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Changing Career to Become a Social Worker

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 1 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Changing Career To Become A Social Worker

Q.

I am looking for a career change and would like to train to be a social worker, working with children and young people. As I have no experience or qualifications, I would like to know what the best path for me would be.

I am unable to attend university as I have home committments, would you be able to advise me on how I would begin, i.e. how I would gain experience and qualifications.

(Miss Nicola Carr, 21 November 2008)

A.

The interesting thing about changing career to become a social worker is that you don’t need any formal qualifications to get started. If full-time study is out of the question, you can always opt for a part-time course. If Finances Are An Issue, there may be ways to gain financial support throughout your studies.

If you are still unable to undertake study, the great news is that many opportunities within social work involve training on the job, so you can earn as you learn. Because social work involves a great deal of practical client-facing work, this is an ideal career route. For instance, you could apply for a work-based NVQ. Other opportunities may involve day release to attend and study at your local college, so study and practical training are combined.

If you like the idea of undertaking an NVQ, you’ll need to take part in Induction training. This helps to equip new workers with the knowledge and skills that will enable you to work safely and effectively within the first 12 weeks of employment, or in your case, 24 weeks since you’re aiming to work with children. Once you have completed this induction course, you’ll be eligible to train towards your NVQ.

Other Options

If you are currently unemployed, your local Job Centre Plus may be able to assist. The government runs a programme known as the ‘Flexible New Deal’, allotting you an adviser who will help to support and guide you through the steps to achieve your goal of moving into social care work.

Another great way to move into a role as a social worker is to take part in some Voluntary Work with children, if possible. Your local community may run many young people’s groups, giving you the chance to gain experience of working with children of all abilities from a wide variety of backgrounds. This not only reinforces any job or course applications you make, but also allows you to obtain a great deal of knowledge about the job you intend to take. It also gives you an idea of whether social work is the kind of work you’d like to undertake as a ‘proper’ full or part-time job.

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I'm 58 retired from Police as community support worker job . Have always wanted to be a social worker.
Kettle - 1-Nov-17 @ 6:57 PM
Ria - Your Question:
Hi. I'm a childminder with Level 3: children and young people's workforce Diploma. I'm 48. I really would like a change of career to become a social worker but am worried that I maybe a bit too old? Have been childminding for 8 years. I only have 2 GCSEs (English Lang & Lit).I just need a bit of advice on what I need to do next (or if I'm too old).Thanks.

Our Response:
We can't tell you what the BASW or employers' attitudes towards age is, but in view of the fact that the official retirement age for someone your age is 68, we think you're certainly not too old. You will need to underake further qualifications in order to gain access to a social work degree. You will need maths GCSE and three A levels or NVQ level 3.
ACareerChange - 27-Sep-17 @ 12:11 PM
Hi. I'm a childminder with Level 3: children and young people's workforce Diploma. I'm 48. I really would like a change of career to become a social worker but am worried that I maybe a bit too old? Have been childminding for 8 years. I only have 2 GCSEs (English Lang & Lit)...I just need a bit of advice on what I need to do next (or if I'm too old). Thanks.
Ria - 25-Sep-17 @ 1:50 PM
Flyby - Your Question:
Hi I have finished my degree in social work and want to be in mental health. Is there anyway I can convert to mental health nursing without doing all 3 years again. Thanks

Our Response:
Probably not, because social work and mental health nursing areseparate, quite distinct fields of study.
ACareerChange - 19-Jun-17 @ 2:22 PM
Hi I have finished my degree in social work and want to be in mental health. Is there anyway I can convert to mental health nursing without doing all 3 years again. Thanks
Flyby - 15-Jun-17 @ 8:38 PM
I am a qualified Early Childhood teacher. What would I need to become a social worker? Any advice would really be appreciated. Thank you.
Mel - 5-Jun-17 @ 9:38 AM
Hi,I am coming up for 43,single mum of 2. Is it too late for me to train to be a social worker?.i would need to work part time for some sort ofincome at the same time. I am a hairdresser by trade,but have also worked in a lot of customer service,my best quality,as I am such a people's person,and feel I could really help in this line of work,any advice would be really appreciated?.thanks.
Junior - 1-Jun-17 @ 10:17 PM
I have an MA in Psychology and a PGCE in teaching. I am currently a Primary School Teacher. Can you offer any advice as to what I would need to do to become a social worker please? Thank you.
Kem - 19-May-17 @ 8:34 PM
I am after a career change and would like to get into Social Care. Can you advise the 1st steps I need to take to get me on the Ladder. Thank you
Archy - 2-Mar-17 @ 7:09 PM
 am 50 this year with no qualifications.  I am a bank Clark and would like to be a social worker.  Were do I start.  I can studie part time.  What course would I need to do?  What sort of volunteer work would I need to do?  I could also studie full time, but would I really need a qualification or do on the job training 
tracy49 - 26-Jan-17 @ 12:22 PM
Ann - Your Question:
I sacrificed my further studies to have children, of which I have 4.My last daughter is aged nearly 14 so I want to now concentrate in what I really Wang to do.I am 53, so although I have 5 'O' levels - GCSE's to find those certificates would be like a needle in a haystack as I have moved house several times.I have worked in a drugs and alcohol setting, I have worked for the County Court, Council, Citizens advice bureau and such but have no qualifications in the social work field.I want a fast track course to get me onto training in the social worker field.Can you help?

