent gaining experience.

There are many different ways of gaining some experience. For example:


How to find a (graduate) job

Many social workers are employed by Local Authorities. Others, however, are based in registered charities, voluntary agencies, private care homes, social work agencies, NHS trusts and prisons. They all work with partners in education, Health Workers, the police and probation officers towards improving the situation and well-being of their clients.

Here are some good websites to take a look at roles available:


Fast Track programmes into social work

There are also fast-track graduate programmes for entry to social work, eg


Employment-Based Routes

Some local authorities may sponsor employees already working for them in a social work support role to take the social work degree part-time or through distance learning. Some local authorities also recruit people directly into work-based training schemes for new social workers. Check in your local area to see if schemes like these are available.


Other opportunities

Assessed & Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) -this is an option exclusively for graduates of Social Work degrees at all levels. It provides newly qualified social workers with work for their first year, in a similar arrangement to the Probationary Year newly qualified Teachers receive in Scotland. With access to regular support which is maintained throughout the year, this operates in both the private and voluntary sectors, providing newly qualified Social Workers with registered and recognised further training.

Skills for Care Graduate Management Programme - developed in partnership between Skills for Care and the NHS Leadership Academy, our Graduate Management Programme fast-tracks graduates towards leadership roles within innovative health and social care settings. It includes a secondment with our NHS partners, providing an important opportunity to consider the interface between health and social care.


Relevant postgraduate study - is it a requirement?

You will usually need to undertake a postgraduate course which is registered on and approved by the relevant professional body for your region. These are usually over two years and are described as a conversion course, with students going out on placements early on into it. Your placements will also provide you with ample opportunities to network and find potential mentors to support you on the road to qualifying and provide vital insights and contacts for future job prospects.

You will learn about social work, all the legislation, theory work as well as ethics and values. Some experience within social work or social care is required as this will help you in advance to form an understanding of the work you are about to undertake on your placements.

A first degree in a health-related field is by no means essential, but gaining frequent and recent experience in working within your field of interest is important. You will also need to be prepared to not only submit a personal statement, but may be invited to undergo further testing and perhaps an interview ahead of being accepted onto your Social Work conversion degree. They may also have set minimums for the amount of experience you have undertaken.


Applications for postgraduate study

Most universities process both undergraduate and postgraduate applications for social work through UCAS. Applications should be sent to UCAS by 15 January to guarantee consideration for a place in September the following year.

UCAS provide advice on helping you to choose between similar courses and universities.



You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. Here are some suggestions:

When you search for courses on UCAS, you can see if any bursaries, scholarships or awards are available from the course provider. Tuition fees vary widely across different course providers – check the course listings and contact them for more details.

If you’re training for social work, you may get a bursary to help with living costs and tuition fees. The amount won’t depend on household income – instead it’s based on where you live and where you’ll be studying.

Find out more from one of the following organisations (depending on where you are normally domiciled).

Some local authorities may sponsor employees already working for them in a social work support role to take the social work degree part-time or through distance learning.  There are also some fast-track graduate programmes for entry to social work (see ‘How to find a (graduate job) above).


Key UK resources

Careers Centre resources


Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:




Professional Bodies

Each of the four UK regions has a different regulator:


General Social Work-related careers information


International resources

The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The link below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.