- How to Become a Social Worker
Last Updated: May 08, 2020
There is no better time than now to become a social worker. Social workers help people solve or cope with everyday problems and address a variety of social issues through a wide range of generalist and advanced social work skills and techniques. Whether you want to work with children in public schools, with elderly individuals in care facilities, or in various healthcare branches, the field of social work provides several fulfilling employment opportunities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11% employment growth for social workers between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the 5% projected growth rate for the economy as a whole. This projected growth is partially attributable to the continuing demand for social workers who specialize in working with children and families. Moreover, the increase in healthcare facilities around the country has stoked demand for social workers to assist aging populations, mental health patients, and substance abuse patients.
Covered in This Article
What does a social worker do.
- Social Work Education and Degrees
Accreditation for Social Work Degrees
How long does it take to become a social worker.
- Earn Your License
Social Work Careers
It is helpful to think of the various responsibilities social workers have. All social workers deliver specialized care, helping individual patients address a particular challenge or obstacle in their lives. At the macro level, social workers may also institute large-scale organizational change.
Typical day-to-day social work duties include identifying, evaluating, and addressing client needs in individual, group, and community settings. Client care often involves helping people cope with daily challenges, and many social workers work with mental health specialists, such as counselors and psychologists.
School social workers often collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators to improve students' academic performance and support their social development. Healthcare and mental health social workers find employment in hospitals, clinics, and clients' homes. Social work careers often center on helping clients transition from care facilities back to their daily lives.
How to Become a Social Worker: Social Work Education and Degrees
Bachelor's degree in social work.
A bachelor's degree in social work is the field's minimum credential. Social work bachelor's programs provide a comprehensive overview of the field. Students typically learn about case management, community and program organization, and utilizing community resources. Undergraduate social work students acquire essential skills for client advocacy, crisis response, and treatment design.
Students who earn an online bachelor's degree in social work often focus on one area of specialization. Commonly offered specialties include child and family services, geriatrics, hospice, and school social work.
Many states require social workers to hold a master's degree in social work(MSW), so it is important to determine your state's licensing requirements when choosing an online bachelor's degree in social work. That said, some social workers may practice without licensure.
After completing an on-campus or online bachelor's degree in social work, graduates find employment in school settings, child and family case management, mental health, and substance abuse recovery.
Featured Online Programs
Master's degree in social work.
Earning a master's degree in social work helps students develop specialized skills within their area of expertise. The specializations available in many master's programs are comparable to those in bachelor's programs. Master's seekers may specialize in children, youth, and families; mental health; hospice; or aging adults.
Master's degree programs focus on advanced practical skills while reinforcing knowledge obtained during undergraduate studies. In most cases, students who enter a master's program without a bachelor's degree in social work must complete additional coursework.
Students earning a master's degree in social work typically take courses related to social welfare policy, human behavior and the social environment, social work practice with groups and families, and psychopathology. Some traditional and online social work degrees require students to complete fieldwork or a clinical practicum.
An online social work master's degree prepares graduate students to work in many healthcare positions. Healthcare social workers are active in hospitals and clinics, helping patients access specialized care, treatment resources, and decision-making support.
Clinical mental health counseling positions also require a master's degree. Specialty certifications in clinical, healthcare, and school social work are reserved for master's holders.
It is important for students to earn an accredited social work degree online. Accreditation demonstrates that a given school or degree program meets established standards in quality and rigor. Schools may be regionally or nationally accredited.
Regional accreditation is the academic gold standard, as it involves a more rigorous evaluation process. Regionally accredited schools typically offer academically oriented programs. Typically, these institutions only accept transfer credits from other regionally accredited schools.
Students seeking an online social work degree should select a school with regional and programmatic accreditation.
Nationally accredited schools are often more career-focused. They usually offer fewer areas of study. It is difficult to transfer credits from a nationally accredited school to a regionally accredited institution.
Students seeking an online social work degree should select a school with regional and programmatic accreditation. The Council for Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits social worker preparation programs. Most states require social work licensure candidates to possess a CSWE-accredited degree.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation maintains a directory of accredited schools and recognized accrediting bodies.
Earning an online social work degree typically requires 120 credits and four years of full-time study. Full-time students can expect to spend two additional years earning a master's. Social work graduates may also spend additional time preparing for and passing a licensure exam. Additional factors that may extend a student's time in school include enrollment status, fieldwork or practicum requirements, and program structure.
Additional factors that may extend a student's time in school include enrollment status, fieldwork or practicum requirements, and program structure.
In individually paced courses, distance learners fulfill course requirements at their own pace and maintain minimal interaction with their instructors. In cohorts, students will take classes in a prescribed sequence with a designated set of classmates.
How to Become a Social Worker: Earn Your License
Licensure requirements vary by state, but all clinical social workers and most master's-level social workers must be licensed regardless of location. Many states prefer bachelor's holders to obtain licensure as well.
Licensure titles differ between states and can indicate different practice types. The licensed social worker (LSW) is a common designation which can signal baccalaureate or master's-level credentials. The highest-level practitioners typically receive the title of independent, clinical, or independent clinical social worker.
Licensure candidates must submit an application and take a standardized exam, which typically costs approximately $300, including registration fees. In most states, social workers must renew their license every two years.
Find Social Work License Requirements by State
How to find a career in social work.
Aspiring social workers may access state-specific employment information, online communities that connect social workers to current events , and international organizations that serve vulnerable populations. Online professional communities connect social workers to career resources, job boards, and networking opportunities.
Offline resources may include local colleges, universities, medical facilities, and social service organizations. A phone call or email may be enough for degree seekers to secure a meeting with an experienced practitioner. Social work experts can provide critical insight on students' career goals and professional trajectory.
Students earning a social work degree online may locate career information through news platforms and social media -- especially Twitter , Facebook , and social work blogs . Distance learners may also consult the organizations listed below.
Common Types of Social Workers
Program directors for nonprofit organizations secure funding. They must be wise planners and strategic spenders. Program directors oversee client needs, coordinate with other companies, and supervise organization managers, coordinators, and staff.
Entry Level Salary $56,029
Degree Level and License Requirement Bachelor's, optional
School Social Worker
School social workers typically work with elementary and secondary school students. They assess social, psychological, and external factors that affect children's scholastic and social progress. They ensure that students receive necessary support, sometimes from outside organizations. They may also work with and counsel parents.
Entry Level Salary $48,908
Degree Level and License Requirement Bachelor's, LSW recommended
Medical Social Worker
Social workers help patients and their families address daily and prolonged ailments. They often work with patients to ease their transition from a healthcare facility back to their regular routines. They may also help patients adjust to new lifestyles, medications, and treatments. Some social workers organize educational outreach and support groups within their communities.
Entry Level Salary $50,470
Degree Level and License Requirement Master's, LSW
Case manager clients include sick or elderly patients, individuals struggling with substance abuse, and former convicts transitioning back to the workforce. Case managers help clients improve their quality of life. They may create treatment plans, locate support groups, and help clients access employment resources. Case managers are typically excellent communicators with strong time management and organizational skills.
Entry Level Salary $40,503
Degree Level and License Requirement High school diploma/associate's, optional
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
These healthcare professionals provide counseling and therapy services. They may work in rehabilitation centers or private practices. Maintaining a large network of healthcare contacts helps clinical social workers provide informed and personalized care to clients navigating the path to recovery.
Degree Level and License Requirement Master's, LCSW
Social Services Director
These directors oversee social services staff, organizational projects, and client admissions and transfers. They integrate care strategies for residents, implement treatment plans, and maintain records of facility operations. Many are skilled financial planners who have previous management experience.
Entry Level Salary $54,902
Child and Family Social Worker
These social workers help clients cope with problems in their daily lives. They work with children and families, as well as in school systems. Some choose a healthcare-focused career path, working in clinics or hospitals. Clinically licensed social workers may focus on mental, emotional, and behavioral issues.
Degree Level and License Requirement Bachelor's, master's (clinical), LSW
Mental Health Therapist
These professionals work in various healthcare fields. Mental health therapists include clinical psychologists, family and school therapists, and clinical social workers. These professionals use psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy to help patients address mental health challenges. They may work within an organization or maintain a private practice.
Entry Level Salary $42,840
Social Work Career Resources
- The Clinical Social Work Association The CSWA is a national individual membership organization that includes clinical social workers, early career professionals, emeritus members, and student members. The organization provides a job board and professional resources for social workers. The CSWA also monitors legislative issues that affect clinical practices.
- American Clinical Social Work Association ACSWA members include graduate students, young professionals, and senior practitioners. This clinical community offers online resources including news updates, career tips, networking tools, a community blog, and publication access.
- National Association of Social Workers The NASW is the world's largest membership organization for social workers. Members may use extensive online resources including job boards, career advice, news feed, and conference information. This organization also provides opportunities for professional networking and political advocacy.
- The Association of Social Work Boards The ASWB is a nonprofit managed by the social work regulatory boards and colleges of all 50 states, several U.S. territories, and 10 Canadian provinces. ASWB members serve on committees to improve the quality of public social services. Members may also attend social work conferences and networking events.
- American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare The Academy disseminates information regarding social work research, scholarship, and practice. It monitors policy issues related to the field and works with non-government entities to promote the public good. The Academy also recognizes significant contributions to the social work field.
- Licensure Resources
- Social Work License Requirements by State
- Professional Networking in Social Work
- Types of Social Workers
- What is the ASWB Licensing Exam?
- Studying for the Social Work Licensure Exam
- Social Work Education
- Which Social Work Degree Should I Get?
- How to Choose a Social Work Program
- Reasons to Purse a Bachelor's in Social Work
- A Master's Degree in Social Work: Developing Skills and Competencies
- Social Work Doctoral Programs
- CSWE Accreditation
- Social Work Internships: Advice for the Social Work Graduate Student
- Online Bachelor's of Social Work (BSW) Programs
- Online Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs
- Doctorate of Social Work Online
- Most Affordable Online Master's in Social Work Programs
- Graduate Application Guide for Social Workers
- Recent Articles of Interest
- The Medical Social Worker: Following Patient Interactions
- How to Find the Right Social Work Internship
- Navigating the Social Work Job Application Process
- Self Care Tips for Social Workers
- Social Workers Tackle the Root Causes of Hospital Re-Admission
- Online Programs? Does CSWE or CSWA Approve?
- A New Direction: Applied Behavior Analysis
- Social Media and Social Work: A Question of Ethics
- Options for Students Without CSWE Accredited Bachelor’s Degrees
- Counseling vs. Social Work
- The Social Work Profession
- Clinical Social Work vs. Direct Services Social Work
- Social Worker vs. Child Welfare Worker
Kansas Social Work Programs and Degrees Guide
Kansas has three levels of social work licensure that allow qualified individuals to practice social work in the state. A Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the minimum social work degree necessary to become licensed. To become a master social worker or specialist clinical social worker, a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) is required. This page highlights social work schools in Kansas that can prepare you for a rewarding career in social work practice. Though there are currently no online Kansas social work programs, online programs from schools in other states may help you meet licensing requirements.
