How to become a social worker

Want to know how to become a social worker in the UK? In this article you'll discover the benefits, qualifications, and different routes you can take to pursue a career as a social worker.

Social workers are in high demand. If you’re thinking of joining this profession, you can be confident in your ability to secure a fulfilling role.

What is a social worker?

A social worker is someone who works with vulnerable groups of people, providing care, support, and protection to individuals in need.

A social worker's role involves safeguarding vulnerable children and adults, preventing abuse and harm, and supporting people to live independently.

As a social worker, you’ll have the opportunity to work with people of all ages, during times in their lives when they need help finding solutions to their problems.

Key facts 

  • The average starting salary of a social worker is £27,000.
  • To work as a social worker you’ll have to register with one of four UK regulators.
  • You may be expected to work some evenings, weekends and bank holidays.
  • There are three main routes to becoming a social worker: university, apprenticeship and a graduate training scheme.

Why become a Social Worker?

Routes to becoming a social worker in the UK

Because social work is a graduate profession, you'll need degree level education in order to qualify.

There are 3 main routes to becoming a social worker in the UK. 

  • University
  • Degree apprenticeship
  • Graduate training scheme

You could study a degree in social work at university. To work as a social worker in the UK, check that the degree is accredited by Social Work England.

If you already have a degree in another subject and want to retrain or change careers, you could study a postgraduate degree in social work.

To support your studies in social work, you may be eligible for a social work bursary.

Entry requirements

Depending on the institution, you’ll typically need:

  • 2 to 3 A Levels, or equivalent
  • A degree in any subject if you want to study a postgraduate course

Always check the entry requirements for the course and institution you’re applying to.

What does a social worker do?

Your day-to-day will look different depending on if you work with children, families or adults.

As a social worker, you might:

  • meet with individuals and families to assess needs and create support plans
  • maintain records, write reports, and discuss cases with supervisors
  • ensure client safety and take necessary steps for their protection
  • help clients in building and sustaining independent living skills
  • work closely with communities, health professionals, and other agencies

Frequently asked questions about becoming a social worker

To summarise, becoming a social worker is an incredibly rewarding career and you'll have the opportunity to make a real difference to someone's life.

If you have questions or want to find out more about becoming a social worker, chat to our team.

Where next?

  • Social Work, BA (Hons)

    Have you got what it takes to work with some of the most disadvantaged and excluded people in our society? Our BA (Hons) in Social Work is the degree for you.

  • Social Work, BA (Hons) - Degree Apprenticeship

    Our Social Work Degree Apprenticeship has been designed in partnership with social work employers, service users and carers to enable you to develop competency and capability in frontline social work.

  • Step Up to Social Work, PGDip

    Want to become a social worker but don’t have a degree in social work? Discover our fast-track social work programme which leads to a postgraduate qualification in social work.