referencing “ social work license requirements ”, 30 W r i t i n g
What are the qualifications for the occupational career; the duties and
work conditions in the career; and the compensation in the career,
including ways a person in this career can make a difference in the
All the information in your research paper must come from the research you do for this assignment (fall 2021). Do not use any information you had or found before starting to work on this assignment. Make sure all your sources are reliable. Do not change careers posted in 4.2 for this assignment even though you may need to narrow or broaden your career based on the material you find. For instance, if you choose the career “third-grade teacher” but can find only enough material to write on “elementary school teacher,” then broaden your topic to “elementary school teacher.” If you choose “physician” and find enough material to write your paper just on “dermatologist,” narrow your topic to “dermatologist.” Generally, the narrower the topic (in this case, career), the better as long as you can fully support your paper.
Future modules will explain how we will do the peer review and submit the final version.
What education does the career require?
What experience is needed before starting in this career?
What educational institutions offer education?
How much would the education cost?
How much of the education could be online?
How long will the education take?
Does the career require a license, credential, or both?
Is an internship necessary?
Duties and Work Conditions
Is there a typical day on the job? If so, what would a typical day on the job be?
What work can be done online?
What languages will be used?
Who will be the workers?
What tasks are in the career?
What responsibilities will there be?
Could the job be in the government?
Does the opportunity to start a business exist?
Could the job be in a big company, a small company, or both?
Is travel required?
Will a worker be at the same location every day?
Does the career require working directly with clients?
What could the salary be?
How could the salary increase?
What would be the benefits?
How much vacation time would there be?
What are the chances of advancement?
In what specific ways could a worker in this career make the world a better place?
Licensed Clinical Social Workers: Their Education, Duties, Work Conditions and How They Make a Difference.
Social work is a vast field and those who are in this career can be found in every part of our society; on the streets, in homes, schools, the community, and in government; providing and coordinating services for the vulnerable and working for large-scale policy improvements. A ‘social worker’ may not have a degree in social work, but some do continue and complete a master’s program, becoming Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs). The paper discusses LCSWs who after completing their master’s education, have become fully licensed by the state. Working alongside general social workers, they are able to clinically diagnose and coordinate treatment for those suffering from mental health issues. The education and licensure needed will be noted, along with the working conditions and duties of some differing subfields, notably homeless outreach, and will include some points on working with children, veterans and in the courts. The type of person who would suit this very societally critical career is discussed, along with the potential compensation and advancement opportunities. The paper’s primary focus is on California due to the extensive variables across states; however, some state comparisons have been included. As one of the nation’s fastest growing employment sectors (Salsberg, 11), the job opportunities can be vast, with wages and benefits generally reflecting expertise and experience. As they can be found in every sector of our society, it will be shown that LCSWs have an impact on our world by trying to make it a more accessible place for those in need.
LCSWs require specific qualifications that begin with a bachelor’s degree, followed by a Master of Social Work (MSW), and then licensure. The bachelor’s requirement does not need to be in social work but can be in a related field. For example, a study in 2017 on the workforce showed that for LCSWs, 7.6% had a bachelor’s degree in sociology and 4.7% in criminal justice (Salsburg, 15). A professional working with vulnerable youth in North County said after finishing her BA in psychology, “I always thought I wanted to be a psychologist/therapist…I looked up info on the (social work) profession…and the clear social justice piece as well as our code of ethics really spoke to me” (Al-Shamma). The choice of school should be chosen from the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) accredited list. On October 2021, the “About CSWE Accreditation” website had listed “539 accredited baccalaureate programs and 303 accredited master’s programs”.
Each state has different requirements in terms of the number of credits and fieldwork hours needed to graduate. Referencing “Social Work License Requirements”, 30-48 credits would be needed to complete the master’s with a Bachelor of Social Work, or up to 62 credits if not. Online options are available to complete the classwork portions of the MSW to reduce costs. If a student has completed a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), a MSW can be achieved in 1 year via an Advanced Standing Program – again, check the school and program is accredited on the CSWE accreditation website (“About CSWE Accreditation”). Fieldwork is a compulsory part of the education, and the amount varies between colleges. At Fordham University, New York, “Planning Your Studies: Onlinesw@Fordham” has time planning showing 1300 hours of fieldwork required to complete the master’s for a full-time student. On the “MSW Programs in San Diego County-Online & campus Master of Social Work” webpage for San Diego County, it says that 900 hours minimum is needed.
