Ultimate Guide to Career Progression in Social Work


Progressing in your social work career can give you a sense of pride, offer a way for you to showcase your skills, and sometimes give you a pay rise!

If you are reading this today, then I am guessing career progression is important to you in your social work profession.

Now work out why this matters to you and exactly what you want. 

So, what is career progression?


Career progression in general terms involves moving up the professional ladder either vertically or horizontally. 

It involves steps such as getting promoted, coaching people, training opportunities, encountering new challenges, working with new employers, supervising staff, and finding new opportunities.

Understanding how you can succeed in your career as a social worker can lead to job satisfaction.

In this article, I will provide an all – encompassing rundown of how to succeed in your career as a social worker, including an explanation on:

  • What the career path is for you as a social worker
  • Deciding which group of people you enjoy working with
  • Developing your professional network
  • Training and development opportunities
  • Creating your professional vision
  • Breaking your vision into goals
  • Developing a professional mission statement
  • Taking action

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The Ultimate Guide to Career Progression in Social Work

What is the career path for a social worker?

There are various fields in social work practice you can practice or major in once you qualify.

However, I believe deciding which area you want to focus on also depends of your interests, skills and long-term career goals.  

If you do not know where you want to begin, the best thing to do is to list all areas you may be interested in and find shadowing opportunities in the various fields.

For instance, career paths in the UK for social workers include; children and families, adult services and youth justice.

Each sector or field has several teams, and their roles differ.

You can shadow the Looked After Team, Referral and Assessment Team, Mental Health Team, or Child in Need Team.

Teams do have different names depending on the organisation, so find out what exactly they do before you shadow.

Social work job shadowing will give you the opportunity to observe a qualified social worker perform their duty in their environment. 

This experience will help you explore specific fields in the social work profession and get a realistic picture of what the role entails.

With this information, you can make an informed decision about your choice of specialism. 

In addition, you can learn about what skills you may need to work on in order to help you stand out when it comes to making an application for the role you want.

Networking will also provide you with a unique way of finding out what a role entails.

After shadowing a professional, you can send them an email to find out more information about a particular role.

Which field of social work pays the most?

Social workers can make six figures or more, depending on their role and responsibilities.

In general, private sectors pay more than public sectors. I detail salary expectations for social workers in the UK here.

How Can You Succeed in Social Work?

In order to succeed in social work, I had a clear vision, developed my professional mission statement and took action.

Every successful venture begins with a vision.

I feel this very step helped me identify opportunities available to take the necessary steps.

Successful career progression depends on several factors.

Some factors are within our control and others are not. Factors which are within our control may help us climb the career ladder quickly and easily.

The steps below will explain some of those factors in more detail.

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