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Social workers provide vital support services for children, families, and adults. From helping patients cope with chronic illnesses, to arranging adoptions and staging interventions, social workers provide diverse client bases with a broad variety of services. Social workers also practice in many settings, including hospitals, schools, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Offering a spectrum of opportunities to improve lives and strengthen communities, the profession is ideal for individuals with a strong drive to help others.

Ohio social workers earn above-average wages, with many professionals bringing in more than $50,000 a year

Earning a social work degree in Ohio opens numerous career possibilities, including roles in human services, social service management, and many specialized fields. However, educational and licensing requirements vary considerably between positions and individual workplace policies. Clinical social workers, for example, are permitted to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional problems, but they must earn a master’s degree before receiving a licensed independent clinical social worker designation. Other jobs require only a bachelor’s degree and a state social work license.

While requirements for the profession are high, graduates of social work programs in Ohio find their jobs lucrative as well as personally rewarding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Ohio social workers earn above-average wages, with many professionals bringing in more than $50,000 a year.

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How to Become a Social Worker in Ohio

Becoming a social worker involves a major commitment of time and resources. In Ohio, a licensed social worker (LSW) must meet a series of educational and professional requirements, and must pass an examination. When combined with the time needed to complete a social work degree in Ohio, the entire process may take several years.

In Ohio, a licensed social worker (LSW) must meet a series of educational and professional requirements, and must pass an examination

Many social workers begin their journey by earning a bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate college applicants must hold a high school diploma or the equivalent, and provide results from their SAT or ACT exams. In addition, many colleges and universities request that applicants provide letters of recommendation and a personal essay. Combining general education requirements, major coursework, and an internship or practicum, the average BSW curriculums takes approximately four years to complete.

After finishing a bachelor’s program, some individuals choose to pursue a graduate social work degree in Ohio. An MSW is usually necessary to attain clinical social work positions and certain high-level roles. MSW candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field and may need to provide GRE scores. MSW programs usually involve two years of intensive classroom- and field-based study.

The licensure process may also take several years. While undergraduates may apply for the LSW designation in their final semester of study, licensed independent or clinical social worker candidates must hold an MSW, complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience, and achieve a passing score on the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. Once certified, social workers must fulfill a 30-hour continuing education requirement every two years to renew their license.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Ohio

Social work schools in Ohio offer degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. A social work degree at the associate level takes around two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree typically takes four years of full-time study. After earning a BSW, graduates qualify for most entry-level social work jobs, and may apply for the state’s LSW designation.

While advanced degrees are associated with more career opportunities and higher earnings, many clinical social work jobs require an MSW. After completing a master’s social work program in Ohio, graduates qualify to receive any state social work license, including a clinical license. Usually requiring two years of coursework, an MSW curriculum typically includes an internship or practicum component. Some social workers with a master’s go on to pursue a doctorate in the field, which opens up opportunities for academic teaching positions or high-level research jobs.

Associate Degree
Combining general education coursework with introductory social work concepts, an associate degree provides the necessary skills to take on entry-level human services positions. Many students transfer to a BSW program, having met half or more of the credits required for a four-year degree.
Bachelor’s Degree
An undergraduate social work curriculum presents fundamental theories, skills, and best practices in the field. Learners gain hands-on experience by completing an internship or practicum. In Ohio, a BSW is the minimum educational level needed to receive the LSW designation.
Master’s Degree
Many social work occupations, such as clinical positions, require a master’s degree. An MSW consists of two years of coursework and fieldwork, many students select a specialty or concentration within the field. Graduates qualify for all Ohio social work licenses and most certifications.
Doctoral Degree
After earning a master’s degree, some social workers interested in research or academic careers continue to a doctoral program. Research-based Ph.D. programs typically require candidates to complete a dissertation, while a doctorate in social work (DSW) emphasises practice and hands-on skills.

Finding a Social Work Program in Ohio

While prospective social work students enjoy a wide spectrum of school and program options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when making a final decision. While all CSWE-accredited programs potentially lead to state licensure, each one features different curricula, graduation requirements, and tuition rates. To select the right program, it’s important to consider several factors, including cost, location, degree length, and any available specializations.