Our Response:
You can get a replacement exam certificate for your O levels. You will need to sit A levels or an appropriate access course to get onto a social degree course. Contact universities of your choice to find out more.
ACareerChange - 11-Jan-17 @ 2:36 PM
I sacrificed my further studies to have children, of which I have 4. My last daughter is aged nearly 14 so I want to now concentrate in what I really Wang to do. I am 53, so although I have 5 'O' levels - GCSE's to find those certificates would be like a needle in a haystack as I have moved house several times . I have worked in a drugs and alcohol setting, I have worked for the County Court, Council, Citizens advice bureau and such but have no qualifications in the social work field. I want a fast track course to get me onto training in the social worker field. Can you help?
Ann - 10-Jan-17 @ 7:56 PM
aqsa - Your Question:
Hi I'm masters in finance but I want to change my career n want to become a social worker.do I need to do degree in social work in order to get job?or is there any other options available to get into this job.please guide

Our Response:
You will need to complete a social work degree, although you may be able to do this part time. You should approach your chosen university and ask them about entrance requirements.
ACareerChange - 29-Nov-16 @ 11:13 AM
Hi i'm masters in finance but i want to change my career n want to become a social worker..do i need to do degree in social work in order to get job?or is there any other options available to get into this job..please guide
aqsa - 28-Nov-16 @ 5:48 AM
Left school 24 years ago and never retrieved my exam grades as at the time was young and had a guaranteed job in a hairdressers so felt I didn't need them!!!( I know, young and foolish) I have been hairdressing all that time. But am starting to feel now I would love a career change and to go into social working. Would really like some advice as to which route I take first. But do need to carry on working as I am a single mum to a young (under two) child. So need to support her whilst trying to learn.
Sass - 6-Nov-16 @ 9:29 PM
Titan- Your Question:
Hi, I have been a secondary teacher for the past 14 years I am seriously considering changing career and getting my my self qualified in social work. Can you please tell me the best route. I have 2 small children so voluntary work is not an option. I am working full time as a head of sept at present.

Our Response:
You say that voluntary work is not an option, but you will have to undertake some practical work as part of a social work degree and possibly also beforehand to gain access to a course. Your choices are to either go back full time as an undergraduate or to look at online courses to study while you're working. Some useful links have been posted in comments below.
ACareerChange - 2-Aug-16 @ 9:37 AM
Hi, I have been asecondary teacher for the past 14 years I am seriously considering changing career and getting my my self qualified in social work. Can you please tell me the best route. I have 2 small children so voluntary work is not an option. I am working full time as a head of sept at present.
Titan - 1-Aug-16 @ 12:45 PM
Sm - Your Question:
Hi I am a nurse with a degree (adult branch) interested in social work is this an option and would my qualifications help me

Our Response:
Please see the article and the other comments. You will need to undertake a social work degree and may have sufficient entry requirements onto the degree course because of your nursing qualifications.
ACareerChange - 16-Feb-16 @ 11:47 AM
Hi I am a nurse with a degree (adult branch) interested in social work is this an option and would my qualifications help me
Sm - 13-Feb-16 @ 3:57 PM
Aria - Your Question:
Hi I have an nvq level 2 and 3 in health and social care and a diploma in adult nursing. What would I need to become a social worker please?

