How to Become a Social Worker Online

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Social work is a rewarding field that provides much-needed service for others who may have difficulty in helping themselves. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics believes that the job market for social workers will continue to grow at a faster-than-average rate through 2018. With the increase in online schools and degree programs, achieving a career in social work through online education and training has become increasingly possible. Many schools offer online degrees that are fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

  • Research your state's licensing and education requirements. Each state has its own licensing standards, so it is best to know before you start your quest to become a social worker just exactly what will be expected of you. Social work licensing will require some level of college education. Some states require a bachelor's degree, but most are likely to require a master's degree.

  • Research online schools that offer social work programs. A number of schools offer quality online social work programs with full accreditation. The University of New England, Florida State University, Texas State University and Saint Leo University all offer CSWE accredited online social work degrees. In some cases, if you already have a bachelor's degree in another field, you can complete a Master of Social Work degree online without having to complete a bachelor's degree in the field. Most online schools offer options for social work degrees for those with and without a bachelor's degree in the field.

  • Choose a school. Once you have received acceptance offers, decide which school best meets your own unique needs. Most students wanting to pursue an online degree have some unique reason for doing so. Determining which school is most likely to be a good fit for you is an important step.

  • Complete the required curriculum. Required credit hours at the master's degree level vary by institutions, but generally you can expect to complete between 30 and 40 credit hours (10 to 13 classes). This is the most challenging part of becoming a social worker, especially in an online format. Taking courses online requires discipline and self-motivation.

  • Complete state licensing requirements. Once you have completed your curriculum, apply to take your state licensing exam. In some cases, you may apply to take the exam while you are still working toward your degree. The Association of Social Work Boards website provides information on completing social work licensure in each state. A link is provided in the Resources section below, or you may call the ASWB registration line at 1-888-5SW-EXAM (888-579-3926).

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