Social Work

Start Planning Today for a Social Work Career In Louisiana

Start Planning Today for a Social Work Career In Louisiana
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Noodle Staff February 15, 2018

You want to be a social worker in Louisiana? Noodle has all the info you need to start from scratch, transfer or grow your career.

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How to Become a Social Worker in Louisiana

If you’re interested in a career that will carry you through to retirement,why not consider becoming a social worker in Louisiana? There are a number of unique paths you can take, and you can choose to focus on different areas. Each comes with its own challenges and rewards, and you may opt for one path over another given your particular interests and passions.

If you have already researched a bit on your own, you may realize that there are a number of tests and courses and requirements that you will need to meet. You may even have some idea of the area or areas in which you would eventually enjoy practicing social work. One thing you will come to understand when you work in this field is that, although you will be required to work hard and be very dedicated to your craft, you will also enjoy tremendous rewards. We are here to help you along your way to the satisfying career you have always dreamed of having.

Each state has its own requirements and regulations for those wanting to become or continue practicing social work; in Louisiana, it is no different. In order to work as a licensed social worker, or practice clinical social work (either as part of an agency or independently), you will need to have a master’s degree in social work (MSW); if you have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), you can be a registered social worker. In this article, we will discuss the differences in the requirements and the jobs you are allowed to practice with each.


“I Want to Be A Social Worker!”

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Becoming a Social Worker in Louisiana: An Overview

When you think of Louisiana, you might think of Mardi Gras, the delicious food and drink, and of course the fun, friendly people. You may not have thought of it yet, but Louisiana is also a great place to start or continue your social work career, and the great part is that working here comes with all the benefits of living here! Working here, you will have the unique opportunity to work with the individuals and families that live here and need the services you can help provide. You can help get clients on the right track to where they want to be in life; you can serve to create and maintain services communities and the individuals and families living in them so desperately need in order to lead happy, healthy, productive lives. As a social worker, depending on your certification, you could diagnose and treat clients. More than 4.6 million people live in this beautiful state, and there are over 8,000 licensed, registered, or certified social workers; with that number expected to grow in the coming years. If you are considering becoming or continuing your career as a social worker, you would do well to practice in Louisiana.

Paths Toward Louisiana Social Work Licensure

If you want to work as a social worker in Louisiana, there are a few different paths you can take in order to get the license you need to be able to do what you want to do. Depending on your current situation, your first step may be getting a degree from an accredited school or furthering your education with an additional degree. You may also need to take and pass a state Board exam, if you have not already done so. If you are currently attending a four-year college or university in the state of Louisiana and you would like to explore the possibility of getting certified as a social worker, you should consider one of the seven Louisiana social work schools accredited by the CSWE. As a social work student, you will take classes to prepare you for your eventual career; you will have the opportunity to learn a lot about human behavior and social environments, plus social work theories and practices, research, and welfare policies. All of this information will serve to assist you as you enter the workforce and start practicing social work.

I already have a beachlor’s degree in social work

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in social work, it will make the process that much faster and easier for you. f not, you can still get a master’s degree in social work if that is the direction you want to go. Regardless of the degree you currently hold, you might want to start by updating and polishing your resumé. If you are sincerely interested in a career in social work but you do not have a degree in it just yet, you might want to consider volunteering, as any experience you have may serve to benefit you in your job or school search. Once you have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), you can become a registered social worker and start practicing in your chosen area of expertise. At this level, you cannot practice independently, but you can work toward that if you like. There are plenty of possibilities open to you once you have a bachelor’s degree in social work, including positions as case managers and specialists. Furthermore, you can work in the administration of programs and related activities.

If you are working toward or already have a career in social work in Louisiana, you will hear a lot about the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners, or LABSWE, which exists to ensure the proper, qualified, and authorized practice of social work. It is the way LABSWE makes sure that everyone who practices social work in Louisiana has a minimum level of understanding by administering tests to all applicants looking to begin or continue their careers in social work. But a test is far from the only requirement in this career field. You will need a degree in social work before you apply to become a social worker at any level, and you will need to pass the test in order to get a credential regardless of your level of education (i.e., whether you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree).

Are you interested in taking your social work career to the next level? Start by researching the schools accredited by the CSWE. There are seven of them in Louisiana, so there is a good chance you will find one that suits your particular needs and interests. When applying for a program in which you can earn your master’s degree in social work, it may be good to start sprucing up and updating your resumé and asking for a variety of individuals in your personal and professional life to provide good, positive references for you. While not all programs require you to take the GRE or any other exams before you are accepted, you may need to take an exam in order to be accepted and start the program.

