Becoming a Social Worker in West Virginia

There are many paths to licensure as a social worker in West Virginia. You can begin your education at the undergraduate or graduate level and continue until you achieve your desired credential.

The following guide can help you plan your social work education in West Virginia.

If You Are a High School Student

Step 1:

Concentrate on earning good grades in the courses required for university admission.

Step 2:

Apply to your chosen university. If you are confident of your career choice, pursue a CSWE-accredited social work bachelor's degree. If you will be pursuing social work at the master's level, you do not have to have an undergraduate degree in social work, but it can save you time on your master's.

Step 3:

Enroll and begin college coursework. You will not apply to the social work school until later, but make sure that you have met with an academic coordinator and understand all requirements.

In addition to academic prerequisites, schools may require as much as 100 hours of human service experience before they will formally admit you. This can be acquired in a volunteer capacity.

Step 4:

Begin social work coursework when you become eligible. You will do about 450 hours of field experience. Depending on your school or program choice, you could be in the field nearly full-time for a semester; you might instead stretch the experience out over a longer period of time.

Step 5:

Apply to take the bachelor's level licensing exam and become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW). The exam is administered by the Association of Social Work Boards, but you will need permission from the West Virginia Board of Social Work Examiners.

Find more detailed West Virginia Social Work Licensure information here.

Step 6:

Your LSW credential will be adequate for many positions. You may opt instead to continue straight into a Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Your BSW could allow you to skip the more general coursework -- provided your undergraduate performance was strong enough.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

If you have a degree in a related field, you may be granted a provisional license to work in a West Virginia agency where there is critical need. You may eventually earn a standard LSW license. Your other option is to enter a graduate social work program and achieve a higher license. (You may choose the latter option with a degree in virtually any liberal arts discipline.)

Step 2:

Research the field and take any steps that are necessary to enter an MSW program. Programs consider references from professors, employers, and individuals who can provide information about human service experience and aptitude. Most MSW programs do not require the GRE; some consider test scores in the case of applicants whose undergraduate GPA falls below 3.0.

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:

Select a social work school that offers a concentration in your intended practice area. If you will be pursuing a career in clinical social work, your program should include a course in clinical pathology.

Step 4:

Complete social work studies. If you do not have a relatively recent degree in social work, you will do the equivalent of one academic year taking generalist social work courses and one academic year taking more specialized coursework.

Step 5:

Apply to become a Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW). You will need to pass a national board examination at the master's level.

Step 6:

Take a position in your practice area and work for two years.

Step 7:

Complete requirements for your desired credential. To be eligible for the Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) credential, you will need to pass the advanced generalist examination. To be eligible for the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) credential, you will need to pass the clinical examination.

Find more detailed West Virginia Social Work Licensure information here.

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