Social Work Licensure in Delaware

Delaware offers only one social work license: the licensed clinical social worker. These social workers work with vulnerable adults and children who have a mental illness or disability. Licensure candidates must hold a master's in social work, pass the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) clinical exam, and complete two years of work experience in a clinical setting before they are eligible to apply. With a license, social workers may work independently or open a private social work agency. Social workers with only a bachelor's degree may still work in a clinical setting if they are supervised by a licensed clinical social worker.

For out-of-state, licensed clinical social workers, Delaware asks for documentation that shows the candidate meets all the same requirements as those applying for initial licensure. If out-of-state candidates meet these requirements, they do not need to earn any additional degrees or pass any other ASWB examinations. All licensure candidates must also pass a criminal background check. In January of odd-numbered years, all licensed clinical social workers must renew their license, which requires them to earn continuing education credits.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Delaware

Students can earn a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral social work degree in Delaware. Salary potential rises as students earn more advanced degrees. In the sections below, you can learn more about the earning power, potential specializations, and post-graduation career opportunities for each degree level. By comparing each degree to your personal and professional goals, you can select the one that is right for you.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

In Delaware, a bachelor's degree in social work represents the minimum degree required to become a practicing social worker. In addition to regional accreditation, all undergraduate programs must hold accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This four-year degree introduces students to social work topics such as human behavior, policy, ethics, and best practices. To graduate, students must complete a series of general education courses. Certain programs may include a practicum, internship, or research project. Students can begin their careers as entry-level social workers immediately after graduation.

Master's in Social Work

Prospective students considering a career as a licensed clinical social worker in Delaware must earn a master's degree from a CSWE-accredited university. In a master's program, students apply their undergraduate educations through practicums and internship experiences. In the classroom, students learn about advanced topics such as research and social welfare. These programs may culminate in an extensive research project that asks students to synthesize their findings in the form of a written thesis. Most master's programs require one to two years to complete. Delaware students have the option to complete their master's entirely online. Many of these programs offer significant cost savings compared to their on-campus equivalents. After graduation, students begin fulfilling the work experience needed to apply for a clinical social worker license.

Doctorate Degree in Social Work

Earning a social work degree in Delaware at the doctoral level appeals to prospective students considering a career as a university professor or policy adviser. These programs focus less on classroom instruction and more on the application of previously learned knowledge and experience. These programs take four to six years to complete, as the majority of students' time involves researching and writing a dissertation. Prospective students should consider online social work degree options for their doctorate, as some programs may offer significant cost savings. A doctoral degree in social work, like a master's degree, can be applied towards clinical social work licensure in Delaware.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Delaware

Most states offer three or more licenses that regulate the social work profession. Delaware boasts a simplified licensure system that does not regulate the majority of social workers. However, clinical social workers must earn a clinical license if they plan to work independently or move into managerial roles within their company or organization. The license also appeals to social workers who plan to work in a state besides Delaware. In the section below, you can learn about the four requirements a prospective clinical social worker must satisfy to gain licensure.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

  • Bachelor's and Master's Degrees: All clinical social workers much hold a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited university in addition to a master's in social work. After earning a master's degree, licensure candidates can complete the following steps in any order. Many online social work programs fulfill the academic requirements to apply for licensure in Delaware.
  • Work Experience: After earning a master's degree, licensure candidates must complete 3,200 hours, or approximately two years, of work experience in a clinical setting. In addition, 1,600 hours of this requirement must occur under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker or another manager approved by the state board of licensure.
  • Examination: Candidates must pass the ASWB clinical exam. The exam takes four hours to complete, and candidates can attempt the exam three times in one calendar year. If candidates do not pass the exam within two years, they must reapply for licensure.
  • Background Check: Licensure candidates must submit the results of a federal criminal background check to the Delaware State Police. This process involves completing paperwork and providing fingerprints at a police station or similar facility within the state. Candidates pay a fee for the background check.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Delaware?

The process to become a licensed clinical social worker in Delaware takes about seven years if the candidate has not yet begun their undergraduate education. Within that time frame, earning a bachelor's degree takes about four years, master's program takes one to two years, and completing the work experience necessary to earn a license takes another two years. Many factors can affect the time required to earn a license, such as whether students complete their studies on a full-time or part-time format.

