If you’re thinking of pursuing social work as a career, you likely have a reasonable idea of what a social worker does, and which part of the sector you want to work in (with social workers attached to schools, hospitals, and prisons, working with parents, recovering addicts and helping prisoners not to reoffend, you have a surprisingly broad choice in what your career blossoms into!). There’s plenty of information out there, in the news as well as in fiction, that helps you construct a mental picture of what social work is like.
If that sparks an interest, it doesn’t much resource to find out what options you have for training and education to enter the field. Social workers are in high demand and there are plenty of different ways to acquire the necessary qualifications which you can pick based on your needs and specific circumstances, from undergraduate degrees to on the job training, and taking in postgraduate qualifications and conversion courses on the way.
Once you’ve graduated, you’ll need to get to grips with the systems in place designed to connect trained social workers with the jobs that need their skills!
Your first point of contact is likely to be a social work agency: these firms tend to have either particular specialisms or a national reach, and either way bring more experience and connections to the task than you can. They also provide a people to fill short term and cover vacancies, as well as longer term jobs. These are a good idea for people just starting out, if they want to acquire a variety of experience quickly to help them find the long term job they’re aiming at.
If your is to work for the NHS or elsewhere in the welfare state, you’ll find large national job boards where positions are posted: while an agency can do some of the legwork to help you find a shortlist of jobs you’re really interesting, it’s also worth consulting the source directly, especially if you have very specific requirements for the jobs you’re looking for.
Another rich source of jobs for social workers are charities, who, as a bloc, are the biggest employers of social work staff outside the Government. Obviously your particular career aspirations and specialisms will dictate which charities you will want to look at when you’re searching for a job. Even if you’re training makes you an asset to any aspect of social if you eventually aspire to managing a children’s social work service in the town where you grew up, working with the Help the Aged won’t advance that causes specifically.