Becoming a Social Worker in VIrginia

Virginia has title protection at all levels of social work practice. To become a practitioner, you need an accredited degree. The following is a guide to getting your social worker education in Virginia.

If You Are a High School Student

Step 1:

Make yourself competitive for college. This means good grades, test scores, and activities outside the classroom. You do not have to do anything special at this stage to prepare for a career in social work, but volunteer work and job shadowing or other career exploration can be a good choice.

Step 2:

Select a college or university and complete the application process. In order to be licensed as a social worker in Virginia, you will need to complete a CSWE-accredited program at either the bachelor's or master's level. You will not apply to the social work school immediately or be officially classified as a BSW student. However, you can generally receive social work-specific advising. You may even have the opportunity to be paired with a mentor.

Step 3:

Complete lower division coursework while maintaining an acceptable GPA. You typically take two introductory social work courses before formally applying to the program.

Step 4:

Put in a solid performance in upper division social work coursework. Sometimes field placements lead to permanent positions.

Step 5:

Take a position and/ or continue your studies. With a BSW, you will need to work under supervision for at least a couple years until you can wear the 'social worker' title. During this time, a social worker will review your service plans.

You can be eligible for licensure in less time if you pursue a master's. Programs have differing policies with regard to advanced standing, but a BSW can be worth up to a year of coursework in a two-year Master of Social Work program.

Step 6:

Before you can be licensed as a Licensed Social Worker (LSW), you will need to pass a national board examination at the bachelor's level. You will apply to Virginia for permission to take the exam.

Find more detailed Virginia Social Work Licensure information here.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Take steps to make yourself competitive for a Master of Social Work degree program. MSW schools consider academics and work experience as well as personal qualities as depicted in personal statement, references, and (sometimes) an interview. If you do not feel confident that you are ready, you can bolster your application through human service work or significant volunteer experience.

Step 2:

Select a school that offers a concentration that interests you. If you are interested in becoming a clinical social worker and doing mental health therapy, select a program with a clinical focus. Virginia requires classes in specific areas, so you will want to become familiar with the Board site and the licensing requirements. If your accredited social work program does not include all required components, you will be able to make them up later.

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 your social work courses. You will do fieldwork during both your foundation and concentration year. This can be done in conjunction with distance learning/ online coursework. Usually, fieldwork is done at a site where you do not have prior experience. Occasionally employed practitioners are allowed to do a practicum at their own work site; policies vary.

Step 4:

Apply to Virginia to become a Licensed Social Worker (if you did not do so at the bachelor's level). You will take the national board examination at the bachelor’s level. Step 5: If you will be pursuing clinical licensure, register your supervision. You will need to work under supervision for two to four years (and until such time as you have accrued 3,000 experience hours).

Step 6:

Take the ASWB clinical examination and become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Find more detailed Virginia Social Work Licensure information here.