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How to Become a Social Worker

Newsroom | Articles Feb. 18, 2022
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Social work is an admirable career for those interested in helping others and bettering vulnerable communities. In general, social workers help individual people address, solve, or cope with specific issues in their lives. People who choose this career pathway have several fulfilling job options. The field provides opportunities to work in public schools, care facilities, or other healthcare facilities.

Now is a great time to enter the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that social work will experience faster than average growth of 12% by 2030. Whether you want to work with families, the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, the elderly, people with housing insecurity, or any other population, there is a growing need for social workers across the board.

Those who specialize in working with children and families are growing in demand. However, the general increase in assisted living facilities for aging populations and mental health or substance abuse clinics also drives this growth.

When you’re ready to get started, there are a few ways to launch your career. With the proper education and qualifications, you can quickly be on your way to becoming a social worker.

What degree do you need to be a social worker?

The qualifications for becoming a social worker vary in each state, though there are some similarities. In Louisiana, social workers can earn licensing with a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited university.

Social workers who have earned bachelor’s degrees can be recognized as Registered Social Workers (RSW). The other designations, Certified Social Worker (CSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), require a master’s degree.

If you are pursuing your undergraduate degree and you’re already sure that you want to become a social worker, you can choose to earn a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). On the other hand, if you aren’t certain of your career path at the start of your undergraduate studies, there are options. You can earn your Master of Social Work (MSW) without a bachelor’s degree in social work. In fact, many MSW students have an undergraduate degree outside of social work.

As mentioned above, you can begin your career as a social worker with just a bachelor’s degree. However, the best opportunities for advancement and flexibility will likely require you to earn a master’s degree.

How long does it take to become a social worker?

For those who decide on a bachelor’s in social work, becoming a registered social worker begins with the four years typically needed to earn the degree. Graduates can apply to have their RSW credential recognized by the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners (LABSWE) after this.

Becoming a CSW or LMSW requires at least two additional years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. The LCSW and LCSW-BACS designations can take from eight to almost 12 years.

Including the required supervised hours and experience, below is the minimum amount of time needed to earn each credential offered in Louisiana:

  • RSW – Four years
  • CSW – Six years
  • LMSW – Six years
  • LCSW – Eight years and 10 months
  • LCSW-BACS – 11 years and 10 months

It’s important to note that all social work credentials issued by the LABSWE need to be renewed every year. In Louisiana, renewal requires social workers to earn 20 additional hours of continuing education

These hours may vary due to the additional time graduates may spend preparing for licensure exams. Program structure, fieldwork, or practicum requirements may also have an impact.

Highly motivated students enrolled in LSU’s online MSW program can complete it in less than two years. Those with a BSW, who qualify for our advanced-standing program, can finish in 9-12 months. This can shorten the overall time it takes to earn your CSW or LCSW.

Careers in Social Work

Social workers can find themselves in positions all across the field. Traditional careers, like child and family social workers or school social workers, are available. However, many other different opportunities for licensed professionals also exist. Below are a few social work career options:

  • Home Healthcare Social Worker
  • Housing Support Case Manager
  • Educational Support Social Worker
  • Hospice Care Social Worker
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • High School Guidance Counselor
  • Social Worker in a Relief Organization
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Patient Advocate
  • Crisis Counselor
  • Director of Social Services
  • Professor of Social Work
  • Hospital Social Worker

Start Your Social Work Journey with LSU Online

Whether you are pursuing an undergraduate degree or a Master of Social Work, you can count on LSU Online. We offer several degrees that can help you prepare for a career in this field.

LSU Online provides a variety of 100% online courses, perfect for today’s students. Our flexible, affordable programs blend high-quality education with modern convenience. Ready to get started? Start browsing our online courses today, or get in touch with us!

Learn more about this exciting program!

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  • What program meets your academic and career goals
  • Financial aid options (employer funding, military benefits)
  • Receiving credit for past education (transfer, professional development)
  • The admissions process and timeline
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