What are the Different Social Worker Qualifications?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 January 2019
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Social worker qualifications are a somewhat confusing idea, due to the fact that many people earn this title through work alone. Different regions have varying standards on what people and what education and training is adequate to hold a social worker position. Moreover, within certain traditional social work fields, social worker qualifications can vary within a region. Yet increasingly, there is call for standardization within the field, and this has led to the very common licensed clinical social worker designation. The requirements for acquiring this designation are approximately the same in a number of regions, though they may not be transferable from one area to another.

The licensed clinical social work title, or the LCSW, usually has specific social worker qualifications. These tend to begin with earning a master’s degree in social work or MSW. Programs vary, but most do not require people to have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW).

A few schools offer accelerated master’s programs that cut about a year of studies for people with a BSW. People don’t need to pursue this path to get an MSW, and need only have a bachelor’s degree. Studies in college in subjects like statistics, sociology, social work, writing, and politics could all be useful.


One thing many MSW programs do evaluate is degree of community involvement or social work experience. It’s recommended that people spend some time volunteering or working for pay in community agencies, while in college or after college completion. College committees that admit students may view such experience favorably.

Earning the MSW is only the beginning of social worker qualifications. While it is possible to get many jobs with this degree alone, people tend to be able to get better work more specific to the social work field if they continue work after college to earn an LCSW. In most places, the main requirement for this is completing 3000 hours or more of supervised work in social worker settings. These settings can vary, and work does yield some income. It’s important to remember each region has its own licensing requirements, and these are what need to be followed.

On top of working requirements, social worker qualifications are usually proven by examination. Most people can expect to take tests to show they’re prepared to receive a license. In order to maintain licensing, LCSWs also must take continuing education requirements, and some regions call for periodic re-testing or have other judging standards for license maintenance.

In a more general sense, social worker qualifications may refer to personal qualities people should possess when entering this field. These can vary, but a degree of empathy, professionalism, and organizational skills might make the list. Emotional stability is of value, since the jobs of some social workers are exceptionally challenging. Drive and desire to interact with others and make a profound difference in people’s lives are welcome attributes, too.



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