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Guide to UK Social Work employment for overseas workers

Get ahead of the competition by applying for jobs and registering with agencies up to two years before you plan to travel to the UK.

Prepare for the experience of a lifetime by reading this page and visiting our essential tips section.

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Learn how to get the jobs you really want – Visit our FAQ's section.

Social Work Jobs UK

Are you qualified and want to work in the UK? Apply for Jobs or Register now.

Information on this page

Your Opportunities

Social Work is a demanding but rewarding career choice and the UK offers challenges even greater than you may have experienced thus far in your career. Coupled with these challenges, however, are rewards and experiences which you will not find elsewhere.

Opportunities for overseas-trained social workers are strong regardless of the economy. The industry is getting a lot of positive attention as it grows to become more regulated, more effective and more highly regarded. Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians are welcomed with open arms. The UK is in great need of qualified individuals with great work ethic, energy and a positive outlook.

Read on and learn how to prepare for your UK trip – including how to register with the social work industry’s governing body, the GSCC, for work in England. Don’t forget to apply to jobs and register with agencies up to two years before you plan to travel to the UK.

If you are already in the UK - Apply Now!

What types of social work jobs are available?

The shortage of UK Social Workers

While the UK has implemented a new qualification program in an effort to boost UK-trained social worker numbers – this has resulted in only a moderate increase in qualified British candidates. As such, there remain numerous, quality positions for overseas workers planning to gain some UK experience.

The opportunities for Qualified Social Workers

Both short and longer term contracts as well as permanent UK social work jobs are available through specialist recruitment agencies.

Industry sectors where placements are usually available:

  • Children’s services
  • Elderly Care
  • Mental Health
  • Young Offenders
  • Drugs and Alcohol
  • Adults & Children with disabilities

Structure of Social Care industry in England

While the employer of most social workers in England is the government, vacancies also exist within charitable organisations from time to time. Social Work recruitment agencies handle all types of positions. Local government in England consists of County Councils which are located outside of London. Inside of London, government is divided up into ‘Borough Councils’. There are 33 Borough Councils in London.

Usual responsibilities for UK Social Workers: manage your caseload working out of various government institutions (such as police stations, hospitals, municipal offices), ensure adherence to new legislative procedures, report writing, and attending case conferences.

How much can I expect to earn as a Social Worker in Britain?

In general, social workers in Britain are paid very well. According to the Department of Health’s - ‘Social Work Careers Page’, a newly qualified Social Worker can expect approximately £17,200 (slightly more in London) per year. With time and experience your rate can rise to £28,000+ per year. These rates are for permanent positions and vary depending on employer.

Many overseas candidates arriving will be hired onto fixed-term or ongoing contract positions. Rates vary widely according to the employer however a guideline is £10 to £17 per hour depending on the position and your experience.

These rates are generous and will afford the average UK working traveler a comfortable life with extra money for traveling and a good possibility of building up some savings. For more information on ‘UK Money’ in general, including a ‘Living in London Budget’ see UK Money.

To receive updates on UK Social Work job prospects delivered to your inbox monthly e-newsletter.

Applicable UK Visa and Immigration Information

To enter the UK with the intention to work you will need to have valid immigration/ entry status for that purpose. See UK Visas for more information. Working holiday visas, UK Ancestry Visas, EU passports and UK Right to Abode certificates will allow you to work in either contract or permanent Social Work jobs.

If you are a qualified social worker, whose qualifications have been approved and you have been registered with the GSCC (see below), some of WORKgateways’ UK recruitment partners may be able to arrange sponsored work permit employment for you. Not all industries offer such an attractive option to overseas candidates, however the social work industry is in great need of qualified people and as such, sponsorship is an option.

Please Note: It is much easier to gain employment if you have a Working holiday visa, UK Ancestry visa, EU Passport or have Right to Abode. If you do require sponsorship you will still need to purchase a flight to the UK, register with the GSCC, obtain a valid Police Clearance Certificate and have experience that is in demand.

Click here for more UK visa information and links to official sites.

Registering with the industry’s governing body - essential information!

The GSCC was created in October 2001, and aims to be the guardian of standards for the social care workforce in England through setting and monitoring standards for the industry. This is great news for arrivals from overseas – you are now guaranteed a more regulated industry offering better support and thus a more fulfilling UK employment experience!

