Is becoming a family social worker right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
Still unsure if becoming a family social worker is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a family social worker or another similar career!
Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.
How to become a Family Social Worker
Becoming a family social worker typically requires the following steps:
- Obtain a Bachelor's Degree: Start by earning a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work (BSW) or a related field like psychology or sociology. Although a BSW is not mandatory, it provides a solid foundation in social work principles and prepares you for advanced studies in the field.
- Gain Relevant Experience: While pursuing your undergraduate degree, gain practical experience by volunteering or working in social service agencies, community organizations, or other related settings. This experience will provide valuable insight into the field and strengthen your application for graduate programs.
- Pursue a Master's Degree: Earn a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). An MSW is the minimum educational requirement for most professional social work positions. MSW programs typically include coursework, field placements, and opportunities to specialize in areas like family therapy or child welfare.
- Complete Field Placements: During your MSW program, you will participate in field placements, which are supervised internships in social work settings. These placements allow you to apply your knowledge in real-world settings, gain hands-on experience, and develop professional skills under the guidance of experienced social workers.
- Obtain Licensure: After completing your MSW, you'll need to obtain a state license to practice as a social worker. Licensing requirements vary by state but typically include passing a standardized exam, completing a certain number of supervised practice hours, and fulfilling specific educational criteria. The two main types of social work licensure are the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) designations.
- Gain Clinical Experience (Optional): If you wish to pursue advanced clinical practice or therapy, consider obtaining clinical experience and supervision to meet the requirements for becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). This typically involves completing a specified number of supervised hours providing therapy and meeting additional training and experience requirements set by your state licensing board.
- Continuing Education and Professional Development: Throughout your career, engage in ongoing professional development by attending workshops, conferences, and specialized training relevant to family social work. This helps you stay updated on best practices, current research, and emerging trends in the field.
- Optional Certifications: Consider pursuing optional certifications to enhance your professional credentials and demonstrate expertise in specific areas of family social work. Organizations like the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offer certifications in areas such as clinical social work, school social work, or child and family social work.
There are several certifications available for family social workers that can enhance their professional credentials and demonstrate their expertise in specific areas of practice.
- Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW): Offered by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), this certification focuses on advanced practice with children, youth, and families. It recognizes professionals who have demonstrated specialized knowledge and skills in this area of social work.
- Certified Clinical Social Worker (CCSW): The CCSW certification is offered by the NASW and signifies advanced clinical social work practice. It demonstrates competency in providing therapeutic services and working with individuals, families, and groups in a clinical setting.
- Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE): The CFLE certification is granted by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR). While it is not specific to social work, it recognizes professionals who have met the educational and experiential requirements in family life education. Family social workers with expertise in family systems and education can benefit from this certification.
- Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS): This certification is offered by the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP). While it is not exclusive to social work, it recognizes professionals who specialize in providing psychosocial support to children and families in healthcare settings.
- Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM): The C-SWCM certification is provided by the NASW and focuses on case management skills for social workers. It acknowledges professionals who excel in assessing, planning, and coordinating services for clients and families.
- Certified Family Support Specialist (CFSS): This certification is granted by various organizations, such as the National Family Support Network and the National Family Support Certification Board. It recognizes individuals who possess the knowledge and skills to provide support and resources to families facing various challenges.