Being a social worker can be a challenging career, but the payoff is exponential. As a social worker, you will have the chance to make a real difference in the lives of children and families. Texas social workers help arrange adoptions, match children with caring foster families, and in some cases, help reunite families. They also help provide mental support to children who are going through big changes in their lives, such as a parent’s divorce or a family tragedy. Social workers in Texas also work with adults through every stage of their lives. As a social worker, you will help grieving families, counsel college students, and work with anyone who is in need of mental counseling. The job may be difficult at times, and it comes with a rollercoaster of emotions. However, the impacts you will have on children and adults during their times of need will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
There are a lot of ways to enter a career in social work in Texas. Your path depends on what education you already have. Do you already have a bachelor’s degree? Do you already have a master’s degree? Is your undergrad degree in Social Work? Are you a practicing social worker from a different state who is considering relocating to Texas? These are all factors to consider when deciding in what steps you will need to take to start your career. However, no matter how you begin your journey, your final steps in becoming a social worker will be acquiring the correct licensure and finding a job that suits your goals and passions. Here is a breakdown of what your journey could look like.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in social work, you are well on your way to becoming a licensed social worker. Your bachelor’s degree in social work has equipped you to take your exams and pass with flying colors. To enter the social work field, you will first want to pursue a career as a licensed baccalaureate social worker. To reach this title, you will need to pass the Association of Social Work Board’s Bachelor’s Exam and the Texas state Jurisprudence exam. Once these two exams are passed, you will be awarded your licensure and will be ready to begin your career as an entry-level non-clinical social worker. From there, the sky is the limit!
If you have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a different area of study but are now hoping to pursue Texas state social work, it can be a little tricky to gain the licensure you need. Since the entry-level licensure requires a bachelor’s in social work, if you are hoping to break into the field your best bet is to head back to school. Luckily, you do not need to go back to college for another bachelor’s degree. Instead, you can apply to grad schools that offer a Master’s in Social Work instead. This is a necessary step if you hope to advanced your social work career anyway, so you are not wasting time by pursuing higher education. While in school, see if you can find good internships or jobs in the field to help you gain experience and perhaps some supervised hours. You will need those as you advance your social work career.
If you are a licensed social worker in a different state and are looking to move to Texas, you should not have to worry about pursuing any more education. The Texas Board of Social Work does not have any reciprocity agreements with any other states. However, if your licence was given by the Association of Social Work Board, you should be able to skip any Texas exams. All you would need to do is meet their requirements for your chosen Texas social worker license verification and apply. If your licence was distributed by a different board, you will simply need to meet the requirements of Texas and retake the exams.
As with any regulated profession, licensure is important to make sure every social worker is qualified to do their job in an ethical and consistent way. Each licence listed has different requirements and equips you do to different jobs within the social work field. Here is a synopsis of what you will be able to do with each and how you can acquire it.
The first level of a social work career is to become a licensed baccalaureate social worker. A licensed baccalaureate social worker is qualified to do entry-level social work and does not provide clinical services to clients. This licensure requires a bachelor’s degree in social work from a Council on Social Work Education accredited university or college. From there, you will need passing scores on the Association of Social Work Board’s Bachelor’s Exam and the Texas state Jurisprudence exam. In Texas, it does not require any field work to gain this licence.
To renew this licence, you must complete thirty clock hours of continued education. This is a great place to start your career in social work. Thirty clock hours of continuing education are required for all levels of licensure, and it must be completed within 24 months to ensure your licence is always up-to-date. According to the Texas Department of Health State Services, licence renewal is important to keep your skills up-to-date so you can best serve your clients. Social work requires a continual pursuit of knowledge, and continuing your education is one way to encourage that pursuit.
Continual education can come in many forms. You can attend seminars, college courses, independent study programs, workshops, conferences, or participate in institutes. However, only programs and courses that are offered through Board-approved providers can be used towards your 30 hours. The details for the program should always indicate if it is approved by the Board, to not cause confusion.
