Education Career Articles

Connect Facebook Connect Twitter Connect Google+ Connect Pinterest Connect Stumbleupon

How to Become a Social Worker: Career Roadmap and Education

Majors Overview January 29, 2013

People who are interested in rendering assistance to others and tackling difficult life situations could aim for a career in social work. Clinical counseling or direct services are provided by social workers in order to help clients make assessments of unhealthy or harmful situations and change them. Various employers such as community mental health clinics, schools, private practices, hospitals and nursing homes employ social workers. Social workers are required to have an undergraduate degree in Social Work, at least, to get an entry level job; employers for other positions such as clinical social worker prefer Master of Social Work (MSW) degree holders. Social workers have to obtain licensure regardless of the state in which they seek to work.

Common Requirements

Degree Level

Either Bachelor in Social Work (BSW) or Master in Social Work (MSW)

Degree Field

Social work

Licensure

Depends on the type of social worker and the state; every state has certification and licensure requirements

Experience

One to two years of experience preferred

Key Skills

Knowledge of psychosocial practices and social work, strong people skills, listening and problem-solving skills, time-management and organizational skills, and compassion

Stage One: Earning a Bachelor Degree

Completing a Bachelor of Social Work program prepares a student to be employed in direct-service positions such as a case worker or mental health assistant. Coursework in such programs includes subject area such as social work for the aged, child welfare, applied research, social work methods and social welfare policy. Without exception, Bachelor of Social Work programs include a supervised field work or internship program, thereby giving students a chance to learn skills in important field areas such as problem-solving, decision-making, interviewing and an understanding of group dynamics. Developing strong communication skills will benefit social workers who have to cultivate healthy and productive relationships with their co-workers and clients to do an effective job. During their school tenure, students can leverage supervised fieldwork and internship opportunities to hone in on the skills necessary for interaction with various clients later in their career.

Stage Two: Considering a Graduate Degree

Students can undertake a Master of Social Work program alongside a bachelor degree program in any major; however, they may be required to complete specific coursework in subjects such as sociology and psychology to qualify for admission, if such applicants do not have a BSW degree. A social worker seeking work in the healthcare industry or in schools, they need to complete an MSW program. Master of Social Work programs usually run over two years, although there are some flexible three-year and four-year programs. Students who complete these programs can go ahead and perform advanced practice in their areas of concentration. These programs offer different majors for students to choose from, including behavioral and physical health, older adults and families, global practice, and families and children. Expansion by students on professional components of social work is also possible; these components include leadership skills, caseload management and clinical assessment. All MSW students are required to complete a supervised practice or internship program. Gaining experience in a high-demand major will benefit social workers whose best opportunities involve working with schools, families, and children, in areas like substance abuse, mental health and healthcare. Even social workers who only have a bachelor degree can develop a specialty by garnering work experience in these areas.

Stage Three: Becoming Licensed

Social workers are required to obtain certification and licensure in the state they are employed. Non-clinical social workers can avail optional certification; certification norms differ from state to state; social workers can contact the Association of Social Work Boards to find out the norms as pertaining to their chosen state of employment. State licensure calls for two years (or 3,000 hours) of experience in a clinical setting alongside completion of a MSW program.

Stage Four: Considering Credentialing

MSW-educated social workers can volunteer for credentialing offered at three levels by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Eligibility requirements vary for each credential and can include professional evaluation from colleagues, clinical social work experience and a certain number of hours of continued education in the field. Voluntary specialty certifications are available for both undergraduate and graduate degree holding social workers employed in several areas such as gerontology, healthcare social work and clinical social work; such certification would improve employment prospects.

Stage Five: Maintaining Credentials and Licensure

Social work certification and licensure, including any specialty certification, has to be maintained by completing continued education programs. The length and type of course required to be completed differ from state to state.

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology program helps students prepare for careers in counseling, marketing/sales, human services, ministry, and more.
  • The School of Psychology & Counseling received a 95% match rate for 4th year Psy.D. student internships in 2015.
  • Programmatic accreditation for psychology programs is provided by the American Psychological Association (APA).
  • Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
  • Online Courses
4 Program(s) Found
  • Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
  • Colangelo College of Business: Features more than 25 programs from the bachelor through the master's level, including several high-demand MBA programs and an accelerated accounting degree.
  • College of Nursing and Health Care Professions: Rich 25-year history providing outstanding health care and nursing degree programs, including an RN to BSN program & master's in nursing degrees.
  • College of Education: Whether you are looking to start or advance your career as a teacher or administrator, GCU offers bachelor’s and master’s in education degrees in key areas.
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Provides a job focused education and features a variety of programs from counseling and psychology to justice studies, history and English literature.
  • Does something else interest you? GCU also offers programs in Doctoral Studies; Theology; Science, Engineering & Technology; and Fine Arts & Production. Speak with an enrollment counselor today!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Education Connection is a 100% Free College Matching Service used by 50,000 People Daily.
  • Get Matched to Psychology, Counseling, Human Services, Organizational, and Clinical Psychology Degree Programs and MORE.
  • View Bachelor's, Master's, Doctorate and Graduate Certificate Degree Programs in Psychology and Human Services Near YOU!
  • Accredited and Flexible Psychology Degree Programs to Fit Your Time and Budget. Use Our Matching Service - It's Easy and FREE!
  • Online Courses

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology program helps students prepare for careers in counseling, marketing/sales, human services, ministry, and more.
  • The School of Psychology & Counseling received a 95% match rate for 4th year Psy.D. student internships in 2015.
  • Programmatic accreditation for psychology programs is provided by the American Psychological Association (APA).
  • Regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
  • Online Courses
4 Program(s) Found
  • Work in the fascinating and rewarding field of psychology - earn your bachelor's or master's degree online with Grand Canyon University.
  • The College of Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research, creativity, ethical formation and inquiry through critical, analytical and interdisciplinary study.
  • GCU's bachelor's and master's in psychology degrees combine academic theory with practical application.
  • Gain a comprehensive study of human behavior within a Christian values-oriented environment designed to emphasize compassion and ethics.
  • Join a values-based community surrounded by compassion, ethics and research on human behavior.
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Interested in Changing the Lives of Patients and People with Each New Discussion? Get Educated in the Psychology Field.
  • Build the Capabilities and Connections to Power Your Future.
  • Psychology, Human Services, Social Work Degree Programs and More From Top Colleges that Fit Your Needs.
  • Find Schools Online or Near You & Get Info for FREE Today!
  • Online Courses

Login to your account

Can't remember your Password ?

Register for this site!