In the UK only professionals registered with the relevant regulatory body can practice as qualified ‘Social Workers’. Professional social work qualification can be acquire via approved undergraduate or post graduate degrees.
The relevant bodies in the UK are:
England – Health and Care Professions Council
Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland Social Service Council
Scotland – Scottish Social Service Council
Wales – Care Council of Wales
Each regulator covers a specific region and your registration does not automatically transfer between regulators. You therefore have to complete a new registration process when you move out of one region. The registration body would require that you abide by its code of conduct and have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. The DBS check ensures that you have no criminal convictions that would make you unsuitable to work with vulnerable adults or children.
The above regulators also investigate complaints against you during you social work practice. If upheld you are likely to be barred or deregistered, hence unable to practice as a qualified social worker. You are also required to undertake regular studies or training for your continuous professional development (CPD).