How to progress your career in social work

Posted: Feb 06 2019


England’s health and social work sector acts as a major contributor to the economy, accounting for one in 10 jobs and employing more than 2.5 million people in total. Social work has huge importance in many people’s lives and offers amazing career opportunities with 91% of social work graduates finding work six months after graduating — which is higher than 77% of graduates across all higher education.

Social work is a uniquely gratifying career which involves supporting vulnerable children, adults and families. As a qualified social worker, you will have obtained the necessary documents to practise in the UK including acquiring your undergraduate degree and completing all essential registration and training.

As a practising social worker, you might be curious about the protentional for growth within your career and which steps you should take to ensure smooth progression. Look no further — following are several approaches to increasing your abilities and chances of advancement.

Be the best at your job

Being a qualified social worker involves following the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) which highlights nine essential competencies developed by the Social Work Reform Board. It’s a crucial framework for social workers to follow and a great outline of the skills you need to hone while practising social work. Developing these abilities will allow you to climb the career ladder all the way from being a newly qualified social worker to getting placed in advanced and strategic roles.

Advancement tends to follow this structure as set out in the PCF:

·         The four pre-qualifying levels

·         Newly qualified social worker (ASYE)

·         Social worker

·         Experienced social worker

·         Advanced social worker

·         Strategic social worker

Strategic social workers perform highly advanced practice which tactically optimises the service system — this often includes strategic leadership or management. It’s beneficial to start practising, and keeping a record of, your management and leadership abilities from the onset since strategic roles require the highest levels of expertise.

Continue your training

It’s important that whilst practising as a social worker, you have access to further learning and development. This is so you are up-to-date on the right skills and knowledge to continue providing quality care and support to those who depend on your service.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a requirement of the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration but is also highly beneficial for your career. Utilise this opportunity to specialise your knowledge and technical skills which will all help boost your professional performance.

CPD includes a mix of formal and informal activities from attending lectures and courses to independent reading. Take advantage of this training to support your growth, improve self-reflection and overcome any skills you may be lacking in. By recording your CPD training, which is required for auditing purposes, you will also create a proven portfolio of your best social work practices.

Branch into a new sector

It’s hard to find a career that matches social work in terms of opportunities, job security and is also as personally gratifying. You create the dynamics of where you work and who you work with. Social work allows you the choice of working behind-the-scenes or directly with the vulnerable people you will be helping.

When it comes to variety, social work offers numerous branches of work in both statutory and non-statutory roles. There are many sectors of work to choose from including fostering and adopting, mental health and educational welfare. Employers are aplenty with the main ones being the NHS, the private sector, social services and not-for-profit organisation. Whatever your style and preference, there is a rewarding job in social work that will suit your needs.

If you feel stagnant in your current role, consider branching into a new sector with endless opportunities for career growth.


As you gain experience, you’ll see even more career opportunities open up as you engage with roles that require more responsibility and expertise. In the advanced and strategic social work sectors, there are three general branches to choose from: you can specialise as a practitioner, an educator or a manager.

Practitioners provide leadership, supervision and expertise to other professionals. Example roles include Principal Social Worker or Consultant Social Worker.

Educators facilitate the learning and development of other professionals and enrich their chosen field with their knowledge, skills and practises. Example roles include Senior University Educator or Strategic Learning and Development Consultant.

Managers lead, motivate and manage teams at an excellent standard whilst providing high performing and effective service. Example roles include Social Services Director or Strategic Consultant.

After substantial experience in the field, some social workers work independently by setting up their own companies to contract for work.

Take the next step

At Tradewind Social Care, we take pride in matching exciting jobs in social work with the right candidates. We’re looking for excellent qualified social workers to fill a variety of job roles in various locations around the UK. If that sounds interesting to you, then apply today.


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