How do I become a children’s social worker?

To become a children's social worker, you’ll need to gain a degree qualification which is recognised by Social Work England. There are three main ways to do this: 

  • Studying an undergraduate or postgraduate course at university 

  • Completing a fast track postgraduate course, like Step Up to Social Work 

  • Completing a Degree Apprenticeship through a local authority 

Studying social work at university 

This is the most common way to gain a social work degree. You can apply to undergraduate social work courses (such as a BA in Social Work) with A-levels and GCSEs, while a postgraduate course (such as an MA in Social Work) will require you to have completed an undergraduate degree. 

Entry requirements for an undergraduate social work degree course will be different depending on the university you choose to apply to, but most will require around 2 A-levels, plus 5 GCSEs, including English and Maths, at grade C or above. We’ve listed some of the courses available in Yorkshire & the Humber here.

The Open University also runs social work programmes. You can study social work at your own pace and continue to work. However, the Open University does not find social work placements for you. Instead, you would need to find an employer to sponsor you in order to become a social worker (which can be difficult). This route may be useful if you work in the field of social care already. 

Fast-track social work courses 

If you already have a degree that isn’t related to social work, one of the quickest ways to become a children's social worker is through a fast-track postgraduate course, such as Step Up to Social Work or Frontline. These have some advantages over a typical social work postgraduate course, as they are fully funded and offer a bursary to students. 

Fast-track places are limited, so there is a lot of competition. In order to apply to Step Up to Social Work, you’ll need to meet the academic entry requirements and also show some experience working or volunteering with children and families. Find out more about the entry requirements and how to apply.

Social Work Degree Apprenticeships 

The Social Work Degree Apprenticeship programme lets you study for a social work degree, while practicing in a social work role at a local authority. This allows you to gain gain experience in a social work environment before you fully qualify. Your tuition is covered in an apprenticeship, and you will earn a wage for the work you do. Discover more about this exciting programme.

At the moment, Degree Apprenticeships are only being offered in our region as part of a ‘grow your own’ programme. This means places are only available to people already working for a local authority, making it a useful option for people already working in social care or children’s services.

What if I qualified outside the UK?

If you gained a social work degree qualification outside the UK, you can apply to join the Social Work England register. You need to do this in order to practice social work in England. The process is similar to how things work for those with UK qualifications, but with a few extra requirements. For example, you may also need to evidence your knowledge of the English language, or provide a translated copy of any documents which you are providing to support your application.

Full details on how to register with Social Work England if you qualified outside the UK can be found on the SWE website, along with contact details to provide any further support you may need.