Childhood experiences last a lifetime

In this career you could be inspiring children in their early years, supporting their development through childhood and helping them thrive as young adults.

There are many careers available including early learning and childcare (like nurseries), out of school care (like after school and holiday clubs), childminding and residential schools which provide additional support for learning.

You could also develop a career in residential childcare which means providing a loving, safe and supportive home to children and young people living away from their families.

Good communication, creativity, resilience and an understanding of how children and young people think and feel will help you succeed.

A childcare centre’s garden. An early years practitioner is engaging with three young children in winter clothing.

Day by day discovery. I love to follow children's journeys together.

Satoko Kojima-Kirylczuk Nursery practitioner

What’s it really like to work in social services? Find out from current social service professionals in our career stories.

Career stories

There are over 200,000 people working in social services and they come from all walks of life. Take a look at these stories from people already working with children and young people to learn how they got started, what they like most and their best words of advice for you.

To find out where your career might take you, explore our interactive qualifications pathway.

Charlotte, age 20

Charlotte describes her experience in residential childcare and the staff who helped her succeed.

When I first went to Nether Johnstone House I was terrified. I had never been in care before. It was overwhelming when I walked in. There were all these people. They seemed nice enough but I just wanted to be alone. It took a couple of weeks to settle in and to get to know people.

I started to feel comfortable, and I really enjoyed going out on activities like playing pool, bowling, fishing and going to the cinema. When I was old enough, I loved going to the bingo! I also liked washing the cars and painting the outdoor decking.

I had good relationships with most of the staff. I even had my favourite five staff members

I have so many good memories with the staff and young people at Nether Johnstone, like going to Millport and getting really badly sunburnt. Going to Blackpool glamping, going to London, and doing Sleep in the Park which was freezing! I also remember taking one of the staff members to Lochwinnoch to feed the swans and the staff member was terrified of them which was hilarious.

I lived in Nether Johnstone House for three years and they were the best. I’ve had my ups and downs but they never gave up on me and I can't thank them enough.

When I was told I was moving I was terrified again having to start over in my own flat. Not having people there 24/7 was a scary thought, but the staff reassured me I would be okay and that they would stay in touch which they have done.

Now I am standing on my own two feet and that’s because of all the help and support the staff gave me. They have made a huge difference in my life and I can't thank them enough.

Qualification pathways

You don’t usually need a qualification to start this career but you’ll have an opportunity to gain one in work. If you want to progress into promoted posts there are qualifications to help you do this. Explore our interactive pathways to see how qualifications can help you build a career.

Go to the qualification pathways

Take your first steps

Explore these routes to get help taking your first steps. In each category you’ll find links to websites to apply for work experience, jobs, training or study.

Take your first steps

Qualification Methods

Interested in a career working with children and young people?