Qualifying as a Social Worker

Qualifications

Social workers are trained and qualified with a Degree in Social Work, or a Masters in Social Work. An undergraduate degree in social work will normally take 3 years as a full-time student. However, you may be able to undertake a two year master’s degree in social work if you already have a first degree in a related subject.

Understanding and Experience

In order to undertake the social work degree you will need to show an understanding of social work and will need some experience of social work or social care prior to studying. This experience can be achieved through paid-for work, voluntary work, work placements, life experience (some people may have been a full-time carer to a friend or relative at home), or volunteering.

The entry requirement for each course differs, so you need to research what the minimum requirement for the course is at each higher education institution and in each UK country. However, you will need a minimum of 240 UCAS points or equivalent.

Skills

Social workers need skills in problem-solving, communication, working with others and patience. On the course you will learn about law, partnership working, assessment, intervention, mental health and disability issues.

Work Placements

The degree course covers the role of social work including skills, the various pieces of legislation which provides the mandate for the work, ethics and values, psychology, human growth and development, sociology, and discrimination. There is a big emphasis on practical learning and each course requires you to undertake two placements of 170 days in total in order for you to put your theoretical learning into practice.

Part time Studying

It is possible to study while you work by completing the social work degree on a part-time basis. However, it is important to remember that entry requirements must still be met and the practice placement must still be completed so employers need to be aware of this prior to embarking on the course to make sure they are happy with the arrangement. It is therefore easier to study part-time if you are already working in the social work field.

Bursaries/Financial Support

Social Care in Walsall

Although some social workers work with a wide variety of people, other social workers will adopt a specialism. General social workers help to support a range of children, adults and families who require additional support and protection to help them to deal with the social pressures that they face. Social workers who have a specialism will normally work with a much narrower group of people.

In Walsall, we have a separate Director of Children’s Services and a Director of Adult Social Care.

If you are working in children’s services, you may have a role:

  • Working with children in care (also known as looked-after children – children who are in local authority care)
  • Helping children with the transition from being in care to living independently
  • Working with young offenders who may have broken the law
  • Providing support to families to keep them living together
  • Assisting families where children are avoiding school or truanting
  • Managing adoption or fostering processes

If you are working in adults’ services you may have a role:

  • Working with people with mental health problems
  • Working with people with learning disabilities
  • Working in residential care
  • Supporting adults who have offended, supervising them in the community or helping with resettlement
  • Assisting people with HIV or Aids
  • Supporting vulnerable older people to live independently

For more information