Social work qualifications and training for social workers
Being there for people at their most vulnerable to safeguard them from harm makes social work an attractive career choice. So, if you’re considering the profession, what social work qualifications do you need? And what courses and programmes offer training for social workers?
What social work qualifications will I need?
To practice as a social worker in England you’ll need a degree in social work approved by Social Work England.
There are several ways you can achieve the required social work qualifications. The most common one is to study an undergraduate degree in social work at one of many universities offering degree level social work courses.
If you already have a degree though, what are your options? Even if your degree was in an unconnected subject, you can apply for a Masters in Social Work (MSW) as a postgraduate.
If, however, you would prefer more hands-on training for social workers, there are fast-track schemes available to graduates in any field (more on this further on).
If you qualified as a social worker before the introduction of the social work degree, you can still apply for a letter from Social Work England that will verify you have the relevant qualification to work.
Can I do a social work apprenticeship instead?
Yes you can – it is an accepted form of training for social workers. This is a fairly new development and takes the form of a social work degree apprenticeship.
It takes around 36 months and upon completion the apprentice gains an Honours degree in Social Work, enabling them to register and start work.
Apprentices earn as they learn as they receive a blend of on-the-job training and classroom-based study.
For some, this is a more attractive option since graduates can obtain their social work qualifications without having to pay tuition fees and acquire student debt.
What are the rules in Scotland and Wales?
In Scotland, you’ll also need an honours or postgraduate degree in social work to be approved to practice by The Scottish Social Services Council. Likewise, there is a modern apprenticeship option and several different ways you can obtain the right qualifications in social work. The Careers and Education page on the SSSC’s website is a good place to review your options.
As it is in England and Scotland, in Wales the title social worker is protected. This means that only people with a social work professional qualification can practice as social workers. To become a social worker in Wales you must complete a course approved by Social Work Wales. This can be studied at either graduate or postgraduate level. Many universities in Wales that offer social work qualifications do so in partnership with local authority social services.
Fast track social work training scheme options
There are a few fast track social work training scheme options available and these are:
The Frontline Programme
A two-year leadership development programme for graduates and career changers. Focused on children’s social work, those on the programme qualify as a social worker after their first year and register with Social Work England. Additionally, the Firstline programme offers training for social workers who want to become great leaders.
Is a relatively new route into social for graduates and career changers who want to make a difference to people with mental health problems. To be able to apply, you’ll need a 2:1 or higher in any degree subject other than social work. It is an intensive programme with limited places. Essentially, Think Ahead, looks for individuals who have the potential to be excellent mental health social workers who go on to lead in their field.
Step up to social work
It is an intensive 14-month full-time programme of training for social workers involving a mixture of local authority hands-on experience and academic learning. As a fast track social work training scheme, applicants need a 2:1 or a 2:2 and a Masters in any discipline except social work.
Whether you’re considering a fast track social work training scheme or want to gain your social work qualifications at university, you’ll find social work rewarding.
For further information on how to progress your social work career, you may wish to visit our careers hub. It’s packed with useful information to help you at every stage from pre-qualification to reaching management level.