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how do I get into social work?

If I wanted to become a social worker, where should I start?

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Sonja’s Answer

Great question! You can start by getting a bachelors degree in virtually any of the social science subjects-economics, sociology, psychology, family studies, etc. just be sure to double check course requirements for the grad school that you are looking to attend. Some schools also offer the option to get a bachelors in social work (BSW) which could enable you to finish grad school in as little as one year instead of two (if you’re a full-time student).

Once you obtain your bachelors degree, you must obtain your master’s in social work to be recognized by the state as a social worker. BSW graduates are also recognized as social workers, however, you must have a masters to become fully licensed.

A full-time graduate program is about 2 years if you’re full-time; 3 to 4 years, if you’re part time. Licensure can vary from state to state, but typically after completing your masters, you take a state board exam to get your LMSW (licensed master social worker) credential, then after about two years of supervision and full-time employment, under a fully licensed social worker you take another exam for your LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) credential.

Once you obtain your LCSW, you are considered independently licensed. Not all social workers choose to obtain their LCSW credential & some even stop at the MSW degree or LMSW. You can still be successful either way. It just depends on what you’d like to do. Typically the pay is better and it’s far easier to get a job as an LCSW. Hope this was helpful!
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Sonja for the advice. Joseph
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Barbara’s Answer

I totally agree with Sonja J's response. I'm from California and live in North Carolina, and the process is consistant.

I would add that a social work degree is extremely flexible and what you want to do as a social worker may influence whether you'll need a BSW or an MSW to get where you want to go. There are social workers in all areas, such as advocacy agencies (Child Protective Services, for example), addiction treatment, housing, politics, think tanks, schools, hospitals, mental health, case management, and rural development, to name a very small sampling.

Good luck!

Barbara recommends the following next steps:

Social Workers are notoriously helpers. Ask one if you can shadow them or meet with them at work to get more details.
Interesting general info site: https://www.socialworkdegreeguide.com/lists/5-things-social-workers-wish-they-knew-before-joining-the-field/
Thank you comment icon Thank you for giving me advice. Joseph
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Fred’s Answer

I am not a social worker, but a quick google search shows that in at least some places, you'd need an undergraduate degree in social work. I can't testify to the validity of this site, but it's probably a good place to start:
https://www.socialworkers.org/Careers/Career-Center/Explore-Social-Work/Types-of-Social-Work-Degrees#:~:text=To%20be%20a%20social%20worker,or%20PhD%20in%20Social%20Work.
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Brendan’s Answer

Social workers are needed in all different facets of society. They are needed with the elderly, with children with learning disabilities or broken homes, and also people going through difficult medical diagnoses.

Both Sonja and Barbara helped with the educational aspect of it, but you'll need to also decide an area of focus in your studies. Volunteer with a foster organization to see if you want help children. Volunteer with a retirement home or hospice to see if you'd like to help the elderly. There are so many volunteer opportunities available (and volunteers are so needed!) and see what resonates most with you.

Social workers are typically people who are driven to help improve society and people's lives, and also have an enormous amount of empathy.

Best of luck to you. I hope you pursue it. The world needs more social workers.
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