Starting out in social work

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Social work is a popular career choice for people who have compassion and a desire to help others. It is a challenging and rewarding career and, unlike many others, has survived the economic downturn very well. This employment stability, excellent future prospects and the wide range of jobs available make social work a highly attractive career.

If you are interested in a social work career then you will need to know the qualifications required and the personality traits that make a good social worker. These are outlined below.


Applicants for social work positions are typically expected to hold a degree in social work or related discipline. Many social work courses are generic but if you want to specialise in a particular field you should be able to find a more specialized course that will meet your needs. If you already have a degree then you may be able to take a post-graduate qualification like a Masters degree to get the necessary social work qualifications.

There are however, a number of entry levels for social work some of which do not require a degree. And, in some cases, employers are prepared to offer on-the-job training that will eventually enable you to achieve the status of social worker.

Practical experience

Employers always like to see some practical work experience listed on a job candidate’s CV. Theory-based qualifications from university are all well and good but social work is about people and an academic qualification tells an employer nothing about how you will cope with practical situations. Some time working in a social work environment, whether paid or voluntary, will help you gain favour with employers by demonstrating your commitment to the field. It will also help you gain an understanding of the social work environment and help you decide if it is really the field for you.

Are you suitable?

Before embarking on any career, many people worry that they might not be suitable for the job – one of the benefits of getting work experience is that it can help you decide.

Social work is mainly about people, the difficulties they face in their lives and helping them get through. This means that you will have to engage with all manner of people on a personal level. Some will have psychological or physical disabilities, some will have social issues, while others may just need advice. The common denominator is that they all need your help.

You will need to handle their problems and find solutions in a caring and empathic way, without being judgmental. You will sometimes need to be firm, but you will always need to be patient understanding and compassionate. You will also have to be well organized and a good communicator, as you will often need to liaise and cooperate with other social worker and other professionals to resolve particular cases.

Social work is a rewarding profession but it can also be emotionally draining. If you are interested in social work and think that you have what it takes, HCL Social Care Jobs will be able to give you advice and help you find the right position for you.



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