Careers Service Occupations

Probation & Social Work

Probation and Social Work


Careers advice and articles

Sector news

Guardian: Social Care Network provides insight for social workers and social care professionals.

Children & Young People Now is a magazine for professionals working with children, young people and families.

There is also The Therapeutic Care Journal.


AGCAS: Journey to work (DVD) covers researching social work and gaining relevant work experience.

Sector skills councils

Skills for Care and Skills for Justice provide advice for social work and probation.

Government departments and public bodies

Care councils and regulatory bodies

Making contacts

Making contacts will help you gain insight into roles and arrange work experience. You could start with:


Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and other events give insight and opportunities to make contacts.

For events listings see Careers Service events or External Events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in:

Roles & Skills

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

Probation officer

Social worker

Social work assistant

Youth offending team officer

Other roles

Roles within social care are diverse and wide-ranging. For links to a number of relevant job profiles, visit the National Careers Service's Job Profiles: Social services.

Gaining Experience

Paid or voluntary work experience in a related role is highly recommended and often essential for roles in this sector.

Social work

Most routes into social work require experience working with children and young people, families or vulnerable groups.

There are three graduate development programmes where social work experience is not essential. These programmes are more interested in personal attributes: 

However, experience in a social work setting is essential to get onto a postgraduate social work course.

Opportunities to get experience

Part-time work

You could look for part-time work as a social work assistant or youth worker.

Search for opportunities on North East JobsLG jobs or Sector1 – public sector jobs


Some local authority social services departments have opportunities for shadowing a social worker.

These include Newcastle City Council Social Care and Health and Children’s Social Care Services

Community Care has an article on the best approach to arranging work shadowing opportunities

Private care services

Newcastle City Council list social care providers in their adult care services directory.

Working with young people

You could try to get work in an adventure playground group, school or holiday play schemes, or youth project.

Your local council will have details of these, eg Newcastle Support Directory.

Other opportunities

You could also look for opportunities to gain experience in:

You may also want to look at the Gaining Experience tab on our Community, Advice and Guidance page.

See below for volunteering opportunities.


To work in probation you will need experience of working with challenging behaviour.

Opportunities to get experience

National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) 

These include Durham Tees Valley CRC Volunteer SchemeNorthumbria CRC lists opportunities to work as a mentor to offenders.

See Gov.UK Probation directory for a region-based list

Become a prison visitor

Find out about becoming an official prison visitor.


You could contact local prisons and young offender institutes about work shadowing or volunteering opportunities. See to search for prisons by region.

Appropriate adult

You can also try working as an appropriate adult. Opportunities are on North East Jobs.

Other opportunities

You could also look at getting involved with:

You may also want to look at the gaining experience section on our Community, Advice and Guidance page for information on youth work.


Go Volunteer in the Students’ Union can help you find a relevant volunteering opportunity within Newcastle. They have links to a wide variety of local charities and not-for-profit organisations. 

You may want to check out opportunities listed on Do-it or Volunteering Matters websites.

There are many charities working in this sector. You can apply for advertised opportunities or contact them to see if they need more support. 

Use the Charity Commission register to search for relevant charities.

When choosing a volunteering opportunity, consider the environment you will be working in. Also consider the people you will be working with and the skills you will be able to develop. 

For example, volunteering with organisations such as Citizens Advice can help you build on essential advice giving skills.

Finding Jobs

There are a variety of ways to secure a social work and probation role.

Social work

Step Up to Social Work is a 14-month training programme for graduates and career changers. The programme offers a bursary and leads to a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. 

Frontline is a two-year leadership programme for high-achieving graduates and career changers keen on children’s social care. The programme offers a bursary and leads to a full Master's qualification.

Think Ahead is a two-year leadership programme for graduates who want to work as mental health social workers. The programme offers a bursary and leads to a full Master's qualification. 

Vacancy sites

Probation work

Social work

Public sector and healthcare vacancy sites

Newspaper and magazines

Study & Training

Further study is essential for some roles in this sector.

Social work

Entry to the profession is normally via an undergraduate or masters degree approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Both options combine professional and academic training with assessed placements. They qualify the holder to work in both children and adult services. 

Applications for almost all postgraduate courses in social work come through UCAS. But always check with the institution for details of how to apply.

There is also an employer-led route to qualificationStep Up to Social Work. There are two fast-track graduate programmes, ThinkAhead and Frontline. For more information, see finding jobs.

Funding further study in social work

Bursaries are available to support those studying postgraduate courses in social work. These are for those who aren't being sponsored by an employer. 

There are certain criteria you need to meet to qualify for the funding. The amount you get also depends on:

  • where you study
  • whether you study full or part-time
  • the cost of your tuition

Some courses are offered part-time, so it may be possible to qualify while continuing to work.

For more information, visit social work bursaries.


The National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) and Skills for Justice have further information on professional training for probation work.