What can I do with my social work degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with a social work degree and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

Through theoretical study and a variety of practice placement opportunities across the social care sector, you will gain the skills, knowledge and experiences needed to join the social work profession when you graduate:

  • Person- centred communication skills to engage with service users from a range of backgrounds in a sensitive and empathic way
  • Assessment, planning and evaluation skills to deliver and manage care plans that meet diverse needs and goals
  • The ability to negotiate, manage conflict and advocate for service users
  • Management, leadership and team working skills within multi-professional teams
  • The ability to write professional reports taking into account legal requirements and guidelines
  • The ability to reflect on your practice and learn from your experiences.

Career options

Studying social work at the University of Plymouth will enable you to commence a rewarding career within the health and social care sector. With an ongoing demand for social workers across the UK, employment prospects for graduates remain very good.

Social work graduates work in a variety of settings, with a diverse range of service users including adults, children, people with mental health difficulties, people with learning difficulties, young offenders, refugees and asylum seekers, carers and many others. Employers include NHS Trusts, Local Authorities, GP practices, children’s homes, private sector nursing homes as well as voluntary and independent agencies.

As your career progresses, you could develop a specialist role. Specialisms exist in a range of settings, for example in mental health, child protection, homelessness, fostering and adoption or education welfare.  With experience you could progress into a leadership role; it is not uncommon to secure senior practitioner or team manager roles within 3-5 years of qualification.  Alternatively, you could work as a practice educator, leading on the supervision and management of placement students or newly qualified staff.

A small number of graduates develop their career in the regulation and audit of social care providers through working for the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Other options include working in a self employed or freelancing capacity.

Researching your career options

Given the diversity of career options open to Social Work graduates, it is important to research and explore these fully so that you can make informed decisions about your future.

Employment Opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some of University of Plymouth Social Work graduates told us they were doing six months after graduation.

  • Children and Families Social Worker
  • Mental Health Social Worker
  • Drugs and Alcohol Hospital Outreach Worker
  • Child Protection Social Worker
  • Community Mental Health Social Worker
  • Victim Care Officer
  • MARAC Coordinator for Domestic Abuse
  • Family Support Worker

Employers

Below is a snapshot of the employers that graduates told us they working for six months after graduation:

Further study

The University offers registered health and social care professionals the opportunity to further develop their knowledge and skills through the MSc Advanced Professional Practice (Health and Social Care Professions)

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a Careers Consultant about your individual situation.

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access 24/7 online resources.

There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • Effective career planning
  • Job hunting techniques
  • Finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • Mastering LinkedIn
  • And more

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn alumni’s tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.

  • Search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • Click on ‘Alumni’
  • Filter the results by subject, sector, company or location

For more information about the alumni tool click on LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile, click on the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Work experience

BA (Hons) Social Work at Plymouth offers a variety of placements in health and social care settings alongside skills development activities at the University. Some students choose to supplement their studies with part-time work in the social care sector or elsewhere.

The University of Plymouth Students’ Union also offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.

In addition to enhancing your professional skillset, a varied set of work experiences can open up new opportunities and bring you into contact with people who may be able to assist you at the beginning of your career.

The University of Plymouth Students’ Union offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.

Clubs and societies

Engaging in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and seek out opportunities, it also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members can develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion.  

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to social work or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.    

Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so do approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.