People who are drawn to a career in social work are generally empathetic individuals who find it rewarding to help others. Social workers must also possess an inner strength and advanced education to provide professional support to clients from some of our most vulnerable populations. Years of advanced education, skill building, and field work build a strong knowledge base and the skill set needed to succeed. If you’re curious about the different levels of education you’ll need to excel in this field, read on.
A Bachelor’s Degree
There’s a shift underway in social workers’ education requirements to pursue an advanced degree. In the past, an individual could begin their career with a bachelor’s degree in social work or obtain their degree from a program that wasn’t accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). As the field of social work grows, there’s a larger industry push for accreditation of social work programs to promote industry standards of care. If you’re just starting to pursue your undergrad degree, you may wish to look only at social work programs accredited by the CSWE – the sole organization accrediting social work education — to maximize your career and graduate school opportunities.
A Master’s Degree with an Accredited Program
While a bachelor’s degree in social work may suffice in some fields, many roles make a master’s degree in social work a requirement to qualify for higher level positions, particularly when they’re in health care facilities and educational institutions. In the case of clinical social workers, a master’s degree in social work is mandatory. Earning a Master of Social Work degree also provides you with the option to specialize in a topic like trauma, or even focus on human sexuality studies with a hybrid dual social work degree. Widener University currently does not require applicants for the Online MSW Program to have an undergrad degree in social work, allowing working professionals in human services, education, counseling, and therapy who are serious about advancing their future and knowledge to have the opportunity to do so now.
Become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
State licensing for social workers protects the public and regulates the practice of social work. Once you’ve obtained your Master of Social Work degree in a CSWE-accredited program, you’ll often find you then need to pass your state’s licensing exam to become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) before you can begin practice or attain a position at some agencies. To view your state’s specific licensing requirements, click here.
Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
If your career goals include private practice or accepting third-party payments, you’ll need the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license. It requires that you have a minimum of two years supervised clinical practice under your belt, and it allows you the freedom to see patients independently. It’s considered the highest ranking license in the field. Be sure to check the licensing requirements in your particular state.
Advance Your Purpose with Higher Education
If you’re looking to advance your clinical social work practice with a MSW degree, learn more now about Widener University’s Online Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Call 844-386-7321, or complete the request more information form and a program manager will contact you right away.