- 14 schools offering social work programs in Kansas are in our database ( see below )
- Of the social work schools in Kansas, 5 offer associate’s degrees or certificates, 8 offer bachelor’s degrees, and 4 offer a master’s or advanced degree 1
- No schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018 2
- 3 schools ranked in US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs in 2018 3
- No schools ranked in Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs in 2018 4
- Across 9 schools, 12 bachelor’s and master’s social work degree programs in Kansas are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) 5
Featured Online Social Work Programs
Top-ranked schools with social work programs in kansas, us news best graduate social work programs 2018.
- University of Kansas (#34 tie)
- Wichita State University (#147 tie)
- Washburn University (#220 tie)
Schools with Social Work Programs Accredited by the CSWE
- Bethel College
- Fort Hays State University
Kansas State University
- Pittsburg State University
University of kansas.
- Washburn University
Wichita State University
Schools in kansas with social work degree programs, bsw and other undergraduate programs.
Located in rural eastern Kansas, Tabor College is a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Mennonite church. Tabor’s Department of Social & Behavioral Science offers a BSW program that is accredited by the CSWE and is based in social work and Christian philosophies. Students are encouraged to become involved in service projects at the college and in the community, to participate in the learning process in the classroom, and to contribute to the college community positively. All students must follow the college’s core curriculum, which includes liberal arts courses, major courses, and electives. The liberal arts curriculum provides breadth to the social work course of study and includes cultural studies, religious studies, science, and contemporary religious issues. Several study abroad options are offered to meet the liberal arts course requirements. Social work majors must also take classes in social welfare, policy, and research. The college was ranked #41 among regional colleges in the Midwest by US News & World Report in 2016.
Kansas State University is a public, research-intensive institution founded in 1863. It is located in the northeastern town of Manhattan. The Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work’s undergraduate social work program is accredited by the CSWE and prepares students for generalist social work practice and licensure. Students can complete the program either through a Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) or a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) curriculum. The BSSW degree has additional natural science requirements while the BASW degree has additional foreign language requirements. Secondary or dual majors in many subjects, such as gerontology or American Ethnic Studies, are available. Students can declare social work as their major at any time; however, the program is competitive and candidates must submit an application to be admitted to the final three semesters of the program, called the “Practice Sequence.” The Practice Sequence includes senior-level social work courses and a field education placement that all students must complete in the senior year of the program.
MSW and Other Graduate Programs
Located in Lawrence, the University of Kansas is a public, urban institution. KU’s School of Social Welfare offers both CSWE-accredited BSW and MSW programs. The MSW program offers two specializations: Clinical practice or social work administration. In the clinical program, students choose to focus on practice in child and family, health and mental health, or aging social work. The program can be completed full-time or part-time at either the main campus in Lawrence or the secondary campus in Overland Park. The university also offers a full-time clinical MSW program in western Kansas in collaboration with other universities in the state. This program begins in the summer term, is offered through blended learning with on-campus and online classes, and supports field education placements across the state. In 2016, the social work graduate school at University of Kansas tied for 26th place among all social work graduate schools in the country by US News & World Report.
Newman University is a private Roman Catholic institution offering an MSW program that teaches students about family-centered practice in preparation for work with individuals, families, groups, and communities at an advanced level. The School of Social Work program takes two years to complete full-time or up to four years if completed part-time. Candidates who hold a CSWE-accredited BSW may apply for advanced standing, which reduces the overall program length to either one year of full-time or two years of part-time study. Newman University’s main campus is located in Wichita, but MSW classes are also offered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Wichita program offers classes during the day and evening that usually meet once per week; the Colorado Springs campus offers evening and weekend classes that meet less frequently, usually once per month. The latter may be a good fit for non-traditional students or students who plan to work while studying. Neither campus offers online courses.
Wichita State University’s Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which traces its history back to 1887, confers a Master of Social Work degree through its School of Social Work. This MSW program focuses on advanced generalist social work practice by developing skills and knowledge with the core themes of social justice, cultural competency, multidimensional practice, and empowerment. The degree may be completed through either full-time or part-time study on either a traditional or advanced standing track. Students may also choose either a thesis or non-thesis track to meet graduation requirements. All students complete field practicum hours according to their progress in their degree plan. Qualified MSW students may apply for membership in the Student Organization of Social Work or the Phi Alpha Honor Society for additional education and networking opportunities.
Accreditation Information for Kansas Social Work Schools
*The net price is calculated by the National Center for Education Statistics by subtracting the average amount of aid (including grants and scholarships) from the total published cost of attendance for in-state/in-district students, which includes tuition, books, room and board, and other expenses. To gain a better understanding of how to interpret the statistics discussed in this table, see our list of important definitions .
Directory of Kansas Social Work School Programs
Schools with an asterisk (*) have programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
Allen County Community College 1801 N Cottonwood Iola, KS 66749 (620) 365-5116 http://www.allencc.edu
Barton County Community College 245 NE 30th Rd Great Bend, KS 67530 (620) 792-2701 http://www.bartonccc.edu
Bethel College-North Newton* 300 E 27th St Newton, KS 67117-1716 (316) 283-2500 http://www.bethelks.edu
Dodge City Community College 2501 N 14th Ave Dodge City, KS 67801-2399 (620) 225-1321 http://www.dc3.edu
Fort Hays State University* 600 Park St Hays, KS 67601-4099 (785) 628-4000 http://www.fhsu.edu
Garden City Community College 801 Campus Dr Garden City, KS 67846-6333 (620) 276-7611 http://www.gcccks.edu
Haskell Indian Nations University 155 Indian Ave Lawrence, KS 66046-4800 (785) 749-8404 http://www.haskell.edu
Kansas State University* 119 Anderson Hall Manhattan, KS 66506 (785) 532-6011 http://www.k-state.edu
Newman University* 3100 McCormick Ave Wichita, KS 67213-2097 (316) 942-4291 http://www.newmanu.edu
Pittsburg State University* 1701 S Broadway Pittsburg, KS 66762 (620) 231-7000 http://www.pittstate.edu
Student Review: “The BSW program at Pitt State is very hands-on. You are given multiple opportunities to get field experience throughout the program, and guidance from all of the faculty if you are uncertain about what aspect of social work you want to work in. All of the professors are approachable. They will often work with a student’s schedule if office hours don’t work for the student. The professors receive and utilize student feedback, from simple informal suggestions in class to a nominal group on improving the program. It is a heavy workload, and some of the prerequisites are set up in a way that students have to take Mezzo and Macro practice together, which is not ideal. The curriculum focuses on strengths theory and applying theories and concepts to practice. The first semester is very basic, and you layer on your knowledge from there. You can especially notice this when it comes to interviewing. In the first semester, you learn basic skills, then in Micro practice you learn one-on-one interviewing, and finally in Mezzo and Macro practice you learn how to conduct yourself in group and community settings. All courses are interconnected, and the professors stay in very good contact with one another to make sure students receive a well-rounded education and are ready for practice when they graduate.” – Student at the Pittsburg State University
Tabor College* 400 S Jefferson Hillsboro, KS 67063-1799 (620) 947-3121 http://www.tabor.edu
University of Kansas* 1450 Jayhawk Blvd Lawrence, KS 66045 (785) 864-2700 https://www.ku.edu
Student Review: “The University of Kansas Social Welfare program was one of the best experiences I have ever had. During my freshman year I was very nervous and wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. I took one of my gen eds in social welfare and fell in love. The professors and teaching assistants did everything possible to help their students and wanted to get to know them personally instead of a normal teacher-student relationship. At the time online course were not the norm yet but a lot of the class information was online and that made it very easy to access power points for lectures as well as homework being assigned. I would recommend anyone to at least try this program and I promise you won’t be disappointed.” – Student at the University of Kansas
Washburn University* 1700 SW College Ave Topeka, KS 66621-0001 (785) 670-1010 http://www.washburn.edu
Wichita State University* 1845 N Fairmount Wichita, KS 67260-0124 (316) 978-3456 http://www.wichita.edu
References: 1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/ 2. Kiplinger’s Best College Values: https://www.kiplinger.com/tool/college/T014-S001-kiplinger-s-best-values-in-private-colleges/index.php?table=all 3. US News & World Report Social Work Best Grad Schools Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/social-work-rankings 4. Social Work Guide’s Top Online MSW Programs 2018: /degrees/masters/online/ 5. Council on Social Work Education: https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx
Best Social Work Degrees & Career Options
Top 10 Online Free Social Work Courses In The United States
These Top 10 Online Free Social Work Courses for majors and professionals cover a range of topics relevant to the social work profession. In years past, educators and professional organizations looked down on online social work courses.
In the early days of online education, it was hard to blame them. Some websites that offered free classes were not at all reputable. In other cases, websites provided only certificates of completion. These certificates are worth little to no value for social workers.
However, times have changed. Even well-known universities offer free classes online for social work. Colleges like Harvard and the University of Southern California offer many paid online classes for social work. These courses are taught by some of the leading social workers in the country.
Free Class e s Available Online for Social Work
But there are lots of free online courses for social work too. Some people just want to take a couple of free classes to see if they like social work. Others are social work professionals that need to fulfill continuing education credits. Either way, the courses listed below are excellent options for you to consider.
Some of the free classes on our list are for beginners. Others are for more advanced learners. Some of these online classes for social work require just a few hours of your time. Others are more time-intensive.
However, the common thread between these courses is that they are offered for free. This is not a list of all the free classes online for social work, but it gives you an excellent place to start. To help you further your search, we’ve ranked each class using a set of specific criteria:
Accessibility, learning level.
Basing our rankings on several criteria helps give you a more complete picture of each class. So, not only can you evaluate courses based on their overall score, but on their individual metrics as well.
In the next section, we’ll go over how this methodology was developed.
Ranking the Top 10 Free Class e s Available Online for Social Work
Taking free classes online for social work is a great idea. This is true whether you’re a student or a practicing social worker. One of the benefits of online free classes is that you can gain knowledge and skills at any time of day or night. Even if the free class isn’t for credit, you can use what you’ve learned to better your understanding of critical social work topics. This can be helpful to you in your for-credit courses.
Methodology to Determine the Best Free Classes Available Online for Social Work
The same can be said of social workers that need to brush up on their skills. Even if you’ve been practicing social work for decades, it never hurts to learn something new. Learning new skills can help you help your clients more effectively.
But not all free classes online for social work are made alike. Some aren’t worth your time at all. Others are worth their weight in gold! That’s where our rankings come in.
To help narrow down the field of online free classes for social work you might take, we use our three-part methodology to rank courses. Let’s review each of these criteria in detail.
Online free classes for social work should offer you the flexibility to learn when you have the time. As a student or as a working professional, you already have a lot on your plate. Taking the initiative to further your understanding of social work shouldn’t require you to adjust your already busy schedule.
Some free classes online for social work are completely self-paced. This means you have the flexibility to learn whenever you like. Others offer a more directed approach and might have set times to “meet” online with your teacher or work with your classmates.
