How to become a care worker
The UK’s ageing population means there’s more demand for health and social care than ever before. And that means there’s also more demand for health and social care workers.
This guide will answer your questions about the role of a care worker. It includes information like what does a care worker do, what qualifications do you need, and how to get into care work.
Care workers are paid professionals who support individuals with disabilities or specific health conditions. These could include children, vulnerable adults or older people.
They carry out a diverse range of tasks depending on the client’s individual needs. The responsibilities of a care worker could include personal care, help with housework and shopping, mobility assistance or just providing companionship.
A care worker is different from a carer, which is usually an unpaid role carried out by family or friends.
Some people choose to specialise in certain areas of care work, which could include care for older people, dementia care, or palliative care. Others focus on mental health care or work with people with learning disabilities.
The profession is physically and emotionally demanding but makes a real difference to people’s lives, which can be very rewarding.
Some care workers are self-employed and find social care worker jobs through dedicated websites. You will set your own rate of pay if you go through this route.
Other care workers are employed in residential or nursing homes, while home care workers work through care agencies to deliver care in their client’s homes.
Becoming a care worker can be very satisfying as you use your skills to help your clients live happier, more comfortable lives. You will experience the joy of seeing your clients become more confident or achieve small daily wins, and you can feel a close connection with them.
But the role of a care worker can be very tiring at times. It can also be very stressful, especially if you are working with a client whose medical condition is deteriorating or with conditions such as dementia that require a lot of patience and understanding.
It’s essential to look after your physical and emotional health when working in social care.
There are no specific formal qualifications for a care worker to achieve before joining the sector. However, some employers might look for GCSEs, A-levels or an NVQ Level 2 or 3 diploma in health and social care.
You may also need a clean driving licence, as care work is often delivered in the community.
If you don’t have any relevant experience on your CV, you might like to look for opportunities to volunteer in the social care sector and do some online health and social care courses, to demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm for care work.
New care workers receive a nationally recognised induction training programme through their employer. This training is specified by the Care Quality Commission and will give you the skills to carry out your work safely and effectively.
You must also pass the 15-section Care Certificate, which has replaced the Common Induction Standards (CIS) and National Minimum Training Standards (NMTS). This qualification is also a sound basis health and social care.
New care workers generally earn around £12,500-16,000 a year. According to Indeed’s salary guide, an experienced care worker in England earns around £21,000 a year and can earn more if they progress to become a senior care supervisor.
Care workers typically work 35-40 hours each week. However, the hours can vary, and this flexibility is what attracts many people to the role. You may be required to work unsociable hours, including evenings and weekends, and domiciliary care workers may need to provide overnight care or live-in care.
There is very high demand for care workers at the moment, and health and social care sector jobs are routinely advertised on job listing sites.
Be sure to research your potential employer thoroughly to ensure you will be happy to work there.