Social workers must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in social work for entry-level positions. Other positions, including those for clinical social work in schools and health care facilities, require a master's degree in social work. As part of their education, all social work students must complete a supervised internship.
All states have some licensing or certification requirements, and social workers must take continuing education courses to maintain these credentials, but the specifics vary by state. In addition, the National Association of Social Workers offers voluntary specialty certification for all levels of social workers and three levels of credentialing for clinical social workers. Clinical social work is a specialty field that diagnoses and treats mental, emotional and behavioral issues. Becoming a clinical social worker requires a master's degree and two years or 3,000 hours of experience in a supervised clinical setting after graduation. All states require clinical social workers to be licensed.
People who consider social work as a career need to exercise compassion, be good problem-solvers, manage their time well and have good interpersonal, listening and organizational skills. Social workers help people cope with difficult life situations. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, government agencies, mental-health clinics and private practices.