This factor is scored as such:
- Highly flexible: 2 points
- Moderate flexibility: 1 point
- Low flexibility: 0 points
You might think that all online free classes for social work are highly accessible. This just isn’t the case. Some courses offer more accessible features than others.
For example, some free classes offer you downloadable assets so you can learn even if you are without an internet connection.
As another example, some online courses allow you to connect to the class on your computer, smartphone, or even your TV.
Furthermore, some courses offer more features and assets than others that make online learning an easier and more productive process.
- High accessibility: 3 points
- Moderate accessibility: 2 points
- Low accessibility: 1 point
The learning level of the online classes for social work is perhaps the most important feature. You need to take courses that meet you at your current skill level.
In our rankings, more advanced courses are ranked higher. This isn’t because lower-level courses don’t have value. Quite the opposite. However, advanced courses tend to be more in-depth on specific topics. This is in contrast to beginner courses that cover many different topics but not much in-depth.
Because of the increased rigor of advanced courses, we rank free classes according to the following scale:
- Advanced: 3 points
- Intermediate: 2 points
- Beginner: 1 point
- social justice
Again, this isn’t to say that beginner courses don’t have a lot of value. They do! But advanced courses offer the chance to learn more job-ready skills. They also allow you to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the content than an introductory course. For this reason, advanced courses get the most points.
#10: Restorative Justice and Practice: Emergence of a Social Movement
An important part of a social worker’s job is advocacy. This is often done for people that have had interactions with law enforcement.
This online social work course is from edX. It was created by the Victoria University of Wellington. The free class focuses on the restorative justice movement. Specifically, you’ll learn how these initiatives have been used to create better criminal justice systems.
Additional learning topics include:
- restorative justice began
- How restorative justice is used in educational systems
- restorative justice is used in welfare systems
You’ll also learn about restorative justice as a social movement, and how to provide child welfare services. This includes examining how it has spread worldwide and influences every part of society.
This is an introductory course. You can expect to work about two to five hours per week on class assignments.
Visit the course website .
Flexibility : Moderately flexible. This is an instructor-led course. However, it requires minimal work each week, which allows you some flexibility in terms of when you conduct your studies.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. This social work course is 100 percent online. You can easily access video transcripts of each lesson to further your learning as well.
Learning Level : Beginner
#9: Psychology 104: Social Psychology
This free course is from Study.com. It is a common core course for undergraduate studies in social work. This course offers a detailed overview of social psychology. This includes a detailed look at the major perspectives in social psychology. You’ll also learn about the seven themes of social psychology.
Other topics of study include:
- Research methods
- Ethical practice
- Attitudes and persuasion
- Prejudice and discrimination
Additionally, you can expect to learn about the relationship between your self-concept and society at large. In other words, you’ll be able to see how social norms and social comparisons influence how you perceive yourself.
This online class for social work includes ten chapters of study. There are 100 lessons, each of which is about eight minutes in length. Each lesson includes an exam to test your knowledge.
Flexibility : Highly flexible. This is a self-paced course. You can complete as many lessons in one sitting as you like. Or you can take as long as you like.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. You can begin exploring the course materials without enrolling in the class. All course materials are available online for easy access.
#8: An Introduction to Social Work
This beginner course for social work is from OpenLearn. Courses on OpenLearn are provided for free by The Open University.
This is a comprehensive course. It is designed specifically for students just beginning to learn about social work. You’ll explore critical topics that include:
- Social work theory
- Ethical social work practice
- Advocating against oppressive practices and policies
Additionally, you’ll learn basic ways to make social work practice more individualized. This includes self-reflection and evaluating the kinds of people that benefit from social work services.
You’ll also learn what it means to do reflective practice. Engaging in self-reflection allows you to better understand the process of using social work theories. It also assists you in becoming more self-aware.
This course requires about 15 hours of work to complete. The lessons are quite short. This makes it easier to quickly finish individual lessons.
Flexibility : Highly flexible. This is a completely self-paced course. Learn at your leisure or your availability to do so.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. You can access this course without enrolling. There are downloadable resources to help further your learning as well.
#7: Social Services for Families, Seniors and Those with Disabilities
This beginner course is offered by Columbia University. It is available on Coursera. Enrollment is free.
The free online social work class offers insights into the services provided for vulnerable populations. More specifically, you’ll look at the types of support services available to social work clients.
For example, you’ll learn about the process families must go through to become eligible for social welfare programs.
Additionally, you’ll explore topics related to:
- The need for child care and family leave for poor families
- The American Disabilities Act
- Social services programs for seniors, like Medicare
You will also have the chance to develop your own policy proposals. These proposals will address common problems for at-risk populations. For example, you might draft a proposal outlining how to offer free childcare for single working mothers.
This course requires about 15 hours of work. It is self-paced, so you can complete the required assignments as you wish.
Flexibility : Highly flexible. Learn at your own pace. You can set and reset deadlines as needed to fit your schedule.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. Upon enrollment, all course materials are available online. Learn any time of day or night, 365 days a year.
#6: Addiction Treatment: Clinical Skills for Healthcare Providers
Many social workers specialize in addiction treatment. This beginner course from Yale University will help you begin to prepare to be an addictions therapist.
The course begins with an explanation of how you can screen clients for substance abuse risk. Likewise, you’ll gain insights into diagnosing clients’ substance abuse disorders.
Other topics of study in this class include:
- manage treatment plans for clients with substance abuse disorders
- prevent substance abuse disorders from developing
- provide compassionate care to clients with substance abuse disorders
One of the interesting parts of this class is that you get to see model cases performed by actors. This helps you see substance abuse therapy play out.
This is a six-week course. Most students are able to finish it in about 14 hours of direct study time.
Upon finishing this online social work class, you can get a certificate of completion. A certificate requires you to pay a fee, though.
Flexibility : Highly flexible. This class allows you to work at your own pace. You can adjust the due dates in the class based on your schedule.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. This course is offered completely online. Upon enrollment, you have immediate access to the course so you can start learning right away.
#5: Child Protection: Children’s Rights in Theory and P r actice
This online social work course was developed by Harvard University and is offered for free on edX. It is a beginner course that focuses on the failures of child protection and the effects of those failures.
The class is taught by Jacqueline Bhabha, Research Director of the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights. Along with other Harvard faculty members and social work practitioners, she will present ideas to solve these systemic failures. Specifically, you’ll learn about:
- Child protection laws around the globe
- Strategies to prevent child abuse
- The emotional effects of child abuse
- Strategies for improving the child protection system
- community services
You will also examine the relationship between children and the needs of law enforcement. This includes children that are in conflict with the law. It also includes migrant children that might come in contact with law enforcement.
Most students can complete this course in about 16 weeks. You can take as much or as little time as you need, though.
Flexibility : Highly flexible. Learn at your own pace. The course requires between two to six hours of work each week. With short lessons, you can easily finish individual lessons in a few minutes’ time.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. All course materials are readily available online. The class is open as soon as you enroll. There are also transcripts of the video lessons to help you learn.
#4: Becoming a Critical Social Work Practitioner
This is an advanced course from OpenLearn. It is designed for people who already have social work experience. Students should have a desire to learn more about critical social work practice.
This course has three parts. Each part focuses on essential skills needed for critical care. This includes:
- Understanding critical practice
- Practicing constructive social work
- How to use language to develop social work relationships
Once you finish this course, you will have the knowledge needed to practice professional discretion in a social work relationship. Likewise, you’ll have improved skills that will help you deliver social work services in a timely and caring fashion.
This online social work course will also help you understand the complex relationships that exist in social work environments. This includes ties between the social worker and their client. It also includes influences of justice, care, and control.
There are 15 lessons in this course. There are also downloadable resources for your benefit.
Flexibility : Highly flexible. You can learn as slowly or as quickly as you want in this self-paced course.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. All course materials are easily available online without registering for an account.
Learning Level : Advanced
#3: The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness
This mixed-level course was developed by the University of Toronto. It’s available on Coursera. It is a great option for learners that are interested in the social factors of mental health.
The course begins with a brief history of mental health. This includes discussions on how mental health is defined and the causes of mental illness. From there, you’ll explore topics related to the following:
- The social context of diagnosis and treatment of mental illness
- How one’s culture influences mental health
- Family connections and how they can improve mental health recovery
Likewise, this course examines the social aspect of mental health. This includes a discussion of how to get communities to support improved mental health services for people of all ages.
This course requires about 16 hours of study time to complete. It’s broken into five units of study, each one week in length.
Flexibility : Highly flexible. This is a self-paced course. You can set and reset deadlines as needed throughout the class.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. This class is 100 percent online. You have immediate access to course files upon enrollment. You can view the course on a computer or other connected device.
Learning Level : Intermediate
#2: Social Work: Research
This advanced course was developed by the University of Michigan. It is offered by edX. Its focus is on conducting effective research in social work. Additionally, you’ll learn how to use evidence-based practice in providing services to clients.
There is a lot of research in the field of social work. Learning how to conduct research is critical. Learning how to be a good consumer of research is also important.
In this top free class for social work, you will learn how to:
- quantitative research methods
- qualitative research methods
- Use proper search procedures to find existing research
- provide community services
You will also learn how to apply current research to practice. This includes learning how to apply what research has found. It also includes how to better understand what research has not yet discovered.
This course is part of Michigan’s Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MicroMasters program. This program is available on edX. This individual course is free. However, edX’s MicroMasters requires you to pay a fee.
Flexibility : Highly flexible. Each lesson is relatively short. This enables you to complete lessons quickly if needed. The course is self-paced, so you can take as much time as you need.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. Once you enroll, you get immediate access to the class. In addition to text-based lessons, there are also video lessons. The video lessons include transcripts too.
#1: Social Welfare Policy and Services
This is an advanced course from the University of Michigan. The best online social work class is available on edX. This class is for practicing social workers that want to deepen their knowledge of social welfare policy.
This class is broken down into four areas of study:
- The philosophy of social welfare policy
- The history of social work
- Current social welfare policies in the U.S.
- Social work theory, trends, and debate
- Community services
The knowledge and skills you learn in this course are applicable to the major fields of social work service. This includes child welfare, mental health, and health care, among others.
The curriculum was devised by the University of Michigan. This course is part of Michigan’s Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MicroMasters program. The program is available on edX. This course is free. If you want to get the MicroMasters, there are fees involved.
Additionally, there is a certification available, but it requires a $199 fee.
Flexibility : Highly flexible. This course is self-paced. There is a lot to learn in the course. However, lessons are short and easily completed in one sitting.
Accessibility : Highly accessible. This course is available immediately upon enrollment. All course materials are available online. There are video transcripts to accompany each lesson as well.
Does online course certification have value?
Some online course certifications have more value than others.
For example, a completion certification has limited value. They are given to students for completing a course. It might help show your desire to learn more. But it does little more than that.
Completion certifications sometimes come with digital badges. You can add these badges to your LinkedIn profile or another professional page. Taking many different classes with certifications like this can show potential employers that you are a go-getter. But, as mentioned above, these completion certifications don’t offer many other benefits.
