Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) provide essential mental health resources and treatment to those who need professional support. LCSWs typically work with individuals with mental or behavioral health conditions and are responsible for developing individualized treatment plans and monitoring their clients’ progress.
Licensed master social workers (LMSWs) work with individuals challenged by homelessness, lack of employment, and other issues, but do not have the clinical education and experience that LCSWs have. This means they cannot provide mental health treatment or counseling to clients unless they are under the direct supervision of an LCSW.
Social work employment is on the rise in Georgia, increasing career opportunities for prospective LCSWs and LMSWs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 13,960 social workers employed in Georgia in 2022. The demand for social workers is expected to increase, driving significant projected employment growth in Georgia by 2030. The projected growth areas are as follows:
- Mental health social workers — 26%
- Healthcare social workers — 19%
- Child, school, and family social workers — 18%
- All other social workers — 7.6%
Another benefit of the social work profession is the broad range of opportunities it offers. Social workers can work in private practice or find employment at one of the many hospitals, clinics, schools, or other institutions that require the services of an LCSW or LMSW.
However, before a social worker can officially begin practicing, they must meet a series of educational requirements as well as state-specific requirements to obtain licensure. Because state requirements vary, individuals interested in becoming social workers need to get familiar with them early so they know what’s expected.
In this post, we will explain the steps to obtain a social work license in Georgia. Further, we will discuss what to expect from a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree program, explore some of the top career choices in social work, and address some frequently asked questions aspiring social workers have.
How to Get Your Social Work License in Georgia
To become a social worker in Georgia, individuals must meet a series of requirements and submit their applications with all relevant documents. After covering the Georgia social work license requirements and submission process, we’ll provide some insight on securing a position in social work.
Georgia Social Work License Requirements
Meeting the appropriate educational benchmarks is a significant part of meeting the requirements for a social work license in Georgia. Both LCSW and LMSW students must:
- Earn a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
- Pass the relevant Association of Social Work Boards test. LCSW applicants must also accumulate at least 3,000 hours of LCSW-supervised work and 120 direct contact hours in the three years before applying for licensure.
Once those steps are complete, graduates can move forward with the CSW or MSW license application, which must be sent to the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists for review. The following steps break down the process and required documents needed to apply for a social work license in Georgia for the first time.
Applicants must submit:
- A completed, signed, and notarized application for licensure
- Initial licensure application fee of $100
- Georgia’s Post-Graduate Directed Experience Verification Form (not required for LMSWs)
- Georgia’s Post-Graduate Supervision Verification Form (not required for LMSWs)
- Two professional references
- Official college transcripts (not required for LMSWs)
- Secure and verifiable identity document
- Affidavit of citizenship
- Verification of licensure held in another state (if applicable)
- Immigration documents (if applicable)
- Background consent form (if applicable)
- Disciplinary action/sanctions (if applicable)
Individuals who have never been licensed before and have never passed the CSW or MSW national licensure exam must select the “Examination” option on their application. Those who have already passed the examination may select the “Exam Waiver” option on their application.
All forms must be submitted with the required application fee to be considered for a social work license in Georgia. Completed applications take approximately 20 business days to process.
If it is determined that the application isn’t complete or the required documents are missing, the board will send a deficiency letter as notification. The 20-day processing period starts over when the missing documentation is received.
If the board determines the individual’s application meets all their requirements, they will send an email notifying the applicant that they’ve been approved along with details on how to register for the CSW or MSW national licensure exam.
The CSW and MSW exams consist of 170 multiple-choice questions covering areas such as human development, diversity, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Students have four hours to complete the exam. Because the test measures competency using a variable format of questions that range in difficulty, there is no set passing score. MSW test takers must pay a $230 exam fee; CSW test takers must pay $260.
All social work licenses in Georgia expire on September 30 of even-numbered years. LCSWs and LMSWs must complete the license renewal process in time to ensure their licenses are maintained.
How to Become a Social Worker in Georgia
After obtaining licensure from the state of Georgia, social workers can begin their professional careers. For those who are wondering how to become a social worker in Georgia, the following are the necessary steps:
- Create an updated professional resume, including all relevant licenses, certifications, specialized training, areas of proficiency, and professional references. An effective social work resume should follow an organized format, showcase the applicant’s personality, and be completely error-free.
