How Do You Become a School Social Worker?

Being a school social worker is often a challenging, but rewarding experience. School social workers ensure that students live happy and fulfilling lives in a school setting. They do this by teaching them the skills and developing mechanisms they need to tackle problems such as physical illness, mental illness, learning disabilities, bullying, addiction, drug abuse and family feuds. This post will shed more light on what steps you need to take in order to become a social worker in a school.

Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the minimum academic requirement for any kind of social worker is a bachelor’s degree. Most schools prefer applicants with Bachelor of Social Work degrees, psychology or child development. A Bachelor of Social Work degree has programs that have a strong foundation in liberal arts and include courses in diversity, social policy, ethics, human welfare and social justice. It also provides hands-on practicum that allows students to apply their knowledge of social work in real-life settings. The Council on Social Work Education requires all learning institutions to have at least 400 hours of highly supervised fieldwork programs in social service organizations.

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Go for a Master’s Degree

While it is possible you will get a job with an undergraduate degree, your chances may be limited. Schools nowadays prefer applicants with masters or doctorate degrees when recruiting. A Master of Social Work  degree will improve your prospects more than any other graduate degree. The degree program takes between two to three years for full-time studies and four years for part-time students. During your first year, you will gain exposure to a variety of topics such as environment and human behavior, social work practice and professional policies. In the final year, you will gain experience in specialized areas such as a child or community welfare. You will also be required to attain at least 900 contact hours of fieldwork.

Get a License

Everyone who practices social work in the US must obtain a license from the state government. There are four key categories of licensing required by all states. They are master’s licensure, bachelor’s licensure, advanced generalist licensure and clinical licensure. The master’s licensure requires a Master of Social Work credential while the bachelor’s licensure requires a Bachelors of Social Work credential. The clinical licensure requires at least two years of clinical experience and an Master of Social Work credential. The generalist licensure requires an Master of Social Work credential and two years of supervised experience. Applicants must sit and pass an examination administered by the Association of Social Work Board in order to get a license.

Social Workers Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, social workers earn an average salary of $46,980 per year. The lowest-paid individual earns $30,274 while the highest earns $67,840. The Bureau also projects the employment rate to grow by 12 percent over the next 10 years. This is considered faster than the national average rate.

School social work is a challenging but satisfying career. You not only benefit from a decent salary, but you also get the chance to make a positive impact on the academic and overall well-being of students. In order to become a school social worker, you must obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in social work, child development or psychology, attain a master’s degree and get a license from the state you plan to practice in.