Social work is a demanding yet rewarding career choice. You will be helping individuals and families through difficult situations, and ensuring that vulnerable members of society are safeguarded and have the correct support. You may be exposed to unfavourable situations, working with children and families, victims of crime, and people dealing with addiction or mental health problems.
Difficulties aside, social work would be the perfect choice for anybody with a patient demeanour who enjoys working with and helping other people. Your role as a social worker will aid people in need, potentially improving their lives. The education of social workers is incredibly important, as this ensures that graduates are providing the best possible service for those in need, as well as staying up to date with the most prevalent social issues.
Highlighted courses and degrees in social work
A degree in social work will require to study both general areas and more specific areas. These could include communication and interpersonal skills, law, rights and justice, sociological perspectives for social workers and interventions, among others.
Your degree will be taught in a mixture of modes. The majority of teaching will likely take place on campus in lecture halls or classrooms. You may have the opportunity to participate in some practical lessons. It is common for social work degrees to include a placement module. During this time, you will undertake a placement in the field of social work. This will give you the opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills, as well as gain some work experience through practical learning. The professional practice of social work is constantly evolving, and therefore social workers need to always be willing to develop their skills.
Depending on where you choose to study, you may be given the opportunity to specialise towards the end of your degree. The specialisation you choose in a social work can help you to get a job in your chosen area. Common specialisations include:
Your degree may also require you to write a dissertation, which will give you a chance to further research and understand a chosen area.
The accreditation gained from a social work degree will depend on where you choose to study. Different countries may have individual accreditation systems. In the UK, you will either be awarded a bachelor of science or bachelor of arts degree in social work.
Once you have graduated, you may be required to gain extra qualifications before you are able to gain employment as a social worker. For example, in the UK, you will need to be on the HCPC register in order to become a fully qualified social worker. Most social work courses will be regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This official accreditation is different in other countries, so make sure you know about any extra requirements.
Generally, an undergraduate degree in social work will take three to four years. Foundation degrees, diplomas and certificates can last up to two years when studied full-time.
On successful completion of your undergraduate degree, you can either seek employment or further your studies. Continuation of your studies could be in the form of a postgraduate degree, such as a masters or PhD, or a graduate diploma or certificate.
The entry requirements of a social work degree will depend on where you choose to study. Requirements differ from institution to institution. Some universities may rely on results from previous exams, and some may value previous relevant work experience. Other universities may require you to have studied certain subjects, and some may ask you to sit an entrance exam.
You should check each institution to see what entry requirements they have for their social work programmes.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.
Tuition fees for international students are not fixed, and will therefore vary for each institution. You should make sure that you are aware of how much each course you are interested in will cost you.
You may be eligible for a scholarship or funding. This may be awarded by your institution, or by a separate funding body. For more information, visit our scholarships and funding section.
Due to the holistic approach of a social work degree, graduates are prepared for many career paths. It is most common for graduates to go directly into the legal, social and welfare sectors. You could also pursue a job in the social care or education sectors.
Social worker is not a title that refers to one sort of role, as social worker can operate as many different things. You may work in community development, adoption and child welfare, adult guidance, or teenage and youth support. These sort of jobs are available in local authorities, as well as government and health sectors.
Graduates of social work will also be able to find work in other fields, due their transferable skills. You will have a good understanding of human interaction, psychology, communication, situation analysis and conflict management. These are skills that will prove useful no matter what career path you choose.
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