Choosing a career in social services

If you’re looking for a career for life which makes a positive difference, then a job in social services is for you. There are opportunities to progress, have an important role in supporting others and get a sense of personal achievement from knowing you are helping other people.

You could be thinking about what you want to do when you leave school or college, considering changing your career or returning to work. There’s a great demand for social service workers from providing practical help and support to keeping adults who use services or children safe. It’s a career for people who like people.

What kind of work is it?

Social service workers can be office based but much of their day is usually spent working with people in the community, a care home, the person’s own home, a day centre, hospital or other setting.  Working with children and young people can involve working in a nursery or play group, crèche setting, out of school care or a residential child care service.

Is social services a career for you?  Try our new online challenge called A question of care: A career for you? to see if you have the qualities that are important for social service workers.

What skills do you need?

There are particular skills that are important for a job in social services, these include:

  • effective communications
  • supporting health and safety
  • developing your own knowledge and practice
  • supporting and safeguarding vulnerable people.
  • you can start to get these skills through voluntary work or while you are working in social services and if you are doing a qualification.

Getting started

There are many different ways that careers in social services can progress and develop (called pathways) as well as opportunities to change direction. You can start work as a nursery assistant then develop your career to become a manager in a care home service for adults, social worker or a nursery manager.

The training required will vary depending on the role you chose. Social workers must gain an honours degree in social work while social care and children and young people workers can gain qualifications while they are working. Getting experience of working in the sector is a good place to start. Experience, whether paid or unpaid will enhance your prospects and give you an opportunity to find out if you wold enjoy the job. Find out about volunteering.

There are many different jobs in social services each with a range of skills and qualities. Roles available include:

Click on the links above to find out more about the roles. You might also want to read more about careers in social services on our career resources page.