Louisiana social workers practice at multiple levels. You can start with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or, if you already have a degree, go straight for your master’s. Here are some guidelines to get you started.
Do some career exploration or volunteer. You may check the site of Volunteer Louisiana.
Select a school that has a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education -- this is a requirement for social worker education in Louisiana. Any accredited school will develop the same set of competencies and will adequately prepare a generalist. Some schools have special programs like child welfare.
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Apply first to the university itself. You will enroll in general studies courses. You are often required to complete a few social and behavioral science courses (for example, psychology or sociology) and one or more social work courses before you are formally admitted to the BSW program. The school of social work may require a GPA of 2.3 or 2.5.
Excel in professional coursework. You will have the most opportunities later if you earn a favorable evaluation in your field experience and a GPA above 3.0.
You may also make professional contacts by joining an organization like Phi Alpha Phi Honor Society or the National Association of Social Workers – Louisiana.
Apply for your Registered Social Workers (RSW) credential upon graduation. No licensing exam is required at this stage, but you will have a criminal background check.
The RSW credential qualifies you to work as a generalist in an employee capacity within Louisiana.
If you want to be qualified for psychotherapy or other advanced practice roles or work in private practice, you will need to pursue an MSW. Your BSW may allow you to enroll in a shorter master’s program. Most schools set a time limit, though – to take advantage of your BSW, enroll within five to seven years.
Boost your resume, if needed. It is fine not to have a BSW, but you will have a greater selection of schools if you have some related volunteer or professional experience.
Select the school that is the best fit. You may select a clinical or advanced generalist concentration. If you have a BSW, look for a school that will award you significant advanced placement.
Prepare your resume and essay and solicit references. Most MSW programs do not require the GRE or other graduate exam. However, some require it of candidates whose grade point average falls below the expected level.
Earn a Master of Social Work degree online from the top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. This CSWE-accredited program features live, online classes and hands-on field experiences near your community. GRE scores are not required to apply, and you can complete your degree in two years or less. Bachelor's degree required. Learn more and request information!
Take full advantage of your MSW program. You may have the opportunity to choose a specialty or pursue adjunctive certificates like gerontology. You will probably have some input in your practicum site.
Apply for your Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) credential. You will need to take a master's level national board examination; it is offered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). If you need a credential immediately, you may begin work under the Certified Social Worker (CSW) credential -- this can be issued before the exam.
To obtain clinical licensure, work under supervision acceptable to the Board. Louisiana sets the total experience requirement higher than many states: 5760 hours.
Take the ASWB clinical exam and receive your Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential. This is the highest state license, and legally qualifies you for private and independent practice.
You may seek voluntary certifications in your practice area through the National Association of Social Workers.