After becoming a licensed baccalaureate social worker, you can decide if you would like to advance your career by continuing your education.
This next career level in social work is to become a licensed master social worker (LMSW). To gain this level of licensure in Texas, you must earn a master’s degree in social work from a Council on Social Work Education accredited university or college. And due to the nature of your career, you will also be required to pass a criminal background check to receive this licence. Like when becoming a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker, no field work is required for this level of licensure. Finally, once you have graduated with a Master’s, you will be ready to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Master’s Level Exam and the Texas State Jurisprudence exam. Once passing these two exams, you will be awarded with a master social worker licensure. To renew this licence, you must complete thirty clock hours of continuing education.
The next level of social work licensure in Texas is becoming a licensed master social worker – advanced practitioner. Gaining this level of Texas social work licensing means you have been working as a master social worker for awhile and are not qualified for more advanced positions in the field. To acquire this level of licensure, you must first have held your master social worker licence for two years and gained two years of non-clinical social work practice. During those two years, you will have needed to gain 100 hours of supervision. After showing proof of your experience and supervised hours, you must receive passing scores on the Association of Social Workers Advanced Generalist Level Exam and the Texas state Jurisprudence exam.
Like all other licences, your master social worker – advanced practitioner license must be renewed every two years by completing 30 hours of continuing education.
This is the highest level of licensure you can recieve if you are only interested in non-clinical social work services. If you are interested in pursuing your career to the clinical level, gaining this licensure will help you acquire a job that will provide you with the hours of supervised experience needed to gain a clinical licence.
Next on your career path is to become a licensed clinical social worker. The requirements for receiving this Texas social work license are similar to the master social worker – advanced practitioner licence, but becoming a licensed clinical social worker opens you up to a career in clinical social work. As a clinical social worker, your work will be based around therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy. You will be able to work at a variety of institutions including hospices, rehabilitation centers, and even universities. Additionally, clinical social workers have the option to go into private practice.
To gain this level of Texas social work licensure, you must have two years experience working as a licensed master social worker and 100 hours of supervision. Once you have sent in your application, you can apply for the Association of Social Work Boards for their Clinical or Advanced Generalist Level exam and the Texas State Jurisprudence exam. Once you have passed this exam, you will be awarded your clinical social worker licence.
Like all other licences, your licensed clinical social worker must be renewed every two years by completing 30 hours of continuing education.
Another option for those holding a master social worker licence is to gain an independent practice recognition. This recognition allows you to pursue a private practice of your own. With an independent practice recognition, you can work under contract and bill clients or third parties directly for your services. This licence is only for those pursuing non-clinical social work services.
To gain this level of licensure, you must work for 24 months under your master of social work licensure including 100 hours of supervision.
Your independent practice recognition must be renewed every two years by completing 30 hours of continuing education.
We know that not all careers are perfect for every person. With the variety of careers available in the social work field, no two social workers’ resumes will look the same. Here are the top jobs for each level of licensure.
Baccalaureate social worker licences get a bad reputation as not being useful in the workforce. However, there are plenty of jobs you can do to get your gain experience and earn a living with this level of licensure. According to Social Work Job Bank’s appropriately titled article “There IS a Job Market for BSW Graduates” job titles for licensed baccalaureate social worker’s can look like
“habilitation specialist, mental health assistant, group home worker, residential counselor, teaching parent, program coordinator, activity director, [or] workshop director.” This article suggests getting creative with your searches and not only looking for job headings like “‘professional,’ ‘health care,’ or ‘social services.’”
Three promising careers at this level are Case Manager, Child and Family Social Worker, and Substance Abuse Counselor.
Case managers have the important job of caring for people during their time of need. Your clients may include homeless people, people battling addiction, hospice and chronically ill patients, and individuals with developmental disabilities. As a case manager you will work as a representative and middle man for your clients and other professionals, including their doctors, government workers, therapists, and even employers. In this profession, you will be employed by a hospital, community center, rehabilitation center, hospice, or halfway house or group home.