Few variables impact the decision-making process as much as cost. Tuition rates vary considerably between schools, and often differ according to the student’s state of residence. Some institutions offer distance education programs at reduced rates, while others charge additional technology fees for online courses, or provide all distance learners with in-state tuition. However, a school’s location affects more than the price of a degree. Along with field experience placements and access to academic resources, location influences program availability. Certain online programs may not be available in some states.

Are you considering entering a specialized career field, such as healthcare, children’s services, or clinical social work? You may wish to narrow your options down to programs that offer concentrations in your area of interest. For many working professionals interested in developing a specialty, an online social work program in Ohio is the easiest way to do just that.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Ohio?

Busy individuals interested in earning a social work degree in Ohio often find that online social work degrees offer convenience and affordability. Distance learners may arrange classes according to their work or family schedules, complete coursework when convenient, and avoid the additional costs associated with living on campus. Online social work degrees are usually identical in content to their on-campus counterparts, and nearly always include a field study component. Most schools arrange practicums and internships at an approved sites near the student’s residence, allowing students to expand local networks as they gain hands-on experience.

Top Online Social Work Program in Ohio

Many Ohio schools offer social work degrees in both traditional and online formats. However, only online social work programs in Ohio accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) meet state licensing requirements. Because CSWE-accredited curriculums conform to the highest standards of educational quality, state licensure is reserved for graduates of CSWE-accredited programs or programs that hold CSWE candidacy status.

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How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Ohio?

On average, it takes around four years of full-time study to complete a 120-credit bachelor’s program. Most master’s degrees consist of roughly 60 credits and two years of specialized coursework. Both programs typically include an internship or practicum component, which may range in length from several hours to multiple semesters.

Some prospective social workers choose to enter the field by earning an associate degree. A two-year associate program provides at least half of the credits required to earn a bachelor’s degree, and associate-holders who transfer to a four-year program may complete their BSW in two years or less. Experienced professionals with an interest in research or academic careers often pursue a doctoral degree. Doctoral programs are usually research-based, and may require five or more years of study, depending on the curriculum and concentration.

Program characteristics also influence the length of a social work degree. In cohort-based programs, students enroll as part of a group and complete course requirements on the same schedule as their peers. Other online social work programs in Ohio feature self-paced coursework, which may be completed as quickly as the student likes.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Ohio?

The path to becoming a social worker in Ohio is often expensive. After earning a degree, prospective social workers must fulfill state licensing requirements and meet continuing education standards to retain licensure. Typically, earning a social work degree is he most expensive part of the process. Tuition and fees vary from program to program, depending on the type of institution, the student’s residency status, and any available discounts. Some institutions offer reduced tuition rates for online programs, while others charge distance learners additional fees. There are many factors that influence the price of a social work degree, and it’s important to thoroughly research the costs associated with any programs you may be considering.

In addition to educational expenses, Ohio social workers must pay licensing and exam fees. The required ASWB exam costs $230, and the initial state social worker license costs $80. Licensed social workers must renew their license every two years, paying between $60 and $100, depending on credential type. Ohio social workers are also required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years. The NASW provides members with free and discounted continuing education materials.

Directory of Social Work Programs in Ohio

Types of Social Work Licenses in Ohio

Each state sets its own licensing requirements for social workers. In Ohio, the Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board grants the LSW and LISW designations to candidates who meet educational requirements and pass the mandatory ASWB exam.

To become a LSW in Ohio, individuals must hold either a BSW, MSW, or a doctoral degree from an accredited program. Applicants take either the bachelor’s- or master’s-level ASWB exam, which costs $230. Most prospective social workers begin the licensing process during the last semester of their social work program in Ohio. The license itself costs $80, and licensed out-of-state social workers may receive an Ohio license with an endorsement from their current state’s licensing board.

Ohio does not offer a separate licensed clinical social worker title, clinical social workers earn the LISW designation

The LISW title requires a master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program and at least 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. Applicants must pass either the clinical or advanced generalist ASWB exam, both of which cost $260, and pay a $100 application fee. Because Ohio does not offer a separate licensed clinical social worker title, clinical social workers earn the LISW designation.

