How to become a Social Worker?

How to become a Social Worker?

Starting your career as a social worker, you must know what a social worker is. A social worker is a licensed professional who helps people improve their overall well-being by attending to those suffering from behavioral, mental, or emotional issues. They may work with children, adolescents, students, disabled individuals, medical patients, the elderly, individuals suffering from addiction, and a wide variety of other populations who are at risk, helpless and marginalized. 

Social workers usually work with many vulnerable and oppressed individuals. The physical, mental, and emotional abuse that these people go through would take a toll on anyone. Thus as a social worker, you should be patient, caring, and empathetic towards your clients because you are their last hope. You have to help them get through their worst times.

Social workers have to interact and work with many different people. Hence, social workers need to be qualified and get a professional license to understand how to handle all types of people.

On your path to becoming a social worker, there is a list of things you will need to get recognized as a professional in your field. You will need to obtain an LCSW license. LCSW stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This license is crucial for you to get, as it is internationally recognized and gives you credibility as a social worker. 

To become a social worker, you need a qualification and an LCSW license. You will need to:

1. Pursue a Bachelor’s or a Master’s Degree:

The minimum education requirement to receive an LCSW license is a master’s in social work (MSW). At most, some institutions may require you to have a bachelor’s degree (BSW) in the field. 

Depending on your bachelor’s field, if you have an undergraduate degree in social work, you can enter a master’s program and complete your degree in about one year. However, if you possess an undergraduate degree in another field, finishing your master’s degree in social work will typically take two years. 

A bachelor’s degree in social work qualifies you for entry-level social work roles, including child welfare, criminal justice, substance abuse, mental health, etc. It also gives you an upper hand when pursuing your master’s degree because you will be better informed than some of your classmates, helping you decide your field of specialization.

Nonetheless, earning a master’s degree in social work will strengthen your core skills such as communication, organization, critical thinking, active listening, time management, problem-solving, and many others. It will also help you gain invaluable experience in the field that will prepare you for a successful career in social work.  

2. Apply for an LCSW license:

Every state has different social worker requirements for a license. Therefore, it is essential to thoroughly research licensure requirements in the state where you want to practice. 

To apply for an LCSW license, you need to be at least 21 years of age, have a bachelor’s along with a master’s degree in social work, or just a master’s degree in the respective field. You must also have 2-3 years of supervised experience in professional employment and meet the clinical examination requirements.  

3. Take and Pass an LCSW Exam:

Whether you qualify for this exam depends on your preparation, motivation, and determination levels to give the exam. After registering for the exam, search online about how their exam is structured, as it will help you become familiar with the paper pattern. Knowing what type of paper you will be attempting helps eliminate the “fear of the unknown,” thus, helping in calming down the nervous jitters.  

There is no age limit or restrictions on the number of times you can retake the exam, so be assured that you can become a clinical social worker anytime you want. You only need to have a passion for it, as it does cost quite a bit of money to register for the test. The exam costs $300 approximately, including registration fees, and in most states, social workers need to have their licenses renewed every two years. 

It is recommended that you take an online course, which takes timed practice exams to test your knowledge and use multiple sources to study as preparation is the key to success for the LCSW exam. 

How long does it take to become a Social Worker?

A social work degree typically requires 120 credits and four years of full-time study to obtain an undergraduate degree. Add to that an additional two years to get a master’s degree, provided you are pursuing one if you didn’t study social work during your bachelor’s degree.

There may also be other factors that may extend a student’s time in school, such as when they enrolled in college, what the program structure is like, etc.

What do Licensed Social Workers do?

Social workers promote the welfare of people living in difficult situations. They address issues ranging from economic hardship, social marginalization, oppression, and exploitation to mental health issues, addictions, and support for victims of violence and abuse. 

Their role is to support people living in challenging circumstances, such as women, children, and aged populations, who have no one to care for them. They also help refugees, immigrant students, people dealing with disabilities, and veterans.

The area of specialization determines the role a social worker performs. For instance, clinical social workers are the ones who usually diagnose and treat their patients’ mental health disorders and help them with behavioral issues. They help their clients cope with challenging situations and provide therapy to those who need it. It could be in the form of couples therapy or individual. 

Furthermore, social workers help their clients by connecting them with additional resources and services that they might use and like, better than their previous ones. Being a social worker is all about assisting helpless people and communities and helping them work through the difficult phases of their life. 

Conclusion:

As much as it is demanding, it is equally rewarding to work as a social worker. It provides a real sense of accomplishment in seeing how one’s hard work has positively impacted a person’s life.

Social workers are selfless individuals who work hard to make other peoples’ lives easier. They deserve more recognition than what they receive. They help make the world a better place, one step and one person at a time. 

It’s not easy being a social worker, but nothing worth having comes easy. It requires years of hard work, determination, and a burning passion for working for the well-being of society to become one. If you think you have what it takes to become a social worker and fulfill all of the criteria mentioned earlier, don’t wait any further. Apply now to become a licensed social worker.

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