Becoming a licensed social worker can lead to a rewarding career spent helping others who are experiencing need or crisis.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job openings in social work to grow at a rate of 16 percent between 2016 and 2026, far outstripping the national average of 7 percent for all occupations. Ohio employs almost 25,000 social workers, more than 9,000 of them child, family, and school social workers alone.

Social workers enjoy a median annual salary of just under $48,000 or almost 25 percent more than the average wage earner.

Earning a degree in social work

Entering this fast-growing, rewarding, and lucrative career field requires at least a bachelor’s degree. Typically, a B.S.W. (Bachelor of Social Work), this degree’s curriculum is composed of general education requirements and courses in the major such as social work research methods, school social work, and the American social work system. Most B.S.W. students take four years to complete their programs.

Many social workers choose to pursue a master’s degree after completing their first degree. In social work, graduate degrees open new opportunities to serve as department leaders, clinical practitioners, and teachers of social work. An M.S.W. (Master of Social Work) can take 12-24 months to complete.

When choosing a school, students should carefully review their accreditation standing. Universities need to hold regional accreditation as well as accreditation with the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Accreditation by other agencies such as the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) may be beneficial, but it cannot replace CSWE and regional accreditation. Having the right accreditation will affect a student’s financial aid, career options, and licensure.

How to become a licensed social worker in Ohio

In Ohio, the Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board (CSWMFT) governs social worker licensure.

To become a licensed social worker (LSW), prospective social workers must take the following steps:

  • Hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in social work from an accredited institution. Majors other than social work do not meet this requirement. Bachelor’s and doctoral degrees must come from institutions regionally accredited through an agency approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), and master’s degrees must be from a CSWE-accredited program. Ideally, programs will hold both accreditations. Students may apply for licensure as early as the last semester of their degree programs.
  • Fill out the application. Go to the CSWMFT website’s LSW Quick Links section, click on the first link, and follow the instructions.
  • Clear a criminal background check. Social workers spend considerable time with vulnerable people, and the client’s safety is of paramount importance. Applicants with a criminal record may be considered by the board depending upon the circumstances involved and the rehabilitation completed.
  • Pass the exam. Once the board receives a complete application, applicant receive approval by email to sit for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. Students must pass the appropriate exam to be licensed.

Licenses are typically mailed five to 10 days after the board receives evidence that the applicant has completed all steps in how to become a social worker in Ohio.

Start Your Journey to a Rewarding Career

Join Malone University’s rigorous and challenging social work program. Our social work students collectively have one of the highest passing rates for the LSW certification in Ohio.

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Does Ohio offer reciprocity for licensed social workers?

Ohio has no reciprocity agreements with other states. Social workers who are licensed in a state other than Ohio and wish to transfer may submit verification of their license as well as the appropriate fee to the board.

Reciprocity is one reason to seek academic programs with CSWE accreditation at all levels. Other states may not accept a program without CSWE accreditation as meeting a comparable standard, delaying or complicating out-of-state transfers.

How do I renew my social worker’s license in Ohio?

Licenses expire every two years. To renew a license, social workers must earn 30 continuing education units (CEUs), at least three of them in ethics, and submit a renewal application. Social workers can search online, inquire through the state board, or talk to representatives at a local university about where to find appropriate CEUs.

What careers are open after getting licensed as a social worker in Ohio?

All social workers help their clients live better lives, but each professional can choose their own career journey. Some social workers place children in foster or adoptive families. Others help clients living in senior care facilities to access financial, social, or medical resources. And some work in schools, providing clinical services to Ohio students.

For anyone interested in serving others at a vulnerable time in life, getting started on the journey to becoming a licensed social worker is a great choice.

Become a Social Worker

Join Malone University’s rigorous and challenging social work program. Our social work students collectively have one of the highest passing rates for the LSW certification in Ohio. Our online Social Work offers the flexibility you need and an experienced faculty, all of whom have Ph.D.s and are experts in their field, and have a variety of expertise and interests. The program also provides field instruction, giving you the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience. Start your journey to a rewarding career in social work with Malone University.