Becoming a social worker can be a very fulfilling career path for some people. If you want to make a difference by helping other people get through difficult times in their lives, social work is something you may want to look into.
Are you a problem solver and like to help others find solutions? Or, does protecting vulnerable people from abuse and other harmful situations sounds appealing to you? It would be best if you then considered becoming a social worker. You will be able to be fully trained to do those things to the best of your abilities. You will also be getting paid to do something you genuinely like doing.
To learn more about what it takes to become a social worker, continue reading.
Have a passion for helping people.
If you have a passion for helping people and supporting them through life’s ups and downs, you might just be meant for social work. If you want to make a difference in your community and offer a helping hand to those struggling, becoming a social worker will fulfil your desires.
Social workers want to help everyone. No matter what their social status or situation might be. When working in the social work field, you’ll primarily work with people, families, and groups of people who struggle due to different disadvantages and need extra support.
If you choose to become a social worker, some of the people and different groups you may work with include:
- Mentally ill youth and adults.
- Youth and adults with either learning or physical disabilities.
- People suffering from alcoholism, substance abuse, or any other addictions (sex, gambling, etc.)
- Elderly people.
- Youth and adult offenders.
- Refugees and those who are seeking asylum.
- Troubled and dysfunctional families.
- Women fleeing abusive relationships.
- Orphaned children.
- Children placed into foster care.
- Foster care and adoptive parents.
- Children who have suffered or are at risk of neglect and abuse.
- People who need assistance living independently.
Comfortable working in certain types of work settings.
Suppose you’re looking into pursuing a career as a social worker. In that case, you have to be comfortable working in certain work settings and doing specific tasks.
Social workers often get positioned to work in places such as:
- Police stations.
- Local authority departments.
- Schools and other education and learning centres.
- Health clinics.
- Public offices.
- Correctional facilities (jail, prison, halfway house).
- Rehabilitation centres.
- Retirement homes.
- Group homes.
As for specific tasks that need to get completed while working as a social worker, you need to be comfortable with doing some of the following:
- Frequent short distance travelling to meet with clients.
- Assessing the needs of different clients.
- Creating and organising support systems.
- Attend meetings and conferences.
- Making detailed records of each client and keeping track of them.
- Contact family members or authorities on your clients’ behalf when appropriate.
- Building trust and a professional relationship with your clients.
- Aiding clients with tasks they are unable to perform on their own, such as cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc.
Education requirements to become a social worker.
To begin your social working career and register with Social Work England, you will need first to get a degree in social work. To complete the schooling necessary to get a social work degree will take three to four years of full-time education and training.
To begin courses for a degree in social work, you need to check and make sure that you meet the requirements to get accepted into them. The requirements vary depending on the institution you choose to attend, so you should look them up on the school’s site.
General requirements typically include:
- Two or three A levels.
- Five GCSEs (grades 4-9/A-C).
- English and math.
Or, some alternative qualifications can include:
- Equivalent Scottish or Irish qualifications.
- Relevant NVQ.
- BTEC, HND, or HNC.
- Complete an access course that is health or social-based.
Some of the types of courses involved in becoming a social worker include:
- Law that applies to social work.
- Interventions and assessments.
- Ethics and values.
- Mental health.
- Mental and physical disabilities.
- Working in social work settings and practical work with clients.
Once you are fully qualified, you may choose to join the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), just as many other social workers do.
Annual CPD (continuing professional development) is required to ensure your skills are sharp and your knowledge is up to date.
The BASW also holds conferences, seminars and runs courses that allow social workers to come together and share new ideas while improving and updating their skills.
Experience needed to become a social worker.
To qualify to study or train to become a social worker, you need at least some form of experience working in a similar setting with clients. The experience can either get done in the form of a paid job, or you could do volunteer work to gain the experience needed.
If you have any life experience with a social work type of setting, such as helping care for a family member or friend, that may work as well. Be sure to consult with a coordinator at the institution you’re applying to and ensure that your experience is relevant and acceptable.
Social skill requirements for becoming a social worker.
You need to have specific personal social skills to become a successful social worker. Some of the skills you will need will come naturally to you. Other skills you will need to obtain and build throughout your training and education.
You cannot be anti-social and expect to go anywhere with a career path in social work. If you don’t like being around and working with people, becoming a social worker may not be the best career path for you to go down. This is even more so if you don’t like dealing with people with many problems or difficulty being cooperative.
Here are some essential skills and traits social workers should have to do well at their job and excel in their career life:
- Able to remain calm in stressful situations and work under pressure.
- Have patience with clients who display problematic behaviours.
- Non-judgemental of others and their lifestyles.
- Able to work with all different types of people from all different backgrounds.
- Like to visit people in their homes.
- Can take on and organise a reasonable, consistent workload.
- Empathetic and compassionate.
- Strong problem solving and organisation skills.
- Trust and relationship-building skills.
- Be resilient.
- Want to motivate and inspire others.