In the process of earning your Master’s degree in social work, you should take advantage of all opportunities you can, as you may learn that you truly enjoy a certain aspect of this kind of work that you otherwise never would have realized you enjoy. New experiences can ignite a passion within you that will make your career immensely satisfying. You should use this time and these opportunities to experience all that you can. After you graduate with your master’s degree, you can apply for a credential as a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). If you want to be certified as a clinical social worker, you need at least 5,760 hours of practice under supervision.

Like other professions, exams are created to ensure those approved for working in the field with clients have a minimum level of understanding. As a social worker, it is of the utmost importance to provide your clients with uniform service. each social worker should know certain things about the complexities inherent in this kind of work, and each should be able to provide the best service they can give. The level of service should not vary too much from one social worker to another. Licensing exams help support that ideal. That is why exams are administered across the nation and around the world, although the topics and priorities on the exams may vary depending on the exam and the required knowledge base for a social worker (or whatever they choose to call that kind of work) in the specific area.

Different types of Louisiana social work licensure

The process of applying for a license can vary depending on the type of license for which you are applying. There are five different types of licenses (Registered Social Worker (RSW), Certified Social Worker (CSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Licenced Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker-BACS (LCSW-BACS)), and they have very specific sets of requirements. Depending on what type of work you want to do, you may be required to further your education in order to obtain the different licenses.

Registered Social Worker (RSW)

If you are applying to become a Registered Social Worker (RSW), you are required to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work from an accredited program before you submit your application to the Board (LABSWE). Once you are approved, you can work as a Generalist. Louisiana RSWs are required to have bachelor’s degrees from an accredited four-year college or university; after that, you can apply for a license, submit your transcripts to the LABSWE, and pass a background check. When you renew your license (as you must every year if you want to continue working in your position), you must show proof that you have completed your CEUs sometime between June 1 of the previous year and June 30 of the current year.

Certified Social Worker (CSW) or Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

If you are applying to become a Certified Social Worker (CSW) or a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), you will need a master’s degree in social work from an accredited graduate school before you submit your application to the Board. Once approved, you can work at a social work agency as long as you are under some supervision; if you have an LCSW that supervises you, you are allowed to provide psychotherapy. Private practice is not allowed at this level.

Master of Social Work (MSW) in Louisiana

If learning about your fellow man and their environments, and if you have a passion for providing support and assistance for those down on their luck, you would be hard pressed to find a more interesting line of work. Having a master’s degree in social work will provide you with ample opportunities for finding just the right career fit for you, and with the variety of work and people you will no doubt get to interact with, you will find joy when you realize how much you love coming to work every day. In whichever position you choose, you will learn more and more each day, and your understanding will deepen and grow over the years.

It used to be, that you needed a bachelor’s degree in order to get a good job, or at least the job you wanted, but in today’s market, more and more people are finding the truth is that you need a master’s degree, not just a bachelor’s degree. That holds true for almost all career fields today, and social work is no exception. While it is true that you can enter the social work field with a bachelor’s degree, in order to get promoted, make more money, and have more opportunities, you will find that having any advanced degrees will serve you well. It will open doors for you, and you will be considered for various opportunities, including advancement and promotions. It could be that, because of the sheer number of candidates applying for these highly sought-after careers, those with bachelor’s degrees may not even warrant an interview, but those with master’s degrees and higher will score interviews.

The flexibility you can enjoy when you have a master’s degree in social work is not to be matched. You can work in such a wide variety of fields, and that does not even account for the specific titles you could hold or the tasks for which you could be responsible! You could work in a human services agency in a wide variety of jobs, at a school, or in a therapy office; you could work with children, couples, adults, or elderly individuals; your job could focus on families, therapy, or communities. You could work in the field or in an office, supervising others. With a master’s degree, you could even teach at the community or junior college level, if you want. The possibilities and opportunities you will have available to you are practically endless!

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

In order to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), you are required to have a master’s degree in social work, plus at least 5,760 postgraduate practice hours, of which 3,840 of those hours must have been under supervision, and you must pass the exam before you submit an application to the Board. Once approved, you can practice independent advanced social work with an agency or at a private practice.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker – Board Approved Clinical Supervisor (LCSW-BACS)

In order to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker-BACS, you must fulfill all the same requirements as the LCSW, but you then have the option of seeking an additional certification, one to make you a Board Approved Clinical Supervisor, or BACS. Supervisors are required to have their LCSW licenses plus have three or more years of experience working as an LCSW.

As a social worker in the state of Louisiana, regardless of your position, you will be required to maintain your license by obtaining a certain number of continuing education units, or CEUs, every year, between June 1 of the previous year and June 30 of the current year. Depending on your certification, you will be required to take courses that cover specific topics related to your position. Every social worker must complete at least three of these units (or hours) in the subject of social work ethics. If you diagnose and treat clients, you will be required to take at least ten hours on the topic of clinical social work. If you are employed as an LCSW-BACS, you will need to take at least three hours of clinical supervision courses every two years.

