Improve the Quality of Life of Communities, Families, and Individuals

How to become a social worker

The minimum education requirement to become a social worker in the United States is a Bachelor of Social Work, and licensure and certification are also required. Read our guides for more detail on your state’s requirements.

What is social work?

Social work is a helping profession in which social workers help vulnerable communities and people of all backgrounds through challenges they face. Read on for more on the role of a social worker and specific licensing by state.

Job and salary prospects for social workers

Overall, the social work profession is expected to grow 9 percent in the next decade, especially as our population ages and to deal with issues in our society such as racial justice and child welfare.

Make an Impact with a Social Work Degree

There are a few different types of social work degrees, ranging from undergraduate, all the way to a Ph.D. To be a social worker in the United States, you must hold a degree in some level of social work. The level at which you can practice will depend on how far you take your education. You can get an advanced degree in social work even if you studied something else for your bachelor’s degree.


Bachelor of Social Work

The undergraduate degree is called a Bachelor of Social Work, or BSW, and is the minimum education requirement to become a licensed social worker in the United States. A BSW has at least 120 credits, and trains students to make an impact in the lives of individuals and communities.


Master of Social Work

An Online Master of Social Work (MSW) is the path to the next level of social work licensure. You may want an MSW if you hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, and you can earn more and have more responsibility with this advanced degree.


Doctor of Social Work

The highest level of education for someone wanting to do clinical practice is a Doctor of Social Work, also referred to as a DSW. With a DSW, you’ll often focus on a specific area of clinical practice, and study leadership and management.


Advanced Standing MSW

An Advanced Standing MSW is a version of the advanced degree that is best for someone who already holds a Bachelor of Social Work. This program allows for an accelerated entry to an MSW program and faster completion to earning your master’s.


Associate Degree in Social Work

An Associate Degree in Social Work is a stepping-stone to further social work education. With it, you can work as a social work or healthcare aide, work in policy or advocacy, or use it as a first step toward a BSW.


PhD in Social Work

If you are interested in the research side of social work education, are interested in teaching, doing studies or research writing, then a Ph.D. in Social Work is the next step for you.

Stay in touch

What Can you Do with a Social Work Degree?

Choosing a Specialization

As you start the path to becoming a social worker, you may wonder exactly which area to focus on. Some programs will give you a broad overview of a lot of different areas, such as working with children, the aging population, people with health conditions, or working with the military. Other programs will allow you to specialize early on. Choosing a specialization, especially in advanced social work degrees, can be intimidating. Luckily, you will learn a lot about where you want to work and the kind of social worker you want to become from field education. Read our guides about the various types of social workers to see where you might like to practice.


Scholarships and funding

For many types of social work careers, an advanced degree is needed, and those do not come without a cost. However, you should not let the cost of education stop you from living your dream. There are grants, student loans, private loans, tuition assistance from employers, and scholarships that you can use to finance your education. We’ve provided a list of social work scholarships to help you on your way to your dream career.

Contact Us