Become a Licensed Social Worker

by Erica Roth, Demand Media

Social work is a challenging and often very rewarding job. A social worker may work with state agencies to help people get services they need, or he may build a private counseling practice. Lots of preparation and education goes into becoming a licensed social worker. Though some entry-level social work jobs may only require you to have a bachelor's degree, you will need to earn a master's degree before applying for the licensure test.

Step 1

Earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year college or university. Many people who want to become licensed social workers major in a social science. A well-rounded liberal arts education will also prepare you for the rigors of graduate school.

Step 2

Apply to a graduate school that has a master's degree program in social work. Most master's degree programs run about two years full-time, or longer if you attend on a part-time basis. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) provides a Schools of Social Work directory on its website. See the Resources section for a link.

Step 3

Work with your graduate adviser to find an internship or paid position that will qualify you to take the licensure test for social workers. Each state's requirements vary, but usually two years of supervised work is required before you become eligible for testing. NASW's Joblink is also a resource for social work job-seekers. See the Resources section for a link.

Step 4

Contact your state's counseling or behavioral health examination board to inquire about licensing information and test dates. The American Association of State Counseling Boards lists information about each state's board. See the Resources section for a link. Review the information to ensure that you have met all of the requirements before registering for a test.

Step 5

Prepare for your licensed certified social worker test by reviewing some of your coursework and readings from your social work classes. Get a good night's sleep before your test date and arrive with plenty of time to spare.

Step 6

Wait for your results after you have taken your test, and for your license to arrive in the mail if you have passed. Keep your license in a safe place where it won't get lost.

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  • Check with your state licensing board to know what continuing education classes you may need to take in the future to keep your social work license current.

About the Author

Erica Roth has been a writer since 2007. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a college reference librarian for eight years. Roth earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Brandeis University and Master of Library Science from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Her articles appear on various websites.

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