Becoming a Social Worker in Wisconsin

You can pursue your social worker education in Wisconsin at either the bachelor’s or master’s level. Here is a guide to get you started.

social work learning tree

If You Are in High School

Step 1:

Use your high school years to get a solid academic foundation. Meanwhile, begin career exploration. Organizations like Children's Hospital of Wisconsin can sometimes arrange social work job shadowing.

Step 2:

Research university programs. If you are sure you want to go into social work, consider choosing a school with a CSWE-accredited program. You may be licensed by equivalency at the baccalaureate level in Wisconsin without a CSWE-accredited degree. However, the process can be take a bit longer.

If you later pursue a master's in social work, your BSW can mean a shorter path.

Step 3:

Enroll in college and begin taking general studies courses and introductory social work courses. Meet with an advisor and make sure you are on track to apply to the social work major at the appropriate time. Some Wisconsin social work programs require candidates to put in volunteer hours before application. (This ensures that they have some understanding of the field before making a commitment.)

Step 4:

Continue to excel after you have been formally admitted to the program. Maintain a GPA of at least 3.0.

Step 5:

Apply to the Wisconsin Board to become a Certified Social Worker (CSW). You will need to take a licensing exam which is offered through the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). You will also need to take an online test of laws and rules.

Find more detailed Wisconsin Social Work Licensure information here.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Assess your readiness. If you do not have human service experience, consider volunteer opportunities.

Some Wisconsin social work schools like to see a significant number of social science courses on your undergraduate transcript. They may also require research, statistics, and/or human development as prerequisites. You will not necessarily have to be finished with all requirements to apply, but will want to figure them into your plan.

Step 2:

Seek a graduate social work program that has been accredited by the CSWE or is in the candidate phase. If you are interested in clinical social work, opt for a program that has a clinical concentration or, at the least, offers the state-mandated courses and can arrange for you to do a clinical internship. You may visit the Board site to learn the specifics.

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.

If your accredited program does not meet all requirements, you may still be eligible for eventual licensure as a clinical social worker. However, the path will be longer.

Step 3:

Complete degree requirements. If you do not have a prior social work degree, your program will be 60 semester hours or slightly more. You may choose to complete degree requirements in two academic years or stretch them out over three or four years. You may pursue adjunct certificates in areas like addictions, social work management, or women's studies.

Step 4:

Using your university career center as a resource, begin to research job opportunities in your practice area. Meanwhile, apply to the Wisconsin Board to take the master's level ASWB exam and become a Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker (CAPSW).

Step 5:

Work under supervision until you have accrued at least 3,000 hours of experience; this will take a minimum of two years.

Step 6:

Take the examination that is required for the higher level license. If you are seeking the Certified Independent Social Worker (CISW) credential, take the advanced generalist exam; it is offered through the ASWB. If you are seeking the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential, take the clinical exam.

Find more detailed Wisconsin Social Work Licensure information here.

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