How can I develop my career in social care?


No matter what role you start in or where you are in your career path, there are always opportunities to develop and progress in social care.


Social care: a rewarding career is an interactive PDF document that explores the many ways you can develop and progress in social care. It shows the different job roles you can do in social care, and the qualifications and training you might need to do to get there. Here's some short guidance about how to use it. 


Progression can be:

  • sideways into a different type of job which could involve working in a different setting or with a different group of people
  • a move up into a job with more responsibility, which requires new skills, knowledge and qualifications.

Social care is always changing to meet the needs of an ageing population and people living longer with complex conditions. There’s also great focus on supporting people to live independently, often at home.

This means that care organisations are working in new ways, creating lots of new and exciting job roles. 


Progressing in your career is partly your responsibility and partly your employers. However, there are some things you can do to support your career progression.

Do qualifications

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.

You could also do an apprenticeship to help you progress; they’re available for new and existing staff of any age.

Your employer might pay for you to do one, or you could apply for a Government-backed Advanced Learner Loan which can make qualifications and training more affordable.

Do training 

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.

There should be plenty of opportunities to do additional training at work and this could include classroom based training, e-learning or on the job training.

You might also want to do some training outside of work to develop your own skills. You can often find learning resources online, or you might want to enrol on a course at your local college.

Have the right attitude and show a willingness to learn

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

Mike Maden progressed from a support worker in his current role as a team manager. He advises:

“If you sit back and just do what it says on the job description, you’ll never get noticed. If you want to progress you need to prove that you’re motivated, show you want to go forward, learn new things and are passionate about your job – then you’ll get noticed.”

Other top tips
  • Make the most out of your supervision. If you want to learn and develop make sure your line manager knows.
  • Work in an organisation that’s committed to training their staff - you could ask about this at application or interview stage. 
  • Ask about opportunities to mentor or shadow other staff. 
  • Speak to your employer about becoming an
    I Care...Ambassador. You'll deliver careers activities to inspire others to work in social care and it's a great way to develop your confidence and skills. 

It often doesn’t matter about your background or how old you are, if you want to help people there’s a social care job for you.

What type of person do I need to be?

What’s really important is your values. 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.

What skills do I need? 

You might also need a certain set of skills for particular roles, as well as core skills of English, number, digital and employability skills such as problem solving and team work.

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. 

There are some qualifications you might want to do to get a taster of what it’s like to work in 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.
What job roles could I do? 

There are lots of entry level care roles you could do such as a care worker or personal assistant.

There are also support roles such as office and administration, cook or kitchen assistant, driver or transport manager or housekeeping

Read more about the different roles you could do


When you start a job in social care, you’ll get a thorough induction. For most entry level care roles this includes the Care Certificate, which are a set of standards that everyone needs to meet to do their 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. 

Read more about how you can step up in Social care: a rewarding career for you, particularly section 3. 


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. 

Management skills can also be developed using the 'Lead to succeed' learning programme, completing the Manager Induction Standards or Level 4 Certificate in Principles of Leadership.

Read more about how you can get on in Social care: a rewarding career for you, particularly section 3. 

If you’ve progressed to a lead or advanced practitioner role,  you can go further into a more advanced management or professional role with greater responsibility, leadership or influence.

These roles can be very specialised such as a social worker or occupational therapist, or involve management and being responsible for ensuring your organisation meets legal requirements, for example a registered manager or CEO.

These roles can often require a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management for Adult Care or a professional qualification or a degree.

Read more about how you can go further in Social care: a rewarding career for you, particularly section 3.