What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Social Worker?

Most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work, but clinical social workers should have a master’s degree and two years of post-master’s training in a supervised environment. Clinical social workers also need to be licensed in their respective states.

Students may get a job with a degree in sociology or psychology, but a bachelor’s degree is necessary to gain an entry-level position. Social workers with an education degree can also attain a position. Students who wish to provide therapy need to go through a master’s program. Conducting research or teaching at the university level requires a doctorate.

Some universities offer post-graduate degrees, including a master’s degree or doctoral studies. Those who graduate usually study in pursuit of a post-master’s or post-doctoral program, and training in psychotherapy may be required. Psychotherapy courses are necessary because social workers normally diagnose mental illnesses and provide counseling.

The type of license and registration varies by state, but some form of requirement exists before social workers can advance. For instance, clinical social workers may need to take an exam before becoming fully licensed. All undergraduate and master’s degree programs fall under the Council on Social Work Education in the United States. The largest association in the United States is the National Association of Social Workers. Social worker associations provide guidelines and offer assistance to students.