Working in social care

Social care provides care and support to people in the community, so that they can remain living in their own home or a care home setting. It's an incredibly rewarding career, where you can make a real difference to people's quality of life by helping them keep their independence and dignity. 

With plenty of opportunities available, you could work for local care providers, private companies or charities, in diverse roles from frontline carers to the back office teams that keep it all running! 

What's covered?

We will provide you with the key information you need to take your first steps to getting a social care role.

You can either scroll through the entire page or jump to particular sections.

What types of jobs are available?

Find out about some of the key social care job roles that you could apply for.

What does social care involve?

Discover what a normal day might look like for a selection of different job roles in social care.

What pay and benefits can I expect?

Find out more about the pay and other benefits you can expect if you work in social care.

How can I get

See how to gain the skills, experience and qualifications you’ll need to start your career.

What jobs are available in social care? 

Care worker

Supporting people to live independently, at home or in a care setting, by providing personal care and helping with routine daily activities.

Personal assistant

Supporting one or a few individuals to live independently in their homes by providing personal care and helping with daily activities.

Support worker

Assisting individuals with administrative tasks in areas such as housing and finance. 


Organising and supporting the delivery of fun activities for people receiving care. 

Community support and outreach worker

Blending care worker and activities worker roles to support people who need care to live independently, teaching them practical skills to use at home, and organising activities. 


Supporting people to live independently after an accident or illness. 

Shared lives

Opening up your home to someone who needs care and supporting them while they live with you, or during weekly visits. 


Assisting people who need care to express their views and wishes, and supporting them in making decisions about their health and care. 

Care home administrative assistant

Supporting care home managers to deliver quality care to residents, by answering calls, organising documents and greeting visitors.
There are also plenty of opportunities for progressing to management roles through training, such as care home manager roles, as well as undertaking qualifications for specialist professional roles, such as social worker or occupational therapist roles. 

What does social care work involve?

Let’s look at some of the key roles in adult social care. Read these short profiles to find out what a day in the life of a care worker can involve. 

Care worker/assistant

Supporting people with their personal care, daily tasks and health and wellbeing. You might support with washing, dressing, getting to the toilet, preparing simple meals, and monitoring medication.
People living at home or in a care setting who need support to live well and independently.
You could be based in residential homes, day centres, supported housing or the person’s own home.

Personal assistant

Supporting one individual or a few with everyday tasks, including shopping, cooking and leisure activities.
People living at home who need support to live as independently as possible.
You’ll visit individuals in their own homes. 

Support worker

Assisting people with everyday administrative tasks, like organising their housing and finance. 
People living in care or the community who need support to manage their administrative tasks.

 You’ll be working closely with other professionals, including social workers.
You could be based in residential homes, hospitals, specialist services or a person’s own home. 

You can find out more about specific job profiles here

It’s always helpful to hear from people doing the job already, and to find out what they enjoy about their role.

Watch this video to hear about Ellie’s experience of being a care worker.
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What pay and benefits can I expect?

Working in social care has plenty of benefits which make an already rewarding job more appealing.

Some of the roles can be challenging, but you’ll be given the support and training you need to make a real difference to people's quality of life.
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Flexible hours

Many social care roles offer flexible hours, with the option to work part time or full time around your home life and other commitments. 


Social care in south east London has multiple settings, including residential homes, day centres, community hubs, supported housing or people’s own homes. If you're interested in becoming a SharedLives carer, you can even care for people in your own home. And with so many jobs available, it's likely you'll find something in your local community – ideal for keeping travel costs down!


  • Starting salary - up to £16,000 per year.
  • Senior/specialised - up to £20,000 per year.
  • Team leader/supervisor - up to £28,000 per year.
  • Manager/professional - up to £50,000 per year.

Training and development 

In social care there are plenty of opportunities to train as you learn, with over 50 vocational qualifications available at different levels. Carers UK has some great ideas of where to get started. There are also ongoing training opportunities once you're in a role, to help you develop and progress in your career.

Career progression

Another benefit of a career in social care is that there are plenty of opportunities to progress, including:
  • Qualifying as a team leader or supervisor by taking the Level 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care.