There are more valuable types of certification. This includes educational or professional certifications.
Some online free classes for social work offer certifications through a college or university. For example, many schools offer non-degree certifications for social workers. Florida State University is a good example. Their Department of Social Work offers three educational certifi c ations for undergraduate and graduate students.
These certifications are provided by the school itself. They are not given out by a professional organization. They can be valuable for helping prepare you for a future career in social work. Often, these certifications focus on a very specific topic.
For example, Florida State offers a Child Welfare Practice Certificate . This is a good option for someone that is interested in working with juveniles. Likewise, they also offer a certificate in Gerontology and Aging Studies. When selecting educational certificates like these, be sure they apply to the type of social work in which you are interested.
The highest form of social work certification is a professional certification. These certificates allow you to add credentials to your social work license.
For example, you might pursue a Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM) credential. This certification is from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). The NASW is the largest association of social workers in the United States. It is also the most respected organization of social workers.
Educational and professional certifications differ from completion certifications. The former are guided by strict rules. So, rather than simply completing a course, you must complete various steps to get the certification.
Below are the requirements to become a Certified Social Work Case Manager:
- You must have a bachelor’s degree in social work. The degree must be from a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education
- You must have at least three years (4,500 hours) of paid and supervised work experience. This experience must be after completion of a bachelor of social work degree. This experience must also be in an agency that provides case management services.
- You must have a current state license. Alternatively, you can have a passing score on the ASWB BSW-level exam.
- Also you must adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics. You must also abide by the NASW Standards for Continuing Professional Education.
So, you can see why this type of certification would be of greater value to you than a simple completion certificate. Professional certifications like this are extremely detailed and require a significant output of time to get.
What is the Best Major for Social Work?
If you want a career in social work, it is best to major in social work.
For undergraduate studies, this means getting a bachelor’s of social work, or BSW. A bachelor’s of social work will prepare you for entry-level careers. For example, with a BSW, you could be a substance abuse counselor.
A BSW is appropriate for entry-level jobs. This is because it is an introductory degree. Bachelor’s degrees typically include about 120 semester credit hours of study. Of those 120 credit hour courses, about half are general education. This includes classes like math and science. The other half are courses related to social work.
Because undergraduate studies an introduction to a field of study, the courses tend to be fairly broad. In other words, many of the social work courses you take will cover a lot of different topics. These topics will not be covered in much depth though.
For example, it is common for BSW students to take courses like:
- Introduction to Social Work
- Human Behavior
- Lifespan Development
- Cultural Diversity
The courses listed above are broad in nature. They help students develop a better understanding of social work in general terms. BSW degrees include some higher-level courses that go into greater depth as well.
For example, many BSW degrees require students to take courses on ethics. Courses on research and social work methods are usually required too. These courses are much more in depth than the introductory courses listed earlier.
But what if you want to expand your education and take courses that offer much greater depth of knowledge? In that case, a master’s of social work, or MSW, is a great option.
A master’s degree in social work offers you the chance to take much more focused courses. For example, in a typical MSW program, you might take courses in the following:
- Death and Dying
- Couples and Family Therapy
- Assessment and Diagnosis
- Social Work for Geriatric Populations
- Child welfare services
As you can see, these courses are narrower in scope. This allows master’s students to gain critical knowledge and skills that prepare them for practice as a social worker.
Usually, an MSW takes about two years to complete. This is done after you finish a bachelor’s degree.
It’s important to note that you can get an MSW without having a BSW first. Though it’s best to have a BSW, a degree in a related field like psychology is often fine for admission into most MSW programs.
If you want to take it a step further, you can pursue a doctoral degree in social work. Usually, students that get a doctoral degree do so to focus on research.
At the doctoral level, coursework is different from undergraduate and graduate studies. Instead of taking typical classes with other students and a professor, much of the time in a doctoral program is done conducting independent research.
There are two types of doctorates for social work. One, the Doctor of Social Work, or DSW, and two, a Ph.D. in social work.
In both cases, a large amount of time is required to finish. Usually, doctoral programs take about five years to complete. This is after spending four years in undergraduate studies and about two years in graduate school.
Though a doctorate does not lead to a higher level of licensure in social work, it has its advantages.
For example, if you want to conduct research, a doctorate is all but a must. Many colleges and universities also require faculty to have a doctorate in order to become a tenured professors.
Do I need a masters degree in social work?
You do not need a master’s degree in social work. As noted in the previous question and answer, you can find entry-level careers with a bachelor’s degree in social work.
The keyword here is “entry-level.” A master’s degree is needed for some social work jobs.
For example, you need a master’s degree if you want to specialize in working with a specific group. This includes providing counseling services to children in school. It also includes offering rehabilitation services to older adults.
Another example is working in the healthcare field. Generally speaking, healthcare social workers are required to have a master’s in social work.
A master’s degree is needed if you want to go into private practice as well. Private practice is when you provide counseling services to individuals. You are self-employed and your own boss. This means you have to bill clients and insurance. In many states, social workers must have a master’s degree if they want to be able to take insurance payments for services rendered.
A final situation in which a master’s degree is needed is to get certain credentials. For example, to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), you need a master’s degree (among many other requirements).
But, this does not mean you can’t find many different jobs with a BSW. Below is a list of some common social work jobs for bachelor’s-level workers.
Caseworker – The most common job for a social worker with a bachelor’s degree is caseworker. Caseworkers provide direct assistance to clients. This can take many forms. Caseworkers help clients get through conflicts. They provide advocacy services too. Caseworkers also help clients get information about services. For example, a caseworker might help a client get unemployment insurance or food stamps.
Social Science Research Assistant – With a bachelor’s degree in social work, you could find a job as a social science research assistant. These workers help social scientists conduct research. This includes interviewing subjects and conducting lab experiments. They also help review previous research on social science topics.
Medical Health Assistant – A medical health assistant helps provide care for patients. These patients may be mentally disabled. Or, they may be emotionally disturbed. Typically, this job involves assisting patients with activities of daily living. This includes things like brushing their teeth and getting dressed.
Residential Case Manager – This social work career involves managing patients in a facility. These facilities might include inpatient psychiatric wards or homeless shelters. It might also include group homes for troubled youth. Case managers work with individual patients to assess their needs. They also help patients establish and achieve goals. An example of a goal might be for a patient to learn how to cook for themselves.
Family Service Worker – This social work career focuses on helping families through tough times. Family service workers often provide educational services. For example, they might provide an abused spouse with resources that will help them leave the abusive relationship, such as temporary housing. As another example, they might offer a family resources after the death of a loved one.
Health Educator – Health educators work with people to improve their overall health. This includes developing programs to address health problems. For example, a health educator might create a program to help kids eat healthier. Additionally, these workers try to educate the public about health conditions. This might take the form of offering free classes for people to care for older adults with dementia. They also provide resources to people for managing health conditions, like diabetes.
What is professional development for social work?
Professional development is another term for education. It provides social workers with knowledge and skills that help them perform better in their career.
Social workers must stay informed about new topics. This is because they need to be able to provide the best services to their clients. Professional development helps them do just that.
By taking part in education, social workers can learn new skills. For example, a social worker might take a class on a new type of therapy technique. They can then use this therapy technique with their clients to help their clients overcome mental health issues.
As another example, you might take a class on a specific social work topic like death and dying. Doing so can help prepare you for working with older clients and their families.
Professional development is also important for understanding new laws. For example, a state might change the manner in which social workers are allowed to bill to insurance. Continuing education can help social workers stay on top of changes like this.
Another benefit of professional development is that it allows social workers to stay current on their credentials. Professional development is required to maintain a social work license.
Likewise, professional development can help you advance your career. For example, by learning new skills, you might be able to switch to a new position. Let’s say you are currently an addiction treatment specialist. Through education, you could learn skills needed to work specifically with children that have an addiction.
There are different types of professional development for social work. Some free classes online count towards continuing education requirements. Professional conferences often have free classes you can take to earn credits. You can also take courses from colleges or universities to meet part of the social work education requirements.
What are free social work webinars?
Free social work webinars are just one way that social workers can keep up to date on the latest research in their field. In some cases, social work webinars might count towards continuing education.
For example, you might listen to a podcast that discusses the best ways of working with kids with a mental disturbance. As another example, you might join a live webinar to hear a prominent social worker speak about current events in the field.
More Rankings of Interest:
- The 50 Best Online Accredited Social Work Degree Programs
- Best Resources for Preparing for the ASWB
- The 15 Best International Social Work Degree Programs
- 25 Best Online Human Services Degree Programs
- 25 Best Online LCSW Programs
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Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change
In this course, you will learn how social workers in the United States engage in creating change and supporting the resilience of individuals, families and communities in this new era.
- 12 hours worth of material, 4 weeks long
- 20th Mar, 2023
- Free Online Course (Audit)
Helping Families Avoid Negative Court Involvement Teach-Out
This course will teach learners how to understand when issues can become legal issues, encourage learners to recognize legal problems early, identify possible “legal soft spots” in their own situations, and act when issues are identified to avoid them es…
- 3-4 hours worth of material, 1 week long
Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups
Learn how to assess and design appropriate intervention strategies for individuals, families, and small groups.
- 8-10 hours a week, 8 weeks long
Social Work Practice in Community Organization, Management and Policy/Evaluation
Learn about macro social work and how to have large scale impact on entire communities and systems of care.
Learn the values, techniques, and themes social workers use to help others as well as strategies for addressing social justice challenges.
- 2-3 hours a week, 5 weeks long
Social Work: Research
Learn about the importance of an evidence-based approach in social work practice and how to conduct effective research.
- 3-4 hours a week, 8 weeks long
Diversity and Social Justice in Social Work
Increase your knowledge and critical thinking skills related to diversity, human rights and social justice and injustice.
Supporting and developing resilience in social work
What does it take to become a resilient practitioner in social work? This free course, Supporting and developing resilience in social work, will guide you through some important concepts. An ...
- 10 hours worth of material
- Free Certificate
Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research
Want to make a difference? Reach out, raise hope, and change society? This innovative MicroMasters program provides an advanced, professional sequence of courses in social work so you can gain the skills needed to empower individuals, families, communiti…
- 6-7 hours a week, 45 weeks long
Learn practice methods, advocacy skills and social justice frameworks to create positive social change.
- 3-5 hours a week, 16 weeks long
- Paid Course
Social Policy for Social Services & Health Practitioners
In the U.S., social policy accounts for two-thirds of government spending. Knowing how policies are constructed, what values underlie them, and how they succeed or fail makes everyone more effective at work or in their civic role. This specialization inc…
- 3 hours a week, 26 weeks long
An Introduction to Leading with Kindness and Compassion in Health and Social Care
Get to grips with how to lead with compassion and kindness within the health and social care sectors.