Child and family social workers have the challenging and rewarding job of looking out for children who may be vulnerable, abused, neglected, or otherwise in need of care. In this career, you will typically work for a government agency, such as child protective services, but you could also be employed by a school, adoption agency, or community center. Your primary role is to intervene when you suspect a child is being mistreated or abused at home. You may also be given the responsibility of finding foster families for newborn babies if their parents are considered unfit to take them home because of issues like drug abuse.
Substance abuse counselors work with people struggling with drug and alcohol addictions during all of the phases of their recovery. As a substance abuse counselor, you can work in a variety of settings including in and out-patient rehabilitation centers, community centers, group homes or halfway houses, mental health facilities, and hospitals. Depending on where you work, you may be responsible for drug testing clients, running small groups, counseling family members, or helping with paperwork. If you wish to continue in this profession, you can pursue a voluntary certification in alcohol and substance abuse counseling that will help better prepare you for your career as well as earn you a pay raise.
Once you have acquired your master’s in social work, your job opportunities open up substantially. If you have been working in social work under your baccalaureate social worker licence, you may have the opportunity to move to a more senior position at the facility you currently work in. However, an entirely new career path may be in order as well.
Court advocates use their social work skills to advocate for the rights and needs of individuals within the criminal or civil justice system. As a court advocate, you will be employed by an organization that assists people who need extra assistance during their trials. Your clients could be individuals who have commited a crime, refugees, underage offenders, people with mental illnesses who have been accused or have commited a crime, and survivors of domestic abuse.
Therapists are similar to psychologists, but they are not legally allowed to prescribe medications for mental issues. Therapists sit down with clients to discuss how they can meet their long-term and short-term goals, mental health related or otherwise, through dialogue, treatment planning, meditation, and other methods. As a therapist, you could be employed through a variety of agencies or institutions. You could potentially work in a rehab facility, a therapy group, or a school or university. Additionally, you can opt to go into private practice. In private practice, you can grow your own clientele and choose to focus on one specific speciality, such as drug addiction or postpartum depression.
School social workers look out for the best interests of the students at their school. School social workers use their skills to work with students one-on-one to assess topics such as behavioral problems, family issues, learning disabilities, developmental delays or disorders, slipping grades, anxiety, and social skills. School social workers may also conduct group sessions with students in the events that counseling is necessary to a group of students at once. This can come up when a class is exhibiting behavioral issues or there has been a death of a classmate.
Once reaching the clinical level in your career, the sky is the limit for your job opportunities. As a licensed clinical social worker, you now have the chance to work clinically with patients. Many of the jobs available to licensed clinical social workers are similar to those of licensed masters of social work, but you are able to take a much more hands on approach. No longer does your work have to be based off theory. Instead, you can now diagnose and treat patients with mental, behavioral, or emotional issues. With this level of licensure, you can work in schools, hospitals, rehab facilities, private practice, or even for the military.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), documents the 2014 Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service Members. The study compared members of the armed forces to civilians in the general population and found that the rate of major depression was five times higher among service members.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is almost 15 times as high. It is evident that the role of social workers is desperately needed among our service members and veterans to promote positive mental health and conduct early intervention on issues that could affect them for the rest of their lives. As a Veterans Affairs social worker, you will provide long-term case management to veterans in need due to medical problems, mental health issues, or other problems. In this role, you may also work with the veteran’s family members to help them adjust to any behavioral or emotional issues the service member in their family may have. Additionally, you can provide counseling to the family members to help them assist in the recovery of their family member.
Executive directors of nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to make a difference in their communities through leading a group of like-minded individuals to create change. Nonprofits can range from after school programs for your communities youth, senior facilities, women’s shelters, and everything in between. In this role, you will be in charge of all aspects of your nonprofit. This can include marketing, fundraising, education, counseling, budgeting, and managing employees. It may seem like a lot of work, but there is no better way to make a difference in your community.
