A comprehensive guide to Social Work Apprenticeships

Social workers are empathetic people who offer professional help and support to vulnerable or disadvantaged children, adults, and families. It is both an incredibly demanding and rewarding job. Social Carers work to safeguard and improve the lives of individuals or families and play an integral role in public health and well being. Social care apprentices work and study to gain the experiences and qualifications they need to be able to start helping those in need.

The work social carers do is varied and there are different roles within social work.

Social workers and carers may work within these remits:

  • Children, family & school
  • Medical & public health
  • Mental health & substance abuse
  • Community
  • Military
  • Office/multiple locations

There are different entry routes you can take into the social care industry. One pathway you can take is to enrol in a social care apprenticeship.

Just like an apprenticeship in another industry, a social care apprenticeship involves ‘earning while you learn’. Through an apprenticeship, you can qualify, while getting hands-on experience and earning a living wage.

Social work may not be the first industry that comes to mind for an apprenticeship. However, there are several recognised social care apprenticeships, offering a route into these important social worker roles.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled the following FAQs regarding social care apprenticeships.


What do social workers do?

The main aspects of a social worker’s job involve protecting the vulnerable, and aiding with complex needs. Social workers may work with vulnerable children and/or adults and offer practical and emotional support. This could be helping someone with social and interpersonal difficulties or mental health issues to improve their day to day experiences. It could mean stepping in to protect children or vulnerable adults from harm. Social workers may also work with a family to help them to stay together.

Would I make a good social worker?

It’s a demanding job, requiring adaptability, compassion, and high emotional intelligence. Social workers must be able to see the big picture. They will likely juggle several cases at once, so time management and the ability to problem-solve is also a must. There will be extremely difficult days with emotive situations that cannot always be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Therefore, you will also need to be able to separate from the work when necessary. This kind of work does not suit everyone’s temperament and skills, but those who succeed find it to be a rewarding experience.

What types of social work apprenticeships are there?

There are several different levels of social work apprenticeship developed by employers.

Which apprenticeship you undertake will depend on the kind of social worker you wish to become and where you want to work.  For example, schools, care homes and hospitals may employ social care workers. Social work often requires working for a mix of private and public organisations.

What are the entry requirements?

Each apprenticeship may have its own slightly different entry requirements, but there are some hard and fast rules:

  • You must be at least 16 years old
  • You cannot be in full-time education

GSCE (or equivalent) of A* – C in English and maths may be required for social care apprenticeships of Level 3 and above. You may be able to study for these qualifications as part of your apprenticeship. Some apprenticeships will require five GCSEs A* – C, including maths and English.  In some cases, you will need previous experience as a support worker.

How long does a social care apprenticeship take?

Most social care apprenticeships will take between a year to three years to complete. There will be an assessment period at the end of the course.

How do I find a social care apprenticeship near me?

There are several general apprenticeship websites where you can filter via industry or subject. You can also look on general job sites and filter for your area and apprenticeships. You can set if you are willing to travel or look within a certain radius. If there are any local organisations you would like to work for – such as the city council or a community group – you can also ask if they offer apprenticeships.

What would I earn on a social work apprenticeship?

Your pay will depend on your age, as the minimum wages are different for 16-18 and 19 and over.  You will be paid for your working hours and paid for your training time.

Once you are qualified, the average salary for the social worker is around £25,000. This can rise to more than £40,000 as you gain more qualifications and responsibilities. 

Is there any funding for social work apprentices?

Yes, levy-paying employers (those with a pay bill of over £3 million a year) pay the apprenticeship levy. Other companies can access 95% of the required funding for an apprenticeship through the Government. The non-levy-paying company will pay 5%. Either way, you do not need to pay to do a social care apprenticeship.

What are the other ways to become a social care worker?

If you don’t feel an apprenticeship is the right route into social care for you, there are other options.

To work in the social care industry, you will need a degree approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You will also need to be registered with either the HCPC in England, or one of the equivalent professional bodies in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.

You can earn a social care degree at university full-time or via an open university course.

We hope that this guide has answered some of the questions you may have had regarding social care apprenticeships and how to become a social worker.  Social workers do an amazing job protecting the most vulnerable people in society. Should you choose this as your career, you will be providing a valuable service.