A State by State Licensure Guide

Becoming a Social Worker in Tennessee

You can make the decision to pursue a social work career at any point: when you are first starting college or when you have years of experience behind you. Programs are widely available at both the master’s and bachelor’s levels. Here are some tips for getting your social worker education in Tennessee.

If You Are a High School Student

Step 1:

Prepare for university admission. You do not need any special courses at this stage, but may take human development, psychology, and sociology.

Step 2:

Select a university that has a CSWE-accredited social work school. Although accredited baccalaureate social work programs have a generalist focus, some also have special programs. Exceptional students who are interested in pursuing child welfare are eligible for scholarship money at some Tennessee schools.

Click Here to find Social Work and Human Services undergraduate degrees.

Step 3:

Meet with an advisor and plan your pre-social work studies. You typically take two social work courses before you are admitted to the social work major. Your performance in these will be scrutinized -- Tennessee schools consider demeanor in class as well as well as academic performance.

Step 4:

Apply to the social work school and begin upper division social work classes. Give careful consideration to the type of work setting where you want to do your fieldwork. Schools have different policies for making placements; some allow you to meet with a field director to determine a tentative placement and make a proposal. Social service agencies also have varying policies. Some, for example, require background checks and immunization records.

Step 5:

You can take advantage of networking opportunities while you are in school. You can join the National Association of Social Workers-Tennessee. You may also have the opportunity to join a social work honor society like Alpha Delta Mu.

Step 6:

Apply to the Tennessee Social Work Licensure Board to become a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW). You will take the Association of Social Work Boards licensing exam at the bachelor’s level. You will also have a criminal background check.

Find more detailed Tennessee Social Work Licensure information here.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Research CSWE-accredited graduate-level social work programs and look ahead to see admission requirements. If you do not have human service experience, consider volunteer service. Some programs like to see at least one reference from a social service organization where the candidate has served in a volunteer or professional capacity.

Capella University is now offering an online Master of Social Work that is in CSWE candidacy status. The MSW program helps prepare students to enter the general or clinical practice role (in most states). Capella also offers an online Doctor of Social Work. Click Here to contact Capella University about their Master of Social Work program or Doctor of Social Work program.

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a CSWE-accredited online Master's in Social Work. This program is ranked #12 by US News and World Report. A Bachelor's degree is required. Learn more about this program.

Earn your Master of Social Work online from Simmons College School of Social Work (SocialWork@Simmons) in as little as 15 months. CSWE-accredited. No GRE required Request information about the program.

Step 2:

Enroll in the most appropriate program. You have many options, including clinical, administrative, and advanced generalist tracks. You may have the option of pursuing an adjunct certificate in a complementary field like gerontology.

Step 3:

Complete foundations, concentration, and elective coursework. If you do not have advanced standing based on a prior social work degree, your program will be two academic years (or the equivalent).

You typically complete at least two practicums and at least 900 total hours of field experience. If you are an advanced placement student, you may be required to do only the second, longer field placement.

Step 4:

Apply to the Tennessee Board to become a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). Passing the master's level Association of Social Work Boards examination is a license requirement.

Step 5:

Begin employment as a social worker. You must work under supervision for a minimum of two years. Tennessee requires 3,000 hours of experience. The type of work that you do will determine what license you eventually qualify for; the clinical license is dependent on carrying out clinical duties like psychotherapy. Your performance will be evaluated for licensing purposes.

Step 6:

Take the national board examination that is required for your license category. A prospective Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker (LAPSW) must take the advanced generalist exam. A prospective Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) must take the clinical exam.

Find more detailed Tennessee Social Work Licensure information here.

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