Social workers can earn three types of degrees, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics:
• Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW): “A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) degree is the most common minimum requirement to qualify for a job as a social worker; however, majors in psychology, sociology, and related fields may qualify for some entry-level jobs, especially in small community agencies. Although a bachelor’s degree is sufficient for entry into the field, an advanced degree has become the standard for many positions.”
“BSW programs prepare graduates for direct service positions, such as caseworker, and include courses in social work values and ethics, dealing with a culturally diverse clientele, at-risk populations, promotion of social and economic justice, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, social work practice, social research methods, and field education. Accredited BSW programs require a minimum of 400 hours of supervised field experience.”
• Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW): “A master’s degree in social work (MSW) is typically required for positions in health settings and is required for clinical work as well. Some jobs in public and private agencies also may require an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree in social services policy or administration. Supervisory, administrative, and staff training positions usually require an advanced degree.”
“Master’s degree programs prepare graduates for work in their chosen field of concentration and continue to develop the skills required to perform clinical assessments, manage large caseloads, take on supervisory roles, and explore new ways of drawing upon social services to meet the needs of clients. Master’s programs last 2 years and include a minimum of 900 hours of supervised field instruction, or internship. A part-time program may take 4 years. Entry into a master’s program does not require a bachelor’s degree in social work, but courses in psychology, biology, sociology, economics, political science, and social work are recommended. In addition, a second language can be very helpful. Most master’s programs offer advanced standing for those with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited social work program.”
• Doctorate in Social Work (DSW or Ph.D.): “College and university teaching positions and most research appointments normally require a doctorate in social work. DSW’s and Ph.D.’s are qualified for research, policy analysis, or teaching at the university level.”
License requirements can differ between jurisdictions. Following are guidelines for Utah, courtesy of the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing Mental Health Professional Act, 50-60 and the Social Worker Licensing Act Rules, R156-60a.
For other states’ licensing requirements, visit the Association of Social Work Boards website: http://www.aswb.org/education/boards/
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW): “LCSW” means a licensed clinical social worker. An LCSW must have an MSW, DSW, or Ph.D.
• The practice of clinical social work includes:
a. The practice of mental health therapy by observation, description, evaluation, interpretation, intervention, and treatment to modify behavior through applying generally recognized professional social work principles, methods, and procedures in order to prevent, treat, or eliminate mental or emotional illness or dysfunction.
• Training Requirements for Licensure as an LCSW.
a. A worker must log 4000 hours of clinical social work and mental health therapy training. These hours must be logged within a two year period and cannot include hours accrued for education purposes.
b. The hours must include the following training: individual, family, and group therapy; crisis intervention; intermediate treatment; and long term treatment.
• Continuing Education Requirements for LCSW.
a. A worker must complete at least 40 hours of continuing education every two years. The coursework must be relevant to social work, be taught be qualified individuals or institutions, and provide proof of attendance.
b. For every two-year period, a maximum of ten online or home study CE credits are accepted.
• Examination Requirements.
a. The examination requirements for licensure as an LCSW include passing the Clinical Examination of the ASWB or the Clinical Social Workers Examination of the State of California.
• Scope of practice - Limitations.
a.To the extent they are prepared through education and training, an LCSW can engage in all acts and practices defined as the practice of clinical social work.
Certified Social Work (CSW): “CSW” means a licensed certified social worker. A CSW must have a master’s degree.
• The practice of certified social work includes:
a. The supervised practice of mental health therapy by observation, description, evaluation, interpretation, intervention, and treatment to modify behavior through applying generally recognized professional social work principles, methods, and procedures in order to prevent, treat, or eliminate mental or emotional illness or dysfunction.
• Licensure requirements for a certified social worker.
a.A worker must produce certified transcripts from an accredited institution of higher education recognized by the division in collaboration with the Social Worker Licensing Board verifying satisfactory completion of an a social work education program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and an earned master’s degree resulting from completion of that program; or an education program that contains approved clinical social work concentration and practicum in content.
• Examination Requirements.
a.The examination requirement for licensure as a CSW includes passing the Masters, Advanced Generalist, or Clinical Examination of the ASWB.
Social Service Worker (SSW): “SSW” means a licensed social service worker. An SSW must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
• The practice as a social service worker includes:
a.The supervised or unsupervised use of professional
social work principles and practices, particularly patient and case management.
b.DOES NOT include engaging in the practice of mental health therapy with
an individual, family, group, or any other persons.
• Experience Requirements for Licensure as a SSW.
a.A worker must have 2000 hours of supervised social work activity or one year of qualifying experience for licensure as a SSW.
b.A master’s degree qualifying an applicant for licensure as an SSW must a field of social work, psychology, marriage and family therapy, or professional counseling.
c. A worker must produce certified transcripts from an accredited institution of higher education recognized by the division in collaboration with the Social
Worker Licensing Board verifying satisfactory completion of:
(i) a bachelor’s degree in a social work program accredited by the
Council on Social Work Education.
(ii) a master’s degree in a field approved by the division in
collaboration with the social worker board.
(iii) a bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology, family sciences, or
other field approved by the division in collaboration with the
Social Worker Licensing Board and also documentation of 2,000
hours of supervised social work activity approved by the division
in collaboration with the board
(iv) a bachelor’s degree in any field, if the applicant has completed:
A. the equivalent of three credit hours of course work or other approved
training in full-life human growth behavior, abnormal psychology, social work values and ethics, social welfare, or social welfare policy;
B. an approved social work practice methods course; and
C. one year of qualifying experience under the supervision of a licensed certified or clinical social worker, which experience is approved by the division in collaboration with the Social Worker Licensing Board
• Examination Requirements.
a.A worker must pass the Bachelors Examination of the ASWB.