Social workers provide crucial counseling and support to diverse clientele. The requirements for a career in social work are varied, but usually include a bachelor's degree in a related field and licensure recognized by the state in which you want to practice. A bachelor's degree in social work is the most straightforward way to obtain an entry-level job, but if you have a degree in a field like psychology or sociology, you may be able to find an entry-level job in a smaller agency.
Social work career requirements increase if you are hoping to pursue clinical work. In this case, you will typically need a master's degree in social work. Master's programs take two years to complete as a full-time student. Some people even pursue a doctorate in social work, though this is typically only necessary if you are hoping to land a position teaching or doing research at a college or university.
There are around 460 bachelor's programs and 181 master's programs that have been accredited by the Council on Social Work education. These programs usually require a minimum of 400 hours supervised field experience.
Obtaining a state licensure is an important part of fulfilling the social work career requirements. The procedures for doing this vary state by state, but most require two full years (or 3,000 hours) of supervised clinical experience before you can receive a license. Although they are voluntary, many social workers pursue credentials from the National Society of Social Workers. These credentials require a master's degree and include the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW), the Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW), and the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW.) Health insurance providers sometimes require social workers to have one of these accreditations in order for patients to be reimbursed for their services.
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