How Do You Become a School Social Worker?

It takes hard work and dedication to become a school social worker. Whether obtaining the bachelor's or the master's degree in social work, there are a number of requirements to be met to obtain a license. However, once licensed it allows for one to work in a career that has a great impact as the occupation is a vital link between the home, school, and community.

Bachelor's Degree

Although most social workers obtain a master's degree, they usually begin by completing a bachelor's degree in social work. This requires about 120 credit hours that are usually completed in about four years of full-time study. During the first two years, students complete general and liberal arts courses. The last two years are focused on social work courses. The program also requires a substantial amount of time to practice the skills learned in an internship which is usually a minimum of 450 hours. The internship can be completed in a variety of settings. Those desiring to become a school social worker should work with their field supervisors to ensure proper placement within a school.

Master's Degree

Most states require a master's degree to apply for a license as a social worker. There are two types of master's program that can be completed. Many programs grant students with an advanced standing status as an indication that they've completed a bachelor's degree in social work that's accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This allows for a student to bypass many foundational courses in social work. Because of this, these advanced standing students can complete their master's program of about 40-48 credit hours in about a year. Those who haven't been granted the advanced standing status, including students from other discipline areas, will need to complete about 60 credit hours which usually takes about two years. These students will take courses in their first year that addresses social policy, research, human behavior, clinical practice, and macro practice. Students complete courses in the second year that usually focus on a concentration area such as mental health, older adults, children, or families. The internship requirement for a master's program is about 1,000 hours.


Most states require that a social worker have a license. A few states grant these with having a bachelor's degree, but most states require that a master's degree is obtained in the process of becoming a social worker. According to the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), the owner of the licensing exams that all states utilize, there are four categories of licenses which include bachelors, masters, clinical, and advanced generalist. To obtain a license, an applicant is required to have a degree in social work and pass an examination. Post-graduate experience is required for the clinical and advanced generalist licenses. Some states offer all four categories of licenses while others offer less. Other requirements, such as completing an ethics class, vary by state.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Online Masters in Social Work 2018

A school social worker helps students receive a good education by helping remove barriers. This important task motivates many to meet all the requirements necessary to become a school social worker and allows for them to have a positive impact on the world.