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Social Worker Training

A bachelorís degree is required for most direct-service social work positions, but some positions and settings require a masterís degree. Clinical social workers must have a masterís degree. Licensure varies by state. Clinical social workers must be licensed.

A bachelorís degree in social work (BSW) is the most common requirement for entry-level positions. However, some employers may hire workers who have a bachelorís degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology.

BSW programs prepare students for direct-service positions such as caseworker or mental health assistant. These programs teach students about diverse populations, human behavior, and social welfare policy. All programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship.

Some positions, including those in schools and in healthcare, frequently require a masterís degree in social work (MSW). All clinical social workers must have an MSW.

MSWs generally take 2 years to complete. Some programs allow those with a BSW to earn their MSW in 1 year. MSW programs prepare students for work in their chosen specialty and develop the skills to do clinical assessments, manage a large number of clients, and take on supervisory duties. All programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship.

A BSW is not required to enter MSW programs. In fact, a degree in almost any major is acceptable. However, coursework in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science are recommended.

Licensure varies by state. All states have some type of licensure or certification requirement. All states require clinical social workers to be licensed. However, some states provide exemptions for clinical social workers who work in government agencies.

Becoming a licensed clinical social worker usually requires a masterís degree in social work and 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience after graduation. After completing their supervised experience, clinical social workers must pass an exam to be licensed.

Although most states also have licenses for nonclinical social workers, these licenses are often optional. For more information about licensure by state, visit State Social Work Boards..

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

Social Worker Duties
Social Worker Work Conditions
Social Worker Employment
Social Worker Training
Social Worker Job Outlook
Social Worker Earnings


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