The Georgia Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists (found here) issues two types of social work licenses:
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Master Social Worker (MSW) – With this license you can provide social work services to all types of people, including independently in private practice, provided:
- You must work under direct supervision during your first two years of practice.
- You cannot engage independently in practice that includes counseling or psychotherapy techniques; if you want to use these techniques you must use them under supervision, and can only use them on a limited basis for the purpose of gaining experience to become a CSW.
Clinical Social Worker (CSW) – With this type of license you can provide all social work services that a MSW can, and additionally you can:
- Use counseling and psychotherapy techniques independently without supervision.
- Provide supervision for MSWs.
Becoming Licensed as a Social Worker in Georgia
The MSW and CSW licensing process is similar in many ways, starting with the eligibility requirements.
Both licenses require you to have at least a master’s degree in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited school, and both licenses require you to pass an exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB): the ASWB Masters exam for the MSW license, and the ASWB Clinical exam for the CSW license.
You can apply for either license online, or with a paper application (MSW, CSW) that you mail in to the Georgia State Board. There is a $100 application fee for either application.
Once you’ve fulfilled all the licensing requirements except testing, you’ll submit a completed application. At this point the Georgia State Board will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared for testing and you can register for the appropriate exam.
After you’ve passed the exam and the Georgia State Board has been notified, it will issue your license.
Additional Supervised Experience Requirement for the CSW License – Before the Georgia State Board will clear you for the Clinical exam with the ASWB, and in order to submit a complete CSW application with the State Board, you’ll need to complete a period of supervised experience.
You need three years of supervised clinical social work experience, including 120 hours of direct supervision. You may be able to substitute a doctoral degree in Social Work or a closely related field for some of the years of experience. You’ll need to list your completed qualifying supervised work experience on your CSW license application.
Renewing Your Social Work License in Georgia?
MSW and CSW licenses expire every two years. To renew them you’ll need to earn 35 hours of qualifying continuing education for each biannual renewal. Stipulations for this include:
- At least five hours in professional ethics.
- Up to 10 hours can be obtained online.
- Up to five hours of independent study.
- No more than 20 hours can be from any one presentation, course, or workshop.
Social Work Degrees in Georgia
The minimum education requirement to earn any social work license in Georgia is a master’s degree in Social Work from a school that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Generally you need a bachelor’s degree in any field to qualify for acceptance into a master’s-level Social Work program, with some programs having more stringent requirements for acceptance, such as an undergraduate degree in Social Work. Social Work degree programs at all levels can be offered online and on-campus.
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work
Georgia is home to 10 undergraduate Social Work programs that are accredited by the CSWE. These include at least 400 hours of field education, and are a great way to get an introductory sense into what this field is like. A bachelor’s degree in Social Work is a perfect segue for gaining relevant work experience, and master’s-level Social Work programs can prefer or require this undergraduate degree for admission.
Master’s Degree in Social Work
Currently you can find seven CSWE-accredited master’s degree programs in Social Work based in Georgia. Conferring the degree that’s the minimum educational requirement for state licensure in this field, these programs include a field education experience that’s at least 900 hours. This experience allows you to witness theory being turned into practice, and is a great way to make professional connections with social work agencies in the local community.
Doctoral Degree in Social Work
Not only does a doctoral degree in Social Work demonstrate a mastery of your field; it can also fulfill some of the supervised work experience requirements for earning a Georgia CSW license. Degrees at this level typically come in the form of the PhD in Social Work that can be more research-based, and Doctoral of Social Work (DSW) programs that can be more clinically-based. Though both PhD and DSW programs can often be tailored to your individual academic goals. The CSWE doesn’t accredit doctoral-level Social Work programs.
Length of time to Become a Social Worker in Georgia?
The time it takes to become a licensed social worker in Georgia depends on which social work credential you’re going for. You can qualify for the MSW license in as soon as about six years: four years of undergraduate study plus two years to earn a master’s degree in Social Work. With three years of additional experience –nine in total– you can potentially qualify for the CSW license.
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While there are no reciprocity or endorsement options for out-of-state licensees in Georgia, Georgia’s requirements for its CSW and MSW licenses are shared in common with many other states. If you have the necessary education and experience, and have passed the appropriate ASWB exam, you can apply for licensure in Georgia.
If you’ve already passed the ASWB exam for licensure in a different state, you must complete your application via the paper form and mail it to the board; you cannot complete your Georgia licensure application online.
How Much do Social Workers Earn in Georgia?
The following figures are the average annual salaries for several different types of social workers, reported by the US Department of Labor for Georgia in 2020:
- Social and Community Service Manager – $67,720
- Healthcare Social Worker – $54,400
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $42,760
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $44,680
- Social Worker, All Other – $73,830
Georgia Social Work Organizations, Chapters and Resources
You can find more resources about social work careers through the following organizations:
Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work (GSCSW) – Sponsoring events that include an annual lecture with a psycho-dynamic focus, the GSCSW has been advancing the practice of clinical social work throughout the state since its founding in 1980.
School Social Workers Association of Georgia (SSWAG) – This organization focuses on removing barriers to learning and improving the quality of student services, with the ultimate goal of enhancing students’ educational and individual potential.
Georgia Social Work Oncology Group (GA-SWOG) – This agency’s roots stretch back to 1997 when, through a recognition of the need for support, professional growth, continuing education, support, mentoring, and all-around camaraderie, it was founded as a place where oncology social workers could come together.
Georgia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-GA) – Comprised of four regional chapters within the state, this agency has three committees to address the issues it sees as most important for social workers in Georgia: the Social Justice and Legislative Committee, the Political Action Committee, and the Chapter Committee on Nominations and Leadership Identification.
Career Opportunities in Georgia
Some of the largest employers of social workers in Georgia include the following:
Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) – This state-level agency is one of the most important in the state for coordinating the need for social work services with local partners and agencies throughout Georgia. The range of subjects this department covers include elderly services like dementia care and a fatherhood support program that helps with career counseling counseling
Atlanta Public Schools – Comprised of nine high school clusters and including 91 learning sites distributed among 58 neighborhood schools, 18 charter schools, six partner schools, two academies, and three alternative programs, APS is responsible for educating 52,000 students.
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Georgia Addiction Treatment Center – Located in Atlanta metro’s Peachtree City, this agency is focused on helping people conquer their addictions to alcohol and substance abuse. It features a range of programs including a partial hospitalization program, outpatient treatment, and community housing.
Richmond County School System – Serving the Augusta area, this district is one of the largest in the state serving approximately 31,000 students. RCSS is committed to offering an educational system that teaches students with a whole-person approach; an education system that is competitive on a global scale.
Emory Healthcare – With 250 locations throughout the greater Atlanta area and state including 11 hospitals, this agency brings the expertise of over 2,800 doctors to patients in need of medical care. As the largest healthcare system in Georgia, this organization is on the radar for any professional who focuses on healthcare social work.
Ray of Hope Counseling Services – Serving eight locales throughout the state, this agency focuses on providing services for individuals, couples, and families, including children and adolescents. Services include traditional counseling, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), psychological testing, and equine therapy.
Fulton County Human Services – This county-level agency serves the greater Atlanta metro area within its boundaries, offering services that relate to fair housing, financial education and management, neighborhood stabilization programs, homelessness services, and community health programs – especially those that relate to youths.