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What is a Social worker? The School Leaver Guide

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What is a Social worker?

The role of a social worker is to support families and individuals through difficulties and ensure vulnerable people of all ages are safeguarded from harm, and to improve the conditions in which they live.

Social workers can generally work with the followings groups:

  • The elderly

  • Young offenders

  • Homeless

  • School non-attenders

  • People with learning and physical disabilities

  • Drug and alcohol abusers

  • People with mental health conditions

What does a Social worker do?

A social worker’s daily responsibilities can be hugely varied, depending on the nature of the case they are looking after. Some typical day-to-day responsibilities might include:

  • Arranging care, resources and benefits for clients

  • Attending or contributing towards court cases

  • Conducting interviews with individuals and families for assessment purposes

  • Offering information and support

  • Participating in training, supervision and team meetings

  • Undertaking and writing up assessments (sometimes in collaboration with other professionals), which meet specified standards and timescales

  • Writing reports

  • Offering advice to clients

  • Budgetary and managerial administration

  • Maintaining accurate records and preparing reports for legal action

  • Organising and managing packages of support to enable people to lead the fullest lives possible

  • Liaising with, and making referrals to, other agencies

  • Communicating with relatives, colleagues and other professionals

  • Making decisions about the best course of action for a particular person or family

Social worker Jobs

Apprenticeship Assessor - Health & Social Care£30,000 to £35,000 per annumLondon, London
Apprenticeship Assessor - Health & Social Care - Twickenham£22,965 to £24,055 per annumLondon, London
Apprenticeship/Assessor - Health & Social Care L5 - Twickenham£26,520 to £28,560 per annumLondon, London
Apprenticeship Assessor - Health & Social Care - Twickenham£22,965 to £24,055 per annumLondon, London

Skills & interests required for a Social worker

As social workers will often be working with vulnerable people, or those in acute situations of need, they need to display sensitivity and tact when working with clients. They also need to be aware of a variety of different legal and procedural policies which might impact their clients’ circumstances.

Social workers are often the very first people to notice something wrong - they need to have the confidence to report situations and make on-the-spot assessments. Social workers are highly likely to witness traumatic or unpleasant circumstances during their working lives, and a good level of emotional resilience is a must.

Working hours

Social workers normally work around 37 hours per week. Occasional evening and weekend work may be necessary, depending on the social worker’s caseload.

Work base

Social workers are predominantly based in an office, but may also have to visit service users’ homes, care homes, hospitals or courts.


Social workers will need to travel frequently when they are required to visit service users’ homes. They may also occasionally have to travel to court.

Salary ranges & earning potential

A new qualified social worker can expect a salary of £22,000 per annum. With experience and further responsibilities this can rise to around £40,000 per annum.

Education requirements

To enter a social work profession, a degree or postgraduate degree in social work is required. The degree will need to be approved by one of the four regulators. These are:

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) - in England
Social Care Wales - in Wales
Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) - in Northern Ireland
Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) - in Scotland

There are degree apprenticeships available in social work, in which you can gain practical, hands-on experience of the work while also completing your qualification and earning a salary.

Useful subjects to study at school

Although a social work degree is required, the following subjects may help you to enter the profession:

  • Law

  • Politics, government or public administration

  • Social care

  • Social sciences

  • Humanities subjects

Useful resources

British Association of Social Workers

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