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Salary Range
€24k - €44k
Career Zone

In Brief...

Social Care workers help and support people who, perhaps because of their age, a physical or mental health problem or a severe learning difficulty, cannot cope with day-to-day tasks on their own.


  • Therapy and Counseling Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Sociology and Anthropology Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.


  • Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

In Summary - Social Care Worker / Practitioner

Career Sectors

Social Care Worker / Practitioners typically work in the following Career Sectors:

Social Work
Psychology & Social Care

Videos & Interviews

Naoise Pye, Social Care Worker

After completing the Leaving Cert, Naoise completed a 1 year course in Early Childhood and Education. She then went to Carlow College and completed a BA Degree in Applied Social Studies and Social Care. Now working in a residential unit in St Michael's House, she works to enhance, develop and support goals for people with an Intellectual disability.

Videos on the Web

Further Information

The Work - Social Care Worker / Practitioner

Social care workers plan and provide professional individual or group care to clients with personal and social needs. Client groups are varied and include children and adolescents in residential care; young people in detention schools; people with intellectual or physical disabilities; people who are homeless; people with alcohol/drug dependency; families in the community; or older people.

Social care workers strive to support, protect, guide and advocate on behalf of clients. Social care work is based on interpersonal relationships which require empathy, strong communication skills, self awareness and an ability to use critical reflection. Teamwork and interdisciplinary work are also important in social care practice.

The core principles underpinning social care work are similar to those of other helping professions, and they include respect for the dignity of clients; social justice; and empowerment of clients to achieve their full potential. Social care practice differs from social work practice in that it uses shared life-space opportunities to meet the physical, social and emotional needs of clients. Social care work uses strengths-based, needs-led approaches to mediate clients’ presenting problems.

Social care workers are trained, inter alia, in life span development, parenting, attachment & loss, interpersonal communication and behaviour management. Their training equips them to optimise the personal and social development of those with whom they work. In Ireland, the recognised qualification is a 3-year Level 7 degree. In Europe, social care work is usually referred to as social pedagogy and social care workers as social pedagogues.

Most commonly reported Work Tasks

  • Advocate for clients or patients to resolve crises.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to evaluate patients' medical or physical condition and to assess client needs.
  • Refer patient, client, or family to community resources to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness and to provide access to services such as financial assistance, legal aid, housing, job placement or education.
  • Counsel clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome dependencies, recover from illness, and adjust to life.
  • Utilize consultation data and social work experience to plan and coordinate client or patient care and rehabilitation, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  • Plan discharge from care facility to home or other care facility.
  • Organize support groups or counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting the client or patient.
  • Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in clients' status.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress according to measurable goals described in treatment and care plan.
  • Identify environmental impediments to client or patient progress through interviews and review of patient records.

Most commonly reported Work Activities

  • Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.

Interests - Social Care Worker / Practitioner

This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:


The Social person's interests focus on interacting with the people in their environment. In all cases, the Social person enjoys the personal contact with other people in preference to the impersonal dealings with things, data and ideas found in other groups.

Many will seek out positions where there is direct contact with the public in some advisory role, whether a receptionist or a counsellor. Social people are motivated by an interest in different types of people and like diversity in their work environments. Many are drawn towards careers in the caring professions and social welfare area, whilst others prefer teaching and other 'informing' roles.


The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.


You must have a caring nature and enjoy working with people. Patience, compassion, tact and a sense of humour are vital qualities, especially if you work with people who do not like to admit that they need help.  
You must have a caring nature and enjoy working with people. Patience, compassion, tact and a sense of humour are vital qualities, especially if you work with people who do not like to admit that they need help.  
You must understand that every resident has the right to keep as much independence as they can. You will need to treat each resident as an individual, with different physical and emotional needs.  
It demands a lot of stamina as shifts can be long working both at night and over weekends. Hours can also be flexible.  
You should be able to talk and listen to people from all backgrounds. You will need to be discreet, and able to ease people's embarrassment when you help them with personal tasks such as washing or using the toilet. You must be able to give help and support with resident's concerns or emotional problems.

Entry Requirements - Social Care Worker / Practitioner

A B.A. in Social Care is now required for entry as a Social Care Worker.

Until the mid-1990’s Social Care Workers were qualified by experience. Since then, various qualifications including Social Studies, Psychology, Sociology and Social Care degrees were accepted as meeting entry criteria. In recent years, with input from HIQA, and the impending requirement for registration with CORU, the qualification currently sought by employers is a Level 7 or Level 8 degree in Applied Social Studies in Social Care.

Undergraduate Degree Route - Several of the IoTs offer relevant programmes at Level 6, 7 and 8 including Athlone IT, Dundalk IT, Galway Mayo IT, Limerick IT, Cork IT, Tralee IT, Waterford IT, Carlow IT, St Patricks College Carlow, and Dublin IT. 

The professional qualification required is the 3 year Level 7 B.A. Many qualified practitioners go on to complete an Honours Degree (Level 8) in the field. Some may progress to postgraduate qualifications.

As undergraduates, students study a wide range of subjects, including psychology sociology and social policy legal studies principles of professional practice creative skills (art, drama, music). A key element of studying to be a professional Social Care Worker is the experience of supervised work placements, in a variety of social care settings throughout the training process.

QQI Route - A wide range of relevant PLC courses at Level 5/6 (Social Studies; Applied Social Studies; Social Care among others) are available in the Further Education Colleges, the majority of which provide links to relevant degree level programmes.

Conversion Programmes - People currently employed in the social care sector holding any of the previously accepted qualifications, and job seekers who have more recently completed some of the associated qualifications who are interested in entering the social care sector or continuing their careers in the sector, may now find that they are restricted by the requirement to possess a specific social care qualification.

A  number of one year “conversion” programmes offering the opportunity to obtain a qualification in Applied Social Studies in Social Care are available. These are designed for jobseekers that already possess experience and/or similar qualifications in the social care field and wish to further develop their career in this chosen speciality.

CORU Registration - The requirement for registration of social care workers with CORU is expected to be in place in 2014. CORU is responsible for the registration of all healthcare professionals in Ireland and has already completed the registration of Social Workers. Registration will mean transparent identification of all social care professionals and will also determine the education, continuous professional development and accountability expectation in the social care sector.

Last Updated: December, 2014

Pay & Salary - Social Care Worker / Practitioner

Salary Range (thousands per year)* €24k - €44k

Trainee: 24 - 29
Social Care Worker: 30 - 44

Data Source(s):

Last Updated: February, 2017

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.

Labour Market Updates - Social Care Worker / Practitioner

Useful Contacts - Social Care Worker / Practitioner

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