How Do I Become a Clinical Social Worker?

Becoming a Clinical Social Worker

An individual who wants a career as a social worker but wants to broaden his or her horizon to cover a wide range of clients in various settings often researches what it takes to become a clinical social worker. Unlike regular social workers who can begin working after earning a bachelor’s degree, clinical social workers are required to complete much more education and training. A positive result of this additional training is also higher wages and more challenging work. Here is an overview of clinical social workers and their career potentials.

What is a Clinical Social Worker?

Also referred to as licensed clinical social workers, clinical social workers are trained and licensed social workers who diagnose and treat behavioral, mental and emotional disorders. Their work is not limited to just treating individuals because they typically work now just with individuals but also with couples therapy, family therapy and even with large groups. Their work involves helping their clients develop methods or patterns to deal with less-than-desirable circumstances and change certain behaviors.

They also provide psychotherapy services to clients. Clinical social workers may collaborate with physicians and other medical personnel in developing a treatment plan or may refer the client to other medical professionals or support groups. The clinical social worker’s day involves an extensive amount of paperwork.

How to Become a Clinical Social Worker?

To become a clinical social worker, a candidate must complete many years of education followed with training. Unlike regular social workers who only need bachelor’s degrees, clinical social workers are required to have a master’s degree in social work, which usually takes an additional two years beyond the bachelor’s degree program. Master’s degree students have the option to choose their area of specialization. Clinical social worker students complete coursework and a supervised internship or practicum.

Even after earning a master’s degree, the social worker cannot work as a clinical social worker until he or she has obtained at least two years of experience working in a supervised capacity. Candidates who have earned the master’s degree but not yet completed the two years of supervised training are referred to as master’s social workers. Clinical social workers are required to be licensed in all the states. In order to be eligible for licensure, the candidate must earn the master’s degree, complete the two years of training and pass a clinical examination.

Career Outlook

Clinical social workers are very much in demand and are professions with very good job growth as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These medical professionals should see a growth of 20% during the 2016-2026 decade. More than 35,000 new clinical social worker jobs should be created by 2026.

Clinical social workers earn wages that ranged from $42,510 to $67,850 as of May 2017. The average annual and hourly wage for clinical social workers was $54,870 and $27.31, respectively. U.S. News & World Report ranks clinical social worker No. 11 among the best social service jobs and No. 83 among 100 best jobs. With their extensive training and experience, clinical social workers may work in any number of medical facilities.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees

Whether a clinical social worker is assessing an adult cancer patient’s progress, trying to improve the well-being of a sick child or helping an elderly person find home health care, they’re showing empathy in important areas of their lives and playing an important role in society. The choice to become a clinical social worker can prove to be a rewarding and extremely satisfying decision.