Residential social workers work with people who require support at difficult times in their lives. They may work with impoverished families, the mentally ill, the homeless, and those whose lives have been affected by drugs, alcohol or crime.
To work as a residential social worker, an accredited degree in social work, followed by professional registration, is essential. At least two A levels and five GCSEs are required to study for a social work degree. Other qualifications, such as a BTEC National qualification, NVQ Level 3 in Health and Social Care or CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education, may be acceptable. All entrants to social work degree courses have to agree to have their backgrounds checked by the Criminal Records Bureau. Once in employment, social workers must keep their training up-to-date to maintain their professional registration.
Employers of residential social workers include, but are not limited to, local authority social service departments, private organisations and charities. Specialist recruitment agencies are a rich source of employment openings. There is currently a shortage of trained social workers, particularly in the south-east of England.
Starting salaries for social workers are between £19,000 and £27,000 a year. Many residential social workers are able to earn higher salaries by working for employment agencies and taking on short-term contracts with a range of organisations. Experienced staff in permanent employment may be able to progress into senior social worker or team manager roles.