How to become a Certified Social Worker: All you Need to Know

By | November 6, 2023
How to become a Certified Social Worker
To become a certified social worker involves completing necessary training and certification programs.

How to become a Certified Social Worker: All you Need to Know

Are you thinking of getting into the social worker career and need to know the steps to take to become one? If your answer is yes, then you will love this post.

It shows you how to become a certified social worker, detailing the training and certification programs and exams you need to complete to achieve your goal.

Please continue reading:

Who is a Social Worker?

A social worker is a trained professional who helps different individuals living in a community to deal with issues such as housing problem, unemployment, family issues, substance abuse, mental illness, and many other community-related problems.

For social workers to gain certification and become eligible to work in the field, they need at least a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree. Licensing may require a higher degree such as a Master’s degree.

Some related fields where social workers get registered include public health, policy planning, family services, gerontology, and child welfare. There will be need for re-registration after one year or more, depending on the program.

Educational Requirements and Career Pathway for Social Workers

The first educational requirement for being a social worker is possession of a Bachelor’s degree in closely related fields such as Social Worker, Sociology, Psychology or Child Development.

For an undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Social Work program is capable of providing you with fundamental principles you will learn during your graduate studies. After getting your Bachelor’s degree, you can go for your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree.

Social Worker Training and Certification

You can never overlook the recognition and respect you will gain when you obtain certification as a social worker. With a social work certificate, you stand a better chance of securing employment position that pays high salaries.

The training that accompanies certification programs will widen your knowledge and skill, and get you set for the tasks ahead.

Here are some training and certification programs you can check out to become a social worker:

DSPS Social Worker Training Certification

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) have organized this program to help interested candidates get the certification of their choice.

Candidates must have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in psychology, sociology, criminal justice, or other human service program approved by Social Worker Section, with exception of Master’s degrees.

Obtaining the social work training certificate requires that you successfully complete five courses that concern social work, a total 400-hour internship program or one year of social work employment. Successful completion of the program involves passing a test, and then certificate will be issued.

The C-SWCM Certification Program

The Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM) is a certification program under the tutelage of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). NASW has more than 50 years of experience in the development of credentials and certifications for social workers.

The program assists clients who are in a bio-psychosocial condition. Social work case managers develop stronger influence on clients beyond ordinary disease treatment.

Clients in a bio-psychosocial state are strengthened and challenged to use the systematic approach of self-reliance on their present condition.

The C-SWCM certification program allows candidates with Bachelor’s of Social Workers (BSW) into the program. Social workers with early experience, training, and knowledge have more advantage in the program than others.

The Basic Eligibility Requirements for C-SWCM Candidates

  • A Bachelor’s degree in social work from a graduate program accredited by the Council on social Work Education
  • Record of not less than 3 years and 4,500 hours of supervised, paid, and post-BSW professional experience in an organization or agency that provides case management services
  • Current state BSW-level license or an ASWB BSW-level exam passing score
  • Adherence to the NASW Code of Ethics and the NASW Standards for Continuing Professional Education

Licensing for Social Workers

Many states require that social workers work under supervision for two or three years after graduation and almost every state requires post-master’s practice for clinical licensing. Post master’s practice may also be required for higher level non-clinical licensing. It depends on state and area of specialization.

Many states require the ASWB master’s exam upon graduation or even before. After completion of other requirements, you may need to take the clinical or advanced generalist exam.

Requirements for social work license can vary according to state. Various licenses can be obtained for various degrees of education and areas of application. Most states require taking the social work license verification following the social work licensing exam.

Your social work license type depends on your level of education. Some states require a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW) before they can allow admission into their program, while some require a Master of Social Worker (MSW) degree.

Many states require a Master of Social Worker (MSW) degree for licensing clinical social workers. Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) must approve the accredited school that issues an MSW degree. Most states require a completion of social work licensure exam and ongoing reapplication requirements.

Continuing Education for Social Workers

University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a continuing education program for social workers to renew their license. The program comes through face-to-face workshops and online classes to be accessed from anywhere within the country.

The UW-Madison Continuing Studies got the approval as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program.

Opportunities for Online Continuing Education:

Sixteen hours of online credit are allowed towards the 30 total hours needed, making online courses a good way for busy pros to grab continuing education hours.

They are allowed to take the courses while running their personal activities. Each time of the week they get onto the program, they have access to assignments and class discussion.

Social Worker Duties and Responsibilities

Social workers perform various duties and responsibilities, which include:

  • Counsel and advise client
  • Offer assistance and encouragement to individuals who are challenged
  • Direct-service social workers render support to people to solve problems they may be facing
  • Console the bereaved over their deceased one
  • Give advice over adoption and critical ailment
  • Take care of mental people and drug addicts
  • Appear in court to help a client out
  • Take records of improvements of client’s present condition
  • Collaborate with friends, family and other professionals
  • Assist victims of natural disaster, unemployment and divorce get back to their normal life
  • Create avenues for enhancing client’s wellbeing
  • Improve client’s efforts in maintaining a healthy and well-balanced condition
  • Encourage client’s struggle over recovery
  • Take photographs of each section of daily activities.
  • See detailed social worker job description.

Employment for Social Workers

When searching for jobs, social workers have to extend their search to popular employers such as hospitals, mental health clinics, government agencies, and charity homes. Others include community centers, schools, social assistance, nursing, healthcare, and career centers.

Some may even consider self-establishment and ownership.

Social Worker Salary

The salary of social workers can vary according to certain factors. The median annual social worker (with BSW) salary by July 29, 2016 is $52,800, with a range commonly between $46,748 and $59,217.

According to the April 2015 report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare social workers earned a median annual income of $51,841. Those who earned higher made up to $76,946.

The salary of employees with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree ranges according to job specification.

The salary of Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) ranges between $41,207 and $76,209.

Mental health therapist salary falls between $34,335 and $56,639. Medical social workers make between $41,355 and $65,120 while clinical social workers earn from $39,104 to $69,621.

On the other hand, school social workers’ salary ranges between $34,973 and $66,450.

According to Payscale, a social worker average salary in the United States is $42,000 per year.

Many social workers advance after some years of work. The highest paying skills in this profession include psychiatric, bilingual, hospice, geriatrics, and patient counseling.