Become a Social Worker in West Virginia

Start your social work career amidst the winding Appalachian Trail, the 165-feet deep Seneca Caverns and a statewide network of over 3,500 social workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In fact, all areas of social work in West Virginia are expected to grow by 4.2% by 2028. 

This guide for how to become a social worker in West Virginia outlines educational requirements, how to get licensed, social work organizations to join and more. Once you complete the steps to become a social worker in West Virginia, you can embark on a meaningful, fulfilling career helping others in the Mountain 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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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Common Steps to Become a West Virginia Social Worker

Before becoming a social worker in West Virginia, you must earn a bachelor’s degree in social work and a social work license depending on what career path you choose. West Virginia offers four types of social work licenses. 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 West Virginia; this information was gathered from the West Virginia Board of Social Work Examiners website.

1. Earn a CSWE-accredited social work degree

To become a licensed social worker in West Virginia, you will have to complete a bachelor’s degree program in social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). You can pursue these degrees in West Virginia through various formats, including full time, part time and online.

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

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

Licensed social worker (LSW): A person with an accredited bachelor’s degree in social work who has passed the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor’s exam. 

Licensed graduate social worker (LGSW): A person with an accredited master’s degree in social work who has passed the ASWB master’s exam. 

Licensed certified social worker (LCSW): A person with an accredited master’s or doctoral degree in social work who has passed the ASWB advanced generalist exam. Those looking to pursue this license must also have two years of post-graduate social work experience.

Licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW): A person with an accredited master’s or doctoral degree in social work who has passed the ASWB clinical exam. Those looking to pursue this license must also verify at least 3,000 hours of employment and 100 hours of direct supervision.

3. Get licensed

Once you’ve completed your hours and experience, you may apply to become a licensed social worker in West Virginia.

Learn more on how to become a social worker.

Social Work Degree Programs in West Virginia

Across the United States, social work degree programs are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which accredits social work degree programs throughout the United States. In West Virginia, there are 10 accredited bachelor’s and master’s social work degree programs. 

A bachelor’s degree in social work online or on-campus allows you to enter an advanced standing MSW program, which you may be able to complete in about one year. A BSW also prepares students for entry-level social work positions. There are seven universities offering accredited BSW programs in West Virginia:

In order to obtain higher level licenses in West Virginia, however, a minimum of a Master of Social Work (MSW) is required. Some individuals further their education and experience in social work by pursuing a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree.

Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs in West Virginia

MSW programs in West Virginia 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 fully accredited MSW programs in West Virginia.

Online MSW programs in West Virginia

Online MSW programs in West Virginia also offer program options, such as full-time or part-time study.

Social Work Licenses in West Virginia

West Virginia has four types of licenses for social workers: licensed social worker (LSW), licensed graduate social worker (LGSW), licensed certified social worker (LCSW) and licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW). While you may practice entry-level social work with a bachelor’s degree in social work, the West Virginia Board requires an MSW or DSW to practice more specialized social work. All information below on LSW, LGSW, LCSW and LICSW credentials was retrieved from the West Virginia Board of Social Work Examiners.

Licensed social worker (LSW) in West Virginia

Becoming an LSW allows you to practice general, non-clinical services including advocacy, administration, case management and more.

  • 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 graduate social worker (LGSW) in West Virginia

Becoming an LGSW allows you to practice clinical services under supervision and provide general social work services.

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

Licensed certified social worker (LCSW) in West Virginia

Becoming an LCSW allows you to practice clinical social work under supervision and advanced non-clinical social work independently after licensure.

  • Education Requirement: Master or Doctorate of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: Two years hours of supervised social work
  • Exams: ASWB advanced generalist exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) in West Virginia

Becoming an LICSW allows you to practice clinical social work including case management, counseling, prevention, intervention, treatment and more independently after licensure.

  • Education Requirement: Master or Doctorate of Social Work degree
  • Field Requirements: 100 hours of direct supervision
  • Exams: ASWB clinical exam
  • License Renewal: 40 hours of professional development in continuing education

Social Work Salaries in West Virginia

Social worker salaries in Florida will depend on your role, environment and location. However, the BLS reports that, generally, the higher the educational attainment, the greater the earning potential.

West Virginia Social Work CareerNumber of Social Workers in West VirginiaAverage Mean Social Worker Salary
Child, Family and School Social Workers
2,180
$41,230
Healthcare Social Workers
860
$54,830
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
110
$41,620
Social Workers, All Other
390
$67,290

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

West Virginia Social Work Scholarships

There are statewide scholarships and programs in place to assist those just starting on their path to social work. While each state has different offerings, below are some grants and loans to help you become an LSW, LGSW, LCSW or LICSW in the state of West Virginia.

West Virginia Social Work 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 West Virginia and beyond.

  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW) West Virginia Chapter: Founded in 1955, NASW is the largest membership organization of professional social workers in the world. NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance social policy.
  • West Virginia Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association: Located in Charleston, West Virginia, the association’s members are behavioral healthcare provider organizations serving recipients in each of the state’s 55 counties. All are committed to creating and sustaining healthy and secure communities. Vital to this commitment is a network of organizations and advocates promoting services of unparalleled value.
  • Clay-Battelle Health Services Association: This organization has served the communities of northern West Virginia through locations in Blacksville and Burton since 1973. Medical and behavioral health services providers collaborate at both locations.

FAQs

Does West Virginia offer social work license reciprocity?

West Virginia allows out-of-state licensing by credentials; applicants must have an equivalent social work license in another state, meet the educational prerequisites for the equivalent West Virginia social work license, provide their official ASWB exam scores and pay a fee on the State’s Board of Social Work site.

What are the social work continuing education (CE) requirements in West Virginia?

Social workers must renew their license every two years. Additionally, social workers must complete 40 hours of continuing education including two hours on the mental health of veterans and their family members and one hour related to ethics. To renew, complete the online renewal form and pay fees.

What is the best way to look up my social work license in West Virginia?

Search for your social work license at the West Virginia’s Board of Social Work site search. The site’s options will allow you to search your name and find your license number, license status and details surrounding your professional information.

Last updated in May 2022.