A State by State Licensure Guide

Becoming a Social Worker in Iowa

You can pursue your social worker education in Iowa at your choice of levels, but you will have the most options if you complete a master’s degree. The National Association of Social Workers reports in a workforce survey that 64% of Tennessee social work respondents are master's level, but that about a third hold a bachelor's as their highest degree. If you are interested in taking the journey, here are some tips to guide you.

If You Are in High School

Step 1:

In high school, concentrate on preparing for the ACT or SAT and earning solid grades in the courses required for university admission. You can visit the governmental site I Have a Plan Iowa! to see a recommended high school course sequence for students planning to go into human services. Meanwhile, look into volunteer opportunities. Social work schools sometimes require small amount of volunteer service before admission.

Step 2:

Select a university. If you will be seeking licensure at the bachelor's level, you will need to complete a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). You will apply to the university before you apply to the school of social work.

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

Step 3:

Earn a GPA of at least 2.5 while completing general studies and introductory social work courses. Meet with an adviser and/or attend information sessions to make sure you are ready to apply to the school of social work at the appropriate time. Schools have differing policies about when you can ‘declare interest' in a social work major and when you can actually become a Bachelor of Social Work student.

Step 4:

Continue to excel while completing upper division social work classes and field experiences. You should earn a GPA of at least 3.0 if you plan to pursue a Master of Social Work (MSW) later.

Step 5;

Apply to the Iowa Board of Social Work Examiners to become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW). You will take the bachelor’s level Association of Social Work Boards licensing exam.

Find more detailed Iowa Social Work Licensure information here.

Step 6:

Work as a generalist social worker or social welfare advocate and/ or continue your studies at the graduate level.

If You Have a College Degree

Step 1:

Take steps to make yourself a competitive candidate for MSW programs. Social work schools have differing focuses and differing expectations regarding the professional and human service experience of applicants. If you have no experience, you may want to check out sites like Volunteer Iowa or the Department of Human Services.

Step 2:

Research graduate social work programs; master's level programs must hold accreditation through the CSWE. They offer different concentrations like advanced generalist or clinical; some offer sub-specialties.

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. The GRE is not required to apply to the MSW@USC program. 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 3:

Complete coursework and field experiences. If you did not do your undergraduate degree in social work, you will have a ‘foundations year’ and a ‘concentration year’. Step 4: Apply to take the master's licensing examination through the ASWB. You may do this when you are in your final semester. After graduation, you will be eligible for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) license.

Step 5:

Take a position working under supervision. If you are pursuing clinical licensure, you must take a position that involves mental health diagnosis and treatment.

Step 6:

Fulfill your experience hours. In order to receive the clinical license, you will need to work under supervision for a minimum of two years. You may opt to work part-time and take up to six years.

Step 7:

Take the ASWB clinical examination. This is a final step that will qualify you for licensure as a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW).

Find more detailed Iowa Social Work Licensure information here.

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