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How to Become A Clinical Social Worker

Highly trained individuals who help others with issues in their routine lives are called Clinical Social Workers (CSWs). They also diagnose, treat and aid people dealing with mental health and behavioral or emotional issues.

Should I Become a Clinical Social Worker?

Clinical Social Workers help individuals with a wide range of issues such as, adoption matters, dealing with a terminal disease, psychotherapy and so on. CSWs, who are licensed, often provide therapy services either in one-on-one sessions to individuals or to couples and groups. CSWs help their clients in forming various strategies that can help them modify their behavior or aid them in coping with a difficult matter. Their job also requires them to develop treatment plans in consultation with other doctors, their clients or other healthcare specialists.

Education Required

Bachelor’s degree (at least), some states require master’s degree

Major Requirement

Social Work or related fields (Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Political Science etc.)


Requirements vary by state; some states mandate licensure


At least 2 years’ experience

Key Skills

Communication, Interpersonal, Emotional, Organizational and Problem-solving skills

Annual Mean Salary 2018

$49,630 (Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers)

Job Outlook 2018

11% for Social Workers (Much faster than average)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2018)

As per the data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, Social Workers earned an annual mean salary of $49,630 which roughly equates to $23.86 mean wage an hour. Furthermore, BLS listed Insurance Carriers as the highest paying industry for this career with an annual mean salary of $65,830. California was listed as the state with the highest employment level (14,840) and New Jersey was reported as the top paying state for this occupation with an annual mean income of $79,130 in 2018.

Career Requirements

Since their job requires them to interact with a host of clients, healthcare professionals and doctors, LCSWs are required to demonstrate ethical integrity, utmost professionalism, excellent interpersonal skills and empathy. Employers prefer hiring individuals who can work well in a team. This profession demands people to be empathetic and have emotional stability because LCSWs have to deal with individuals who are going through a crisis.

Steps to Become a Clinical Social Worker 

If you are enthusiastic about building a career in this field, you must complete a certain level of formal education, training and licensing. The details of these requirements are given below.

Step-1: Education

To work as a CSW, you must at least have a bachelor’s degree in Social Work or a related filed like, Psychology, Sociology, Economics or Political Science etc. A bachelor’s degree can help you begin working at an entry-level position or enroll in a master’s degree. Many graduates opt for a 2-year master’s degree in Social Work to increase their job prospects.

Formal education prepares graduates in areas such as, Human Behavior and Psychology, Social Welfare Policies, Ethics in Social Work etc. Students of a master’s degree are trained to develop clinical assessment abilities and management skills. Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees require students to complete a supervised internship to get hands-on experience.

Step-2: Training and Work Experience  

LCSWs are required to acquire at least 2 years of field experience which can be obtained through internships or entry-level assistant positions under the supervision of senior LCSWs.

Step-3: Licensure and Certification

Many states require candidates to possess a master’s degree with at least 2 years of field experience to be eligible for licensure. Although it is mandatory in all states for CSWs to acquire a license, the requirements vary for each state. The Association of Social Work Boards is the regulatory authority that issues license to CSWs.

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