After becoming qualified to practice in the state, some Ohio social workers choose to earn additional credentials, which recognize professional experience in a specific area. For example, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) provides credentials for social workers experienced in substance use disorders, school social work, and gerontology. Many of these designations require an MSW, a minimum amount of professional experience, and an examination. While several different professional organizations grant specialized credentials, the examples below come from NASW.


Ohio social workers with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate from an accredited program may apply for the LSW designation after passing either the bachelor’s or masters ASWB examination and completing a background check. Most candidates apply during their final college semester.


Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials


Applicants for the C-SWCM certification must hold a bachelor’s degree in social work and complete at least three years of professional experience after graduation. Candidates who have passed the ASWB bachelor’s exam may also apply.


Career and Salary Outlook for Social Work Degree Graduates

Graduates who earn a social work degree in Ohio take on a variety of specialized roles. Some social workers help patients manage chronic illnesses in clinical settings, support individuals struggling with addiction, or advocate for the homeless. Others focus on the needs of children, families, and students. Many social work programs in Ohio offer academic concentrations that prepare students for specialized positions like the ones below.

Social Workers

Social work professionals help people cope with many different challenges, from crisis situations and medical emergencies to homelessness. While a BSW is required for most entry-level positions, an MSW and state license are necessary to take on certain advanced roles.

Healthcare Social Workers

These specialists offer support and resources to people coping with chronic or acute illnesses. Usually working in government, private practice, or nonprofit settings, they promote healthy behaviors and help patients access vital healthcare services.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

Social workers who specialize in mental health and substance abuse issues develop treatment protocols, intervention plans, and support systems for individuals and their families. Because they are qualified to diagnose and treat clients, most hold at least an MSW.

Child, Family, and School Social Workers

More than 9,000 Ohio social workers specialize in providing child, family, and school services. These professionals arrange adoptions and foster home placements, intervene on behalf of abused children, and help families deal with a variety of challenges.

Social Service Managers

Combining social work skills and concepts with management principles, social service managers coordinate and supervise outreach programs and public initiatives. Their responsibilities include managing staff, developing projects, and allocating resources.
 EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers9,180$43,180
Healthcare Social Workers9,810$54,170
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers4,830$42,940
Social Workers, All Other3,420$48,680
Source: BLS

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Scholarships for Social Work Majors in Ohio

Scholarships, grants, and other awards are all great ways to help cover the cost of attending a social work school in Ohio. While some of these opportunities are state-specific, others are awarded on the basis of academic performance or financial need. Many scholarships are intended for social work majors and students enrolled in online social work programs in Ohio. Below are a few opportunities that may interest you.

Social Work Scholarships


Who Can Apply: Coordinated between the state government and eight public Ohio institutions, the University Partnership Program is open to seniors enrolled in BSW programs or MSW candidates. Applicants must agree to take special courses on child protection, complete a one-year internship with Ohio’s Public Children Services Association, and accept a casework position with the association. View Scholarship


Resources for Social Work Students in Ohio

  • Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board This state board issues licenses to social workers as well as counselors and therapists. The Board provides information on licensure, license renewal, and continuing education requirements, as well as resources for out-of-state social workers applying for an Ohio license.
  • National Association of Social Workers–Ohio Chapter NASW’s Ohio chapter supports social workers across the state through advocacy and training. Members may attend local events and workshops, take advantage of continuing education and professional development resources, and explore exclusive job listings.
  • Ohio School Social Workers Association The Ohio School Social Workers Association is an advocacy group dedicated to promoting legislation that positively impacts social work professionals. Members gain access to numerous professional development and educational resources.
  • Association of Social Work Boards In most states, the social work licensure process requires passing scores on ASWB exams. The organization crafts social work competence standards, creates model practices for developing state regulations, and works with state social work licensing boards to raise industry standards.
  • National Association of Social Workers Founded in 1955, the NASW represents more than 130,000 social workers nationwide. Along with professional development and continuing education programs, the organization provides members with legal resources and discounted insurance. The NASW Foundation sponsors charitable initiatives and policy development.