Out of State Licensing Reciprocity in Delaware

Although Delaware has no licensure reciprocity agreements with any other state, the Delaware state board of licensure boasts a straightforward and simple process for licensed clinical social workers who move to Delaware. Out-of-state applicants must hold an active license in their home state or a U.S. territory and have passed the ASWB clinical exam. If the applicant meets those two criteria, they can file paperwork with the state board of licensure. The board of licensure in the applicant's home state must submit the original license. Delaware charges a $163 processing fee for the license applications. After applying, an applicant should receive their Delaware clinical social worker license in one month or less.

License Renewal

All clinical social worker licenses expire on the last day of January of odd-numbered years. In the weeks leading up to the expiration date, license holders receive a notice in the mail from the state board of licensure that includes instructions on how to complete the renewal process. First, clinical social workers must document at least 45 hours of continuing education credits. Earning some credits may cost a fee. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers its members courses that are covered by the group's membership fee. License renewal costs $40, approximately one-fourth the cost of the initial license. Licensed clinical social workers who file renewal paperwork after the due date indicated on the notice pay a $20 late fee.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Delaware

Prospective students should only consider accredited social work schools in Delaware. Accreditation, whether regional, national, or specialized, demonstrates that a school or academic program adequately prepares graduates for their chosen careers. The Delaware state board of licensure only recognizes universities with regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and specialized accreditation from CSWE. The board recognizes out-of-state degrees from schools with regional and CSWE accreditation. In the section below, you can learn more about the accredited social work programs open to Delaware students.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

Whether you earn a bachelor's or master's degree, completing a social work program in Delaware opens up multiple career options. Many social workers pursue work in an area of interest or one that is related to their concentration. Some bachelor's programs do not offer specializations, but many master's programs do. Below, you can learn more about a few of the common positions that social work graduates obtain.

  • Marriage and Family Therapists: Marriage and family therapists work with couples and families to find the root causes of conflict and resolve these issues. Licensed clinical social workers with a master's degree often work in this role as many problems in the home can stem from depression or a similar mental disorder.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors work with people with mental and physical disabilities. These counselors travel to clients' homes, training clients on ways to increase their quality of life and independence. A master's degree in social work provides these counselors the best practices to engage with and help a wide range of disabled individuals.
  • School and Career Counselors: School and career counselors work with children in the school setting. They strive to provide vulnerable children with academic and social skills that will help them in school and later in life. These counselors often work alongside family therapists, as a poor home life can affect a child's performance at school.
  • Health Educator and Community Health Worker: In both the small and large-group settings, health educators and community health workers educate individuals about physical wellness best practices. The process involves gauging a client's initial health and implementing a wellness plan. Community health workers with a master's degree have the education required to lead teams and work in managerial roles.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor: These counselors work with individuals suffering from a substance abuse or mental health condition. The job involves one-on-one therapy sessions and tracking the progress of patients for months or years. Counselors with a master's degree and a clinical social work license can work independently and offer their services to more clients.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Delaware

The salaries below represent the median wage for someone with a master's degree. Licensed clinical social workers may automatically earn a higher salary than professionals with a bachelor's. Also, work experience plays a significant role in determining salary as well. An applicant with five years' of experience can expect to receive a higher salary compared to an entry-level worker.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Delaware

Marriage and Family Therapists $51,100
Rehabilitation Counselors $36,440
School and Career Counselors $62,910
Health Educator and Community Health Worker $37,950
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor $41,510
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Delaware

Professional organizations provide multiple benefits to their members, such as continuing education courses, in-person and online networking opportunities, and resources related to the latest best practices in the field. Many professional organizations advocate for social workers at the state and federal level through political advocacy to promote workers' and patients' rights.

  • Clinical Social Work Association: The CSWA advocates for its members at the federal and state levels. The association appeals to independent clinical social workers with their own practices; part of the membership fee pays for professional insurance and legal resources not offered by other organizations. Master's degree candidates benefit from a reduced membership rate.
  • National Association of Social Workers: NASW represents the nation's largest social work professional organization. Membership benefits include a career center, liability insurance, extensive networking opportunities, and access to scholarship opportunities open only to members. NASW offers specialized resources for licensed clinical social workers, such as newsletters covering the latest best practices.
  • Council on Social Work Education: This organization appeals to social work professionals working as lecturers or professors in the college setting. Membership benefits include resources that help members become better educators. Students interested in entering academia after they graduate may join the CSWE for a reduced membership fee.
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