Social workers help people who need assistance, including children, families, and those dealing with healthcare and substance abuse issues. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the number of social worker jobs to grow by 16% through 2026, which is much faster than the average rate. Additionally, some social worker specializations should see even faster growth. Florida employs a large number of social workers in all categories, including over 8,500 child, family, and school social workers and more than 8,000 healthcare social workers. Most social workers hold full-time employment. To find success in this field, individuals should possess strong communication, emotional, and interpersonal skills.
Florida employs a large number of social workers in all categories, including over 8,500 child, family, and school social workers and more than 8,000 healthcare social workers
Social workers find employment with individual and family services, the government, healthcare service centers, clinics, and in private practice. Due to the wide variety of specializations and concentrations available, social workers can pursue careers helping many different types of individuals, from homeless people to the elderly. Graduates of social work programs can also work in areas like health education, mental health and substance abuse counseling, community service management, and career counseling.
Aspiring professionals can earn associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in social work. Some entry-level social work positions, such as caseworkers or community health workers, require a bachelor's degree, but many social work positions require a graduate degree. For example, to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in Florida, individuals must hold a master's degree and at least two years of work experience. Additionally, even non-clinical social workers need to be licensed in the state. Professionals may also consider pursuing optional certifications in specialized areas of social work; these credentials indicate professional achievement and aptitude.
How to Become a Social Worker in Florida
Future social workers in Florida can start their education by earning an associate or bachelor's degree in social work; however, those who wish to become licensed need to earn a master's degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Social workers interested in teaching and writing about the field, as well as working as social work leaders and advocates, should also consider earning a doctorate in social work.
While each state requires social workers to obtain a license, the specifications vary from state to state. In Florida, social workers must hold a master's degree in social work, complete two years of work experience in a supervised setting, and pass an exam issued by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). In addition to specific curriculum requirements, the state also requires students to complete a Florida Laws and Rules Course.
Professionals can obtain two different social work licenses in Florida: the licensed clinical social worker license and the certified master social worker (CMSW) license. Each license requires individuals to pass a different ASWB exam, and clinical services can only be provided by those with an LCSW license. Both LCSW and CMSW licensees must pass an HIV/AIDS course and a domestic violence course within six months of licensure. The state also offers a registered clinical social work intern option for recent graduates. Licensed social workers must earn 30 hours of continuing education credits every two years to renew their license.
In addition to state licensure, social workers may consider pursuing professional credentials or certification. While not required, these credentials can designate a social worker as a specialist in a certain concentration; they indicate a worker's commitment to the field.
Types of Social Work Degrees in Florida
Students can earn social work degrees at any level, from an associate to a doctorate degree. An associate degree is not required to enroll in a bachelor's program, but it represents an effective way to learn more about the field; students can often apply associate credits towards a four-year bachelor's degree. Master's programs do require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree and generally require two years of additional full-time study to complete. As in most fields, a higher degree generally leads to increased career opportunities and greater earning potential.
Some social work jobs may only require a bachelor's degree, but clinical social workers must hold a master's degree or higher. Many counseling roles also require a master's degree, and students hoping to specialize in a certain area can look for a master's program that offers their concentration of interest. While state licensure in Florida does not require a doctoral degree, a Ph.D. or doctor of social work (DSW) can lead to teaching, writing, and leadership opportunities in the field.
- Associate Degree
- An associate degree can usually be completed in two years of full-time study. A good introduction to the field of social work, associate degrees often translate into the first two years of a bachelor's degree program. Students who earn an associate degree can accrue credits in a more economical manner and ensure that they find the field interesting before committing to a four-year school.
- Bachelor's Degree
- Most social work jobs require a bachelor's degree (at minimum), which can usually be earned in four years. Students can pursue either a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science in social work, and graduates may qualify to work in areas such as community health and correctional treatment. Bachelor's degree holders may also opt to apply to a graduate program.
- Master's Degree
- Students interested in becoming clinical social workers need a master's degree, such as a master of social work, to pursue licensure. Master of social work graduates can also work as mental health, rehabilitation, and school and career counselors. Many programs also offer different concentration tracks as part of the master's curriculum.
- Doctoral Degree
- While individuals need not earn a doctorate to obtain licensure, a terminal degree may be required to teach, write for scholarly journals, or become leaders in the field. Students interested in research may want to consider a Ph.D., while those interested in practicing should earn a DSW.
