In order to become a social worker, you will have to take a degree in social work at a UK university. However, there are other social care qualifications you can take if you are a school leaver or have been away from studying for a while. Not only will these other qualifications give you a broad understanding of the issues and problems you might have to face, but some universities will accept you straight onto the second year of the degree course, if you have shown enough aptitude. If you already have a degree, it is also possible to take a shorter Masters qualification in social work, which will have you in the workplace faster.
Social Work Courses
If you are a school leaver and are convinced that social work is the career for you, then you will have to wait two years before you can start your degree course. In this situation, the best thing to do is sign up to take a course in social care at your local further education college, perhaps start a government apprenticeship in a health and social care job, find volunteering opportunities related to social work or even a part-time job in a nursery or care home. This combination of job experience and further education courses could make you eligible for the social work degree course without having to take and pass any A levels.
If you have already passed you’re a levels, then your next step is to find a three-year degree course in social work. Check out the courses carefully, as some will spend more time dealing with care for the elderly than children or vice versa. If you know which area of social work you would prefer to work in, then this may influence your choice of course selection. Also look at the work experience opportunities that are provided with each degree course. One that offers more time in the workplace would be a more practical course, foe the student who is keen to start their social work career as soon as they finish university. Most universities will also expect you to some have practical social care experience yourself, whether through a part-time job or volunteering.
Graduate Options in Social Work
If you already have a degree in an unrelated subject, you can take the shorter Masters degree in social work which lasts two years rather than three. It is likely that you will be going to your first work placement quite early on this course, so again universities prefer that you have some experience of working in social care, even as a volunteer, so that you know what to expect. If you are older and looking for a career change, it might be an idea to take an Access course at a local college or social care modules with the Open University to refresh your studying skills. Again, universities are looking for applicants who have already shown a commitment to social care in the form of previous work or volunteering. Older students changing career also qualify for extra financial help while studying to ease the burden of giving up one career to switch to social work.