- 2 hours a week, 3 weeks long
Introduction to Social Work
This course is an introduction to the profession of social work and the human services delivery system. It examines the historical development of social work focusing on the knowledge, values, and skills that characterize the social worker. This course w…
- 4-6 hours a week, 6 weeks long
Social Care During COVID-19: Coping with Self-Isolation and Social Distancing
Explore and learn to manage the impact of self-isolation and social distancing on yourself and vulnerable social groups.
- 1 hour a week, 4 weeks long
Self Care and Wellbeing: A Practical Guide for Health and Social Care
Develop specialised and trauma-sensitive self-care practices to manage the stress related to health and social care environments.
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Continuing Education (CE)
NASW is committed to helping social workers meet their professional development needs. This has led us to create multiple professional development programs and products such as credentials, education and training courses, newsletters, employment information, resources, and publications.
NASW members can receive free CEs and CEs at discounted rates to fill their licensing or credentialing requirements when they participate in our professional development programs.
Social Work Online CE Institute
NASW offers hundreds of CE courses in a variety of formats — webinars, webcasts, podcasts, presentations, and more. All courses offered through this program are accredited by either the NASW National Office or one of NASW Chapters and NASW members receive discounted prices.
NASW accreditation does not imply automatic acceptance by all State Boards. Individuals should check with their licensing Board on whether a specific program will be accepted for continuing education purposes.
Confidently track your licensing renewal requirements with CE Tracker—the online tool that tells you exactly what you need to renew your license and tracks your progress along the way.
Learn more about CE Tracker and subscribe
NASW-Approved CE Courses
Save time and money by reviewing NASW’s list of approved CE vendors. Easily search seminars, conferences and workshops offered by our many partners.
CE Approval Program
NASW helps organizations promote CE programs that meet our rigorous criteria.
Learn about the CE Approval Program
Tips for Keeping Up with Current Practice Trends and Research
NASW provides members with the latest practice trends and research they need to stay current in the field and be the best at their job.
Learn how NASW can help you stay up to date
Advance your career through continuing education
NASW offers hundreds of quality courses to choose from through the CE Institute and our CE Tracker tool will keep you organized and up-to-date.
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Want to know which books social workers are reading?
NASW has an active community of social workers discussing a wide range of topics and issues on the MyNASW discussion forums.
Explore the books social workers are talking about
Earn CEs with NASW Press Publications
Now you can earn continuing education credits (CEs) for reading select NASW Press publications!
Learn how to earn CEs at NASW Press
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Learn social work
What is social work.
Social workers help to enhance the well-being of individuals and communities. The social work profession advocates for social and economic justice and works directly with communities, families, and individuals to empower them to overcome obstacles to their health, safety, and success. Social workers can devote their careers to addressing a variety of issues including homelessness, poverty, child welfare, mental health, addiction, veterans’ health, domestic violence, and much more. Their work shines the light on the needs of the most vulnerable communities, pushing those with power to create better systems that meet the needs of all individuals.
Browse online Social Work courses
Stand out in your field, learn at your own pace, earn a valuable credential, related topics, why learn social work.
Social work involves a combination of social welfare, social justice, and human services. Programs designed to raise living standards can be challenging for people to access. Social workers can make navigating those programs easier. Social workers typically learn about case management, public health challenges, and human behavior so they can provide the best solutions to the people they serve. By gaining a solid foundation of both technical and soft skills, you can join the ranks of individuals who are helping others live better lives.
Social work courses and certifications/curriculum
From foundational tutorials to advanced courses and degree programs, a variety of educational opportunities are available that can fit different learners’ needs. edX makes it easy to explore all available training and certificate options in social work.
To understand specific disciplines under the umbrella of social work, learners may pursue coursework in a variety of specialized topics including child protection, suicide prevention, conflict resolution, and economic development. Courses can cover the macro, mezzo and micro levels of social work. Due to licensing requirements, many professionals in the field earn bachelor’s degrees and move on to master’s programs to be able to perform their tasks.
Careers in social work
Social work can offer a rewarding career for anyone who wants to help others in need. Social workers strive to provide better standards of living for communities and individuals. They work in schools, hospitals, community centers, government, and businesses. Whether you have a calling to work on child welfare, substance misuse, mental health, or senior care, the field of social work offers many opportunities to make a positive impact on communities around the world. Explore how online social work courses can help you achieve your personal and professional goals and begin your learning journey today with edX.
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Online MSW Programs / Guide to Careers in Social Work / How to Become a Social Worker
How to Become a Social Worker
The social work profession is a dynamic career choice for those looking to promote healthy growth and change among vulnerable populations. Social workers are individuals who believe in human connection to empower others.
Whether you are interested in working with youth and family, veterans, elders, LGBTQ communities, individuals experiencing homelessness, individuals with mental health needs or refugees, the following guide will help you navigate the process to launch your social work career in a multitude of settings. Below are common steps to take in order to become a social worker.
Becoming a social worker in seven common steps:
- Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work or a Related Field
- Pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) or MSW-Equivalent Program
- Complete Fieldwork Hour Requirements
- Complete the ASWB Examination
- Apply for State Social Work Licensure
- Choose a Social Work Career
- Advance Your Practice Through Continued Learning
If you are not sure what a social worker is, what they do or how much they make, check out our Social Work FAQ at the bottom of this guide.
1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work or a Related Field
- Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Pathway: If you know right away that a social work profession is your end goal, you could pursue a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) in your undergraduate studies. Coursework for a BSW may include the following classes: Intro to Social Work, Social Work Practice, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Social Welfare Policy, which may help prepare you for a career in social work and pursue your Master of Social Work (MSW). One of the benefits of deciding early on to earn a social work degree is the ability to enroll in advanced standing programs for your master’s degree. These programs typically take a shorter amount of time to complete than a traditional standing program.
- Non-BSW Pathway: If you are not entirely sure that a social work career is the best option when you start your undergraduate studies, you are still able to pursue an MSW and work in the field without having a specific undergraduate degree in social work. It is not uncommon for students who do end up pursuing their MSW to have a different undergraduate degree. Sociology, psychology, political science, women’s and gender studies, human development, early childhood development, and peace and social justice are just some examples of potential undergraduate studies that will serve you well for the future pursuit of an MSW.
While any bachelor’s degree will create social work job opportunities, obtaining a financially stable social work career with flexibility and choice will require a master’s degree.
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2. Pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) or MSW-Equivalent Program
Earning a Master of Social Work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited program is typically necessary for licensure as a social worker. There are many MSW programs available online and on campus. Some of your best professional growth and learning could happen through your mentorship during your internship experience.
- Accredited MSW Programs: Whether or not you are pursuing a BSW or MSW, you will want to confirm that the program you choose is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). States typically require applicants to graduate from a program that has CSWE accreditation, if they wish to be licensed and practice as social workers. If you attend an accredited program, it means the program is following a set of standards representing best practice when it comes to providing students with an education in social work. It may also ensure that programs are offering a curriculum to students with a core set of social work competencies that will prepare you for actual practice after graduation.
Sponsored Online MSW Program
Earn your master of social work online from howard university.
The online Master of Social Work program from Howard University School of Social Work prepares students for advanced direct or macro practice in culturally diverse communities. Two concentrations available: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice. No GRE. Complete in as few as 12 months.
- Concentrations: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice
- Complete at least 777-1,000 hours of agency-based field education
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Sponsored Online Master’s in Social Work Degree Programs
- Traditional Standing Programs: Traditional MSW programs typically take two years to complete if you are enrolled full time. Students who did not earn a BSW but would like to pursue their Master of Social Work will apply to traditional standing programs.
- Advanced Standing Programs: Students who complete their bachelor’s degree in social work are able to apply to advanced standing programs . These programs typically take a shorter amount of time to complete. Coursework that was completed as part of a BSW program may prepare students with a social work foundation.
- Online MSW Programs: Some students are opting to pursue online MSW programs . Online programs may offer more flexibility to students who have other commitments that make it difficult to get to campus, have little to no access to transportation or who experience location barriers. Any master’s program will require time and energy, so it is important for students to explore all the options to determine what is realistic and practical for meeting their educational needs.
- On-Campus MSW Programs: Other students pursue on-campus MSW programs, which may offer some hybrid online options as well. For on-campus MSW programs, students are expected to participate in the same accredited coursework that can be found in an online MSW program. Classes are usually held at specified times throughout the year. Some on-campus MSW programs will offer on-campus internship experiences as well.
3. Complete Fieldwork Hour Requirements
Fieldwork, sometimes referred to as an internship or practicum, is the time when students can apply what they have learned in their courses to working with communities under supervision. This is the time to observe and learn from social workers currently in the field. Be sure you have an understanding of how field placements occur, and take the time to meet and/or complete an interview with your potential field mentor. Typically, MSW programs require students to complete at least 900 hours as part of their field experience, though some may require additional hours. It is vital to check whether these fieldwork hours meet your state board’s licensure requirements.
Making sure your placement site is a good fit may help to ensure a more meaningful and worthwhile experience. Similarly, if it is not going well, it’s okay to advocate for yourself to make sure your educational needs and experiences are being fulfilled.
You may discover during your fieldwork that you enjoy working with a population that you had not previously been interested in working with. Be open to stepping outside your comfort zone to optimize your growth and build a more diverse skill set!
- Traditional MSW Placement Hours: Traditional MSW programs may require 16–20 hours of field placement for about two days a week for the first year and three days a week during the second year. The “field” will be a site currently employing social workers. The specific time will vary depending on the program and site. It will be important to inquire about the structure of internships and the expected requirements. It is not uncommon for programs to require students to travel, so having reliable transportation may be expected.
- Advanced Standing Placement Hours: Similar to traditional MSW programs, advanced standing placement hours will vary depending on the program. You should expect to complete anywhere between 450 and 900 hours of field work to fulfill your degree requirements.
4. Complete the ASWB Examination
In order to become licensed as a social worker, most states require applicants to complete the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Social Work Licensing examination, along with any required jurisprudence examinations. Students may be required to obtain approval from their state’s social work board in order to register for the ASWB Examination. It is best to check with your state board for specific examination requirements.
There are different levels of social work examinations issued by the ASWB—Bachelor’s, Master’s, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical. For each one, there is a minimum educational requirement, and each exam consists of 170 multiple choice questions, with the difficulty and subject matter varying by level. The type of license you pursue essentially determines your scope of practice.
5. Apply for State Social Work Licensure
Obtaining licensure in social work is one more way to advance your learning, strengthen your expertise and demonstrate your credibility in the field. While not all social work roles require a license, positions that require you to work directly with individuals most often do.
Finding a place of work that will support your licensure application process—whether financially or by offering the necessary practice experience and clinical supervision—may be helpful for you. Obtaining direct service hours under the supervision of a licensed social worker is one of the main components of becoming licensed, as is passing the licensure examinations.
Individual state requirements will vary and are subject to change, including licensure standards, exam eligibility, and appropriate pathways, and may differ based on individual student backgrounds. Students should do their own due diligence and determine the appropriate pathway and license type for themselves.
Below are the key differences between LCSWs and LMSWs .
