You can find information on areas of the UK where we have social work jobs here.


Watch Fran talk about her experience of moving to the UK and working as a social worker in a variety of roles.



The three sectors

The private sector             

Many children’s homes, fostering agencies, assessment centres, support services for people with disabilities, care homes for older people, for example.

Local government              

There are 150 local authorities in England, 22 in Wales and 32 in Scotland. Many social workers are employed by local government. This is also known as “statutory” work. The provision of social services is often divided up into Children’s Services and Adults Services.

  • Children’s Services

  1. Referral and Assessment
  2. Children in Need
  3. Children with Disabilities
  4. Looked After Children
  5. Leaving Care


  • Adults’ Services
  1. Adults with Disabilities
  2. Older People’s Services
  3. Mental Health Services


The voluntary sector         

There are many charities providing specialist services e.g. support for adults with disabilities, children’s homes and children’s centres.




"Qualified" or "unqualified" work

In the UK, we talk about “qualified” and “unqualified” work. It doesn’t mean that you are qualified or not – it refers to the kind of job.

If you have a qualification that a UK Care Council will register you can choose between “qualified” work and “unqualified” work.

If you have a qualification that a UK Care Council will not register, you can only work in “unqualified” work.


Qualified work

Qualified work must be done by people who can register with the relevant Care Council. Often, these jobs are working for local government e.g. Care Manager in Adults Social Care or Social Worker in Children’s Services.

Qualified work means you hold a certain power and responsibility, working with government legislation and frameworks. Often the work requires very good assessment skills, case management and the ability to work with a variety of agencies e.g. police, hospitals, schools etc. The work includes intervention that is backed by legal powers e.g. removing a child from his/her parents if the child is at risk of harm. Often the work is 60%+ in the office, writing reports and keeping records. Report-writing and recording skills are important.

Salaries are often (but not always) higher in qualified work.


Unqualified work

Unqualified work does NOT require Care Council registration. If you have a qualification that could be registered by a UK Care Council, you can still do non-qualified work if you choose. This is especially relevant for social pedagogues who want to work in e.g. homes for children and young people.

In “unqualified work”, salaries are often (but not always) lower than qualified work. Salary ranges depend on the kind of work and usually how much work experience you have.

The work is more direct with clients and often more practical, involving less paperwork and not as much multi-agency working. Some record-keeping is required. This is the delivery of care and support to clients. Often this work requires you to work shifts, which vary from employer to employer.


First published in 2003, © Jacaranda Recruitment Ltd. 2019. All rights reserved.