Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM) – This certification demonstrates that you’re capable of practicing non-clinical social work and managing other social workers. It’s not required by state law, however employers may prefer or require this certification.
To be eligible for a credential at any level from the North Carolina Social Work Certificate and Licensure Board (NCSWCLB) you’ll need:
Renewal – In addition to meeting the general renewal requirements for all credentials, to be eligible to renew the LCSWA you must pass the ASWB Clinical exam within two years. You can only practice as an LCSWA for up to six years, at which point you must meet the requirements to become an LCSW.
All credentials expire after two years on June 30th. To renew you need to earn 40 hours of continuing education and submit this form to the NCSWCLB. Renewal fees are $70, $90, $140, $150, and $150, respectively.
If you’re using a BSW or MSW to qualify for a North Carolina social work credential they must be from programs that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). If you’re qualifying with a doctoral degree in Social Work it must be accredited by the US Department of Education; the CSWE doesn’t accredit at the doctoral level. North Carolina is home to 35 programs that are CSWE accredited, including at least two that are offered in a hybrid format with online and on-campus courses.
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)
A BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program is the minimum educational requirement for the CSW and CSWM credentials, and there are 23 such programs in North Carolina. These typically take four years to complete and total around 120 semester credits. They also include a field education experience that’s at least 400 hours that takes place in the local community.
Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)
Holding an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program is the minimum educational requirement for the CMSW, LCSWA, and LCSW credentials, and there are 12 such programs in North Carolina. You can expect to invest at least two years to earn an MSW, and they typically total at least 30 semester credits. Being CSWE-accredited means the master’s program must include at least 900 hours of field education, which offers a great opportunity to witness hands-on advanced social work being practiced.
Doctoral Degree in Social Work
Earning a doctoral degree in this field demonstrates mastery of the subject as an academic discipline. It also fulfills the educational requirement for the CMSW, LCSWA, and LCSW credentials. Doctoral programs are offered in two formats: a PhD which tends to be geared more towards research, and a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) which can tend to be more practice-oriented, often focusing on a clinical aspect of social work.
Where licensing requirements are substantially equivalent to those of North Carolina’s, the NCSWCLB may recognize out-of-state social work licenses based on comity and grant North Carolina licenses at all levels. You can apply on the traditional application and submit the following supplemental materials as required by the credential level you’re applying for:
- Official college transcripts in a sealed envelope
- Official ASWB exam scores in a sealed envelope
- Clinical social work supervision verification form
- Employer verification form – for LCSWAs, LCSWs, and CSWMs
- Out-of-state license verification form
- A copy of the out-of-state laws and regulations for obtaining the social work credential you have – required for all out-of-state applicants
How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in North Carolina?
Starting after high school graduation you can earn a social work credential in as soon as four years, while it takes at least eight years to reach the top credential. The minimum time you need to invest in education, and experience as needed, depends on which credential you’re pursuing:
- Four years to earn a CSW
- Six years to earn a CSWM, CMSW, or LCSWA
- Eight years to earn an LCSW
How Much do Social Workers Earn in North Carolina?
In 2020 the US Department of Labor reported these average annual salaries for the following social work career categories in North Carolina:
- Social and Community Service Manager – $70,280
- Healthcare Social Worker – $54,660
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $52,600
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $48,280
- Social Work Teachers, Post-secondary – $70,820
- Social Worker, All Other – $57,420
Social Work Resources in North Carolina
You can find additional information about careers, professional networking, certification and licensing, and legislative developments through the following organizations:
North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-NC) – Developed in 1955 and boasting 5,000 current members, this local chapter of the national organization provides resources on professional issues, association conferences, malpractice insurance, and much more; all from its office located within walking distance of the state legislature.
North Carolina Society for Clinical Social Work (NCSCSW) – This organization has been promoting excellence in the local practice of clinical social work since 1979. Today members enjoy benefits like free ethics workshops, discounted continuing education, and mentor matching for transitioning and new clinical social workers.
North Carolina School Social Workers’ Association (NCSSWA) – This organization represents social workers who work in schools across the state. It sponsors conferences, provides resources for continuing education, and is further sub-divided into local regional chapters throughout North Carolina.
Career Opportunities in North Carolina
Some of the largest employers of social workers in North Carolina include:
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services – As the state-level department responsible for the health and well being of all North Carolinians, this agency implements its own programs in addition to developing local partnerships. Initiatives address issues including children’s services, substance abuse, mental health, low-income populations, and aging adults.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools – Serving as the district for the entire county, this agency is the 18th-largest of its kind in the nation, and the second-largest public school district in the state. Home to over 147,000 students annually, its cadre of more than 9,000 teachers ensure quality learning is at the forefront in each of its 177 schools.
Duke University Hospital – From its humble 1930s roots as a small regional hospital, today this healthcare provider has grown to a 957 acute-care bed level-one trauma facility; the flagship educational center for the entire Duke University Health System.
Triangle Springs – Providing mental health treatment and substance abuse services to the greater Raleigh area, this agency professionally addresses serious adult issues with treatment choices that include inpatient mental health and rehabilitation programs as well as outpatient and detox options.
Guilford County Schools – Headquartered in Greensboro and serving schools throughout the county, last year this district enrolled upwards of 71,000 K-12 students in 125 schools. A network of nearly 9,000 full-time staff including 756 National Board-certified teachers has earned GCS 9th-place national recognition as one of the best-quality schools in America.
Durham Mental Health Services – From mothers with newborns to elderly with mental health issues, DMHS has been helping people improve their lives since 1987. It offers residential programs, crisis response, family support services, and educational resources with the combined expertise of a team that numbers over 180 professionals.