- Clinical Social Work Licensure: The clinical social worker license may be pursued if you are currently providing—or would like to provide—clinical services, often in the form of psychotherapy. This licensure may permit social workers to have an independent private practice if they so choose. Those who wish to do so should check with their state’s requirements.
- Master Social Work Licensure: This licensure is typically pursued if you are not interested in practicing clinically (i.e., diagnosing and treating patients using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) ). Those who work in macro-level practice may have this license. This license will not permit you to have a private practice.
6. Choose a Social Work Career
- Clinical Social Work: A career in clinical practice means you will have the ability to assess, diagnose and treat mental illness. It may also allow the opportunity to open your own private practice.
- Macro Social Work: While a minority of social work students seem to place their efforts on the macro social work track, it is incredibly important. The survival of the social work field relies on people who are working to create policy change to keep resources available and accessible for those who need them most.
- School Social Work: School-based social workers will have opportunities to interface with not only the students at the school but also their families, school faculty and staff, and community providers. School social workers will often find themselves on a multidisciplinary team working to address a variety of problems that students and schools face—addressing the growing intersection between mental health and education while working to improve student outcomes.
- Medical Social Work: Individuals who are interested in medical social work typically work in a medical setting (i.e., a clinic, hospital or community health center). All humans face health needs at some point in their lives. Because of this, medical social workers will be exposed to people across the entire developmental life span and on a wide range of life paths. Medical social workers may support patients and their families during times of immediate health crises, or they may see patients on a more consistent basis to help them navigate the complexities of the healthcare system.
7. Advance Your Practice Through Continued Learning
According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), social workers should pursue 48 hours of continuing education before each licensure renewal period. However, continuing education for licensure renewal is different by state and level of licensure. There are many different types of continuing education that social workers can pursue:
- Formally organized learning events: Staff development, workshops, courses, practice-oriented seminars, distance education and other training offered by accredited programs of social work education.
- Professional meetings or other organized learning experiences: Conferences, symposiums and panel discussions.
- Individual professional activities: Writing papers or books, presenting publications or research findings, reading professional journals/books, preparing for consultation, teaching or training assignments, and independent study, research or tutorials.
Sponsored Online Social Work Degrees
School of social work, master of social work (msw), washington, d.c..
Earn your Master of Social Work (MSW) online from the Howard University School of Social. Choose the Traditional MSW track, designed for students who are new to the field of social work; or the Advanced Standing MSW track, designed for students who hold a Bachelor of Social Work. Community, Administration and Policy (CAP) and Direct Practice concentrations are available.
Enrollment Type: Full-Time and Part-Time
Length of Program: As few as 12 months
Direct Practice, Community, Administration and Policy (CAP) Practice
- Three (3) letters of recommendation
- College transcripts
- A personal statement
- An application essay
For advanced standing applicants:
- Bachelor of Social Work from a CSWE-accredited institution, award within four years of first term start date
- Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all social work foundation and undergraduate coursework
University of Denver
Graduate school of social work, denver, colorado.
The Online MSW Program: [email protected] delivered by the University of Denver’s (DU) top-ranked school of social work offers a concentration in Menta l Health and Trauma, preparing students to work with diverse populations impacted by oppression. All classes are taught by DU faculty and are limited to approximately 15 students. As members of the University’s academic community, students work closely with faculty who have a range of community experiences and research interests, from social and economic justice to multicultural communities.
Credits: 54-81 graduate-level credits
Mental Health and Trauma, Health, Equity and Wellness
- Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution to be considered for admission
- Minimum undergraduate GPA is a cumulative 2.5 on a 4.0 scale or a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale for the last 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits (approximately two years of work) for the baccalaureate degree
- Official transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
- Career goals statement
Graduate school of social service, new york, new york.
[email protected] is the online Master of Social Work program from the top-ranked Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service . Designed for aspiring practitioners who want to help individuals and communities thrive, the program offers an integrated, future-focused curriculum with four inter-professional competency areas: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy.
Length of Program: As few as 16 months
Individual and Families, Organizations and Community Practice, Evaluation, Policy Practice and Advocacy
- Letter of recommendation
- Current resume
Simmons school of social work (ssw), boston, massachusetts.
Aspiring clinical social workers can earn their Master of Social Work degree online from Simmons University in as few as 12 months. The program prepares students to pursue employment in direct practice settings nationwide. Students may choose from two certificates: Trauma Practice or Mental Health Practice.
Enrollment Type: Accelerated
- Mental Health Practice Optional Certificate
- Trauma Practice Optional Certificate
- Recommendation forms
- Statement of professional and educational intent
University of Southern California
Usc suzanne dworak-peck school of social work, los angeles, california.
The [email protected], the online Master of Social Work from top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, is designed for aspiring social work leaders. Students gain clinical skills in virtual and in-person field education and will choose a department of study in either adult mental health, children and families, or social change.
Adult Mental Health and Wellness, Children, Youth and Families, Social Change and Innovation
- Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from a regionally accredited college or university
- Minimum of 18 units of interdisciplinary liberal arts coursework, spanning both social and biological sciences
- Minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (based on a 4.0 grading scale) for the full-time, 4-semester program. Prospective students with a cumulative undergraduate GPA below 2.8 will not be considered
- Experience in providing service to people preferred
- Statement of purpose
School of social work at falk college, syracuse, new york.
Syracuse University’s CSWE-accredited online Master of Social Work program is preparing the next generation of social work leaders through an emphasis on digital innovation and social justice. No GRE scores are required to apply, and the program offers Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks.
Length of Program: As few as 24 months
Advanced Integrated Practice, Advanced Clinical Practice
- Minimum 3.0 GPA is preferred
- Prerequisite coursework
Diana r. garland school of social work, waco, texas.
The Master of Social Work (MSW) online program from Baylor University is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, enabling aspiring social work professionals to serve and empower vulnerable populations worldwide. Students will learn the skills and theories necessary to make meaningful, informed change and be challenged to think about the ethical integration of faith and social work practice. The MSW online program can be completed in as few as 12 months. GRE scores are not required to apply.
Length of Program: 12-36 months
Clinical Practice, Community Practice
- Transcripts from all previously attended institutions
- Three recommendation forms
- Field evaluation – Advanced Standing applicants only
Case Western Reserve University
The jack, joseph and morton mandel school of applied social sciences, cleveland, ohio.
Lead lasting change in your community. With no GRE required, you can earn a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work online through Case Western Reserve University’s top-10 ranked school of social work 1 and prepare to pursue licensure. The online program curriculum offers three paths of study: Children, Youth and Families; Community Practice for Social Change; and Mental Health with Adults.
1 U.S. News and World Report, Case Western Reserve University’s Graduate School Rankings , ranked in 2022
Length of Program: As few as a year and a half
Children, Youth, and Families, Mental Health with Adults, Community Practice for Social Change
- A current resume/CV highlighting paid and volunteer work experience
- Three letters of recommendation
- A two-part essay
- Essay detailing your previous field education experience (requirement varies depending on your intended program track)
As mentioned above, social work licensure requirements vary by state. Official social work state licensing boards determine the requirements and regulations for social work licensure in each state. Because of these distinctions, it’s important that aspiring social workers pay careful attention to the requirements of the state in which they wish to practice —not necessarily the state in which they were born or educated. For more detailed information, visit the website of your state’s licensing board.
Individual state requirements will vary and are subject to change, including licensure standards, exam eligibility, and appropriate pathways, and may differ based on individual student backgrounds. Students should do their own due diligence and determine the appropriate pathway and license type for themselves.
The information below regarding state licensure requirements was collected from the state board websites in November 2021. Please be advised that laws, regulations and policies may change at any time, so always check with your state for the most up-to-date information.
How to Become a Social Worker in California
To be employed as a regular, macro-level social worker in California, you don’t need a license because there is no LMSW license in the state— there is only the LCSW . However, if you’re interested in clinical social work or psychotherapy, you need to obtain licensure.
Additionally, if you hold a Master of Social Work, you can choose to apply to become an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW) with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) . If you earned an MSW outside of California, you must obtain 18 hours of California law and professional ethics training through a BBS-recognized provider before registering as an ASW. If you earned an MSW in California, there are no additional requirements; the required ethics training hours are already built into accredited social work master’s programs in California.
With an ASW license, you can perform clinical social work under the supervision of a current licensed mental health professional. Registering to become an ASW is one step after graduating from an MSW program and one step before becoming an LCSW if you choose to follow that route.
Key differences like this can change the course of your education, certification and licensure process—so be sure to keep them top-of-mind as you set yourself on the path to becoming a social worker.
As you follow the steps above or those in our guide to becoming a licensed clinical social worker , keep in mind that these are only general steps—there are more requirements than just what’s listed above. And as you examine these requirements on a state-by-state basis, remember to research the details and differences.
How to Become a Social Worker in Texas
In general, prospective social workers must meet requirements in three major categories—education, work experience and examinations—before being eligible for practice. While the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners has its own requirements for licensure, it differs from California in that it offers both the LMSW and the LCSW, as well as a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) for those without a master’s degree. To become a practicing social worker in Texas, you must apply for a Texas license and meet all of the Texas-specific requirements, regardless of whether you hold a social work license in a different state or jurisdiction. In Texas, exceptions or endorsements are only made on a case-by-case basis.
Complete the Master of Social Work online program at Baylor University in as few as 12 months. Serve populations in Texas and around the world while ethically integrating faith and social work practice. No GRE required.
- Address injustice from a strengths-based perspective
- Ethically integrates faith and social work practice
- Serve as a trusted resource for clients, no matter their personal background
- Complete the MSW online program in as few as 12 months
How to Become a Social Worker in New York
In New York, the requirements for becoming an LMSW are clearly defined. According to the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions , the following requirements must be met to become a licensed social worker. The applicant must:
- Be of good moral character as determined by the department
- Be at least 21 years of age
- Meet educational requirements
- Meet examination requirements
- Complete coursework or training in the identification and reporting of child abuse offered by a New York state-approved provider.
While these do not differ from standard state-specific requirements, the final step does require New York-specific education, meaning a portion of your training must happen in New York state. In addition to meeting these qualifications, applicants must submit the required materials and documentation along with the required application fees. These fees are another factor that will differ by state.
How to Become a Social Worker in Florida
Similarly, to become a certified master social worker in Florida , you’ll need the following:
- An official transcript: A master’s degree in social work from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) -accredited school of social work and a transcript sent in an official sealed envelope from the university.
- Coursework: Three completed semester hours of graduate-level coursework in eight required content areas.
- Experience: Three years of experience in the field of social work, two of which must be at the post-master’s level, under the supervision of a certified master social worker or clinical social worker.
- A passing exam score: Applicants must pass the national Advanced Generalist level examination developed by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) .
In addition to the above requirements, candidates must submit fees with their application.
How to Pick a Degree and Career in Social Work
As you explore the different social work degree options available to you, it’s important to take into account your current level of education, along with what social work career path you may want to pursue.
For some, this might mean working in clinical social work, while others prefer a research or teaching position. Keep in mind that your chosen career path will have different requirements such as earning an advanced degree or obtaining licensure. The field of social work offers a variety of opportunities so you should take your time and explore the career options in depth.
