Can I get a Job as a Social Worker with a Bachelor’s degree?

In short, it is very possible to obtain full-time employment as a social worker with just a bachelor’s degree. Keep reading to learn more about the education and licensing requirements to become a licensed social worker.

What are the Education Requirements to Become a Social Worker?

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field. A bachelor’s degree in social work degree will provide the fundamental skills and knowledge needed to work in entry-level social service related positions. These jobs will generally involve positions that require both field and office work. For example, a common entry-level job is a social worker assistant, who spends more time in the field with clients, while the social worker spends more time dealing with the juvenile courts and case management. Therefore, a bachelor’s degree will open the door for potential career and academic advancement to obtaining a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Most advanced social work positions require an MSW through an academic program that is approved by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) or the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). However, each state has their own certification requirements for social workers who work directly with clients or in clinic-based organizations.

Who is the ASWB?

The ASWB is a private organization that works directly with state social work regulatory boards and universities to provide certification licenses and training program. The ASWB helps oversee the four different kinds of social work licenses: bachelors, masters, advanced generalist and clinical. Almost all state social work regulatory boards require that the student graduate from a program that is accredited through the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Who is the CSWE?

The CSWE is the leading certification body for social work programs. They even transfer degrees from international programs through their Degree Recognition and Equivalency Service program. Any student serious about social work should explore the CSWE’s website to find an accredited program. The CSWE accredits over 500 bachelor and almost 250 master’s social work programs which actually come with a long list of specializations. For example, a social work degree can be specialized in health, addictions, disabilities, community and criminal justice. Military, gerontology, occupational, social policy, mental health and children, youth and families are additional specializations.

What is a Typical Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work Program Like?

All accredited bachelor degree programs in social work will cover fundamental topics and concepts. The program will study how to develop, maintain and intervene in relationships. Students will learn social-, personal- and community-based problems and solutions. This could range from child abuse to domestic violence to lack of adequate housing or health insurance. For example, students will study about diversity, inequality and oppression within American society and subcultures. They will take classes that analyze human behavior within social contexts and environments. This will require the student to learn about human biology, psychology, culture and even spirituality. Students must take classes about standard social welfare policies and services. They will also be required to study social work theories and practice methods. This will involve exploring the theoretical foundations of social work practice with individuals, families, groups and communicates. After graduation, students will possess assessment, intervention and case-management skills.

To wrap up, social workers can find entry-level jobs with just a bachelor’s degree. However, advanced legal, policy and clinical-based social work will require a master’s degree in social work and accreditation through the state and non-profit accrediting bodies.