Social workers work with individuals to help them cope with life challenges. Understanding and listening to their clients' needs is a large part of this career. Many social workers obtain a bachelor's degree in social work; however, clinical social workers are required to have 2 years post-master experience in a supervised clinical setting along with their master's degree. Licensing needs to be obtained in the state that they choose to practice in.
Education & Training
A BSW or bachelor's degree in social work is a common requirement for most entry-level positions. Certain employers may choose to hire individuals who have a bachelor's degree in a related field such as sociology or psychology.
Students are prepared for direct-service positions once they obtain a bachelor's degree in social work. They may become a mental health assistant or caseworker. These programs educate students on human behavior, social welfare policy and diverse populations. Most programs require students to finish an internship or complete supervised fieldwork.
Positions in health care and in schools often require a master's degree in social work or a MSW. Clinical social workers for instance, require a master's degree in social work and 2 years of post-master experience within a supervised clinical setting.
It often takes 2 years to complete a master's degree in social work. Certain programs enable students with a bachelor's degree in social work to earn their master's degree in one year. Social work programs at the master's level prepare students to work in their desired specialty by creating the skills they need to do clinical assessments and take on supervisory tasks. A supervised internship or practicum is required by all programs.
It is not necessary to have a bachelor's degree in social work to start a master's degree program in social work. Having a degree in practically any major is acceptable. Classes in political science, sociology, psychology and economics are encouraged.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Licensing and certification requirements vary by location. Clinical social workers are required to be licensed. Social workers who are within government agencies may receive certain exemptions.
Clinical social workers who wish to become licensed typically require a minimum of 3000 hours or 2 years of supervised clinical experience after graduating with their master's degree in social work. Once the relevant work experience is complete; clinical social workers need to pass a clinical exam prior to being licensed.
Since licensing requirements vary, it is important students seek out regulatory license requirements.
Skills and Qualities that will Help
Compassion: Clients are commonly dealing with difficult and stressful situations. In order to succeed, it is important to develop empathy and compassion for their clients.
Listening Skills: Clients discuss various challenges they have experienced in their lives and divulge personal information to social workers. Effective listening skills are necessary to decipher the needs of their client.
Organizational Skills: Managing numerous clients and helping many people requires optimum organizational skills. Social workers have to document their client's treatment and may help them fill out paperwork.
Problem-Solving Skills: Informative and practical solutions have to be developed in response to their client's needs.
Time-Management Skills: Since social workers have numerous clients, they must manage their time effectively to offer adequate service to everyone.