Becoming a Social Worker in Arkansas
Arkansas has a scope of practice for social workers at different levels from the bachelor's level on. It doesn't matter if you are a high school student or a career professional; there are multiple entry points. You can begin your preparation at any point, but standards do get higher at the graduate level.
If You Are a High School Student
Concentrate on getting high grades in the core courses required for college admission. You may also opt for classes in human development and psychology.
It's also a good idea to explore the social services by volunteering. You can ask your school counselor for referrals or begin your search on the site of the Department of Community Service and Nonprofit Support.
If you plan on pursuing undergraduate social work education in Arkansas, you will need to select a school with a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
Admission to the major is usually a two-step process. You may have the opportunity to declare a pre-professional major in social work at the onset. You will be assigned an advisor who will help you stay on track for admission to the major. There will likely be a few prerequisites. You will also need to maintain an acceptable GPA. The individual school may set additional requirements.
You may be admitted to the social work major after about three or four semesters – different schools have different timelines. As an undergraduate social work major, you will take generalist social work courses and complete an internship. The internship could provide you with contacts out in the professional world.
Later you will apply to the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board. You will take a licensing exam though the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and become a Licensed Social Worker. This license will qualify you to work as a social worker in many employee positions. If you want to become a mental health practitioner or go into independent practice, you will need to continue on for a master’s. If your performance was strong in your undergraduate years, your master’s program may take as little as a year.
If You Have a College Degree
If your degree is in a field other than social work, you can apply for a master's, but may need to spend a fair amount of time preparing. The admission committee will be interested in your professional and volunteer background, your personal qualities, and the vision you articulate. You may need to take a graduate admission exam. You will probably be expected to have some knowledge of statistics.
The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a CSWE-accredited online Master's in Social Work. The GRE is not required to apply to the [email protected] program. A Bachelor's degree is required. Learn more about this program.
Capella University is now offering an online Master of Social Work that is in CSWE candidacy status. The MSW program helps prepare students to enter the general or clinical practice role (in most states). Capella also offers an online Doctor of Social Work. Click Here to contact Capella University about their Master of Social Work program or Doctor of Social Work program.
You will complete a year of foundational courses and a year of coursework in your concentration. You will have an internship requirement.
After you complete you graduate studies, you will be eligible for licensing as a Licensed Master Social Worker. A criminal background check will be required. You will also need to take an exam through the ASWB, but you may begin work under a provisional license.
Licensed Certified Social Worker is a higher level of practice: the only level that qualifies you to practice independently. You must work under supervision for two years and meet supervision requirements set by the Arkansas Board. You will again have an examination requirement.
You may opt to join the National Association of Social Workers - Arkansas Division at any point along the way. This is voluntary. You will have access to professional resources. You will also have the option of pursuing NASW certifications which may enhance your resume.