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How to become a Field Social Worker

field social worker careers

What does a Field Social Worker do?

Field social workers offer advice, support, counselling and protection to a wide range of people within the community, and other settings. This work is often carried out in partnership with other professionals such as doctors and teachers. The work can be rewarding but also frustrating and emotionally challenging.

The main areas in which social workers can specialise are:

Working with children and families
This area can include working to protect children believed to be at risk; helping parents who cannot cope with bringing up their child; arranging foster homes or adoption for children who cannot be cared for by their own families; settling children into their new home; and supporting young people who are leaving care to live independently. Social workers also play an important role in keeping families together, for example, by giving advice on issues such as parenting, drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, social workers can work in children's care homes, and there may be opportunities to work with young offenders in the community.

Working with adults
This area can involve working in a health care setting, assessing the social and emotional needs of patients and their families, helping them adjust to illness. Some social workers are care managers, evaluating the needs of clients in the community, developing care plans which enable the client to remain living safely and independently at home. They may also work with specific groups such as people with HIV or AIDS, the elderly, and those with mental illness, physical disabilities or learning difficulties. Social workers specialising in mental health often work with other health professionals to decide how best to support and treat the client, for example, in the community or hospital.

Work with offenders
In Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, social workers can choose to specialise in working with offenders.

Social workers also spend time carrying out office based duties such as writing reports, dealing with enquiries and attending meetings and conferences.

What's the working environment like working as a Field Social Worker?

Working hours can be irregular, often on a rota basis, as part of a team providing 24-hour, seven-days-a-week cover. Some part-time work may be available. For those working in a medical environment, normal office hours are more common.

Time may be split between the office, clients’ homes, day centres, hospitals, health centres, and court. Social workers may need a driving licence.

What does it take to become a Field Social Worker?

To be a field social worker, you should:

  • be committed to helping people overcome their difficulties
  • be able to develop trusting, professional relationships with clients, without becoming emotionally involved
  • be persuasive, and have patience, resilience and maturity
  • be aware of the different needs of people, depending on race, gender, sexuality, ability, religion, culture and age
  • be an excellent communicator and listener
  • be able to negotiate on behalf of your clients
  • be able to deal with stress
  • have good time management and organisational skills
  • be able to work well as part of a team
  • have a thorough approach to work and be able to manage a complex caseload
  • understand relevant aspects of the law
  • be quick-thinking
  • have keyboard, database and numerical skills.

Field Social Worker Career Opportunities

Social workers are employed by statutory organisations such as local authority social services departments, as well as private and voluntary/charitable organisations.

Social workers with at least three years’ experience, may progress to a more senior post such as team leader or care service manager, with responsibility for managing a team of social workers. Promotion to senior social worker is based on a combination of qualifications and experience.

Some are employed in hospitals offering psychiatric services in prisons or in special hospitals. Opportunities exist with the Navy Personnel and Family Service and with the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association (SSAFA).

Social workers can go into teaching at universities and colleges, or work as a training officer for an agency. There is growing scope for self-employment.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Field Social Worker that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Social Work and Care Careers
Tel: 0845 604 6404

General Social Care Council
Goldings House
2 Hay's Lane
Tel: 020 7397 5800
Registration helpline: 0845 070 0630
Bursaries helpline: 020 7397 5835

Skills for Care (England)
Albion Court
5 Albion Place
Tel: 0113 245 1716

Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)
Compass House
11 Riverside Drive
Tel: 01382 207101

Care Council for Wales (CCW)
South Gate House
Wood Street
CF10 1EW
Tel: 029 2022 6257

Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC)
7th Floor Millennium House
Great Victoria Street
Tel: 028 9041 7600

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Courses to help you become a Field Social Worker