There will always be a demand for care workers, but what is the best route into this career path?
The care sector offers many skilled workers across the UK the opportunity to pursue an enriching and highly respected career. There will always be a demand for care workers, but what is the best route into this career path?
Star Employment Services explore the multiple options open to skilled workers who have interest in entering the care sector, by taking a deeper look into the ideal profile of a care worker, the qualifications and experience needed, and what kind of career progression a care worker can expect.
What does a care worker do?
The main role of a care worker is to attend to the specific needs of and provide support for people who require assistance in their daily lives. The work of a care worker will vary from client to client. Care workers are often needed when their client is not able to get the assistance they need from family or a guardian, or has special requirements than only a formally trained care worker can help with. Care workers work a variety of shift patterns and can either be based in a dedicated facility, such as a care home, or work on call.
Key duties will usually include:
- Working with clients, their next of kin and other professionals to identify their particular needs, and develop a specialist plan to meet their needs.
- Providing personalised care to their clients, and administering the correct procedures for any physical or mental difficulties.
- Aiding a client with errands or tasks that they may struggle with, such as shopping, cooking or studying.
- Providing appropriate emotional support to clients and their families, and guiding them through any issue they may have.
What are the key statistics I should know about the care sector?
According to government statistics, the average care worker will work between 30-40 hours a week, often on a shift pattern, and will earn between £12,500 to £20,000 per annum.
New starters will have a wage of between £12-16k, with qualified junior workers earning an average of £17-19k. Senior support officers or other senior roles in the care sector will earn upwards of £25k, and some form of further qualification is often expected in order to progress to senior positions.
What skills and attributes should a care worker have?
To be successful in this position, having a passion for helping people is essential. You will need exceptional communication skills and must be tactful, patient and sensitive with your clients at all times, especially when dealing with challenging circumstances (e.g. bereavement, behavioural problems, etc.).
Other key skills and attributes include:
- A friendly and approachable nature with a good sense of humour
- Ability to build relationships and to make others feel comfortable and at ease
- The ability to keep calm under pressure, as clients may sometimes be aggressive or anxious, or you may be faced with an emergency
- Critical thinking and problem solving
What kind of qualifications do I need to become a care worker?
You can actually start in the care sector on a part-time basis, with no specialist qualifications required. Individual care authorities will have their own set requirements, such as a minimum number of level 2 qualifications (e.g. GCSE Maths and English).
All care workers will need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) test. This was formerly known as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) test. If you wish to pursue adult social care in England, you need to gain the Care Certificate as part of a 12-week induction programme provided by your employer. The certificate can be completed online as a distance course. Within 6 months of starting in children’s residential care, you’ll need to have or get the Level 3 Diploma for Residential Childcare or equivalent.
You can also get into the care sector through a Health and Social Care apprenticeship or a level 2 qualification that leads to a job, such as a BTEC course or NVQ. There are also level 3 and degree courses that care workers can undertake, in order to move into senior roles. Some of these courses are often known as Health and Social Care, Childhood Studies, or similar. In a lateral move, experienced care workers will often get the opportunity to study for nursing degrees should they wish to.
What kind of career options do I have if I become a care worker?
In the care sector, the career progression path is clear – you can start in junior care positions before working up to senior support roles in a variety of sectors. To speak to a member of our team and find out more about starting a career in the care sector, or to find out about current vacancies register your cv today.