Training to become a social worker is quite a commitment, with many degree courses running to four years, and covering not just the practicalities of caring, but also the law governing the powers of social workers and where and how they can intervene. You’ll learn how to involve yourself in potentially awkward or hostile situations and come away having made a difference for the most vulnerable person in that situation.
You also need to ensure your course if accredited by the HCPC – the Health and Care Professions Council. Social Work is a protected profession and a course in social work that isn’t approved by this board doesn’t actually entitle you to call yourself a social worker, so it behoves you to do your research and confirm you’re applying for the right courses before you commit.
Once you’ve completed your studies, you’ll find that social worker recruitment is not too challenging a field. It’s a field that’s always looking for more people, so you’ll likely be able to find an array of vacancies to apply for. We’re just going to take a look at the nitty gritty of how this works.
Start to think about the sort of jobs you’ll be interested in in the long term while you’re still training. It might seem like a long way off, but you can really influence your future prospects when you study.
Try to think about what got you into social work and where you want to concentrate your efforts to make a difference: with children? The elderly? You can begin to focus your expertise on an area you’re interested in when you’re still in training, by choosing the direction of coursework and research, and perhaps most importantly through the placements you do and the practical experience you gather.
Experience of front line social care work is a key part of a social work qualification, so it’s important to make this work for you by pushing for placements that can help you out when you’re looking for your first job. If you want to focus on drug and alcohol addiction and rehabilitation, you can try to get placements working with this specialism. This demonstrates to future employers you have a genuine interest in the area and may provide a helpful reference if not an actual job at the end of your training.
After your initial jobs, you’ll be looking for work mostly through the NHS website, which has its own specialist jobs board. If your broadening your search beyond that there are specialist social worker job sites that list vacancies you can apply for and hopefully find your ideal social work job.