How to become a Social Worker
Social workers aim to improve the lives of vulnerable people; who may be experiencing adversity because of unfortunate circumstances including violence, poverty and discrimination. Social workers have varied jobs that involve organising support and working with people to implement changes.
A social worker helps vulnerable people positively change their life. Their jobs are varied, but the pillars of the career are caring for individual cases and creating a more just society for all.
A social worker will closely align their practices with human rights, and a large part of their job will be ensuring that the rights of each person are being met. Social workers must be compassionate, open-minded and resilient, as the job will pose many emotional challenges.
A social workers’ main duties include:
- Meeting new people and assessing their needs and wishes. Often social workers will have to balance the two.
- Making sure that people in their care are having their human rights met.
- Checking up on vulnerable people, ensuring that they are well and analysing any problems that may not be communicated.
- Helping people make positive changes to their life, both by suggesting alterations and by physically implementing certain changes when appropriate.
- Referring them to other experts to help, such as therapists or housing support.
- Completing paperwork about each case and presenting information to other colleagues.
Social worker education requirements are quite specific. Candidates must undertake an undergraduate or masters degree in social work, or do a specialised graduate training programme. Enhanced background checks will be carried out for each applicant.
Social workers will often specialise by working with a particular group of people, such as children or adults with mental health issues. This is often decided upon during training and can be changed throughout their career, however, relevant volunteering is always helpful when getting a specialist job.
Undertaking work experience as a social worker is tricky because of the confidentiality of the job, so it is recommended to do some people-focused volunteering while studying. This could be at a homeless shelter, with a mental health charity or at a retirement home. It is also a great idea to do extra courses to supplement official education.
Essential skills for social workers include exceptional listening and communication abilities, good IT knowledge and time management skills.
Social workers can be employed by local authorities, health organisations, private companies and charities. It is also possible to work on a self-employed basis, but generally this needs years of experience. Professional social workers should attend conferences and carry on training in new fields to advance in their career.
What degree is most commonly held by a Social Worker?
- Dip, BA / M of Social Work
- Dip, BA / M of Psychology
- Dip, BA / M of Sociology
- Dip, BA / M of Clinical Social Work
- Dip, BA / M of Social Sciences
Career Transportability across Countries
What is the Salary of a Social Worker?
|Experience||Average salary | year|
|Manager - Social Work||1-4 Years||$75,000||£49,393||$90,000|
|Director - Social Work||5+ Years||$100,000||£62,000||$125,000|
What skills are needed to become a Social Worker?
- Mental Health
- Social Services
- Case Management
- Crisis Intervention
- Public Speaking
- Community Outreach
- Nonprofit Organizations
- Group Therapy
- Microsoft Office
- Mental Health Counseling
- Program Development
- Working with Adolescents
- Customer Service
- Family Therapy
- Microsoft Word
- Microsoft Excel
- Child Welfare
- Social Media
Social Worker Courses
- Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence
Learn to recognise the signs of domestic violence and support domestic violence survivors as a health or social care worker
- The Power of Data in Health and Social Care
Discover the power of data analytics for individuals and organisations working in health and social care
- Understanding Gender Inequality
Gender inequality is a key challenge in society Explore its causes and consequences and consider the ways you can overcome it
- Care Home Nursing: Changing Perceptions
Challenge your opinion of what it's like to be a care home nurse and understand their importance and varied responsibilities
- Social Care During COVID-19: Coping with Self-Isolation and Social Distancing
Explore and learn to manage the impact of self-isolation and social distancing on yourself and vulnerable social groups
- Creative Problem Solving: Design Thinking in Health and Social Care
Learn how design thinking can be applied in health and social care settings to drive innovation and approach challenges
- Global Health and Disability
Leaving no one behind disability health and wellbeing in global development
- Supporting People Living with Long-term Conditions
Explore how healthcare professionals work in partnership with people with long-term conditions in this free online course
- Integrated Healthcare for Children with Developmental Disabilities
Discover how to improve the health and wellbeing of children with developmental disabilities
Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?
Supporting Victims of Domestic ViolenceLearn to recognise the signs of domestic violence and support domestic violence survivors as a health or social care worker.Show course overview
The Power of Data in Health and Social CareDiscover the power of data analytics for individuals and organisations working in health and social care.Show course overview
Understanding Gender InequalityGender inequality is a key challenge in society. Explore its causes and consequences and consider the ways you can overcome it.Show course overview
Care Home Nursing: Changing PerceptionsChallenge your opinion of what it's like to be a care home nurse and understand their importance and varied responsibilities.Show course overview