The cost varies according to the ‘Top Affordable MSW” website section of the Social Work Degree Guide, from $9000 to $68,000 annually, depending on whether it is public, private, in or out of state and if classes are in person or online. The USC master’s program cost was averaged at $44,712 (“USC Master of Social Work: Academics: USC Social Work”). CSUSB offers online 2-year accredited MSW programs, costing approximately $16,832 as of Fall 2021 (“Frequently Asked Questions – CSUSB”).
Following completion of a MSW, and before beginning post-graduate work and licensure, an initial Associate Social Worker (ASW) registration is needed from the State Board of Behavioral Sciences (“Associate Clinical Social Worker Registration-California”) that currently costs $150 in California. Alongside the MSW, ASW applicants must have proof of courses including child, partner and elderly abuse, human sexuality, substance abuse and dependency, aging and long-term care, and the skills for detection & intervention for all these areas. Training in suicide risk assessment and intervention is also required. ASWs then begin to work in the field, with a compulsory supervised field experience of 2 years (3000 hours) minimum, either paid or as a verified volunteer. There are two exams that must be passed: the Association of Social Work Board’s Clinical exam and the California Law and Ethics Exam (the latter must be completed each year with a passing grade until all the licensing requirements are met.) Once these have been completed, an application with a $200 fee for a full license, can be submitted (“Application for Initial License Issuance – California”). Background checks are made, and applicants will be turned down if they have a criminal conviction within the last 7 years that is directly related to areas within social work. It can take several years to achieve licensure. Curt Moothart, LCSW said when talking about his advancement from certified alcohol drug counselor to licensure, “I had already obtained a CADC-II credential but would eventually become licensed after several failed attempts at passing the exam process. The licensing process took roughly 5-6 years.”
Licensed public welfare social workers have varied duties and there are no typical days. According to the “School of Social Work -Tulane University” website:
An LCSWs day can start off with a staff meeting, followed by meetings with clients in an office, a client’s home, hospital, government assistance office, private practice, in-patient rehab, or jail facility. LCSWs help their clients deal with problems such as homelessness or drug addiction and are involved in assessing, diagnosing, and treating individuals suffering from serious emotional, mental, or life issues. All in a day, these social workers will provide emotional support, guidance, and access to whatever resources are necessary in order to improve or solve a client’s problem.
LCSWs usually specialize, and our unsheltered neighbors are a major client. Much of this vulnerable population have chronic long-term issues that are intertwined as well as culturally based and LCSWs can bring all the relevant resources together. Marion Turner et al describe in their 2018 research paper; “Individuals who experience homelessness are frequent victims of nonfatal crimes as well, including burglary, petty larceny, motor vehicle theft, robbery, and physical assaults, and have been the target of offensive speech, threats, and insults (Merrill, 2012; Wachholz, 2005)” (2). As a result of this, LCSWs may also need to liaise with law enforcement and the courts during their day. In San Diego, they also work with organizations such as PATH (“Making San Diego Home”) to help find housing options and connect with healthcare providers like the Family Health Centers of San Diego. Working as an LCSW within the FHCSD, involves ongoing assessments, individualized plans, providing treatment, and recognizing recurring behaviors or disorders (“Job Opening: LCSW-FHCSD”). The NASW New York City chapter talks about the specific help LCSWs provide for their unsheltered population. Along with providing the mental health treatment needed, they coordinate this with financial support and psychotherapy, “…to assist clients to address the psychiatric, social, and behavioral issues that pose barriers to their social, emotional, and financial well-being, which are all required to help people out of homelessness” (Lorenzo). LSCWs can oversee a team of social workers, create targeted programs, work to educate and to push for policy changes that can attack social injustices. “This includes educating the public about the extent to which the homeless population is victimized and disrupting views that attribute the causes of victimization to individual behaviors and focus instead on the consequences of social exclusion” (Turner, pp 1-2, 7).
