- 30 November 2020
- 8 min read
The Social Worker Salary & Pay GuideSubscribe To Advice
If you’ve ever thought about becoming a Social Worker, here we outline what you can earn, how you can increase your pay and the available career paths for a qualified Social Worker.
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Social Workers support people through challenging circumstances, helping to direct them to specialist services and ensuring they can live a safe and independent life free from harm, abuse or danger.
Jobs are provided by local authorities, NHS Trusts and private companies, and you could work within a hospital or specialist care facility, as well as a variety of community settings including schools or people’s homes.
This guide aims to answer questions relating to social worker salaries, including average pay, tips on increasing your income and what the future holds.
What Is The Average Salary For A Social Worker?
Broadly speaking, the average salary for a Social Worker is around £30,000 a year.
However, finding an average salary for Social Workers is very tricky.
The majority of Social Workers are employed by local authorities, and the salaries they offer can vary.
Equally, many Social Workers are employed within the NHS, where the starting salaries tend to be higher.
Then you have the many social workers employed in the private and charity sectors, where pay can be hard to pinpoint again.
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What Does A Social Worker Do To Earn This Salary?
Social Workers work in many different sectors and locations, and what they do on a daily basis varies within each.
However, responsibilities may include:
• Conducting interviews to assess people’s needs
• Writing assessments within specified standards
• Providing packages of support to help people live full lives
• Liaising with and making referrals to other agencies
• Working closely with employees from related disciplines including mental health or child protection professionals
• Maintaining accurate records
• Giving evidence in court
Working hours however are fairly consistent.
You’ll most likely work Monday to Friday, and 37 hours a week.
How Much Does Social Worker Pay Vary Between The NHS, Local Authorities And Privately?
In local authorities, there is no fixed salary scale to match the NHS’.
However, it’s widely recognised that salaries start between £24,000 and £30,000 a year – typically lower than in the NHS.
Many Social Workers within local authorities can go on to earn more than £40,000 a year with enough experience and further qualifications.
In the NHS, Social Workers start on a Band 6 salary, which is currently £32,306 a year.
Many Social Workers go on to Band 7 roles and above, seeing their pay packet increase well beyond £40,000 a year.Privately, for example in charities, salaries are benchmarked against local authorities and the NHS – but of course can vary too.
Industry statistics suggest a starting salary similar to those within local authorities.
Ultimately, it’s probably fair to say that salaries do vary between each sector, and that the highest starting salaries will normally be found in the NHS.
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How Do You Become A Social Worker?
To become a Social Worker, you will either need an undergraduate degree or postgraduate degree in social work.
Many people with nursing, legal, political or social sciences degrees choose to take a postgraduate social work course in order to qualify.
Apprenticeships are another route into this vocation.
You’ll still need to be a graduate, but will receive bursary of around £18,000 for this two-year postgraduate course.
In terms of skills and personality traits, you’ll need to be patient, resilient, flexible and compassionate, and you’ll need to be an excellent communicator and negotiator.
How Can Social Workers Increase Their Income?
There are many ways of improving your income as a Social Worker.
You could opt to do bank or agency work – either in your spare time to supplement your income, or on a full-time basis.
You’ll definitely need good solid experience to make it work initially, as agencies will be looking for in-demand social workers with lots of roles under their belts.
But if you can make it work, some agencies advertise roles at £30 an hour or more – which equates to an annual salary of more than £50,000.
Equally, simply improving your skills and qualifications will allow you to command a higher rate of pay wherever you work.
A variety of short or longer term courses are available, either through training providers or through your employer.
Whatever you do, it does pay to gain experience of different roles in different settings, and to build up your network.
What Types Of Social Workers Are There?
Once you’re qualified, there are actually many different specialisms you can follow within social work.
To start with, you can consider whether you want to work with children or adults. Then, there are several different areas you might wish to focus on, including:
• Managing adoption or fostering processes
• Assisting children and families with child protection concerns
• Working with children in care
• Supporting young offenders
• Helping adults with learning disabilities
• Supporting vulnerable older people
What Career Progression Is Available For A Social Worker?
Promotion as a social worker typically means a move into a managerial position.
After a few years of experience social workers often become senior practitioners, team leaders or care managers.
Within these roles you normally manage other social workers.Many social workers also become practice educators, which involves supervising and teaching prospective Social Workers.
What Does The Future Hold For Social Worker Pay?
While most of the nation’s focus has been on frontline NHS staff during COVID-19, the efforts of local authority workers like Social Workers haven’t gone unnoticed.
And several unions have been campaigning for a 10% pay increase for council-based Social Workers.
In August 2020, a pay increase was agreed.
It was above inflation at 2.75%, but well below the 10% requested.
For this reason, not all of the unions involved were satisfied.
Elsewhere, Social Workers in the NHS are waiting on current government deliberations on new bandings.
And privately, not much will change in the near future.
As has been the case for many years, pay rates will continue to vary widely from one employer to another.
The future of social worker pay therefore remains uncertain.
But with services under continued strain and resources still relatively low, Social Workers are in high demand.
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