Potential careers in social care | Oxfordshire County Council

Potential careers in social care

Whether starting out, looking for change or returning to work, a range of opportunities awaits you.

Woman and carer

About social care

Some people need support to develop and maintain their independence and dignity at certain stages in their lives. Social care provides a range of personal and practical support to help people at these times.

Working in social care is challenging and rewarding.
It is about making a positive difference to people's lives by contributing to their health, safety and wellbeing.

There are about 1.6 million people working in social care in the UK.

By 2025, it is expected that there will be a need for 2.6 million people to work in this area.

Range of opportunities

Whether you are looking for a career change, thinking of returning to the social care sector, or starting your working life from school or college, there is a huge range of work opportunities in social care.

You could choose to work full time or have a part time career to fit around family or other commitments. Many jobs offer flexible hours.


You may not need formal qualifications to start with. As you work you will develop new skills and there will be learning and development opportunities in the workplace that can lead to vocational qualifications.

If you are under 18 you are advised to complete an apprenticeship as this is a supported way of entering social care and will ensure you have access to full training and have the opportunity to develop your skills gradually.

You don’t have to have worked in a caring role to enter the workforce. However most jobs will require you to have some experience of supporting people either through work experience, volunteering or caring within your own family these are all valuable experiences.

Where would I work?

Social care can involve supporting people of any age in a variety of settings.

This may include supporting disabled children, adults with a physical or learning disability, adults with mental health problems or older people.

You could work in a special needs school, day centre, residential or nursing home, extra care housing, community hospital or support people in their own homes.

What is social work?

The role of social workers is to support and protect vulnerable children and adults, their families, carers and communities. The work focuses on helping individuals to maximize their potential within society.

Social workers work with a wide range of agencies to create, provide and review care packages for:

  • vulnerable adults
  • older people
  • adults who have a disability
  • physical or mental illness
  • vulnerable children
  • children who are looked after
  • children who have a disability or who are sick or who have emotional/behavioral problems.

The social work training qualification covers adults and children’s services. Social workers usually specialise in a chosen area after qualifying.

For further information about social work contact Julie Glover.

Read an interview with Jo Morton (pdf format, 175Kb) published on World Social Work Day 2015

Social work training

There are two qualification routes to becoming a social worker.

BA in Social Work

This is either a three-year full time or four year part time course undertaken at university. Entry requirements vary, but from 2013 all ask for a GCSE in Maths and English grade A-C.

This is a generic qualification (all client groups) and applicants are expected to have some experience of direct work with adults or children.

 All students undertake two placements in a practice setting in the private/voluntary/independent sector or statutory sector. Fees vary and currently some universities have bursaries to assist.

The Open University offers a BA in Social Work but students must be sponsored by their employer.

MA in Social Work

This is usually a two year course, some of which can be taken part time. Students have a degree, usually in a related area and experience of direct work with adults and children.

From 2013, all students must have a GCSE in Maths and English grade A-C.

All students undertake two placements in a practice setting in the private/voluntary/independent or statutory sector. Fees vary and currently some universities have bursaries to assist.

Contact universities for their prospectus to compare courses, fees and entry requirements.

Government-funded MA

The Step Up to Social Work programme is also running in 2014 and there is a new pilot programme called Frontline details are at www.thefrontline.org.uk

Last reviewed
22 June 2015

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