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66k 66k
3.8% 3.8%
3.3/5 3.3/5
Bachelors Bachelors

Social Worker Education Requirements

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.

Education History of Social Workers

The most common degree held by social workers is Psychology. 12 percent of social workers had a degree in psychology before becoming social workers. That is over 2 times the average across all careers. Social Work graduates are the second most common among social workers, representing 9 percent of social workers in the Sokanu user base, which is 28.1 times the average.

Social Worker Education History

This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Social Worker, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.

Degree % of social workers % of population Multiple
Psychology 11.8% 4.8% 2.5×
Social Work 8.9% 0.3% 28.1×
Sociology 3.9% 1.4% 2.7×
English Literature 2.2% 3.6% 0.6×
Political Science 2.2% 2.2% 1.0×
Criminal Justice 2.1% 0.8% 2.6×
Social Sciences 1.9% 0.3% 6.2×
Anthropology And Archeology 1.8% 0.9% 2.0×
Business Management And Administration 1.7% 4.9% 0.3×
Philosophy And Religious Studies 1.7% 1.1% 1.5×
Theology And Religious Vocations 1.4% 0.3% 5.1×
Counseling Psychology 1.3% 0.3% 4.4×

How to Become a Social Worker

Think you might be interested in becoming a Social Worker? Here are your next steps.

  1. Take the Sokanu Career Test

    Would you make a good social worker? Sokanu's free assessment reveals how compatible you are with a career across 5 dimensions!

    Take the free career test
  2. Get the Education
    USC Social Work

    • Delaware Technical Community College-Terry | Dover, DE
      Offers: Associates
    • Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/Wilmington | Wilmington, DE
      Offers: Certificate, Associates
    • Delaware State University | Dover, DE
      Offers: Bachelors
    • University of Delaware | Newark, DE
      Offers: Bachelors
    • Goldey-Beacom College | Wilmington, DE
      Offers: Bachelors
  3. Get Hired
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Further Reading

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Recommended Books

  • Social Work: An Introduction www.amazon.com

    In this book, Joyce Lishman, Chris Yuill and Jill Brannan provide an essential introduction to the core knowledge and skills necessary for students embarking on their social work degree. Spanning the entire curriculum, the text is split into four sections: Part One establishes a broad knowledge base; Part Two considers methods of assessment; Part Three outlines methods of intervention; and Part Four examines social work practice.

  • Human Behavior Theory and Social Work Practice (Modern Applications of Social Work) www.amazon.com

    Human Behavior Theory and Social Work Practice remains a foundation work for those interested in the practice and teaching of social work. Roberta Greene covers theoretical areas and individual theorists including classical psychoanalytic thought, Eriksonian theory, Carl Rogers, cognitive theory, systems theory, ecological perspectives, social construction, feminism, and genetics.

  • Advances in Social Work: Special Issue on The Futures of Social Work www.amazon.com

    This special issue of the journal Advances in Social Work captures the vision of 21 different social work scholars looking ahead to the future in their area of practice.

  • A Brief Introduction to Social Work Theory www.amazon.com

    This crisp text, by one of social works most highly regarded commentators, offers the perfect entry point into the complex world of social work theory. Written in a clear conversational style and organized into short, clearly labelled chapters, students and practitioners will find this an invaluable point of refreshment and reference.

  • Social Work, Social Justice, and Human Rights: A Structural Approach to Practice www.amazon.com

    Social workers take pride in their commitment to social and economic justice, peace, and human rights, and in their responses to related inequalities and social problems. At a time when economic globalization, armed conflict, and ecological devastation continue to undermine human rights and the possibilities for social justice, the need for linking a structural analysis to social work practice is greater than ever.

  • Social Work: A Critical Approach to Practice www.amazon.com

    Now in it's Second Edition, this book considers the critical tradition of social work and updates it with postmodern thinking. Jan Fook draws on critical reflection to help social workers deliver flexible, responsible and responsive practice and to celebrate the ageless ideals of the profession.

Become a Social Worker