Social Care Apprenticeships

Are you looking for a career that allows you to make a real difference to people’s lives? If so, you’ll love working in social care.

Social Care Apprenticeships

Are you looking for a career that allows you to make a real difference to people’s lives? If so, you’ll love working in social care.

Social care workers provide key support to the most vulnerable members in our society. This is anyone over the age of 18 who has a disability, a mental illness, substance abuse problem, or, for the growing number of elderly people, age-related conditions.

There are a huge variety of job roles available in social care. Front line staff who work directly with people that have support needs, people who specialise in areas such as dementia or learning disabilities, and more senior roles: managing services, leading teams and planning support.

If you want to learn about an industry that really matters, where you can help people live their lives to the full, read our guide to social care apprenticeships below.

Can you become a social worker through an apprenticeship?

Yes, you can! To become a social worker, you'll need to do a degree apprenticeship. As the name suggests, a degree apprenticeship allows you to split your time between work and studying for a university degree.

You'll earn a full-time wage throughout the programme and your tuition fees will be covered by your employer so you won't have to take out any student loans or work weekends to pay the bills.

"I thoroughly enjoy my programme. I have been very passionate about social work since being on the receiving end of services myself. The programme is very informative and it's amazing to be able to learn from my peers who come from a lot of different areas within social care." (Assessment and Support Planner & Degree Social Care Apprentice at Rochdale Council)

Where can you do social worker apprenticeships?

There are plenty of universities that offer social care apprenticeships:

As much as it's important to study, you'll want to make the most of student life too! Thinking of going to Kingston? Why not join their students' union and sign up for some dance socials? Or bag yourself a place on the University of Kent's competitive sport programme and play football at tournament level.

How do social worker apprenticeships work?

As an apprentice, you'll spend 20% of your time at university and 80% on a work placement. You'll work with individuals from all walks of life including the young and elderly, as well as people with mental or physical impairments. You'll also have the opportunity to practice in a wide range of settings including hospitals, schools, and health centres.

Social work is emotionally challenging and you may be placed in some difficult situations. To work in adult social care you have to be passionate about making a difference to someone's life. You've got to enjoy working with other people, and be able to show compassion and listening skills. Everyone who works in this sector has one thing in common: they are truly valuable.

"There are times when it's very challenging and it does take a lot of effort, but the reward that you get from putting in the effort is amazing." (Audrey, Former Social Care Apprentice)


What apprenticeships can you get in health and social care?

As an ever-growing sector, there is a huge amount of potential career possibilities in this industry. Employers range from the NHS, to local authorities, charity organisations and even people's homes. In the NHS alone, there are 350 different roles - pretty amazing, right?

As well as being on the front-line, there are also non-traditional care roles such as chefs, maintenance and administration. Check out some below:

  • Allied Health Professional Support (Advanced)

  • Apprentice Ambulance Practitioner (Higher)

  • Care, Leadership and Management (Higher)

  • Dental Nursing (Advanced)

  • Informatics (Intermediate and advanced)

  • Health and Social Care (Intermediate and advanced)

  • Healthcare Science Assistant (Intermediate)

  • Maternity and Paediatric Support (Advanced)

  • Nursing Degree Apprenticeships

  • Operating Department Practice Degree Apprenticeship

  • Pharmacy Services Assistant (Intermediate)

  • Podiatry Degree Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship levels

Social worker apprenticeships come in four levels:

Each level has different entry requirements. We've discussed degree apprenticeships. Let's break the others down…

Intermediate apprenticeships in social work

Level 2 apprenticeships in social work are ideal for school leavers with:

  • Two or more GCSEs graded at levels 9 to 4 (A* to C)

If you don't have GCSEs, you can complete a traineeship or relevant work experience to qualify for a level 2 apprenticeship.

Once you've finished your programme, you'll have gained a qualification equivalent to five GCSEs and begun a meaningful career in social care.


Advanced apprenticeships in social work

To apply for a level 3 apprenticeship in social work, you need either:

  • Five GCSEs graded at 9 to 4 (A* to C)

  • Level 2 apprenticeship

Once completed, you'll earn a level 3 NVQ and a qualification equivalent to two A-Levels.

"The more I was working the more I enjoyed it, the more my confidence grew, and the more I knew this is where I wanted to be, this is what I wanted to do. You get to learn, get qualifications, and work, and it is a good job." (Kayleigh, Former social care apprentice & Assistant Manager)


Higher apprenticeships in social work

To qualify for a level 4 apprenticeship, you need to have two A-Levels or completed a level 3 apprenticeship in social care.

Level 4 apprenticeships in social work allow you to gain on-the-job experience and qualifications in social care equivalent to a foundation degree.

