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What Degree is Needed to Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?

The field of clinical social work encompasses multiple disciplines that can each contribute to the betterment of client’s lives in their own way. Because clinical social workers provide care for people suffering from so many different types of issues, there is more than just one type of degree that can be advisable for someone who intends to become one themselves.

In order to earn the proper degree, it may be recommended to decide what your true goals are for the future. Determining what types of clients you would like to see and why may be very helpful if you are looking to earn a degree and become a licensed clinical social worker.

What is Clinical Social Worker

In order to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), the first step is to understand exactly what the nature of the care you intend on providing is in the very first place. The specific kind of care that a clinical social worker provides for their clients will depend on the kind of person that they feel they would be most adept at servicing; age, gender, occupation and background will all be important factors to keep in mind.

Because it is such a broad area of social work, the skill with which a clinical social worker can advise somebody to improve their lives will depend on their own personal experience just as much as their credentials. While the majority of the problems that people deal with in their daily lives are temporary, the ways that they are told to go about fixing these problems can have long-lasting implications for the rest of their lives; because of this, an aspiring clinical social worker should make sure that their education enables them to fully understand the specific needs of communities that they have an interest in serving.

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Education requirements

Though it is not strictly necessary for a social worker to have an LCSW credential in order to provide social work, they will only be able to do so while an LCSW supervises them. Of the most common ways to begin a career as a licensed clinical social worker is to earn a bachelor of social work (BSW) from a Counsel of Social Work Education-accredited program. By participating in the BSW program, a prospective clinical social worker can get the most well-rounded base of experience for acting as a generalist social worker that provides counsel for a wide range of clients.

Alternatively, those who opt not to participate in a BSW program might also be able become licensed through a traditional Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Depending on whether or not you take the program on a full-time or part-time basis, the traditional MSW program can anywhere from 24 to 48 months to complete.

If the prospective social worker has received their BSW within the past 5 to 7 year, the next step to becoming licensed is to complete an advanced standing MSW program. As with most postgraduate programs, the advanced standing BSW program will generally have a GPA requirement for eligibility. The advanced standing MSW program will usually take anywhere from between 12 to 30 months to complete.

Note that it is not necessary to participate in an MSW program to become a licensed social worker if you happen to reside in one of the 41 states that treats a doctorate of social work or of PhD as equivalent to it.

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