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Although most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and 2 years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.Education
A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is the most common requirement for entry-level positions. However, some employers may hire workers who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology.
A BSW prepares students for direct-service positions such as caseworker or mental health assistant. These programs teach students about diverse populations, human behavior, social welfare policy, and ethics in social work. All programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship.
Some positions require a master’s degree in social work (MSW), which generally takes 2 years to complete. Master’s degree programs in social work prepare students for work in their chosen specialty by developing clinical assessment and management skills. All programs require students to complete a supervised practicum or an internship.
A bachelor’s degree in social work is not required in order to enter a master’s degree program in social work. Although a degree in almost any major is acceptable, courses in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science are recommended. Some programs allow graduates with a bachelor’s degree in social work to earn their master’s degree in 1 year.
In 2015, there were more than 500 bachelor’s degree programs and more than 200 master’s degree programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Some universities offer doctoral programs in social work, where students can earn a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) or a Ph.D. Most doctoral programs in social work require students to have a master’s in social work and experience in the field. Many doctor’s students go on to work as postsecondary teachers.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Most states have licensure or certification requirements for nonclinical social workers. Requirements vary by state.
All states require clinical social workers to be licensed. However, some states provide exemptions for clinical social workers who work in government agencies. Becoming a licensed clinical social worker requires a master’s degree in social work and a minimum of 2 years of supervised clinical experience after graduation. After completing their supervised experience, clinical social workers must pass a clinical exam to be licensed.
Because licensing requirements vary by state, those interested should contact their state board. For more information about regulatory licensure boards by state, contact the Association of Social Work Boards.Important Qualities
Communication skills. Clients talk to social workers about challenges in their lives. To effectively help, social workers must be able to listen to and understand their clients’ needs.
Empathy. Social workers often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations. To develop strong relationships, they must have compassion and empathy for their clients.
Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different groups of people is essential for social workers. They need strong people skills to foster healthy and productive relationships with their clients and colleagues.
Organizational skills. Social workers must help and manage multiple clients, often assisting with their paperwork or documenting their treatment.
Problem-solving skills. Social workers need to develop practical and innovative solutions to their clients’ problems.
Time-management skills. Social workers often have many clients and administrative responsibilities. They must effectively manage their time to provide adequate service to all of their clients.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Clinician
Top Careers After Clinician
Hispanic or Latino10.5%
Black or African American0.7%
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University of Phoenix6.3%
New York University5.4%
Southern Connecticut State University5.0%
Bridgewater State University4.8%
University of Connecticut4.5%
Michigan State University-College of Law4.0%
Arizona State University3.8%
University of Southern California3.7%
Grand Canyon University3.7%
Virginia Commonwealth University3.4%
Chicago School of Professional Psychology3.4%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Staff Clinician||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Dec 09, 2013||$205,000 -
|Clinician||Yale University||Old Saybrook, CT||Jul 01, 2015||$180,000|
|Clinician||Yale University||Old Saybrook, CT||Jan 07, 2016||$180,000|
|Clinician||Yale University||New Haven, CT||Oct 15, 2013||$170,000|
|Clinician||Chinese Hospital||Daly City, CA||Sep 12, 2013||$165,000|
|Clinician||Chinese Hospital Association||Daly City, CA||Mar 05, 2015||$165,000|
|Staff Clinician||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Oct 07, 2016||$160,300 -
|Staff Clinician||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Aug 05, 2014||$157,100 -
|Staff Clinician||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Sep 23, 2014||$157,100 -
|Staff Clinician||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Aug 12, 2014||$157,100 -
|Staff Clinician||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||Jul 26, 2015||$157,100|
|Staff Clinician||National Institutes of Health, HHS||Bethesda, MD||May 08, 2014||$157,100 -
|Regenerative Dermal Therapy Clinician||Emcyte Corp||Fort Myers, FL||Jun 01, 2015||$80,829 -
|Advanced Practice Clinician||The Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital||Cooperstown, NY||May 18, 2013||$80,000|
|Clinician I, Psychiatry||Hartford Hospital||Hartford, CT||Sep 01, 2015||$78,000|
|Clinician Bcba||Trumpet Behavioral Health||CO||Sep 18, 2015||$74,859|
|Clinician||Yale University||New Haven, CT||Jan 11, 2015||$70,400|
|Clinician||Greater Malden Behavioral Health Services Inc.||Malden, MA||Sep 14, 2016||$67,000|
|Fee for Service Clinician||Voluteers of America of Ma, Inc.||Boston, MA||Jan 03, 2015||$66,784|
|Clinician Bcba||Trumpet Behavioral Health||San Jose, CA||Sep 20, 2013||$65,000|
|Clinician||Children's Crisis Treatment Center||Philadelphia, PA||Oct 06, 2013||$46,227|
|Clinician||Childrens Crisis Treatment Center||Philadelphia, PA||Jan 01, 2015||$46,227|
|Clinician||Devereux Foundation||Paxton, MA||Aug 01, 2016||$45,996|
|Residential Clinician||Eliot Community Human Services, Inc.||MA||Sep 16, 2016||$45,900|
|Residential Clinician||Eliot Community Human Services, Inc.||MA||Aug 26, 2016||$45,900|
|Strattus Clinician||Toward Independent Living and Learning, Inc.||Dedham, MA||Aug 01, 2013||$45,643|
|Licensed Clinician||Mental Health Providers of Western Queens, Inc.||Jackson, NY||Feb 06, 2016||$45,000|
|Licensed Clinician||Mental Health Providers of Western Queens, Inc.||Jackson, NY||Jul 15, 2016||$45,000|
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