Become a Social Worker in South Carolina

Start your career with endless beaches, countless Blue Ridge Mountain trails and a statewide network of over 9,580 social workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

This career guide for how to become a social worker in South Carolina explains educational requirements, how to get licensed, social work organizations to join and more. Once you complete the steps to become a social worker, you can embark on a meaningful, fulfilling career helping others in the Palmetto State. 

Information below was retrieved May 2022 and is only meant to be a high-level overview. Requirements may change, always check with the state licensing board for complete and up to date information.

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

University of Southern California

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The MSW@USC is the online Master of Social Work from top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. USC offers virtual and in-person field education, and students focus on adults, youth or social change.

  •  Minimum completion time: 16 months
  • Online classes taught by USC faculty 
  • Virtual field training to build skills and confidence

University of Denver

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The University of Denver’s Online MSW Program is delivered by its top-ranked school of social work and offers two programs. Students can earn their degree in as few as 12 months for the Online Advanced-Standing MSW or 27 months for the Online MSW.

  • Complete the Online Advanced-Standing MSW in as few as 12 months if you have a BSW; if you do not have a BSW, the Online MSW Program may be completed in as few as 27 months.
  • No GRE Required
  • Mental Health and Trauma or Health, Equity and Wellness concentrations

Fordham University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Fordham’s skills-based, online MSW program integrates advanced relevant social work competencies, preparing students to serve individuals and communities while moving the profession forward. This program includes advanced standing and traditional MSW options.

  •  Traditional and advanced standing online MSW options are available.
  • There are four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy.
  • Pursue the degree on a full-time or part-time track.

Simmons University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Aspiring direct practitioners can earn their MSW online from Simmons University in as few as 12 months. GRE scores are not required, and the program offers full-time, part-time, accelerated, and advanced standing tracks.

  • Prepares students to pursue licensure, including LCSW 
  • Full-time, part-time, and accelerated tracks 
  • Minimum completion time: 12 months

Syracuse University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Syracuse University’s online Master of Social Work program does not require GRE scores to apply and is focused on preparing social workers who embrace technology as an important part of the future of the profession. Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks are available. 

  • Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks
  • No GRE required
  • Concentrate your degree in integrated practice or clinical practice

Baylor University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Complete the Master of Social Work online program at Baylor University in as few as 12 months. Serve populations in Texas and around the world while ethically integrating faith and social work practice. No GRE required.

  • Address injustice from a strengths-based perspective
  • Ethically integrates faith and social work practice
  • Serve as a trusted resource for clients, no matter their personal background
  • Complete the MSW online program in as few as 12 months

Howard University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The online Master of Social Work program from Howard University School of Social Work prepares students for advanced direct or macro practice in culturally diverse communities. Two concentrations available: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice. No GRE. Complete in as few as 12 months.

  • Concentrations: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice
  • Complete at least 777-1,000 hours of agency-based field education
  • Earn your degree in as few as 12 months

Case Western Reserve University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

In as few as a year and a half, you can prepare for social work leadership by earning your Master of Social Work online from Case Western Reserve University’s school of social work.

  • CSWE-accredited
  • No GRE requirement
  • Complete in as few as one and a half years

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Common Steps to Become a South Carolina Social Worker

Before becoming a social worker in South Carolina, you must earn a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and a social work license depending on what career path you choose. There may also be additional requirements such as a background check and clinical supervision based on your goals. Below are the steps on how to obtain each type of license in South Carolina, which was retrieved from the South Carolina State Board of Social Work Examiners.

1. Earn a CSWE-Accredited Social Work Degree

To become a licensed social worker in South Carolina, you will have to complete a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited BSW or Master of Social Work (MSW) program. You can pursue these degrees in South Carolina through full-time, part-time and online formats. 

2. Fulfill your social work supervised experience requirement, and pass your national/state exams

South Carolina has four levels of social workers, according to the state’s licensing board, with increasing requirements:

Licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW): A person with an accredited bachelor’s degree in social work who has passed the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor’s exam. LBSWs can provide basic non-clinical social work services.

Licensed master social worker (LMSW): A person with an accredited master’s degree in social work who has passed the ASWB master’s exam. LMSWs can provide social work services under supervision.

Licensed independent social worker–clinical practice (LISW–CP): Someone with an accredited master’s or doctoral degree in social work who has passed the ASWB clinical examination. Those pursuing this licensure are also required to complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work. LISW–CPs may provide clinical social services independent of supervision.

Licensed independent social worker–advanced practice (LISW–AP): A person with an accredited master’s or doctoral degree in social work who has passed the ASWB generalist examination. Those pursuing this licensure are also required to complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work.

3. Get Licensed

Once you’ve completed the requirements, you may apply to become a licensed social worker in South Carolina.

Learn more about how to become a social worker.

