If you’re looking for a change of career, social work is an attractive opportunity. Many prominent social workers have entered the profession later in life after gaining experience in the private sector, and while they benefit from a new career making a tangible difference to people’s lives, Social Work as a discipline also benefits from their breadth of experience and fresh injection of energy. For example, Beverley Williams entered Social Work at the age of 40 and went on to set up the Social Worker of the Year Award which provides some much-needed recognition for hardworking Social Workers across all fields.
Today we have a short guide for you if you are looking at entering Social Work after beginning in another career.
Whatever your experience, to work as a Social Worker, you will need to graduate with a recognised Undergraduate or Postgraduate degree course. Currently, Social Workers are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council, which only certifies social workers after completing one of the approved courses.
If you already have a relevant degree like Psychology, Medicine or Nursing, or relevant experience gained through your work or outside experiences as well as a degree, you may be able to avoid the full three-year course (in Scotland, four years) and complete a shorter, two year postgraduate course that will leave you qualified, experienced and ready to enter the profession.
To help with your applications, for these courses, for funding while you study and for jobs afterwards it can help to expand your experience and show your commitment by volunteering. Talk to charities, especially those dealing with mental health and homeless about opportunities to volunteer in your community and build your experience of Social Work.
Combining Training with Work
Abandoning your career to take a degree course lasting years is not an option for many people. Fortunately, there are flexible ways to complete Social Work training. The Open University is one of the biggest providers of newly qualified social workers in the country, and allows people to study alongside their full-time work if they need to.
There is also the Frontline Programme which fast tracks graduates with a 2:1 in any subject into a full social work qualification within two years. Students are supervised by an experienced Social Worker and learn ‘on the job’ earning a newly qualified social worker’s salary of £30,000 in the second year.
Whatever your needs, there are routes into Social Work that can work for you, and the profession will be happy to have you!