Becoming a Social Worker in Maryland

Social work is a profession with multiple entry and exit points. Whether you are a high school student or a professional looking for a second career, you can pursue a social worker education in Maryland. Here is a guide to education and experience requirements -- and how to position yourself to succeed.

social worker students

If You Are a High School Student

Step 1:

Try to get some human service experience while you’re still in high school. If you have an individual Student Service Learning requirement, you can use your hours to explore human and social services.

Step 2:

There are no special classes that you need to take at this stage beyond what is required for university admission. However, you may want to explore sociology or human development.

Step 3:

Select a university that has an accredited Bachelor of Social Work program. Maryland licenses baccalaureate level social workers, and requires that they earn their degrees through CSWE-accredited programs.

Bachelor's social work programs prepare generalists. However, some give particular emphasis to child welfare. If you select one, you may receive a stipend in exchange for a work commitment.

Step 4:

Enroll and begin taking liberal arts coursework. Meet with an advisor early. Maryland BSW programs have varying admission standards. You may need to write an essay and/or seek references.

Step 5:

Earn a solid GPA throughout college. Your GPA will have some bearing on whether you are admitted to a BSW program or allowed a field placement; a 2.5 may suffice at this stage. If you continue on for an MSW, though, grades will become more important.

Step 6:

Use your internship experiences to make connections within the field.

Step 7:

Seek licensure as a Social Work Associate (LSWA). You will need to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam at the bachelor's level.

Find more detailed Maryland Social Work Licensure information here.

If You Are a College Graduate

Step 1:

Take steps to make yourself competitive for an MSW program. The admission committee typically looks at many indicators of success, from academics to professional or volunteer experience. If you have no related experience, try volunteering.

Your undergraduate degree does not necessarily need to be in social work or a related field. A liberal arts background is fine. You may need to complete a few prerequisites, for example, statistics and human development.

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.

Step 2:

Request information from different schools – at the master’s level, there is wide variance in coursework. If you plan to be a clinical social worker, you will need to have at least 12 semester hours of clinical coursework.

Step 3:

Begin classes. If you do not have a social work degree, your MSW program will take you two years or the equivalent. The first 30 semester hours will be social work foundations; the next 30 will focus on your concentration.

If you have a relatively recent BSW, you may be granted advanced placement. If you take classes full-time, you may be finished in as little as a year.

Step 4:

After completing coursework and internship requirements, pursue licensure as a Master Social Worker (LMSW). You will need to take the ASWB master level examination.

Step 5:

You will need to work under supervision for at least two years. If you are pursuing a clinical social work license, you will take a position where you perform psychotherapy and practice treating and assessing mental disorders.

Step 6:

After completing the practice requirement, you can seek credentialing as a Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) or Licensed Certified Social Worker Clinical (LCSW-C). The clinical license is dependent on passing the ASWB clinical exam; the nonclinical license is dependent on passing the ASWB advanced generalist exam.

Find more detailed Maryland Social Work Licensure information here.