Social Work Degree Programs in South Carolina

There are eight fully CSWE-accredited BSW and MSW programs in South Carolina. A bachelor’s degree in social work allows a student to enter an advanced standing MSW program, which can be completed in around one year. A BSW also prepares students for entry-level social work positions and is the minimum requirement for licensure as an LBSW in South Carolina. 

There are six accredited bachelor’s degree programs in social work based in South Carolina:

In order to become an LMSW or LISW–CP/–AP, however, a minimum of an MSW is required. Some individuals further their education and experience by pursuing a doctoral degree in social work. 

Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in South Carolina

MSW programs in South Carolina teach students advanced social work theories and practical knowledge. MSW programs may include coursework on topics such as human development, social work policy and intervention. There are two accredited MSW programs in South Carolina.

Online MSW Programs in South Carolina

There is one online MSW program in South Carolina that is fully accredited. Online MSW programs offer the same curriculum and coursework that traditional on-campus South Carolina programs do. Students are taught by the same professors and complete fieldwork as part of the program. 

Learn more about MSW programs:

Social Work Licenses in South Carolina 

South Carolina has four types of licenses for social workers: licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW), licensed master social worker (LMSW), licensed independent social worker–clinical practice (LISW–CP) and licensed independent social worker–advanced practice (LISW–AP). While you may begin entry-level practice with a bachelor’s degree in social work, the South Carolina Board requires a master’s or doctoral degree to practice more specialized social work. All information on LBSW, LMSW, LISW–CP and LISW–AP licenses below was retrieved from the South Carolina State Board of Social Work Examiners.

Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) in South Carolina 

Becoming an LBSW means that you’ll be able to practice clinical social work under supervision while training for your LMSW license. 

  • Education Requirement: Bachelor of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: None
  • Exams: ASWB bachelor’s exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in South Carolina

Becoming an LMSW allows you to practice more advanced social work and practice within a clinical environment.

  • Education Requirement: Master of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: None
  • Exams: ASWB master’s exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Licensed Independent Social Worker–Clinical Practice (LISW–CP) in South Carolina

Becoming an LISW–CP allows you to provide clinical services independently, but you must remain under supervision for non-clinical cases.

  • Education Requirement: Master or Doctorate of Social Work degree with at least 45 academic contact hours each of psychopathology and psychodiagnostics and 15 academic contact hours or 20 continuing education contact hours in professional ethics during the course of the professional supervision period or have completed a Board-sponsored specialty course in professional ethics
  • Field Requirements: 3,000 hours of social work
  • Exams: ASWB clinical exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Licensed Independent Social Worker–Advanced Practice (LISW–AP) in South Carolina

Becoming an LISW–AP allows you to provide non-clinical services independently, but you must be supervised for clinical cases.

  • Education Requirement: Master or Doctorate of Social Work degree with at least 90 academic contact hours in advanced social work practice with communities and organizations and 15 academic contact hours or 20 continuing education contact hours in professional ethics during the course of the professional supervision period or have completed a Board-sponsored specialty course in professional ethic
  • Field Requirements: 3,000 hours of social work
  • Exams: ASWB advanced generalist exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Social Work Salaries in South Carolina

South Carolina Social Work CareersNumber of Social Workers in South CarolinaAnnual Mean Social Work Salary
Child, family and school social workers
2,930
$45,710
Healthcare social workers
2,100
$56,870
Mental health and substance abuse social workers
4,160
$42,900
Social workers, all other
390
$72,480

Information on the above social work salaries in South Carolina was retrieved from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: South Carolina in May 2022.

South Carolina Social Work Scholarships 

For those just starting on their path to social work, there are state-wide scholarships and programs in place to assist you. While each state has different offerings, below are some grants and loans to help you become an LBSW, LMSW, LISW–CP or LISW–AP in the state of South Carolina.

South Carolina Social Worker Organizations

There are countless local and national associations and organizations with goals to promote, develop and protect the practice of social work and social workers. Better social work means better solutions for welfare, child welfare, elderly welfare, healthcare reform and other issues affecting the disadvantaged populations in South Carolina and beyond.

South Carolina FAQ

Does South Carolina offer social work license reciprocity?

South Carolina doesn’t have formal license reciprocity with other states, though the board does accept out-of-state applications. To apply for licensure, complete the steps above for equivalent licensure to your current license. You’ll need to provide proof of ASWB exam scores and verification that your license is in good standing. South Carolina social work applications cost $45.

What are the social work continuing education (CE) requirements in South Carolina?

Social workers must renew their license every two years. To renew, complete 40 hours of continuing education; 20 hours must be provided by a trained social worker with a BSW, MSW or DSW. The fee to renew all social work licenses in South Carolina is $90.

What is the best way to look up my social work license in South Carolina? 

Search for your social work license at the Labor Licensing Regulation site linked here. The site’s options will allow you to search for your name and find your license number, license status and details surrounding your professional information.

Last updated May 2022.