  • Gaining experience and qualifications to step up to senior operational roles, such as registered manager or deputy operations manager.

  • Working towards becoming an activity coordinator or rehabilitation worker by completing on-the-job training.

  • Specialising in certain areas, such as dementia care, autism, communication skills, stroke, end-of-life care, activity provision and team leading.

Get into social care

- Care worker
- Support worker
- Shared lives carer

Step into more senior roles

- Enhanced care worker
- Senior care worker
- Activity worker

How do I progress through a career in social care? 

Take on management responsibilities

- Team leader
- Counsellor
- Care coordinator 

Take a senior management role

- Manager
- Registered manager
- Commissioner

Become a qualified specialist

- Manager
- Registered manager
- Commissioner

How your career could develop

And so much more...!

How can I get started?

The good news is that you don’t need existing qualifications or experience to work in social care! It’s more important to demonstrate the right values and behaviours. However, there are lots of development opportunities to help you get started. You can build up skills through volunteering or paid courses, or apply for entry level roles and work placements to get some on-the-job training.

Develop skills and understand values

Some of the key skills and values you’ll need to demonstrate to work in social care include:

  • listening and observational skills
  • communication skills
  • reliability
  • compassion
  • respect
  • responsibility
  • friendliness
  • motivation 
  • patience
  • flexibility
  • commitment to a high quality of care.


Gain experience

It’s a good idea to gain some experience before you apply for a job. It can help you to understand the role better and strengthen your application.

Some options could include:

  • Work experience or shadow days in a care setting, such as a care home – see our list of south east London care homes below.

  • You can find volunteering opportunities near you on the NHS England website. 

  • Joining a local group supporting or working closely with people in care.

  • Supporting or organising a fundraising event.

  • Offering help to someone you know who might need support with daily tasks, such as shopping or gardening.

  • Previous experience in hospitality, retail or community work would be valuable — but not essential!


Gain qualifications 

It’s not always necessary to have previous qualifications and experience to work in social care, and you can usually get vocational qualifications while you’re in the role.

However, the following would help you develop relevant knowledge and skills:

  • Level 1 Certificate in Health and Social Care.
  • Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care.
  • Level 1 Award in Preparing to work in the care sector.
  • Level 2 or 3 Certificate in Preparing to work in the care sector.

These can be paid for by you, or by a training provider or college. 

There are four main routes into social care

Finding the best route for you depends on a number of factors, including your age, whether you need a paid position, and what other time commitments you have.


Anyone over 16 years old who is ready to start work and wants to build up their skills and knowledge for a job in social care is eligible.

Get paid to work with a social care employer and complete on-the-job training while achieving a college qualification. 


Anyone who wants to experience working in social care and has time to commit to a regular volunteer position for a social care provider.

There are lots of different ways you can volunteer your support, including helping in a care home or day centre. Schools, colleges and job centres are a great place to start when looking for local volunteering opportunities.    

Care sector routeway

Anyone looking to gain preparatory experience and qualifications, as well as support to find permanent employment in social care afterwards. 

A learning programme (e.g. Level 1 Award in Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care) while on a work placement. You’ll be supported to find a job in the sector once your training is complete. 

This isn't paid but your expenses are covered.


Anyone aged 16 - 24 years old not in employment and looking to improve their employability to help get an apprenticeship or a job in social care.

Find job vacancies near you

Local council job websites for south east London are a great place to start when looking for social care opportunities in your local area. 

Useful resources

There are plenty of resources available to help you identify which role is right for you, improve your employability, and provide more information about a career in social care.


Take one of these quick quizzes to find out if social care is the right sector for your values and behaviours.

More info

Skills for Care and Proud to Care have great resources to help you plan for a career in social care.

Online courses

Sign up to any of these free online courses to learn more about social care and build out your CV.


Find apprenticeships in your local area.


Find traineeships in your local area.


Search for volunteering opportunities local to you.


If you’re looking to explore qualifications, have a look at the following funding options you could apply for.

People's experiences

Hear about Bethany's experience to discover how you can become a carer and what to expect.