Finding a Social Work Program in Florida
Once you have decided to pursue a degree in social work, you need to pick a program. Given the number of institutional and program variables worth considering, this may feel pretty challenging. For most students, cost is a crucial factor. A program's overall expense can vary widely based on whether an institution is public or private as well as on the availability of scholarships and grants. Students should also consider costs related to fees and books. Programs, whether online or campus-based, also vary in length. The factors that influence how long it takes to graduate include the number of credits required, the availability of classes throughout the year, and whether you decide to attend as a full-time or part-time student.
When researching programs, you should ensure that the degree track you choose prepares graduates for licensure in your state; some states also have specific institution, degree, and curriculum-related requirements. Additionally, certain career specializations may have their own set of stipulations. Finally, bear in mind that not all programs offer the same concentrations.
Students should also consider the location of a school or program. Colleges and universities near your home may be able to more readily help with local internship or practicum placement, and a local program may provide easier access to certain educational support programs. However, thanks to online education, students can also consider earning online social work degrees from institutions in different cities and states.
Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Florida?
Top Online Social Work Programs in Florida
Aspiring social workers may want to consider online social work programs. Students just starting their education can pursue online associate or bachelor's degrees before moving into master's programs in social work. Master's programs typically require students to have a bachelor's degree from a regionally-accredited institution, so make sure to double check that your online program meets this standard. Online social work schools in Florida receive regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Students looking at graduate-level online social work programs in Florida should also confirm that their program is accredited by CSWE, as required for Florida state licensure. Although not needed for state licensure, social work professionals interested in pursuing a terminal degree may want to consider earning a Ph.D. or DSW online. These degrees can lead to teaching, writing, and research positions, as well as leadership roles. Public and private colleges and universities in Florida offer online social work programs, and some schools may even offer tuition discounts or in-state tuition rates to out-of-state distance learners.See The Best Online MSW Programs
How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Florida?
The length of time it takes to become a social worker in Florida varies depending on the degree, program format, and professional licensure requirements. Characteristics that affect the time it takes to graduate include the number of credits required for a degree, when students can take classes during the year, and a student's enrollment status. Additionally, some programs feature individually paced classes, allowing learners to complete courses at their convenience, while others use a cohort-based format where students progress through the program with a group of their peers, taking courses and graduating together.
Full-time learners in an online bachelor's program usually complete their degree in four years. If a student has already completed an associate degree, and can transfer in the majority of their earned credits, they can earn a bachelor's in additional two years (four years total). A master of social work degree can be completed in two years of full-time, postbaccalaureate enrollment. For individuals who already hold a master's degree, online doctoral programs in social work may be completed in as few as three years; faculty often design these programs for working students. In addition to the time needed to complete educational requirements, Florida mandates that social workers have 2-3 years of work experience (depending on the license, with at least two years of supervised work experience) before they can earn a license.
How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Florida?
Social work program costs in Florida depend on the level of education, number of credits required, type of institution, and availability of financial aid. Public institutions typically charge lower tuition than private institutions, but that may depend on a student's residency status. Some colleges allow out-of-state online students to take advantage of in-state tuition rates. Additionally, many institutions offer significant financial aid and scholarships, making programs less expensive.
Some online programs charge students per credit, while others offer full-time students flat-rate tuition. Additionally, some graduate programs allow participants with a bachelor's in social work to take fewer courses than undergraduates from other areas; this can help reduce the cost of a graduate degree. Finally, some master's programs require students to take entrance examinations, such as the GRE, which costs $160.
Licensure costs vary by state. In Florida, application fees for LCSW and CMSW credentials each cost $205. Both licenses require students to pass an ASWB exam, which costs $260. Professionals who pursue specific credentials pay additional fees. Florida also requires licensed social workers to complete 30 continuing education credits every two years for licensure renewal; the costs for these credits vary based on the education provider.
Directory of Social Work Programs in Florida
Types of Social Work Licenses in Florida
Clinical social workers must be licensed in the state where they practice. Licensure typically requires a master's degree in social work, work experience, and passing marks on a clinical exam. In Florida, the state also requires social workers seeking licensure to take an eight-hour Florida Laws and Rules course. Licensed individuals must also complete 30 hours of continuing education credits to renew their license, which is required every two years. Those who obtain licensure must also complete a domestic violence and HIV/AIDS course within six months of receiving their license. In addition to the LCSW designation, the state offers a CMSW license; individuals who hold this license cannot provide clinical services. Recent graduates pursuing internships in Florida should apply to become a registered clinical social work intern. Florida does not offer a reciprocity program for licensed social workers from other states.
