Becoming a Social Worker in Ohio

Ohio social workers practice at multiple levels. You can start where you are and continue until you reach the level you seek. The following guide can help you plan your social worker education in Ohio.

social work students

If You Are a High School Student

Step 1:

Take academically rigorous courses in high school. There are no social work classes you need at this stage, but make sure you are ready to handle college courses like biology and statistics -- some colleges require you to take them before you are formally admitted to the major.

Also consider completing a human service project or doing volunteer work.

If you are not ready for the university, or want to enter the workforce early, you may enroll in an AAS program that will prepare you for state credentialing as a Registered Social Work Assistant (SWA). The experience that you gain may be of value if you choose to apply to a social work program later. However, don't expect it to shorten your academic program. You may wish to look ahead to see what prerequisites will be expected at the university level.

Step 2:

If you will be pursuing a social work degree at the bachelor's level, apply first to the university. Begin liberal arts coursework and meet with an advisor. In addition to the core courses required of all students, you may need to take introductory courses in psychology, sociology, and even economics.

Step 3:

Apply to the social work program when you are eligible. Some schools will allow you to do so after you have completed just 30 semester hours of coursework; others require you to wait an additional semester. The minimum GPA is typically set at 2.5. However, this will not guarantee admission. Some BSW programs are competitive. You may be asked to write essays where you reflect on issues like diversity.

Step 4:

Excel in coursework and practicum experiences in your major. You may have some say in where you are placed for your field experience, so begin research early.

Step 5:

Apply to become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW). You may take steps toward licensure as early as your final semester. You must take the bachelor's level board examination that was developed by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). You will also need to take a short test of Ohio laws and rules.

Find more detailed Ohio Social Work Licensure information here.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Research CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work programs and take advanced steps toward admission. You may have more options if you have significant volunteer experience. You can look for opportunities through organizations like HandsOn Central Ohio. For an intensive experience, you can try Americorps.

Be prepared to articulate your career goals in an essay or personal statement.

Step 2:

Select the most appropriate social work school and submit application materials. Programs may focus on direct practice with individuals and families or macro practice. Some Ohio MSW programs allow you to focus on a particular population like youth and child services or the aging. (If the school has multiple concentrations, you may delay some decisions.)

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:

Complete MSW coursework and practicums. If you did not complete an accredited bachelor’s program at the undergraduate level, your program will include 60 or more semester hours of coursework. You will do at least 900 hours of practicum.

Step 4:

Apply to be a Licensed Social Worker, or LSW, if you did not do so at the BSW level. Take the national board examination and the state jurisprudence examination.

Step 5:

Seek employment. You will work under appropriate supervision for at least two years.

Step 6:

Pursue licensure as a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW). Take the exam that is most applicable to your practice: clinical or advanced generalist.

Find more detailed Ohio Social Work Licensure information here.

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