The LBSW is a popular entry level licensure that can assist social work professionals with gaining the experience needed to progress in the social domain. Some licensees in this field also use this certification as a means for gaining experience towards a future master's-level program, which can be beneficial for earnings and career opportunities.

LBSW Licensure and Careers

The minimum educational requirements for licensure at this level include completion of a Bachelors in Social Work program through traditional institutions or online. In order for your degree to count for licensure, you must also ensure that your program has received accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

CSWE-accredited Bachelors in Social Work programs can be found at several different universities online, making it a convenient option for students without the capacity to attend classes in person.

The bachelors program typically consists of around 120 credit hours and contains basic educational courses in History, Algebra, and English, as well as courses specifically focusing on social work.

Who is LBSW licensure meant for?

Careers in the field of social work can be meaningful for a broad spectrum of citizens with varying daily struggles. If you are the type of person that desires a career in this field, there are certain steps that you may be required to take before applying to your first job. In order to become a licensed social worker at any level, you must complete an accredited degree program within the major of social work. As you will learn in the guide below, your degree program must also hold the right type of accreditation for licensing within your state.

Many new prospects in social work may find that there are different levels of licensure for social work professionals, with the most basic being the Baccalaureate Social Work license. In this guide, our team will outline the educational requirements for this level of licensure, as well as explore some of the career and earning capabilities of professionals holding it.

Path to Becoming a Bachelor's Level Social Worker

If you are prepared to begin your journey towards licensing as a LBSW, you should start with a look into different major programs in your state. The added benefits of online degree programs can extend your opportunities beyond your state and allow you to enjoy the convenience of virtual learning and flex scheduling.

  1. Find a BSW program: As you sort through the different variations of BSW programs available, you should take care to validate the accreditation of programs that are most attractive to you. Accreditation equals quality in the field of education, and is often required for licensure in each state.
  2. Graduate from the BSW program: The BSW program may require that you indulge in around 4 years of extensive learning in general education and social work-specific courses. The goal of these programs is to introduce you to the field of social work, provide you with basic skills for working with the public, and familiarize you with the different settings in which social workers are prominent.
  3. Consider an internship: Other than practicum or internship expectations during your BSW program, there are no formal experience requirements required for licensing at this level. This can remove some of the time it takes to enter the field, which can be beneficial for upcoming students looking for a career in a reasonable time frame.
  4. Complete your exam and other requirements, based on your state: Before you receive your final certification, you must also complete an examination in social work through your state's licensing department. This exam can test your knowledge and abilities in the field, as well as help to ensure that you are aware of the laws and regulations placed upon bachelor's-level professionals.
  5. Apply for licensure and be sure to take the steps to renew: Once you have completed these steps, your application can be concluded for licensing. Maintaining your license over time may include the completion of continuing education credits and payment of license fees as required by your state.

How Long Does it Take to Get to LBSW Licensure?

The standard bachelor’s program begins with a look at general education courses required in all degree majors. In general, these courses can take up the first 2 years of your bachelor’s program, which can prepare you for gaining skills within your specific field major.

The remaining 2 year of your bachelor’s program dives deep into the history and development of the field of social work and follows up with teaching you basic to advanced skills in working with the public. The total program can take around 4 years for most students to complete at a full-time rate.

Clinical Experience for LBSW Certification

The LBSW distinction can provide you with the credentials needed to begin your work in the field. However, before you receive your license, there are certain expectations that you must satisfy depending on what your state requirements. Some degree programs at this level include a practicum requirement that can help you connect what you have learned to what is actually conducted in the field.

There are many degree options that include an internship or practicum for graduation, but not every BSW program consists of an in-person experience requirement. In fact, there is little in terms of experience that you need in order to get started in this field. Most states do not have any specific clinical experience requirements for LBSWs, making this a great career option that gets you into the field at a quicker rate.

Different Types of LBSWs

One of the most attractive features of the Bachelor’s in Social Work program is that it can prepare you for working with different types of social groups within your community. Courses in cultural diversity, religion, and socioeconomics can allow you work in different areas such as the ones listed beneath this section.

  • Child and Family Social Work
  • Healthcare Social Work
  • Psychiatric Social Work
  • Addiction Social Work
  • Rehabilitation Social Work
  • Geriatric Social Work
  • Criminal Justice Social Work

Employment and Salary for LBSWs

The employment domain for social work professionals holding bachelor’s-level licensure can be vast. Some common areas that you might seek out employment include hospitals, social services, retirement homes, court systems, and even schools. Social work professionals can provide individuals with support and guidance when seeking out services or supports within their community for different reasons.

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If you have an interest in certain specialized areas within society, you may be able to connect your LBSW certification with a career that focuses on the needs of that area. Social work professionals may be consistently sought out in order to assist individuals and families with leading happy and healthy lifestyles.

The pay for social workers can vary greatly depending on the level of experience of the professional, the field employed in, and the size and demand of the social worker population with the regional area. In the section below, our team of educational experts provides actual salary averages for professionals in this field.

Average Salary for LBSWs

  • Social Workers – all, other: $63,010 on average per year. 
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: $57,800 on average per year. 
  • Child, Family and School Social Workers: $54,880 on average per year. 
  • Healthcare Social Workers: $62,310 on average per year. 

Skills LBSWs Tend to Have

Social workers are often tasked with intervening in some of life’s most traumatic or difficult circumstances. It is common for social work professionals to utilize individual coping skills during their day-to-day duties, as well as exhibiting compassion for the people they work with.

Other skills that can be beneficial for upcoming professionals in this field include boundary setting, communication, self-discipline, and organization. Each of these elements can make for better operation within the fast-paced social work environment and also contribute to how understanding and helpful social workers are when working with clients.

Social Work Organizations to Know

New entrants into the field of social work should solidify support systems within their environment in order to succeed within the field. One of the most popular ways for connecting with others in the field and creating a network of support is through professional organizations in social work.

The most popular and well-known professional organization for social workers is the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Joining this organization can put you in touch with resources that can expand your knowledge of practice in the field and also provide you with easy access to continuing education classes for continued licensure.

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Additional organizations such as the Council on Social Work Education should be familiar resources for upcoming social work students, since it is this agency that regulated educational programs that lead to licensure. Familiarizing yourself with these different organizations can make your journey through education and licensure a more pleasant experience.

2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Social workers (All, other; Mental Health and Substance Abuse; Child, Family, and School; and Healthcare) reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2023.