Requirements to Become a Social Worker

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social work is one the fastest growing fields in the United States. Social workers may work in private practice or for schools, non-profits organizations or government agencies. In addition to the formal educational and licensing requirements, social workers must be excellent communicators, be able to work under pressure and relate well with persons from all socioeconomic backgrounds.


Social workers must have no less than a bachelor’s degree, but many positions require a master’s in social work (MSW) or a graduate degree in psychology or counseling.


Although the specific contents and requirements vary by state, all social workers must pass a licensing examination.

Clinical Supervision

Social workers generally must have two years of clinical experienced supervised by a licensed social worker before they are allowed to practice independently.

Special Licensure

For social workers who wish to practice in a specific area such as marriage counseling or child welfare, they must take specific coursework in that area and pass a special licensing exam for their area of expertise.

Continuing Education

All social workers must take yearly continuing education courses that cover ethics, new legal requirements and advances in the field.