To help you get started, explore the following in more detail below.
- Differences between micro, mezzo and macro social work
- Various MSW program concentrations
- Online degree programs vs. on-campus
- Admission requirements to consider
- Advanced degrees
Micro, Mezzo and Macro Social Work
While researching different social work degrees and licenses, you’ve likely come across the terms micro, mezzo, and macro social work . Here’s a definition of each one—and how they translate to different applications in the field:
- Micro social work: As the most common type of social work, micro-level social work involves direct interactions with clients—whether that’s working with individuals to help them find housing, health care, and access to other social services, or providing diagnosis and treatment for individuals facing mental health challenges or substance abuse. Micro-level social workers can practice in a wide range of settings, including individual homes, schools, nonprofit organizations, police departments, and military bases.
- Mezzo social work: While micro-level social work is practiced on the individual level, mezzo-level work zooms out slightly to focus on groups. The smallest form of group social work exists on the family level, but it can also extend out much further to entire organizations and communities. Prospective social workers interested in creating small-scale change—whether social, cultural, or institutional—may be particularly interested in mezzo-level social work as it allows them to engage with influential groups and group issues.
- Macro social work: Macro-level social work zooms out even more, involving intervention and advocacy on the largest scale—across communities, states, and even entire countries. Working well beyond the individual level, macro social workers intervene in large-scale systems and social issues. Macro social work can take a variety of forms, from proposing law and policy changes on the local, state, or federal level to organizing campaign and activism efforts across states, nations and the entire world.
For many aspiring social workers, one discipline stands out as a path of most interest. But as you begin to think about your own future in social work, keep in mind that it can be just as valuable to understand how these categories overlap and intersect as it is to know the major differences between them.
Social Work Concentrations
In MSW programs, you may have the option to choose a concentration. This helps narrow down your educational focus in what can be a very broad and diverse field. Some of the concentrations in online MSW Programs include the following:
- Individuals and Families: Learn how to provide direct clinical services to individuals and families to improve their mental health and well-being.
- Organizations and Community: Learn how to work with and provide services to entire communities and organizations of varying types—from private institutions to public companies and nonprofits.
- Policy Practice and Advocacy: Learn how to manage organizations and systems to create policies that advance social, economic and political change and how to advocate for mental health and well-being on a larger scale.
These are only a few concentrations across the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Depending on the specific social work program you choose, there may be a whole host of other concentrations to consider.
Online vs Non-Online Degrees
As you decide on a social work degree, there are many factors to consider. One question that students often find themselves asking is whether they should choose an online or an in-person program. Online social work degrees are ideal for people who require additional scheduling flexibility and are unable to relocate or commute to a physical classroom (due to a full-time job schedule, familial obligations, or other caretaking responsibilities). While online education can offer flexibility, it does require self-discipline and strong time management skills. For others, an on-campus education may be preferred. A more rigid class schedule can be beneficial to students who prefer a structured learning environment or simply find that they work better in a classroom setting. Ultimately, this is a personal decision—hinging first and foremost on your individual learning style and life circumstances.
GRE and GPA Requirements for Online MSW Programs
Every online MSW program has its own unique requirements regarding minimum applicant GPA and whether candidates are required to take (or receive a certain score on) the GRE. For the most part, the GRE will either be required or the GRE isnot required by a school. But in some cases, the GRE requirement can depend on your GPA—and whether you make a certain qualifying cut-off. In general, many online MSW programs have a standalone minimum GPA requirement . Some, by contrast, simply list a “preferred” or “expected” GPA, and others don’t have a requirement at all. GRE and GPA requirements are school-specific. And remember, the requirements don’t necessarily reflect the quality or competitiveness of the school—just their application priorities.
Advanced Social Work Degrees
Advanced social work degrees—whether a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) or a Ph.D. in Social Work —are terminal degrees that denote the highest level of education and expertise in the field. DSW and Ph.D. in Social Work degrees are both post-master’s degrees, and can lead to a range of prestigious, specialized professions in the field. While DSW degrees are more clinically focused , usually leading to a career in social work administration or clinical social work, a Ph.D. in Social Work typically leads to a position in research or higher education (though it can translate to a clinical setting as well). Specific admissions requirements will vary by university program, but generally, advanced social work degrees require the completion of a master’s-level program as well as a certain amount of professional social work experience.
Highest-Paying Social Work Jobs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , the median annual wage for social workers in May 2020 was $51,760, with the highest 10% earning more than $85,820.
These are the median annual wages for social workers in 2020, categorized by social work specialization:
- Healthcare social workers: $57,630
- Child, family and school social workers: $48,430
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $48,720
- Social workers, all other: $64,210
Similarly, these are the median annual wages for social workers in 2020 categorized by industry:
- Local government, excluding education and hospitals: $57,660
- Ambulatory healthcare services: $52,850
- State government, excluding education and hospitals: $49,860
- Individual and family services: $43,820
Of course, your social worker salary will depend on a number of factors—including experience, level, location and individual performance. All the same, this information can help you get a sense of industry-wide trends. Learn more in our FAQ guide on the highest paying social work jobs .
Traits of Successful Social Workers
Successful social workers are strong communicators and very empathetic. They understand the importance of active listening, especially with patients who are experiencing stress or the effects of recent trauma. Other important traits include time-management and organization skills, discretion, and information management.
Resources for Social Workers
To aid your success in social work, we’ve gathered some resources for social workers that may be useful. You’ll find everything from state licensing boards to social work organizations and associations. We’ve also included social work blogs, occupational information and helpful guides for students currently enrolled in an MSW program.
Social Worker FAQ
What is social work.
Social work is a career path rooted in social justice, ideal for professionals interested in improving—and empowering—communities and organizations on the individual or group levels. Social workers are helpers, aiding those in crisis or those facing family, relationship or occupational challenges.
Social workers help individuals examine issues related to mental health and well-being, pinpointing external or environmental factors that may be contributing to particular problems—such as the individual’s home and community or larger societal influences.
For more information on what social work is—and the impact that social work practice can have—check out our new guide to social work or the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) .
What does a social worker do?
A social worker’s day-to-day activities vary depending on who they work with, where they work and their specialty. For example, a licensed clinical social worker may work at a hospital and help individuals or groups work through emotional, mental or behavioral issues.
After assessing an individual’s or a group’s needs, social workers develop treatment plans including counseling, interventions or role playing. It is an iterative process: The social worker will determine the efficacy of treatment and make adjustments.
Social workers help a variety of people. Some social workers specialize with particular groups such as victims of domestic violence, children, the eldelry and people with substance abuse problems. Be sure to check out our guide to different types of social work .
How long does it take to become a social worker?
The time it takes to become a social worker depends on an individual’s educational commitment, i.e., the type of social work degree pursued. Entry level social workers typically hold a bachelor’s degree in social work, which takes about four years to complete. Experienced social workers typically earn a master’s or doctoral degree in social work. A traditional or advanced standing Master of Social Work program can take as little as one and a half years to complete full time or two and a half years part time.
What should I know about social work credentials?
Social work licensing varies depending on the state and the individual’s area of interest or expertise. For example, some states such as New York, Texas and Florida may have licensure requirements for master social workers while others—such as California—only require licensure for clinical social work.
How much do social workers make?
Salaries for social workers vary depending on where they work and their specialty. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers earned a median salary of $51,760 per year as of May 2020. The top 10% earned over $85,820, and the bottom 10% earned less than $33,020.
What is the Job Outlook for Social Workers?
Social workers are in demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of social workers will grow 12% by 2030 as of May 2020, which is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. The BLS projects there will also be over 89,000 new social workers in the workforce by 2030.
Can I volunteer as a social worker?
Yes! If you’re interested in volunteering opportunities related to social work, you can look into local social work clinics or get more information about opportunities through resources like VolunteerMatch . By volunteering as a social worker, you may be able to help others while gaining industry exposure and beneficial knowledge. In addition, if you’re interested in learning more about social work before committing to a degree or career change, volunteering can be an appealing option.
Is a master’s degree in social work worth it?
There is no short answer to the question of whether an MSW is worth it , and while it’s ultimately up to you and your career goals, you may want to consider the following pros and cons.
An MSW may lead to greater career options, is often required for licensure and may lead to a higher earning potential. However, graduate degrees are also associated with increased student debt and usually require at least one to two years of study. In the long run, an MSW has the potential to boost your job outlook and earning potential while allowing you to work more closely with individuals on the clinical level.
Can I start a career in social work even if I’m older?
Absolutely. The median age of a social worker in the United States is 42 years old . In fact, social workers enter the field at all different ages, according to a Profile of the Social Work Workforce report . The same report detailed the top 20 degrees held by social workers in the United States in 2017, illustrating how a background in psychology, sociology, criminal justice, foreign languages, nursing, human services and other fields can lead to a career in social work. In sum, it’s never too late to start a career in social work.
Last updated: January 2022
Social Work Degrees in Kansas
A social work degree prepares graduates for a career in helping people. Social work as a discipline focuses on understanding and compassion for people from all walks of life. Social work professionals work to improve the lives of others and to handle societal problems such as drug addiction, homelessness, and poverty. Social workers in Kansas encounter patients who struggle with crime and criminal incarceration, juvenile delinquency and justice, mental illness, family instability, and unemployment. Social work in Kansas is a growing field with new jobs created every day. For example, starting in January of 2018, the KCPD has begun hiring social workers to become part of each of their patrol divisions -- social workers will soon be expected to assist officers on calls and determine the needs of those interacting with the police.
Attending a social work school in Kansas is flexible and can be put toward any number of career paths, including child, family, and school counseling; medical, mental health, and substance abuse; military support; and community outreach
Attending a social work school in Kansas is flexible and can be put toward any number of career paths, including child, family, and school counseling; medical, mental health, and substance abuse; military support; and community outreach. Possible career paths vary based on the area of interest and the level of degree attained. Graduates with associate degrees often work in counseling and case management positions, while those who have earned a bachelor’s or master’s can work in more specialized roles such as court liaison or human services.
Social Work Programs for You
There is a significant difference between non-clinical and clinical social workers. Non-clinical professionals can practice social work with only a bachelor’s degree, though many obtain a master’s or doctorate for additional career opportunities and experience. Clinical social workers must have earned at least a master’s degree and licensure by the National Association of Social Workers to provide clinical services, such as psychotherapy and counseling.
How to Become a Social Worker in Kansas
Social workers in Kansas practice at many levels, from entry-level to mental health clinical work. Social workers must have at least a bachelor's degree to become employed in Kansas. When selecting a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate program, it is important to choose a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education in addition to the school's regional accreditation. Social work coursework includes classes such as human behavior, social welfare policy, and the social environment. Graduates who attend a bachelor’s in social work program in Kansas need to apply to become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker. Master’s in social work programs provide more areas of specialization in the field, and open the door to work as a licensed clinical social worker.
