7 Facts About Social Work Schools and Careers

Can I go to school online?

social-work-common-questionsYes, and you have lots of options.

There’s a large number of accredited online schools that offer master’s degree programs for social workers and human services workers.

If you want to take advantage of federal financial aid resources for your online courses, you should make sure to choose an accredited school and program.

What careers can I pursue with a social work degree?

Some social workers maintain a private practice, but the majority of social workers are case managers with 40-hour workweeks, and weekends and evenings may factor into the work schedule. Social worker case managers spend the majority of their time in an office or residential facility. Clinical social workers are employed in settings such as hospitals, mental health clinics, child welfare and juvenile agencies, schools and community organization.

How do I apply for financial aid?

If you plan to apply for federal aid, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Scholarships, grants, private loans and PLUS loans are other sources of money to consider as well.

What type of accreditation should I look for in a psychology school?

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits schools. Their seal of approval is considered “specialized accreditation.” Institutional accreditation often comes from the Higher Learning Commission, which is divided into six regional associations.

What steps do I need to take to become licensed?

Licensing is required in all states, but laws vary so check with your regulatory board for exact specifications. Most states license social workers based on their education level (bachelor’s, master’s, advanced generalists and MSWs with two years of post-master’s direct clinical social work experience). Licensure is usually dependent on the completion of two years of supervised field experience as well.

What continuing education requirements should I expect throughout my career?

License renewal usually hinges on the completion of continuing education. In many states, social workers must complete a certain amount of CE hours within a specified time period. For example, the state of Texas requires social workers to complete a total of 30 hours during the 24-month period before license renewal. Your state board can provide you with a list of approved courses and other information.

Is it better to work for myself in private practice or an institution within the social work field?

A number of factors influence whether a social worker should work in private practice or at an institution. Although private practice can offer flexibility, if you’re new to the field and lack a large patient base, you’ll need to work hard marketing yourself and getting referrals. Some states recommend getting two years of supervised experience before transitioning to private practice. Working at an institution may not offer the same flexibility as private practice, but you’ll likely gain valuable knowledge from colleagues and enjoy employer-paid benefits.

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