In Florida, the state also requires social workers seeking licensure to take an eight-hour Florida Laws and Rules course
In addition to licensure, many professionals also opt to pursue certification. This process is voluntary but can help when applying for certain jobs. While licensure is general, certification can be pursued in specific areas, indicating a level of accomplishment in those specializations. Professionals can obtain specialty credentials in several areas, including case management, school social work, gerontology, healthcare, and military social work.
Individuals can earn some certificates before obtaining licensure. While a social work license in Florida requires a master's degree, some certifications only require a bachelor's degree in social work. Social workers typically obtain certification by meeting requirements related to education, experience, and examinations, as well as adherence to professional guidelines. Different professional organizations may offer various credentials or certification, but the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) awards all of the specialty credentials listed below.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Certified Master Social Worker
Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials
Certified Social Work Case Manager
Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker
Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Social Worker
Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology
Certified School Social Work Specialist
Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker
Career and Salary Outlook for Social Work Degree Graduates
Social work degree holders can assume many different roles in a variety of environments, including community health, mental health, and school counseling. Some social workers also deal with large caseloads and stressful work situations. Due to increased demand for social and healthcare services, the profession is growing a much faster than the national average. However, many of these positions require an advanced degree and state licensure. Earning a social work degree in Florida helps learners prepare for many of these roles.
Social WorkersChild, family, and school social workers comprise the largest percentage of social workers, followed by those that work in healthcare. Clinical social workers must hold a master's degree, two years of supervised experience, and a state license.
Health Educators and Community Health WorkersPredominantly employed by hospitals and the government, health educators need at least a bachelor's degree, although some roles may require a master's degree. Employment growth for this profession is much faster than the national average.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health CounselorsThese counselors work with individuals suffering from mental health issues, eating disorders, and/or substance abuse problems in many different settings. Individuals interested in this position should earn a master's degree and complete a professional internship.
Social and Community Service ManagersThese managers work with social service programs and community organizations, and the majority find employment in individual and family services. Employment in this area is projected to grow much faster than the national average. Managers should have a bachelor's degree at minimum, although some positions may require a master's degree.
School and Career CounselorsCounselors may work for secondary schools, colleges and universities, or social assistance programs. Most school counselor positions require a master's degree, and some states require these counselors to be licensed. Important qualities for these roles include analytical and interpersonal skills.
Median Salaries and Employment For Social Work Specialties in Florida
|Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||8,550||$41,600|
|Healthcare Social Workers||8,380||$50,470|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||3,510||$42,910|
|Social Workers, All Other||1,480||$67,270|
Scholarships for Social Work Majors in Florida
Students enrolled in social work programs in Florida can apply for a number of scholarships, including many that explicitly target the field of social work. Scholarships may be awarded based on need, academics, service, and/or minority status.
Social Work Scholarships
National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Inc. Graduate Scholarship Program Varies
Carl A. Scott Memorial Fund $500
Judith Holm Memorial Student Awards $1,000
Child Protection and Child Welfare Personnel Student Loan Forgiveness Program $3,000
Resources for Social Work Students in Florida
- National Association of Social Workers, Florida Chapter NASW is the largest professional organization for social workers in the country, and joining the national chapter includes membership in state and local organizations. NASW-FL offers professional development events throughout the state; members can typically attend these events for free. The association also posts employment listings by state, and its website offers current licensure information.
- Florida Association of School Social Workers FASSW serves social workers employed in a variety of educational environments. Founded in 1942, the organization hosts a yearly conference with a specific focus, featuring workshops and guest speakers.
- Florida Department of Health Florida's DOH hosts programs and services, state statistics and data, and information related to environmental health and diseases. The department also links to organizations that regulate professions, including those that oversee licensed clinical social workers and certified master social workers.
- Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling Part of Florida's DOH, this organization regulates social workers in the state, confirming that they meet minimum requirements and ensuring safe practice. The board provides future social workers with information about licensing and registration, continuing education classes, and links to relevant professional organizations.
- Clinical Social Work Association This national organization provides services and support for clinical social workers. Students can join at a discounted membership rate and gain access to professional networking opportunities. In addition to information about legislation that affects social workers, CSWA also features a job board with national listings of professional opportunities.