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How to Become a Social Worker for the Elderly

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As baby boomers age, the number of senior citizens in the United States is going up. The demand for social workers to provide services to these individuals is also increasing. That is why now is a great time to learn more about how to become a social worker for the elderly.

Graduate with a bachelor’s degree. The first step in becoming a social worker for the elderly is to get a bachelor’s degree. Generally most people interested in social work get their undergraduate degree in sociology or human services.

Earn a master’s degree in social work. States require that you have a master’s in social work in order to get licensed. You will have opportunities to perform internships and practicum while working towards your masters, and ideally you should try to find placements in nursing homes, assisted living centers, senior centers or aging organizations in your community.

Perform a post-master’s supervised experience. Most states require you to complete a specific number of hours in the social work field after receiving your degree but prior to receiving your license. For this supervised experience you should find an organization to work with that handles elderly clients, since this is the target population you want to work with.

Take the national social work exam. The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) gives a national exam that social workers must take in order to be licensed. You can learn more about the test as well as download study guides by visiting the ASWB website.

Apply for a license in your state. Once you’ve taken and passed the national exam, you can apply for your social work license in the state where you plan to practice. Each state has a separate application form and separate requirements for documents that must be submitted, which is why it is important you check with your state to determine exactly what you need to do.

Find a position working with the elderly. After receiving your license from the state, you can begin working as a social worker with the elderly. Hospitals, nursing homes, agencies for the agencies, or other organizations in your community can be your best places to apply.

Tip

Since you are planning to work with the elderly, your state may require you to attend training on identifying and responding to elder abuse.

Warning

In order to be licensed as a social worker, you must be able to pass a background check.

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About the Author

Allison Dodge has been a writer since 2005, specializing in education, careers, health and travel. She has worked at educational institutions for more than 10 years. Dodge has a master's degree in education administration.