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Social worker: job description

Social worker: job description

Social workers provide appropriate advice, support and resources to individuals who are experiencing personal difficulties to help them overcome their problems.
A professionally recognised qualification is needed to become a social worker.

What does a social worker do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Social workers work with specific groups of clients including children, the elderly and people with mental health problems. Generally social workers specialise in either adult or child social care. The nature of the work varies according to setting.

Typical duties include:

  • assessing, counselling and offering advice to clients
  • arranging appropriate care, resources or benefits
  • liaison with relatives, colleagues and other professionals
  • report writing
  • budgetary and managerial administration
  • attending or contributing towards court cases

Unsociable hours are common, and in certain settings this may include shift work. Promotion is possible through specialisation, research positions or managerial roles. Ongoing professional development is an important feature of the work.

Typical employers of social workers

  • Local authorities
  • Health service trusts
  • Local education authorities (LEAs)
  • General practices
  • Hospitals
  • Health centres
  • Charities
  • Private nursing homes

Vacancies are advertised in a variety of publications including local authority job lists, The Guardian, The Independent, Community Care, Nursing Times, Opportunities and their online equivalents.

Qualifications and training required

A social work qualification professionally recognised by the General Social Care Council (GSCC) is needed to become a social worker. While DipSW qualifications are still recognised, the main qualification now used is the bachelors degree in social work.

There is also a two-year postgraduate diploma and a fast-track course for graduates from relevant disciplines. Postgraduate course applications must be made before mid-December to the Social Work Admissions System.

Key skills for social workers

  • Commitment
  • Patience
  • Flexibility
  • Able to cope with traumatic situations
  • Problem solving
  • Analytical skills
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