Advanced practitioner roles vary in title and responsibility but social workers who do their research and are clear on what they want may be able to shape what employers offer
The job titles and responsibilities of ‘advanced practitioner’ roles are so varied social workers need to undertake careful research to find the right option for them.
That’s one of the recommendations of a new Community Care Jobs guide for senior social workers looking to progress their career without moving into management.
A review of current jobs on offer, up to or equivalent to that of team manager, found job titles varied from consultant social worker, practice consultant and aspiring manager to principal social worker (in organisations where there was more than one PSW).
The range of responsibilities is also very wide. Some require social workers to mentor, coach and supervise other staff, including non-qualified practitioners, students and even newly qualified social workers. Others use the role to create topic specialists in niche practice areas such as child sexual exploitation or self-neglect. Alternatively, some organisations have created roles in quality assurance and data analysis to help improve the quality of practice.
While these roles offer social workers the opportunity to advance their career without moving into management, this career path is still emerging and local authorities are often still trialling the impact of different roles and responsibilities.
In a sector where experienced social workers are sought after this creates an opportunity for social workers to be more demanding and have some say over how advanced roles are shaped.
The guide includes tips on how to do this including using sideways moves to strategically increase skills, knowledge and potential opportunities.
Social workers who are confident and have a clear idea of their ideal role may find it easier than they think to shape a fulfilling career focused on practice rather than management.