Some entry-level jobs in adult social care don’t require qualifications but positions with more responsibility will. However, your own lived experience and certain transferable skills will help greatly in getting you started.

Will I need qualifications to work in adult social care?

Most social care workers gain a qualification in work, but you don’t need a qualification to get started. Most roles in social care in Scotland need to register with the SSSC (Scottish Social Services Council) within the first six months of starting employment. To maintain their registration, social services workers must have or be working towards a relevant qualification and gain it within five years, details for which qualification is needed for each role can be found on the SSSC website. This gives you plenty of time to become confident in your role before demonstrating what you have learned through completing a qualification.

The training and experience you gain while working in adult social care is extremely valuable, but there are also many free learning materials used by social service workers that you can access now. This means you can see what’s available and develop your knowledge before you start work. We recommend having a look at Introduction to a Career in Social Care and signing up for a SSSC Open Badges account to keep a digital record of your learning. The SSSC also has a free smartphone app called MyLearning that you can store your badges in. Just search for SSSC MyLearning in the app store.

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Should I choose education first or learn on the job?

It’s a personal choice and there’s plenty of flexibility to make whichever option works for you. You can go to college first and help boost your confidence before you start work, or you can go straight into work and pursue education while working. Opting for education first will give you a better understanding of the role and the confidence to make it a success, however you may have prior experience that means you can pick these up on the job.
You may also find Modern Apprenticeships available in your area, which will provide funding and protected time for you to complete your qualification with support from a dedicated training provider whilst you work.

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What care courses and qualifications are available?

If you’re right at the start of your journey, then the free Introduction to a Career in Adult Social Care course will help you consider whether a career in social care is right for you and provide you with a good foundation to help with job applications and interviews. This short, six-week course is delivered locally by colleges and is taught fully online, with support at each step of the way. You will find more information on the colleges where the course is taught and some key contacts on the CDN website.

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Adult social care apprenticeship programmes

A Modern Apprenticeship will give you valuable experience while helping you gain skills that will support your future career. There are Modern Apprenticeship opportunities in social services and healthcare to help accelerate a career in social care.
Foundation apprenticeships are also available to those who are still in school.

  • Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare
  • Modern Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare
  • Modern Apprenticeship in Care Services Leadership and Management
  • Help choosing the training that’s right for you

    There is a range of free learning opportunities, with support available to guide you through these training resources. The SSSC open badges programme, for example, allows you to pick and choose training areas that you feel would be useful in your day-to-day work.

    Prince’s Trust

    It is also worth considering contacting the Prince’s Trust to see if they have any sector specific training or programmes. Their Explore and Get into programmes for people under 30 are often a good place to start.

    Where can I seek further help?

    The SSSC website has information about registration and the different activities of the SSSC. Careersincare has information about qualifications, routes to work and how to prepare. Personal Assistants Network website has information for Personal Assistants and is the only website in Scotland created for people who work directly for the person they support.

    A Jobcentre Plus Work Coach can give you more information on support to help you prepare for your career in social care. Jobcentre Plus can give you training, guidance, work placement programmes and schemes such as work experience and volunteering. DWP have also launched a Care+academy to support people into social care roles and continue that support through onboarding.

    Fair Start Scotland is Scotland’s devolved pre-employment support service providing flexible and tailored services to remove barriers to accessing work. The service offers up to 12 months in-work support and has helped to support participants into roles in social care. Participation is completely voluntary and choosing to take part won’t affect your existing benefits. Visit the Fair Start Scotland website or call the Fair Start Scotland Information Line on 0800 804 8108. The line is open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

    Tips for application success

    To increase your chances of success in applying for a job in adult social care, tailor your CV and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills, experiences, and passion for the field.

    Get help preparing for an interview