To work as a social worker, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent;
- have at least a bachelor's degree in social work; and
- have a license.
Education after high school
You must have at least a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW) to work in this field. Clinical social workers need a master's degree in social work (MSW). Colleges and universities offer programs in social work. If you are going to get a master's degree, your bachelor's degree does not need to be in social work. Common majors are psychology, sociology, and social anthropology.
Master's degree programs take two years to complete after your bachelor's degree. These programs prepare you to choose a field of practice, such as child welfare or school social work. You should take classes that develop your skills in clinical assessments, caseload management, and counseling. These programs require that you complete a practicum or internship.
You need a doctorate (PhD) in social work or a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) to teach at the college level.
Part-time or volunteer work at a social service agency is good background for this occupation.
Employers often provide training to new social workers. You learn agency procedures, forms, and case management. You often work with an experienced social worker for a period of time before receiving your own caseload. Training generally lasts up to three months.
You should consider participating in an internship while you are in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.
Some branches of the military train people to be social workers. You must have at least a bachelor's degree to enter this military occupation. A master's degree may be required. Training lasts 16 to 24 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job and through advanced courses.