LCSWs can be found in many different environments. Other specialized subfields include judicial, child welfare or with the military. Working within the court environment as a forensic social worker could involve providing assessments on the client, family or associates as necessary in relation to the law, as stated by “Guide on Becoming a Forensic (Criminal Justice) Social Worker.” A LCSW would also consult with lawyers, case managers, and provide expert witness statements. Further certifications would be needed, as would be the case for many other specialties. Because of the clinical qualifications required, a LCSW is equipped to help military veterans and their families who suffer with psychological and emotional hardships. This can be a mixture of meeting in homes or on the streets where a portion find themselves, struggling with finances, acute anxiety, depression, or PTSD. For this kind of specialization, the 2-year minimum internships or work experience for licensure should be attached to a military facility or veterans’ hospital. (“How to Become a Military Social Worker”). To become a school social worker, LCSWs must pass further Certified School Social Work Specialist exams in some states. This area of outreach is targeted towards school-aged children and their families, trying to make their lives successful. They advocate for the student and set up support structures to ensure success in school, at home and when entering the workforce. They also provide and promote links between schools and community groups and services. For non-school aged children, a more specific path can be taken for an LCSW – qualification as a Child and Family Social Worker. Some of the work crosses over with a School Social Worker but it also covers the monitoring of very young at-risk children, adoption and fostering support, counseling, and liaison work. They provide help coordinating family applications of food stamps, rental assistance, or healthcare registration. For both these child-centered paths, a further accreditation is recommended for many states from the National Association of Social Workers – Advanced Children, Youth and Family Certification (“How to Become a School Social Worker”). In California, a Pupil Personnel Services Credential may also be needed, particularly if dealing with extremely sensitive youth groups such as those in the LGBTQ or trans/non-binary community (Al-Shamma).
A profile report presented to the CSWE by Edward Salsberg and co-authors from George Washington University in 2017, showed that there are approx. 352,000 LCSWs in the country (11) but recognized there are many who do what is defined as social work without social work qualifications (9). It is a growing field, predominantly female (85% of LCSWs). If all types and levels of government were combined, they are the largest employers (41%), followed by private, non-profit, or charitable organizations with (34.3%) (9). Following that, employment is with private, for profits and businesses with the smallest percentage working in a family business or self-employed. The report found that compared to general social workers, LCSWs were more likely to work for the federal government, in hospitals and in schools (20).
The “Social Workers: Occupational Outlook Handbook-Summary” webpage notes that the job conditions can be taxing. Working hours are generally full-time although there are part-time options, particularly in the private sector. Being available periodically at the weekends or in the evenings may also be a requirement. On the “Social Workers: Occupational Outlook Handbook-work environment” website, it explains that working conditions can be tough and the career has one of the “highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations.” D.C.Siebert wrote of a burnout rate of 39% in his 2005 research paper, with a lifetime rate of 75%. LCSWs have large caseloads and deal with difficult situations and behaviors. The atmosphere around clients can also be hostile, fragile, or emotional and this can take a psychological toll. Al-Shamma said, “I deal with a lot of crisis [sic] for sure, lots of suicide assessments, lots of depression, lots of anxiety. It can be a very emotionally taxing job.” However, it is important to add that she also said, “I can’t imagine any other profession for me.”
LCSWs earn compensation in the form of a salary, vacation, and benefits such as healthcare, dental and vision insurance. The amount is dependent on the state plus the type of organization and whether full or part-time. Most states also offer pension opportunities. On the “Licensed Clinical Social Worker – in State – California” webpage from the Board of Behavioral Sciences in California, the median salary was approx $78,000 on Sept 27, 2021. There are several job offerings from Stanford University’s healthcare arm for LCSWs that range from $59,000 to more than $100,000 for experience, in this instance, in geriatric care and depending on the length and level of experience (“Clinical Social Worker (Geriatrics) in Palo Alto”).
Within the career field, it is possible to change focus as there are many different subfields. Advancement is available to become a manager, be involved in administration or policy making, or lobbying for improvements. Further study towards a doctorate can lead to becoming a clinician, a professor, a community program administrator, or field researcher, as mentioned in “Social Work Careers and Salaries”. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) provides support for career development, helping to facilitate further retraining, maintain credentials or help to network for positions. It is important for any further education that the schools and courses are accredited with the CSWE and recognized by the selected state (“National Association of Social Workers (NASW)”).
