Careers Guidance: Health and Social Care

A career in social care offers long-term employment prospects, with opportunity for promotion and progression as well as job security.

Adult social care is one of the few sectors where jobs are increasing, offering significant numbers of long-term career opportunities in the current job market. There’s an estimated 1.49 million people working in social care, and by 2035 we’ll need to fill around 580,000 more jobs.

Somewhere in your community there’s a job that you can do to help others. If you like working with people, social care offers a worthwhile job that can turn into a rewarding, long-term career.

Do you want a career that makes a difference?

  • Are you good at working with other people?
  • Are you reliable?
  • Can you work under pressure?
  • Are you happy to chat and put people at ease?
  • Are you a good listener?
  • Do you respect other people’s values and beliefs?
  • Are you keen to do training and develop your own skills?

If so, a career in care could be for you, and there’s lots of ways you can get started!

How can I start work in social care?


Don’t feel ready to do an apprenticeship? A traineeship might be a good option. They develop your employability skills to help you progress into an apprenticeship or employment.


Apprenticeships are a great option for anyone who’s ready to start work and wants to develop their skills and knowledge in the sector.

Sector Skills Training

The sector routeway includes a learning programme, which could be achieving the Level 1 Award in Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care, and a work placement.

What skills do I need to work in social care?

In social care you’ll be helping people to live more independently and have a better quality of life so it’s really important you have the right values. 

Here are some of the values and behaviours you might need to work in social care. 

  • Treat people with dignity and respect.
  • Good at working with others.
  • Committed to quality care and improving lives.
  • Willing to learn and develop at work.

Here are examples of how these values might look in your everyday work. 

  • You spend time listening to people to get to know them and their needs.
  • You respect people’s right to make their own choices and decisions.
  • You’re committed to working as part of a team.
  • You give people your full attention and help people when they need it most.
  • What values do I need to work in social care tells you a bit more about what type of person you need to be, and there are short activities to help you think about whether social care is right for you.

You could also do A Question of Care online quiz that shows you what a career in care can really be like and asks you what you’d do in different situations. At the end you’ll get a personalised report which can help you decide whether social care is right for you. 

What skills do I need to work in social care?

Some of the skills you need will be specific to the job you’re applying for. However, everyone working in social care needs English, number, digital and employability skills, including problem solving and team work – together these are known as core skills. 

What core skills do I need to work in social care outlines some of the skills you need and has short activities to help you think about transferable core skills from your previous experiences. 

English Skills

Read, write, speak and listen - They can be used to communicate with people, write a care plan and read and follow a risk assessment.

Number Skills

Do calculations, record numbers, understand measurements, use timetables and plan work - They can be used to record fluid intake, count medication, measure and record weight and calculate staff wages.

Digital skills

Find and manage digital information, use digital technology with people and complete eLearning - They can be used to update digital handover notes, send emails, use remote appointment systems and use assistive technologies.

Employability Skills

Problem solve, work in a team, plan own learning and development, manage own health and wellbeing - They can be used to prioritise workloads, manage work/ home life balance, respond well to challenging behaviour and adapt to changing demands at work.

What qualifications do I need?

You don’t necessarily need any qualifications to start in a role in social care. However there are some you might want to do to get a taster of what it’s like to work in the sector. 

  • Level 1 Award in Preparing to work in the care sector
  • Level 2 Certificate in Preparing to work in the care sector
  • Level 3 Certificate on Preparing to work in the care sector.
When you start 

When you start you should get a thorough induction which includes the Care Certificate. This is a set of standards that everyone needs to do their role. Your employer should also ensure you have mandatory training relevant to your role such as fire safety, moving and handling and first aid. 

Whilst you’re working

The current qualification in health and social care are diplomas, which have replaced NVQs. Many workers will still hold NVQs which are valid for working in the sector. 

These qualifications range from level 2 to level 5 and are evidence based so need to be done whilst you’re at work. 

You could also do smaller qualifications or training to help you develop specialist skills. This could be in things like:

  • Dementia care
  • Autism
  • Communication skills
  • Stroke 
  • End of life care
  • Activity provision
  • Team leading

How can I progress?


There are over 50 vocational qualifications at different levels in social care. They're specific to social care and teach you the practical skills and knowledge you need for your role or the role you want to progress into.


In any role you’ll have to do some mandatory training; this might include moving and handling, health and safety, food hygiene, fire safety or a condition specific awareness course.

attitude and show a willing

What’s important is that you show the right attitude and make the most of any learning opportunities you get.

How can I ‘step up’ into a senior role?

A lot of roles, such as care assistant or support worker, require you to do a Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care. Once you’ve achieved this qualification, there are lots of opportunities to step up into more senior roles.

These usually involved more responsibility like becoming a team leader or supervisor, or you might choose to specialise in a particular aspect of work such as an activity coordinator or rehabilitation worker.

A Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care might be useful to help you step up, or there may be qualifications or training for specific topics such as activity provision, dementia, autism, end of life care or diabetes. 

How can I ‘get on’ into a leadership or management role?

From these roles you can get on into a lead or advanced practitioner role such as a counsellor, a role that coordinates activity across an area such as a care coordinator or a role that requires more leadership and management such as a deputy manager, team manager or manager.

Progressing to more advanced roles requires more responsibility or greater specialist knowledge and skills, for example you might be expected to implement policies and procedures, problem solve and model best practice.

There are lots of ways to develop such skills, including undertaking new managerial tasks, training and developing other staff and representing your organisation at external events and meetings. 

Careers Guidance Support

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