"Since starting my apprenticeship to become an Occupational Therapist, I have learnt many new skills. The benefit of an apprenticeship is I get to put my learning into practice whilst maintaining my current role, developing into an Occupational Therapist. This includes not only working with service users but reflecting on my skills and looking to help service position." (Therapy Technician & Level 4 Social Care Apprentice at HCRG Care Group)


Do you need GCSEs to be a social worker?

To get into the social care sector, you'll need five GCSEs graded at 9 to 4 (A* to C), including Maths and English. You'll also need two or three A-Levels in subjects like Psychology, Sociology, Health and Social Care and Languages.

If you don't have GCSEs or A-Levels, don't panic. You can always study for a:

  • BTEC

  • Relevant NVQs

  • Higher National Diploma (HND)

  • Higher National Certificate (HNC)

Work experience

If you want to boost your chances of finding a job in social care, volunteering is a great place to start. Whether you're babysitting, working for a homeless shelter or helping out at a mental health charity like Samaritans, volunteering shows you care about others and are passionate about making a difference.

Want to make your CV stand out and have employers knocking on your door? Gain some work experience.

If you're thinking of volunteering with children, check out these charities…

Find out what it's like to interview for a job in social care. Watch the video below.

Can you work for the NHS at 16?

You absolutely can! NHS apprenticeships are a brilliant way to kick-start your career in healthcare. They're available to anyone over the age of 16 and can be done at intermediate, advanced, higher and degree level.

Want to know what apprenticeships you can do? Check out our guide to Apprenticeships in the NHS.

How long do NHS apprenticeships last?

An apprenticeship with the NHS can take 1 - 4 years to complete. However, the exact length of your programme will depend on a number of factors such as your role and apprenticeship level. Intermediate apprenticeships take a year, while degree apprenticeships need 3 - 4 years.

What NHS Apprenticeships are available?

The NHS offers more apprenticeships than you can shake a stick at! Here are the most popular:

  • Maternity and paediatric support

  • Perioperative support

  • Pharmacy services

  • Dental nursing

  • Emergency care

  • Health and social care

How much do NHS apprenticeships pay?

As an NHS apprentice, you'll start your career on roughly £18,000 a year, but this will increase the more experienced you become. Alongside your salary, you'll get at least 27 days off each year (including bank holidays) plus other benefits like:

  • The NHS Pension Scheme - the NHS offers one of the most generous pension schemes in the country

  • Staff Recognition Schemes - great work gets rewarded. So if you shine, it'll definitely pay off

  • Imperial Health At Work - think health screenings, immunisations and physiotherapy sessions. All at your service once you join the NHS

  • Learning and Development - training is a very important part of your career. And as an NHS worker, you'll get tons of opportunities to improve your skills

  • DBS Checks - these are an essential part of the NHS recruitment process. But don't worry, costs will be covered as and when needed.

Voluntary perks

Whether it's affordable accommodation or on-site nurseries you're after, the NHS will give you everything to make sure you get the best out of life. These benefits include:

It doesn't end there! If you join the staff Arts Club, you'll get free entry to some amazing exhibitions like the V&A. You'll also get discounted holidays with Travelolo. If you're a film buff, be sure to make the most of your discount with the cinema society!

Want to find out more about what it's really like to do a social care apprenticeship? Have a read of over 40,000 student-written reviews.

Browse social care apprenticeship reviews

Case Study

Like to see a real-life example? Read a case study of a Senior Carer and level 3 apprentice to discover how social worker apprenticeships truly work:

Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis.

My day-to-day routine would be receiving a handover from staff and ensuring my residents are well looked after. I'd check food and fluid monitors, assist with personal care and manage their appointments and care plans.

Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?

Yes, my knowledge has expanded a lot and I now feel more confident within my role having my NVQ in place. Many areas of the training have helped, for instance diabetes and end of life. I now know a lot more and can apply my knowledge to my daily work.

To what extent do you enjoy your programme?

My lifetime mentor team were great, they gave me feedback and pushed me to be the best version of myself and get all I could out of this apprenticeship. Finishing with a distinction was the best feeling.

How much support do you receive from your employer?

I receive a lot of support. Barchester put me forward for the NVQ and are always encouraging their staff to go further in terms of aims and achievements. My manager and nursing staff regularly checked in to see if I needed any extra information in order to pass the qualification.

How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?

My training provider was great. She was so helpful and prepared a lot for me. When I was finding it difficult to complete the work due to Covid, she set smaller goals and sent more information to help me get through it. She would constantly review my work and provide feedback.

How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?

Completing the qualification made me feel much more confident. I have all my work to help me if I need to look back at a unit for extra knowledge. I can then share my knowledge with my team.

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