An LCSW affects the world on different levels, as UMASS Global (non-profit affiliate to UMASS) explains, in “8 Types of Social Workers Who Make an Impact”; “Most professionals work with clients from a wide range of backgrounds. Social workers can also practice at one of three levels: micro, mezzo or macro”. The website describes LCSWs at the “micro” level working one on one, and the “mezzo” level also working with individuals but including other people and involving families or small groups. They can affect change for clients either at home or on the streets, coordinating with basic human needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. James Patterson, who has been unsheltered for nearly 15 years said of his LCSW; “Zeena fixed me up with somewhere to live – you can’t imagine how much that means to me or what a difference it’s made. I won’t have to lug all my stuff around; I can wash my clothes and not have my stuff stolen”. LCSWs can affect family dynamics by being advocates, improve financial wellbeing by helping apply for benefits and providing items such as bus passes and gift cards for sleeping bags or school uniforms. They can be the difference between living and functioning at home or being arrested or institutionalized. And on the “macro” level, they can work towards making societal change by conducting field and clinical research and lobbying government. Helping to educate the public on the role of social welfare goes a long way to altering attitudes and as such, affecting the amount of help the government can offer (Turner, 7).
Because of the time involved in qualifying as well as the associated costs, the type of person suited to this career is important to know. On the website “How to Become a Licensed Social Worker (LCSW)”, it notes the skills a person would need to succeed. “Empathy, dependability, communication, cultural awareness, and critical thinking can be powerful tools in this field of work”. The ability to listen and even translate underlying issues is important, as well as compassion and appreciation of psychiatric problems as being a clinical illness. The ability to multi-task and triage, be culturally sensitive, as well as adapt to people and changing situations quickly is a must. These characteristics reflect the variety of the career, and the scope of society that it touches and affects.
To conclude, becoming a LCSW involves a considerable investment in time to complete the education, licensure, and field experience before securing employment. This can be achieved more affordably through utilizing some online classes; however, it is imperative to confirm the requirements for licensure in each state as these vary widely. The career has many different subfields to specialize in, and these all come with real human successes among the challenges – it will not be a “boring” career (Al-Shamma). The pay scale does not really reflect the emotional investment although it does include wage, pension, and health benefits, but experience and continual educational additions should increase the amount earnable. The personal rewards for helping others in need are self-evident but as mentioned, the emotional toll can be high, and the burnout rates do need to be considered. A passionate person who is driven to helping those less able to navigate the system themselves or who is looking to work on a macro-level to shape national policy on social services, would find the extensive time needed to invest in the education and to gain the required experience worthwhile. Arguably, making a difference for just one person, changes the world.
“8 Types of Social Workers Who Make an Impact.”
“About CSWE Accreditation.” Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) – Accreditation, 2021, Al-Shamma, Maria. Personal Interview. 10 Nov. 2021. Application for Initial License Issuance – California. Board of Behavioral Sciences, Jan. 2021, bbs.ca.gov/pdf/forms/initial_lic_iss.pdf. Associate Clinical Social Worker Registration – California. Board of Behavioral Sciences, June 2020, “Clinical Social Worker (Geriatrics) in Palo Alto, California, United States of America: Allied Health at Stanford Health Care.” Stanford Health Care, 5 Jan. 2021, careers.stanfordhealthcare.org/us/en/job/SHCAUSR217107EXTERNALENUS/Clinical-Social-Worker-Geriatrics? utm_source=linkedin&utm medium=phenom-feeds
“About CSWE Accreditation.” Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) – Accreditation, 2021,
Al-Shamma, Maria. Personal Interview. 10 Nov. 2021.
Application for Initial License Issuance – California. Board of Behavioral Sciences, Jan. 2021, bbs.ca.gov/pdf/forms/initial_lic_iss.pdf.
Associate Clinical Social Worker Registration – California. Board of Behavioral Sciences, June 2020,
“Clinical Social Worker (Geriatrics) in Palo Alto, California, United States of America: Allied Health at Stanford Health Care.” Stanford Health Care, 5 Jan. 2021, careers.stanfordhealthcare.org/us/en/job/SHCAUSR217107EXTERNALENUS/Clinical-Social-Worker-Geriatrics? utm_source=linkedin&utm medium=phenom-feeds