Aspiring social workers in bachelor's and master's programs are encouraged to attend specialized practicums in their area of interest. These practicums can appear on your resume as related job experience or skills. Active social workers in Kansas must continue to expand their education by attending classes and lectures annually. They can also obtain various certifications to further specialize their career path. Finally, before becoming eligible to practice social work, they must also pass a state-sponsored licensing exam.
Those interested in becoming a specialized clinical social worker must obtain a master’s in social work in addition to completing at least 4,000 hours of clinical experience within two years. These clinical hours must be completed under the supervision of a licensed social worker.
Types of Social Work Degrees in Kansas
Like in most fields, career opportunities in social work vary depending on the level of education obtained. The higher level of degree earned, the better your career prospects become.
Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in social work in four years, and some online programs take even less time. Most full-time students are able to earn their master’s in social work within two years. Students looking to earn a doctorate in social work can choose between a Ph.D. program or a doctorate in social work (DSW). A Ph.D. program focuses on a theoretical approach to social work, preparing graduates for work in academia. A DSW is more practical in focus; this degree is better for those looking to continue active social work post-graduation.
Finding a Social Work Program in Kansas
Selecting the right social work program can be challenging. It is often difficult to determine what is important when selecting a program and what to look for before enrolling. In Kansas, all social workers must have earned their degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education; there are nine such social work programs in Kansas. Only one of these schools has an associate-level program, while eight offer bachelor’s degrees and five offer programs at the master’s level. Students opting to earn their social work degree online have the benefit of flexibility in scheduling and location. Many online programs are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace.
Programs lengths can vary depending on the level of degree. Most BSW programs can be completed in four years, though online students may pursue accelerated degree options. Alternatively, master’s programs often only take two years. Many social work programs in Kansas offer various specializations. If there is a particular area of social work that you are interested in, you may want to choose a school that offers that specialization.
Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Kansas?
Currently, there are no online social work programs in Kansas, though there are hybrid options for students looking to enroll in both online and on-campus classes. Those looking to earn a degree in social work fully online can apply to schools with online programs in other states. Often, online programs are offered at in-state tuition rates to out-of-state distance learners. Additionally, the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP) is the largest tuition reciprocity program in the U.S. and includes schools in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, and North Dakota.
Online programs offer an increased level of flexibility, affordability, and customization, but they also require a higher level of self-motivation and teaching. Unlike traditional classes, online students must be motivated to complete their readings, homework, and testing on their own time. Many online programs also offer tutoring and academic counseling to distance learners. Online programs are becoming more common and as a result, online degrees are beginning to hold the same level of prestige as campus-earned degrees.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Kansas?
There are several factors that can impact program duration. A bachelor's degree in social work can be completed in four years. Online programs often offer asynchronous, accelerated programs that can be completed in as little as three years. Synchronous and hybrid programs require login and meeting times for activities such as lectures and student discussions. These programs are usually completed in the same amount of time as a traditional, on-campus degrees. Many schools also give students the option to enroll part-time and complete their degree in as many as six years.
Bachelor’s degrees typically can be completed in four years and consist of an average 120 credits divided between social sciences, psychology, and general education courses. Master’s in social work programs take an average of two years to complete and involve more specialized classes on the theory of social work and a student's desired area of specialization. Doctorate programs take an average of four years to complete, regardless of whether the program is a Ph.D. or a DSW. Students seeking a DSW will take classes preparing for a career in a clinical setting, while those seeking a Ph.D. will focus more on research practices.
How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Kansas?
The cost of becoming a social worker in Kansas varies depending on your desired level of education, where you attend school, licensure, potential certifications, and continuing education opportunities. The average four-year social work bachelor’s degree in Kansas costs $24,116. A typical two-year master’s program costs $13,800 at public universities and an average of $36,000 at private institutions. The cost of doctoral degrees in social work vary greatly depending on institution and the area of specialization. Earning an online social work degree is an effective way to reduce the cost of earning your degree, as online programs are often associated with lower tuition costs.
Examinations and licensing are additional costs that must be factored into the cost of any social work degree. For example, to enter a master’s program, applicants must first take the GRE at a cost of $50 in most states. In Kansas, obtaining a LBSW license costs $100 while the LMSW and LSCSW both cost $150 and must be renewed every two years.
Baccalaureate and higher levels of licensure can cost as much $230, and the clinical examination up to $260. It is also important to continue taking classes that pertain to your career in social work. Some employers will pay for their employees to undergo yearly trainings, but if not, it is the individual’s responsibility to seek out and fund these education opportunities. Continued education is crucial for social workers to remain marketable and up-to-date on developments in this constantly evolving field.
Directory of Social Work Programs in Kansas
Schools collapse all expand all, types of social work licenses in kansas.
All states require social workers to obtain official, state-sanctioned licensing to practice social work. Kansas requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree prior to becoming licensed. Earning an associate degree will not qualify you for a career in social work, though you may apply associate-level credits toward a bachelor’s in social work program. Clinical social workers must have earned an MSW to work in clinical settings. After completing a clinical social work master’s program, graduates must complete at least 4,000 supervised clinical hours. These hours are overseen by practicing clinical social workers.
There are three licenses a social worker In Kansas may apply for at the bachelor's, master's, and doctorate levels.
There are three licenses a social worker In Kansas may apply for at the bachelor's, master's, and doctorate levels. Licensed Bachelor Social Work (LBSW) candidates must have earned credits in a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited institution. The application process includes the submission of official transcripts and at least three professional references currently employed as social workers. Candidates may apply for licensure within four months of graduation. The final step is to pass the Association of Social Work Board’s (ASWB) bachelor-level exam.
Becoming a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) follows the same process but with a master’s-level ASWB examination. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) must follow the same licensure requirements as above, but must also obtain at least 4,000 hours of social work experience . Social work licenses must be renewed once every two years. To renew a license, you must have completed at least 40 hours of continuing education coursework within the past two years, including three hours of ethics classes.
Social workers in Kansas may also obtain certifications in their area of interest to specialize their career path. A certification is different from a license because it is a voluntary process, whereas licensure is required by the state to verify that you are qualified to work in the field. Below are a few credentials that are offered by the NASW.
Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
Licensed master social worker (lmsw), licensed specialist clinical social worker (lscsw), advanced practice specialty credentials, certified social work case manager (c-swcm), certified advanced children, youth, and family social worker (c-acyfsw), certified clinical alcohol, tobacco, & other drugs social worker (c-catodsw), clinical social worker in gerontology (csw-g), certified school social work specialist (c-ssws), advanced certified hospice and palliative social worker (achp-sw), career and salary outlook for social work degree graduates.
Graduates with a degree in social work are prepared for careers in a number of fields from clinical work to community services management. Career options and specializations vary depending on the level of education obtained. Many careers are available to graduates with an LBSW, but those with at least a master’s degree are able to pursue a wider variety of professions. All social workers share a common goal of connecting with people and providing solutions to problems ranging from poverty to mental illness.
Health Educator/Community Healthcare Worker
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There are a wide variety of scholarships available for social work students in Kansas. While scholarships are frequently offered at the national level, there are many scholarships that are offered specifically for Kansas residents. Scholarships may also be awarded to students attending school in a specific state or region. Below are a few scholarships that are ideal for social work students in Kansas.
Social Work Scholarships Collapse All Expand All
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- National Association of Social Workers Founded in 1955, this association gives social workers the opportunity to interact with a group of like-minded individuals. Members have access to social work forums and publications in addition to receiving discounted tuition to training seminars and conferences.
- Clinical Social Work Association The CSWA works to keep clinical social workers up-to-date through media coverage and newsletters. Members are offered social services and professional support via conferences and networking events. This association is also involved in policy-making efforts that advocate for the best clinical practices in social work.
- Society for Social Work and Research The SSWR is a nonprofit group that provides support to social work students and professionals. This society advocates for continued academic research in the field. Members have access to workshops and seminars throughout the year in addition to networking opportunities.
- School Social Work Association of America The SSWAA advocates for students’ emotional, social, and academic growth. All members receive professional liability insurance worth $250,000 from Forrest T. Jones & Company. Members also receive discounts on professional newsletters, webinars, and periodicals.
- American Clinical Social Work Association The ACSWA is an online resource that helps social work professionals connect with each other. The association provides members with the latest research, trends, and best practices for clinical social work. Students may also be eligible for clinical scholarships. Members may take part in online discussions and access legal publications and blogs.
Bachelor of social work.
Requirements for program admission include a 2.000 overall GPA, completion of premajor and prerequisite courses, and satisfactory completion of a noncredit BSW Program/Practicum Orientation session. Students who receive a grade lower than C (2.000) in a required social work course must repeat that course and earn a C (2.000) or above. Provisional admissions may be granted before final grades are received, but enrollment in required upper-division social work courses is dependent upon meeting these admission standards.
A minimum total of 120 credit hours is required for the Bachelor of Social Work and majors must complete 45 credit hours of required social work courses. Students must be formally admitted to the major in order to take 400-level classes. BSW students are required to take two major course selections, one suggested in the fall semester of the junior year, and one in the spring semester of their senior year. In addition to meeting the requirements of the WSU General Education Program and the requirements of the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, students in the Bachelor of Social Work must take the following courses:
Required Courses (in their suggested semester):
Note: SCWK 201 is offered each semester. All other social work classes are offered only in the semester indicated on this guide.
Placement into practicum requires attendance at a noncredit BSW program/practicum orientation session, submission of a practicum inventory form and resume by December 1 of the year prior to entering practicum. A practicum placement interview will need to be scheduled after the December 1 deadline.
Students in the Bachelor of Social Work program are required to complete an applied learning or research experience to graduate from the program. The requirement can be met by completing a practicum experience in SCWK 402 and SCWK 404 . These classes have an on-campus seminar that reflects on experiences in the 480 hours combined of required supervised placement in a social service agency in the Wichita Community, or student's own community if possible. Each student must meet with a field instructor at the agency for supervision and attend a university class with a field liaison that provides the reflective feedback for the educational tie to the Council of Social Work Education's — Education Policy and Accreditation Standards.
In summary, here are 10 of our most popular social work courses · Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change: University of Michigan
Students earning a master's degree in social work typically take courses related to social welfare policy, human behavior and the social
Schools with Social Work Programs Accredited by the CSWE · Bethel College · Fort Hays State University · Kansas State University · Newman University
This online social work course is from edX. It was created by the Victoria University of Wellington. The free class focuses on the restorative justice movement.
Social Work Courses · Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change · Helping Families Avoid Negative Court Involvement Teach-Out · Social Work
NASW is committed to helping social workers meet their professional development needs. This has led us to create multiple professional development programs
From responding to mental health crises to protecting child welfare, social workers play critical roles in helping people and families
Coursework for a BSW may include the following classes: Intro to Social Work, Social Work Practice, Human Behavior and the Social Environment, and Social
Programs lengths can vary depending on the level of degree. Most BSW programs can be completed in four years, though online students may pursue
Requirements for program admission include a 2.000 overall GPA, completion of premajor and prerequisite courses, and satisfactory completion of a noncredit BSW