If you have a passion for helping others and making a valued contribution to other people’s lives, find out why you should consider a career within social care.

Careers in Social Care

Social care describes a variety of forms of personal care and other practical assistance for anyone that needs extra support, from children to adults. You could be providing this care to people in their own homes, in residential homes or several other places, such as supported housing or day centres.

1.48 million people are working in the health and social care sector in the UK, and a career in the industry can be a rewarding choice for many graduates, particularly those that care about making a difference to people lives and helping those that rely on the daily support of others.

Working in social care can involve working in a variety of locations such as hospitals, prisons, schools or youth clubs. Here are just some examples of the types of job roles available.

Social Worker

Often working in multiple settings, social workers work with specific groups of vulnerable people to help them solve any problems they may face and safeguard them from any forms of harm. You’ll need excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to remain calm in high-pressure situations.

As social work is a graduate profession, you will also need either an approved honours or postgraduate degree in social work to start a career. However, there are other fast-track routes to getting these qualifications.

Youth Worker

Youth workers are usually employed in the public sector and concentrate on providing support and guidance to young people in their professional and personal development, whilst facilitating social and extracurricular activities.

To work as a professional youth worker, you typically need an honours degree validated by the National Youth Agency (NYA), however other types of professional training are available if you have a degree in another subject.


This role is focused on helping people identify and work through the problems in their lives, such as bereavement or relationship issues. You will need patience and empathy to succeed as a counsellor, and employers prefer a degree in a related subject such a phycology or social work. However, evidence that you have the necessary personal qualities and experience can be just as important.

Probation officer

All probation officers are employed by the National Probation Service (NPS), and work with new and repeat offenders to reduce the chance of them reoffending. You will complete risk assessments and reviews on offenders and report on their progress.

To work as a probation officer, you will need to a qualification at least level 5 (e.g. honours degree) and complete the Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP) course.

Care Manager

Leading residential care settings such as a hospice centre or elderly care home, care managers are responsible for day-to-day operations and ensure the quality of care provided meets the needs of its clients. Many care managers have leadership and management qualifications and experience, usually including a health or social care degree.

Types of Employer

The leading employers of graduates in the social care industry include:

  • local authorities and councils – e.g. social services
  • residential and non-residential care organisations
  • the NHS
  • the Prison and probation services
  • charity and voluntary organisations, such as Age Concern, British Red Cross and Mencap

Successfully applying for a job in the sector often requires some form of work experience; however as social care can be a sensitive subject, obtaining this can be difficult. A great alternative is to consider volunteering in schools or youth clubs or charities that work with elderly people.

Graduate Schemes

The NHS offers a Graduate Management Programme with the aim of fast-tracking graduates into a senior management position within the healthcare sector. It will develop your knowledge and provide you with hands-on experience within multiple settings. You will be employed on a fixed-term contract for at least two years and specialise in one of six areas:

  • general management
  • finance
  • human resources
  • health informatics
  • policy and strategy
  • health analysis

The Think Ahead programme is a new route into social work for graduates wanting to make a real difference to people with mental health problems. It involves learning on-the-job whilst studying for a postgraduate qualification in social work.

Graduates may also consider the Worthwhile graduate scheme which provides 17 days of workshop-style training over a 12-month period and is designed to give candidates grounded knowledge in various aspects of the industry, from impact measurement to influencing.