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Where to start

Social Workers provide support, act as advocates, and assist people to access the services they need. They work with individuals (from babies through to the elderly) and families to help improve outcomes in their lives. This may involve helping to protect vulnerable people from harm or abuse, or supporting people to live independently.

Social Workers often have a ‘caseload’ of individuals or families that they work with at any one time, and often work in multi-disciplinary teams alongside health and education professionals. Many social workers specialise in working with children and young people.

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How to know if you’re suited to this sector

Like many roles in the health and social care sector, you’ll need to be:

  • patient and able to respond calmly in challenging or highly pressured situations
  • able to build rapport, with strong listening and communication skills
  • confident in advocating for service users while working within legal and policy frameworks
  • flexible and able to respond to new roles, tasks and environments
  • willing to reflect on your own actions, listen to feedback, and apply that learning to your future practice.

To find out more, listen to Nick Roberts talking about his own experience of not knowing what he wanted to do and how he found his career in social work. Our public sector graduate schemes panel included Hannah Olatunde who also completed the Frontline programme as a mature student after a career in law.

How to get the experience to be credible

Any experience of working with children, young people, people in vulnerable situations or from disadvantaged backgrounds will help. Try volunteer or paid roles in residential care homes, hospices, homelessness charities, or holiday play schemes.

Further study or certification required

There are a growing number of ways to train as a Social Worker, from on-the-job graduate training programmes to postgraduate courses.

Graduate Training Programmes:

Postgraduate Study

As a regulated profession, the requirements for training are set out by the appropriate regulator for the nation that you wish to practice in. See below for further detail.

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process
  • Relevant experience (either paid or voluntary) with client contact will help you to demonstrate the relevant skills, and your suitability for a face-to-face helping role.
  • Your personal statement or application will need to clearly articulate your motivation for the role, reflecting on what you learned from your experiences and how they have informed your decision to pursue this career path.
What Cambridge offers to help with this career
What to do next

Now you have looked at this page, think about your next steps. Everyone's journey is different. There are many ways to move forward. Here are some actions you could take now: