Becoming a Social Worker in Hawaii

Bachelor’s level social workers are entry-level generalists; master’s level social workers can be advanced generalists or even mental health professionals. You can begin your social worker education in Hawaii at the bachelor’s or master’s level and continue as far as you want to go.

Here’s a guide for getting started.

social work student

If You Are in High School

Step 1:

Make sure your high school curriculum prepares you for the rigors of college. Concentrate on the basics: English, math, science. The College Board recommends AP psychology as the most applicable advanced placement course.

Step 2:

Use volunteer hours to get some experience in the field. You may also want to check out the student resources available online through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

Step 3:

Seek a school with a CSWE-accredited program. Apply first to the university.

Step 4:

Begin taking general studies coursework. Meanwhile, meet with an advisor to make sure you understand all requirements for admission to the social work program. There will be a minimum GPA; typically this is set at 2.5. You may take one or more introductory social work courses before formal admission to the BSW program. These will help you confirm that the field is right for you.

Step 5:

Complete steps required for formal admission to the social work school. You may need letters of reference.

Step 6:

Put in a strong performance in your social work classes; this will be particularly important if you decide you want to pursue an MSW. Strong BSW graduates are often allowed to skip close to 30 semester hours of a 60 semester hour MSW program.

Step 7:

After you complete degree requirements, you will be eligible to pursue licensure as a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker through the Hawaii Vocational and Professional Licensing Division. You will need to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam at the bachelor’s level.

Find more detailed Hawaii Social Work Licensure information here.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Take stock of your professional and life experiences and decide if you are ready to apply. It is not necessary to have an undergraduate social work degree; the admission committee will look at academic aptitude, personal qualities, and vocational experience. If you are looking for volunteer experiences, you might try the United Way or the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services.

Step 2:

Select a CSWE-accredited master’s program. You do not necessarily have to commit to a concentration at the onset, but make sure that the school has a concentration that interests you. Some schools prepare advanced generalists while others focus on health or mental health; it is also possible to focus on the needs of a particular population. There are distance options in Hawaii.

The Simmons College School of Social Work ([email protected]) is the nation’s oldest school of social work and is offering an innovative Online Master of Social Work program. You can complete this CSWE-accredited Master's in Social Work program in as little as 15 months. There is no GRE required for acceptance to this program. Request information.

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.

Fordham University's top-ranked School of Social Work offers an online MSW program that prepares students for relevant, integrated practice with all populations. GRE scores not required. Request information today.

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.

Step 3:

Allow time for the application process. You will submit several references. A graduate admission test is not typically required at the MSW level, but there are exceptions.

Step 4:

If you do not have a BSW, you will spend two years as a full-time student or three to four years as a part-time student. Your first 30 semester hours will be spent in foundations coursework; the next 30 will be spent pursuing your concentration. If you have a BSW, you will move quickly into your advanced studies/ concentration coursework.

Step 5:

After you earn your master’s, you can apply to become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW). You will take an ASWB licensing exam at the master’s level or higher.

Step 6:

Licensure as a clinical social worker requires 3,000 hours of supervised work experience. It must be accrued in a period of two to five years. It will also be necessary to take the ASWB clinical exam.

Step 7:

An optional step is to join the Hawaii chapter of NASW.

Find more detailed Hawaii Social Work Licensure information here.

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