- Start applying for positions. Although submitting a resume for every open social work job in Georgia may be tempting, it’s best to exercise restraint and be selective. Applicants should identify the roles that match their education, skill set, and the type of clients they wish to work with.
- Go through the interview process. The vetting process should be mutual. In addition to preparing for the interviewer’s questions, applicants should have a list of questions regarding the practice’s work culture and environment, common client challenges, and core values.
Landing the right social worker job in Georgia may take several applications and interviews. Job seekers should do their best to remain optimistic throughout the process. Patience, persistence, and positivity are key when navigating the job market.
What Can You Do With a Social Work License in Georgia?
LCSWs and LMSWs have plenty of options to choose from in terms of employment and where they work. For those with a social work license in Georgia, opportunities are available in schools, government, healthcare, and the private sector.
The following sections provide information about the typical social work jobs in Georgia that candidates can explore and recent salary statistics.
Common Social Work Jobs in Georgia
A Master of Social Work degree and state licensure equips applicants to pursue various roles. When researching social work jobs in Georgia, applicants can consider the following positions:
- Clinical social worker
- Case management supervisor
- Private practitioner
- Crisis manager
Applicants should read each job description carefully to ensure they’re up to the challenge that each position presents. Additionally, job seekers can use websites like the BLS, Payscale, Indeed, and Glassdoor for additional information and salary statistics about specific social work roles.
Social Worker Salary in Georgia
BLS data from May 2022 shows the median annual social worker salaries in Georgia in four different categories.
- Child, family, and school social workers: $47,790
- Healthcare social workers: $57,640
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $53,570
- Social workers, all other: $67,100
Education, experience, location, and other factors all influence individual salaries.
FAQs for Aspiring Social Workers in Georgia
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about the profession and how to become a social worker in Georgia.
Q: How long does becoming a social worker in Georgia take?
A: This depends on your current level of education. Those holding a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) can complete an advanced standing program in two years with one in-field placement. Those with a bachelor’s degree in another area of study can complete the traditional program in three years with two in-field placements.
Q: Can MSW programs be completed online?
A: Yes. There are online MSW programs for residents of Georgia with 100% remote coursework. However, in-field placements must be done in person to develop practical competence and experience. If an applicant is a traditional applicant, the program has two weekend workshops in Tallahassee.
Q: How much does MSW tuition cost?
A: This depends on the educational institution and where the student lives. According to Fortune Education, MSW degree programs can cost less than $40,000 or as much as $89,000. Florida State University’s MSW program costs $444 per credit hour for in-state students and $625 per credit hour for out-of-state students and consists of 61 credit hours and two field placements (the advanced standing program consists of 39 credit hours and one field placement).
Q: Is the social work profession a stable career choice?
A: Yes. As the BLS reports, social worker employment is growing faster than the national average. As America continues to focus on mental health and wellness, LCSWs are expected to remain in high demand.
Q: Which types of social workers make the most money?
A: Many factors are at play when it comes to social worker salaries in Georgia. Most notably, an individual’s education, credentials, and experience can heavily influence their salary. However, licensed clinical social workers generally command higher salaries than licensed master social workers because of their professional credentials and the treatment they are authorized to provide. According to Indeed, clinical social workers, healthcare social workers, and social and community service managers are among the highest paid social work professionals.
Begin Your Journey to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Georgia
Social workers provide a valuable service to clients who require professional guidance and support. Social work is not only a rewarding and fulfilling profession, but it’s also projected to grow.
Those interested in obtaining a social work license in Georgia should begin by enrolling in the right degree program, such as Florida State University’s online Master of Social Work program. Offered in two different degree tracks, students can complete the MSW program in as little as two years.
Florida State University features world-class instructors and skilled practitioners who are equipped to develop the next generation of licensed social workers. Students in the program can gain the in-demand skills and knowledge that LCSWs need to work with a broad base of clients and in a range of environments.
Find out how Florida State University can help you realize your professional aspirations of becoming a licensed clinical social worker in Georgia.