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How to Become a Social Worker

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: March 25, 2024

If you are passionate about helping people, promoting healthy growth, and bringing positive change among vulnerable individuals, the social work profession may be right for you. Social workers are trained professionals who help vulnerable people or communities learn to improve their lives. A social worker primarily works with victims of discrimination, social injustices, and poverty. But how do you become a social worker? Read on for a complete guide on how to become a licensed social worker.

1. Evaluate whether a career in social work is right for you

Helping vulnerable people as a social worker can be fulfilling, but it is also challenging. For this reason, determine whether a career in social work is the right fit for you before committing to the profession or pursuing education. You can achieve this by determining whether a career in social work aligns with your interests and skills.

Evaluating whether you possess the core interpersonal skills that empower you to help vulnerable groups in the most effective way can also enable you to decide whether you are fit to become a social worker. These interpersonal skills include empathy, excellent communication skills, patience, critical thinking, and compassion.

2. Earn a bachelor’s degree in social work

Once you establish that a career in social work is right for you, the next step is to complete a bachelor’s degree in the field. A bachelor of social work (BSW) will introduce you to social work and its concepts. You will also learn how to conduct research by pursuing a BSW. Other concepts you will likely learn when earning a bachelor’s degree in social work include:

● Human rights

● Human behavior diversity and oppression

● Social welfare policy

● Social work case management

● Cultural diversity

● Ethics and social work

Be sure to decide how to earn your bachelor’s degree in social work. Depending on your scheduling needs and learning preferences, you could enroll in a brick-and-mortar campus or sign up for online social work programs. You could also choose to take up a full-time or part-time degree program.

3. Earn a master’s degree in social work

Completing a bachelor of social work will help you get entry-level jobs. However, if you are looking for managerial roles, you should consider pursuing a master's in social work. This will help you improve your skills, become an expert in your offering, and develop in-depth knowledge of social work practices. A master’s degree in social work is also critical when you want to take up a clinical position.  

4. Get hands-on experience

Most employers only consider candidates with practical experience for top positions during recruitment. Increase your chances of landing a job by enrolling in programs that offer field placements. This allows you to apply the techniques and concepts you have learned in class to develop work skills. Some programs will even allow you to work with clients under supervision! Internships are also excellent opportunities to gain hands-on experience. They also help you determine which area of social work best suits you.

5. Get licensed

Most states require social workers to have a license to start working. A license is also essential if you intend to advance your career in social work, so you should work on obtaining state licensure upon graduating. Although licensing requirements vary from state to state, most countries require candidates to pass federal and state regulations and social work ethics exams. Check your state’s licensing requirements before applying to ensure you meet all qualifications.

6. Apply for a social work position

Once you obtain your license and meet all the requirements of becoming a social worker, you should start looking for a job. You could look for job opportunities in various settings, including hospitals, government agencies, schools, and social service organizations. However, ensure you research job requirements before applying to ascertain you have the required work experience, education and certifications.

Be sure to start looking for jobs immediately after earning a degree in social work, build a professional network, keep updating your resume, and network through participating in online forums and attending conferences to ensure a seamless transition into the workforce.


Social work is one of the most rewarding career paths and provides opportunities to specialize in fields that align with your skills and interests. Earn a master's degree in social work, get practical experience, obtain licensure, and apply for positions to become a social worker.

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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