Our Response:
As the article states, you will need to undertake a social work degree. Contact universities (you can find details on the UCAS website) to see whether your existing qualifications would be sufficient for access on to an undergraduate course.
ACareerChange - 20-Jan-16 @ 2:00 PM
Hi I have an nvq level 2 and 3 in health and social care and a diploma in adult nursing. What would I need to become a social worker please?
Aria - 19-Jan-16 @ 8:19 PM
Hello, I've been working in the banking field for 13 years and currently opting to take redundancy. I have always been interested in becoming a social worker, I have only GCSE's as went straight into full time work at 15. I am now 36. Can you please point me in the right direction of where I'd begin to progress in the South Glos area? Thank you
Rouge - 29-Dec-15 @ 4:59 PM
Tink - Your Question:
Please can you help. I am a 50 year old Family Support Worker, I have worked for DCC for 11 years and I would dearly love to train as a Social Worker. I have a Diploma in Children and Young People workforce as well as extensive experience with families and working alongside Social Workers. I cannot afford to study full time and I was wondering if there is any on the job training that I could apply for.

Our Response:
All social workers must have a social work degree now. There are part time and open university degree courses in social work that you could consider. Your work as a family support worker may be seen as relevant and may help with your application onto a degree course.
ACareerChange - 7-Dec-15 @ 2:37 PM
Please can you help. I am a 50 year old Family Support Worker, I have worked for DCC for 11 years and I would dearly love to train as a Social Worker. I have a Diploma in Children and Young People workforce as well as extensive experience with families and working alongside Social Workers. I cannot afford to study full time and I was wondering if there is any on the job training that I could apply for.
Tink - 6-Dec-15 @ 1:53 AM
angorra - Your Question:
Can I say that I as a late 40s guy had worked within support role as social worksupport officer for Camden Adult Social care for 15 plus years working with adults. From my own experience this job put me off qualifying.The good social workers were not supported and demoralised by managers and so left. Bright staff were seen as a threat the lack lustre of s/w remained the diligent and client focussed ones remain. But the morale and conveyor like attitude that exists was enough to put me off. Its hardly a profession you go go in for the money but to be working in an environment where there is little support or thanks must be soul destroying. It is a culture of put up and shut up and with all the cut backs and personalisation I feel it is a career which at best would just undertake safe guarding and child/adult protection issues. From what I have seen S/W s are being de skilled and are not supported often by inadequate managers whom should not even be in practice

Our Response:
Thansk for giving us your views as member of a social work team. Do any other readers have experience like this? Please share here, we'd love to get opinions from the "chalkface" so to speak.
ACareerChange - 26-Aug-15 @ 11:41 AM
Can I say that I as a late 40s guy had worked within support role as social worksupport officer for Camden Adult Social care for 15 plus years working with adults. From my own experience this job put me off qualifying.The good social workers were not supported and demoralised by managers and so left. Bright staff were seen as a threat the lack lustre of s/w remained, the diligent and client focussed ones remain. But the morale and conveyor like attitude that exists was enough to put me off. It's hardly a profession you go go in for the money but to be working in an environment where there is little support or thanks must be soul destroying. It is a culture of put up and shut up and with all the cut backs and personalisation I feel it is a career which at best would just undertake safe guarding and child/adult protection issues. From what I have seen S/W s are being de skilled and are not supported often by inadequate managers whom should not even be in practice
angorra - 24-Aug-15 @ 11:25 AM
Hi there, I havea BA in media and communications which included psychology modules, as well as a higher psychology grade. For the past two and a half years I've been working under the umbrella of store security which has allowed me to deal with vulnerable people, and develop some excellent communication, listening, and mediation skills. I have some voluntary experience within my local community working with women's groups. I am now very interested in becoming a social worker. I have been looking to assess the best route for me, I've looked at pgdip courses and also the full ba. Any advice would be appreciated.
mmacph - 22-Jun-15 @ 9:30 AM
@jen. As we don't have the full details of what your degree covered we can't answer this as fully as you'd like. It may be simpler to speak directly to a social services head and discuss their usual requirements. You would still most likely be required to gain a professional qualification but your existing degree and experience may mean you can omit certain modules etc.
ACareerChange - 29-Jan-15 @ 10:51 AM
I have a First Class BA Joint Hons in Sociology and Social Welfare degree and two years experience working in a therapeutic residential children's home. Would this be an adequate qualification and level of experience to apply for a social workers position?
Jen - 27-Jan-15 @ 11:07 AM
@Stheh. Hopefully by this stage you have already gained or are in the process of gaining the relevant A levels. To apply for a place on a social work course, you will need to choose which institution offers the course that you want. Search for social work undergraduate courses in any search engine and you will see lots of universities & courses listed. Alternatively choose a university that you would like to attend and see if they offer a social work course/degree. You should then apply via UCAS following this link. Applications for courses next year started in September 2014 and the deadline is January 2015.
ACareerChange - 28-Oct-14 @ 12:06 PM
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