By law, all social workers in England must be registered with the GSCC by April 2005. After that time it will be an offence to use the title ‘Social Worker’ without being registered with the General Social Care Council. This legal process is called ‘Protection of Title’ and will ensure a respected industry with high standards.

How to apply to a UK Social Care Register

To work in England prior to 1st April 2004, overseas qualified social workers applied to the GSCC for a ‘letter of verification’ in order to be able to work in their field. As of 1st April 2004, the GSCC no longer issues ‘letters of verification’, but instead invites overseas-qualified applicants to formally register with the Social Care Register.

Whilst registering with the GSCC, three categories are checked: character, health and qualifications. With respect to ‘qualification’, the procedure has now become an ‘equivalency’ procedure that aims to ensure each new arrival has attained the same level of training as the UK Diploma in Social Work.

To receive updates on UK Social Work job prospects and the Social Care Register delivered to your inbox monthly - e-newsletter.

How much does it cost to get my qualifications and experience recognized?

The GSCC charges for registration. The benefit of maintaining a professional register is obvious – monitoring the quality of service provided within such an important public service area is essential.

The GSCC charges £155 to register overseas members. This includes an ‘equivalency assessment’ of your qualifications and membership on the register for three years. Everyone must re-new their registration every 3 years. Membership costs £30 per year. If you already hold a ‘letter of verification’ from the GSCC from before 1st April 2004, you will be charged only £30 to register. Note that holding a letter of verification does not necessarily guarantee you will be accepted for registration.

How long does this process normally take?

If all goes smoothly you could be registered within six weeks. However, WORKgateways recommends planning for longer – because one never knows. The GSCC began registering overseas members in April 2004 and may experience a backlog of applications for some time. If your travel plans permit, try to allow three months.

How do I get the process underway?

It’s easy! To obtain your application form contact the registry on 0845 070 0630 (if in the UK) or +44 1788 572 119 (if abroad) or email registration@gscc.org.uk and they will send you the registration application pack.

Complete and official information specifically for overseas travelers to the UK on the English Social Care Register can be found on the GSCC website at - http://www.gscc.org.uk/care_notinuk.htm

Other British countries are also regulated and specific information can be found as follows:

Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland Social Care Council - www.niscc.info
Scotland: Scottish Social Services Council - www.sssc.uk.com
Wales: Care Council for Wales - www.ccwales.org.uk

The GSCC’s official site www.gscc.org.uk also has essential information on the industry for any job-seeker considering working in their profession including; events, publications, industry code of practice, social work register and lots more.

Social Work jobs in the UK: What you’ll need…

  • Proof of your qualification from your home country
  • Registration with the appropriate professional UK body (e.g. GSCC)
  • A valid and recent Police Clearance Certificate. (These can be obtained from your local police station before you leave home and will need to be renewed after you have settled into the UK)
  • Some post-qualification experience is desirable but not essential
  • Appropriate UK Visa or Entry Clearance, see ‘Visas’ section
  • Professional CV
  • References relating to social work experience (if applicable)
  • You’ll also need to organize your National Insurance Number upon arrival once
  • Plans to travel to the UK, and a sense of adventure!

Note: if you require sponsorship to work in the UK as a social worker and/or require a job prior to leaving your home country, be sure to indicate this on your WORKgateways registration form when you apply to jobs or register with agencies. Certain agencies may be able to assist you to find social work jobs even though you require sponsorship for a UK work permit.

Social Work Recruitment Agencies

Most local government councils, programs and charities in the UK use Recruitment Agencies to fill their social work job vacancies – for both temporary and permanent positions.

Most UK social work agencies love to work with overseas applicants planning to work in the UK and they usually offer essential advice and assistance – even before you leave your home country. WORKgateways aims to partner with the best UK recruitment agencies in the field – agencies that will provide you with excellent personalized service and guaranteed job results.

After you apply to agencies through WORKgateways, a representative will contact you. When these representatives contact you be sure to enquire what other assistance they might provide to you, such as UK bank accounts, N.I. number and often guidance with GSCC registration. Although you will have to do it yourself – the agencies may pay for it if you get employed through them. To find out more about the agencies on WORKgateways – visit - Who are WORKgateways’ UK partner recruitment agencies?

Did you know… 1000’s of Aussie, Kiwi, Springbok and Canuck social workers travel to the UK each year to gain valuable overseas work and ‘life’ experience – and there’s room for lots more of you!

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