A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is the most common requirement for entry-level positions. However, some employers may hire workers who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology. BSW programs prepare students for direct-service positions such as caseworker or mental health assistant. These programs teach students about diverse populations, human behaviour, and social welfare policy. All programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship. Some positions, including those in schools and in healthcare, frequently require a master’s degree in social work (MSW). All clinical social workers must have an MSW.
MSWs generally take two years to complete. Some programs allow those with a BSW to earn their MSW in one year. MSW programs prepare students for work in their chosen specialty and develop the skills to do clinical assessments, manage a large number of clients, and take on supervisory duties. All programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship.
A BSW is not required to enter MSW programs. In fact, a degree in almost any major is acceptable. However, coursework in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science are recommended.
Licensure varies by jurisdiction. All regions have some type of licensure or certification requirement. All require clinical social workers to be licensed. However, some regions provide exemptions for clinical social workers who work in government agencies.
Becoming a licensed clinical social worker usually requires a master’s degree in social work and two years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience after graduation. After completing their supervised experience, clinical social workers must pass an exam to be licensed.
Although most jurisdictions also have licenses for nonclinical social workers, these licenses are often optional.