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


Hear 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. Most qualified social workers are employed by local government. This is also known as “statutory” work. Social services are 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.


There have been a number of changes in recent years and a lot of new legislation in both Adults' and Children’s Services. There are important values and guidance for you to inform yourself about, depending on the kind of work you apply for e.g. person centred approach in Adults’ Services and Every Child Matters for working with children and young people. When you enquire with us, we'll send you some suggested reading.


"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 (depends on the country eg. England would be HCPC).  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 its parents if the child is at risk of harm. Often the work is 60+% in the office, writing reports and keeping records. English needs to be a good level and writing skills are important.


Salaries are often (but not always) higher in qualified work. The minimum starting salary is around £22,000 and can range up to £42,000 for experienced and skilled Social Workers.

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 e.g. £15,000 - £23,000.


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- these vary from employer to employer.


The British social system

The way Social Work is practiced and social care is delivered in the UK will vary from your country. It is important that you start to learn about the system here.


What do Social Workers do in the UK?

Social workers are employed in a wide variety of statutory, independent and charitable agencies, and also work independently. Their tasks may include:


  • Assessing the circumstances and needs of people who request or who are referred for personal social services.
  • Purchasing, commissioning and providing services to meet assessed needs or reduce risk.
  • Engaging in problem-solving, facilitative and supportive activities with individuals, families, groups and communities.
  • Identifying and assessing the nature and degree of risk to which vulnerable children or adults may be exposed.
  • Establishing, implementing and evaluating protection and care plans.
  • Collaborating with other professionals to assess needs and provide services.
  • Exercising legal powers and duties.
First published in 2003, © Jacaranda Recruitment Ltd. 2019. All rights reserved.