To become a social worker trainee, you will first need to research the laws in your area regarding the licensing of trainee social workers. If you find that your area requires trainees to hold a government license, you will need to complete that process, which may include completing educational requirements, passing a written exam, and submitting to a background check. Some areas don’t offer a trainee license. In such cases, you will still need to meet the requirements of an employer, which may be very similar to those established by licensing agencies, before you can become a social worker trainee.
In some areas, social work students who are fulfilling school and professional licensing work experience requirements must meet licensing requirements to become a social worker trainee before beginning their supervised practice. In other cases, departments of social services or private charities may hire entry-level workers as trainees before promoting them to more advanced positions. If you want to become social worker trainee as part of your academic training or preparations to become a licensed social worker, you should contact your academic adviser for information on licensing and finding a trainee position. You may need to have completed several years of a bachelor’s or master’s degree program in social work prior to being eligible to become a social worker trainee.
If your plan is to apply for a trainee position directly with an employer, keep in mind that each employer will have its own eligibility requirements. Some may require you to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, though there may be some flexibility with regards to your major. For example, you may not be required to hold a degree specifically in social work, but may only need to earn a degree in a human services or social sciences major, such as psychology, criminal justice, or sociology. Government employers, in particular, may require you to take an exam as a condition of being offered work. While you may eventually be able to receive a promotion within your agency or organization, you may need to complete additional education, often at the postgraduate level, if you want to eventually be licensed and employed as a full social worker.
Depending on your job placement, you may need to hold other credentials to become a social worker trainee. These credentials may include having a driver’s license or completing educational courses on pertinent topics, such as HIV prevention or reporting suspected cases of abuse to the authorities. In some cases, these requirements are established by your employer, while in other cases the licensing agency that issues your credentials may mandate their completion.