How to Become a Social Worker – 8 Steps to Consider
Steps to Become a Social Worker
1. Research if a Career in Social Work is Right For You
2. Complete Undergraduate Education Requirements
3. Research Graduate Education Options
4. Pursue Accredited MSW Graduate Education
5. Complete the ASWB Examination
6. Apply for Licensure as a Social Worker in Your State
7. Begin Career as a Social Worker
8. Complete Continuing Education Requirements
Factors to Compare Before Becoming a Social Worker
Social work is a practice-based profession that promotes social change, development, cohesion and the empowerment of people and communities. Social workers play an important role in society by helping others in a variety of contexts and environments.
It may take about six years to become a social worker. The total time it takes you to become a social worker will depend on the type of degree you choose to earn and the type of social work services you wish to provide. Obtaining a Bachelor of Social Work typically takes four years while earning a Master of Social Work will take one or two years. You’ll also need to factor in time needed to pass the necessary licensing exams, determined by your jurisdiction.
To practice as a social worker, students must obtain a license in the state they wish to practice in. Individual state requirements will vary and are subject to change, including licensure standards, exam eligibility, and appropriate pathways, and may differ based on individual student backgrounds. Students should do their own due diligence and determine the appropriate pathway and license type for themselves.
Becoming a social worker requires time and effort—but for many, the rewards of entering the field make the hard work worth the investment. Though you’ll need to complete specific educational and training requirements and obtain appropriate licenses, entering the field means starting a career with opportunities for growth and social impact.
A social services worker may help those in need by addressing personal and social issues with community resources. Social services workers are not the same as social workers or any other mental health professionals. Social services workers help assist mental health professionals with clients. If you are interested in a mental health career, learn more about counseling vs. social work or psychology vs. social work. If you are interested in becoming a counselor, you may consider earning your master’s degree in counseling.
Becoming a social worker may be a good choice for you if you wish to work in a field that allows you to help individuals, families and groups. Social workers often engage in work that promotes justice, equality and social change. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), growth in social work jobs from 2020 to 2030 is projected to be much higher than the average for all occupations.
For many, social work presents a rewarding and meaningful career path. If you enjoy working with people to achieve positive life outcomes despite their challenges, then a career in social work may be a good fit for you. Social work also has a positive job outlook—according to the BLS, the field is projected to add 89,200 jobs between 2020 and 2030. Job prospects will vary by specialty area. Employment of healthcare social workers is expected to grow 12 percent during the same decade, even faster than the growth rate for all social work jobs.