Social worker

Social workers help to protect vulnerable children and adults from harm or abuse, and support people to live independently.

Annual Salary

£24,000 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40

Future employment

There will be 4% more Social worker jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You'll work with a range of people including children, families and vulnerable adults needing protection. 

The people you'll support could be homeless children or adults, or people with drug, alcohol or substance misuse problems. In some roles, you might support children and adults with learning disabilities or physical disabilities. 

You might also work with:

  • people of all ages with mental health problems
  • looked after children and young people
  • carers and adopters
  • older people
  • people receiving end of life and palliative care
  • people in prison with social care needs
  • young offenders
  • refugees and asylum seekers
  • people at risk of abuse and neglect or who have been abused or neglected
  • victims of domestic violence

You'll provide help and support to improve people's lives. You may visit people in their homes to look at their needs and build relationships with them. Your day-to-day tasks may include: 

  • offering information and counselling
  • putting together support plans
  • keeping records and writing reports
  • working with other professionals
  • supervising team members
  • attending court
  • discussing your cases through regular supervision     

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • a graduate training scheme


You can do a degree or postgraduate qualification in social work approved by the Health and Care Professions Council.

You can also do a 2-year postgraduate degree in social work, if you have a degree in another subject.

You may be eligible for social work funding.

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) or above and 2 to 3 A levels
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course


You can complete a social worker degree apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications like A levels for a degree apprenticeship

Volunteering and experience

Experience of working with vulnerable groups or children is essential for most courses and jobs.

You can get experience by volunteering in the community, with a charity or through paid work. You can get more information on volunteering opportunities in your area from Do-it.

Other routes

You can apply to do an intensive, work-based training programme for graduates if you've got a first or upper second class degree in any subject except social work. The programmes are:

Further Information

It's possible to do a degree in social work and learning disabilities nursing. You'll need to check that the course is recognised by the relevant professional bodies. Course providers can advise you on this.

You can get more advice about becoming a social worker from the British Association of Social Workers and Think Care Careers.

£24,000 to £40,000

Starter salary: £24,000 (newly qualified)

Experienced salary: up to £40,000

A newly qualified social worker could expect to earn £24,000 per annum. This could rise to £40,000 per annum for an experienced social worker depending on their location.

These figures are a guide.

37 to 40

You’ll usually work office hours or on a rota. You may work shifts, including nights, or be on call.

You may work in an office. Most offices operate a hot-desk system where you'll be expected to work flexibly.

You may visit people in their homes. You could also work in a hospital or in a day, health or residential centre.

During your first year in work your employer may offer the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE). This includes extra support like:

  • regular supervision
  • a training and development plan
  • time to meet your training and development needs

You'll need to pass your ASYE in the first 12 months of being employed so that you can get your fitness to practice certificate.

When you've completed your ASYE, you'll be given a training pathway to keep your skills current and to help you progress. Each local authority will have a career pathway, with some offering the chance to study for an MA in Advanced Professional Practice.  

With experience, you'll usually find opportunities to progress into management, research or study for a PhD. You could also become a practice educator and train and mentor students from your partner university.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need: 

  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • the ability to build working relationships with families, groups and professionals
  • tact and understanding
  • the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • problem solving and report writing skills
  • the ability to make decisions and use your professional judgement
  • administration and organisational skills
  • IT skills
My top 5 skills from the skills bank
Please sign in to compare your skills to this job. Sign in

To save or view your choices and results you must sign in or register (takes 1 minute).

Sign in Register