For many people in the world today, life is too tough or they are not equipped to go it alone. These vulnerable individuals need help and care to make it through. As a support worker your job will be to provide emotional and practical support for individuals and families in need to help them live more happy and independent lives.
Although you will need basic literacy and numeracy skills, usually GCSE passes at grade C or above in English and Mathematics, high level formal qualifications are not the primary consideration for those interested in applying for support worker jobs. It is far more important that you have a great passion for helping others and that you are prepared to commit yourself to their well being. Some work experience or experience gained from voluntary work in a care environment are also invaluable assets, as is a GNVQ or equivalent qualification in social care or a related subject.
There is the possibility of advancement in the sector as you become more experienced. You might even consider the possibility of studying to earn a Master of Social Work Degree, which will qualify you for a promotion to a management role.
The role of a support worker
As a support worker, you will have a strong commitment to helping others. You will need to be a great listener too as you help your clients through their emotional difficulties. You will have to act as friend and counsellor and have the patience of a saint. And, on a more practical front, you will need to be adept at a range of housekeeping jobs.
Your role will be to help people live independently and safely and to help them deal with the pressures of modern living. You may also have to help relatives of your clients if they are struggling to cope.
What you can expect
Support work is highly satisfying because you are making a genuine difference in the lives of people who cannot help themselves. Your job will be varied and there will be fresh challenges every day, but the work can be hard and is often emotionally draining, so you have to be tough and resilient.
You will have to deal with people with a whole range of issues. Some may have mental health problems or learning difficulties, others may have physical disabilities while others may have problems with alcohol or substance abuse. You will come across those struggling with relationships or those on the fringes of society like prostitutes and young offenders.
To compensate you for your hard work, you can expect an initial salary probably of around £17,000 per annum rising to £26,000 later on. Managerial positions pay up to £33,000. You will, however, often be placed on a shift work basis, including evenings and weekends, so there is likely to be some disruption to your own private life.
Support worker jobs are demanding and require a special kind of person. The financial rewards may not be as high as in some other jobs, but knowing that you are making a real difference in someone’s life is reward enough for many in the role.