Louisiana social work license renewal

In Louisiana, social workers are required to renew their licenses annually. Every year, social workers are required to go through the process of license renewal by the last day of August; if they fail to submit the proper documentation and forms by that date, their licenses will lapse, which renders then ineligible to practice social work. However, lapsed licenses can be renewed by November 30 with no additional fee; you can renew your license between December 1 and February 28 of the following year, but you will be assessed a fee.

Which states share social work licensure reciprocity with Louisiana?

Although no other states recognize a social work license from Louisiana, and Louisiana does not recognize social work licenses from any other states, the LABSWE will offer social work license endorsements. If you have a social work license from another state, but you want to work in Louisiana, you can request an endorsement by submitting the following along with your application:

  • Your photo (like what you would have taken for a passport)
  • Your transcripts (to be sent directly from the school(s) you attended in pursuit of your social work degree)
  • Criminal records results
  • Official ASWB scores
  • Supervisor verification form
  • Verification of licensure form
  • A copy of the license laws of the state where you hold your license
  • A fee (which varies depending on the type of license you hold, but typically ranges $50-100)

Approved Louisiana Social Work Programs

There are many different schools that offer CSWE-accredited degrees in social work. While any of them can get you where you want to be if becoming a social worker is in your plans, certain ones may appeal more to you, given the different teachers that work there, the specific courses offered, the student-to-staff ratios, or the location, for example. You should carefully select which school appeals most to you depending on your particular preferences. Here is the list of school accredited by the CSWE:

Grambling State University – Located in the Northern central part of Louisiana (between Monroe and Shreveport), and has a reputable school of social work. Grambling’s social work program aims to provide students the education they need to be successful in social work careers.

Louisiana College – The only four-year Baptist institution of higher learning in the state of Louisiana. this program will prepare to to immediately enter the workforce.

Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge – This school boasts its status as “a leading school of social work, a vibrant center for intellectual development, a leader in promoting and supporting diverse communities, and an advocate for an integrated and inclusive model of social work.”

Northwestern State University of Louisiana – Located in Natchitochessocial the social work program focuses primarily on field work, emphasizing the extreme importance of that aspect of many social work positions in their curriculum.

Southeastern Louisiana University – In Hammond, Louisiana, you can enjoy a 20:1 student-to-teacher ratio. This school’s social work degree program website provides a wealth of career information, including the types of jobs and employers you may be interested in.

Southern University at New Orleans – Located less than ten miles from all of the excitement and diversity of downtown New Orleans. This CSWE-accredited school with a social work program is located in Baton Rouge. To learn more about their social work degree program, contact the Nelson Mandela College of Government & Social Sciences.

Tulane University – Also located in the bustling city of New Orleans, offers an online MSW as well as the traditional on-campus programs.

University of Louisiana – Monroe has hundreds of scholarships available for all kinds of students, seeking all types of degrees. Learn more about social work in general as well as their programs specifically and what graduates have gone on to do in their careers.

Louisiana Board of Social Work

As previously mentioned, there is a Louisiana Board of Social Work; currently, they have certified a total of 8,124 social workers of all kinds this year, including 1,487 RSWs, 358 CSWs, 2,345 LMSWs, 3,029 LCSWs, and 905 LCSW-BACs. The Board exists to make sure that all social workers have a minimum level of knowledge before they work in the field and especially with clients. It is of the most supreme importance that clients are given reliable information and provided with the most up-to-date services available.

Return on Investment: What it takes to earn more as a Louisiana social worker

Once you decide that a career in social work is the way you want to go, your next question might be how worth it this career path will be for you. How much money can you expect to earn? The answer to that question and more depend on the path you take, including the specific degree you hold and the position you get at a specific employer (i.e., one LCSW might make more or less than another based on the company or agency with which they are employed). In this section, we will give you a general overview of what you can expect to make in your career as a social worker.

As with any career, how much you actually earn will depend largely on your position. Entry level social workers will make less than those who have more experience, even if they have the same title. Furthermore, those in more advanced positions will also make more than entry level positions. In Louisiana, the median hourly wage for all social workers is about $25; the range typically starts at about $14 and goes up to about $37 (this information according to a recent study by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics), which amounts to a median of about $51,500 per year, or between $29,600 to $78,000 per year.

Works Cited

About the licensing exams.(retrieved February 3, 2018)

Careers in social work. (retrieved February 3, 2018)

A guide to a social work degree. (retrieved February 3, 2018)

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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