As the name suggests, social science researchers are more focused on the research side of social work. Research is an important part of all social work, and by gathering data and comparing methods of treatment, social science researchers can help improve how social workers do their jobs, and by extension, researchers help improve their community mental health.
If you are a licensed social worker from another state looking to move to Texas, you will be interested in what reciprocity agreements Texas has with other states. At this time, the Texas Social Work Board has no official reciprocity agreements in place in any other state. However, if your licence or certification was granted based on the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), your exam requirement may be waived when you move to Texas.
Luckily, the Association of Social Work Boards is used in all US states, as well as the US Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.
However, if your licensure came from a different association, you may need to retake your exams. Additionally, you will need all of Texas’s criteria for the licensure you are applying for.
Texas State Board of Social Work Exam, before taking the rxam, you will want to make sure you meet all of the requirements for your licensure. Once you have submitted proof the work experience, education, and supervised hours required for your level of licensure, you will have to pay an exam fee. For the Bachelor’s and Master Exams, the fee is $230. For the Advanced Generalist and Clinical Social Worker, the fee is $260.
No matter what exam you are taking, it will consist of 170 questions. Each question is multiple choice with four possible answers listed. However, only 150 of the questions on each exam are graded. The other twenty are pretest questions added to test their effectiveness as exam questions for future social work tests. These ungraded questions are scattered throughout the test at random, and those taking the test will not be informed of which questions are graded and which are not. This means it is important to treat every questions as if it was for a grade while taking the exam.
Candidates will have four hours to complete the examination. Exams are offered electronically at Pearson Professional Centers across the country and throughout the world. There is no set exam times, but instead, you will need to make an appointment with the texas state board of social work examiners to take the test.
Return on Investment: What it takes to earn more as a Texas Social Worker. Before taking the plunge and going back to school for a high degree and better job prospects, it is important to know what your return on investment can look like.
According to CollegeCalc.com, Texas has some of the most affordable tuiton in the country. In fact, tuition in Texas is 69% cheaper than the national average. That means if you pursue a bachelor’s degree in Social Work in Texas, you tuition costs for four years of school will average around $40,000.
Master’s degrees vary by what school you choose and if you attend in person or opt for online learning. However, tuition for a master’s degree in Texas averages around $33,133.
Needless to say, there are other fees involved with going to school, including room and board, books, and supplies.
That all depends on what level of licensure has been acquired and where one works. However, according to Payscale, the average salary for a licensed baccalaureate social worker in Texas is $37,614 per year. This is the only level of licensure you can achieve without having a master’s in social work. So after investing $40,000 in your education, you can expect to be making also the same amount back in your career each year.
When you become a licensed master of social work, you can expect a substantial pay raise. According to Payscale, the average master of social work salary in Texas is $45,977 per year. However, at this level, you will have earned a master’s degree in social work, which means you have invested around $73,000 in your education. This is a great incentive to pursue higher social work positions in your career and increase your annual earnings.
After working as a licensed master of social work for two years, you are eligible to advance your licensure to a licensed master of social work – advanced practitioner. Once you have received this level of licensure, once again, you can expect a notable pay raise. According to Salary.com, on average, a licenced master of social work holding an advanced practitioner licence recieves $66,625 per year.
When you become a clinical social worker, the sky is the limit when it comes compensation. According to Payscale, the average salary for a licenced clinical social worker is $69,454 a year. However, your salary can span into the six figures depending on experience and where you work.
As you can see, striving for higher education in the social work field will only help you in the long run. Your degrees will pay for themselves in a short period of time, and you will have set yourself up for a rewarding career.
Social workers are true heroes in our communities. They come to the rescue when people are going through their most vulnerable times and act as a beacon of hope in their lives. As a social worker, you will have the chance to help mend families, create fresh starts for children in need, and guide grieving individuals through their hardest times. The job might not always be fun, but you will always be making a difference in people’s lives.