How Do I Earn an MSW License?
If you want to work in a career helping people or contributing to the health of a community, you might want to pursue a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. The requirement for becoming a state licensed MSW varies, depending on the area of social work in which you specialize as well as on individual state regulations. Read on to learn more about how you can become a licensed MSW. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
MSW Licensing Requirements Overview
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers need to be licensed, certified or registered in order to work; however, the regulations concerning licensing and the names of credentials conferred vary quite a bit from state to state (www.bls.gov). In general, if you're applying to become licensed as an advanced or clinical social worker, you must have a master's degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Most states also require that you take a national examination administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) in addition to a state jurisprudence exam.
Master of Social Work Degree
You can expect to complete a social work master's degree program in 2-3 years of graduate study. Your education will likely include a minimum of 900 hours of supervised field instruction, which usually occurs after you graduate with your MSW. In the second year of your education, you'll likely focus your studies on a particular field of social work, such as mental health, families and children, or community development. Depending on your area of specialization and state regulations, you might need to earn additional hours of supervised experience before you can qualify for licensing.
While a bachelor's degree in social work is preferred, it is possible for you to qualify for a Master of Social Work degree program even if you completed a bachelor's degree in an unrelated area. As long as you have completed prerequisite coursework in areas such as sociology, economics, biology, statistics and social work - you could qualify for an MSW degree program. Some schools may also require that you've completed a certain number of hours as a volunteer or social work assistant in order to qualify for entry.
Maintaining Licensing and Certification Options
In order to maintain your status as a licensed advanced social worker or licensed clinical social worker you may have to complete a certain number of hours in continuing education courses within a certain time period. Most states require you to do so every two years. Once licensed, you might also wish to pursue optional professional certification through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). With a master's degree in social work and professional experience, you may be eligible for their Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW) or the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) credential.
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