This guide is all about how to become a social worker in San Francisco, California. Below, you will learn how to become a licensed social worker in the city and discover the different social work jobs and education opportunities available in San Francisco.In this guide
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state of California is home to the highest number of practicing social workers in the country. Due to the state’s massive population, there are plenty of opportunities for social workers within California’s cities. While you can begin doing entry-level social work without a license in San Francisco, in order to practice clinical social work, you must first obtain your license through California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS).
Throughout this guide, you will find an overview of all the steps you will need to take in order to begin your social work career in the city.
Campus-based social work degrees in San Francisco
If you are looking to complete your social work degree through a campus-based program in San Francisco, there is currently one school offering campus-only classes directly inside the city. San Francisco State University is a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited school that offers both a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) degree and a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) degree for students to choose from.
Below, you can find the opportunities offered in each degree program at San Francisco State University along with the graduation requirements needed in order for degree completion.
BSW program at San Francisco State University
The Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BASW) degree at San Francisco State University is a program that aims to cater to at-risk communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. This degree prepares students to practice entry-level social work jobs within the city and is a prerequisite for completing a MSW degree.
Some goals and opportunities the program offers are as follows:
- The BASW degree program is a two-year study that can be completed in four semesters
- Prior to graduation, all students must complete 120 credits
- This program has an emphasis on written english proficiency and students must fulfill the writing course requirements for the degree
- Students must also complete at least two courses devoted to fieldwork practice, typically in their second year
- The San Francisco State Scholars program offers an accelerated degree path for students who wish to simultaneously complete their BASW and MSW degrees
MSW program at San Francisco State University
If you choose to pursue your MSW after earning your BSW, San Francisco State University offers a great MSW program for you to continue your social work education at a higher level.
The MSW program offers the following opportunities:
- All classes adhere closely with the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics
- All students must first apply and be accepted into the MSW program.
- Students must take a minimum of 60 degree-focused credits in order to graduate
- Fieldwork is required within each semester
- An accelerated degree path for students wishing to simultaneously complete their BASW and MSW degrees is available
For more detailed information on the program’s MSW courses, be sure to check out the school’s website dedicated to their MSW program.
If you find that San Francisco State University is not the right choice for you, there are still a few schools nearby that also offer on-campus classes close to the city. These include: San Jose State University, the University of California at Berkeley and California State University, East Bay.
Online social work degrees in San Francisco
For many students, campus-based programs can be very limiting when it comes to having busy schedules or a lack of transportation. By completing your BSW or MSW degree online, it will give you the flexibility you need to complete your classes from anywhere of your choosing.
While San Francisco State University does not currently offer an online social work program, San Jose State University has an online-hybrid MSW program that students living near or in San Francisco can take advantage of.
Below, you will find an overview of what this program offers.
San Jose State University Online Program
- San Jose State University is a CSWE-accredited school
- The MSW program offers synchronous and asynchronous online academic courses
- To complete the traditional two-year program, students must take 60 credits. Each credit currently costs $475
- A one-year advanced standing option is also available which consists of 37 credits at $475 per credit
- Mandatory internships, meetings and fieldwork must be completed in-person
- More information about the program can be found here
For a more extensive listing of other online opportunities outside of the state, check out our online MSW degree page.
Social work fieldwork and internships in San Francisco
For social work students, completing fieldwork and internships is one of the best ways to discover what it is like to have a career in social work. Not only will students gain real-life experience in the field, but it can also be used as a guide to help students narrow down what kind of social work they would like to pursue.
Some examples of places in San Francisco that provide hands-on experience in the field include:
- Social Work Internship at Legal Services for Children: open to graduate students
- Social Services Internship – Disrupt Homelessness in San Francisco: upper level social work students and graduates encouraged to apply
- Community Health Youth Intern at Heluna Health: working with diverse groups including both youth and adults
To discover more opportunities in and around the city, Google Jobs, LinkedIn and similar sites are great places to start searching for active internships in order to gain experience in the social work field.
Social work license in San Francisco
While you can begin your career in social work with only your BSW or MSW degree in San Francisco, your options will be limited to more entry-level work unless you obtain your license. By receiving your license from California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences, you will then be able to practice clinical social work in the state of California.
Before becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), you must first become registered as an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW). Below, you can find the steps and qualifications you will need in order to earn your license in San Francisco.
For more info about social work licensing requirements in the state, be sure to check out the full social work in California guide.
Steps to Become an ASW in San Francisco
- Have a MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program
- Complete an ASW application costing $75
- Complete any outstanding coursework, supervision and work experience within six years before applying for your LCSW
Steps to Become a LCSW in San Francisco
- All applicants must have 3,200 hours of supervised work experience completed prior to applying
- If your application is accepted, take and pass the California Laws and Ethics examination.
- Take and pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) $260 multiple-choice exam
- Receive your license approval from California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences and begin practicing
For more information on how to receive your license in San Francisco, please refer to our California state guide.
Social work job opportunities in San Francisco
Being aware of the kinds of social work job opportunities that are available in San Francisco can help you make the most well-informed decisions when it comes to beginning your career as a social worker in the city.
According to Indeed Jobs, the yearly average base salary for social workers in San Francisco is about $79,193. It is important to remember that salaries will differ by years of experience and the more years of experience you have, the higher your salary is likely to become.
San Francisco social work salaries by years of experience
- Social workers with less than one year of experience can expect to earn $73,492 per year
- Social workers with 1-2 years of experience can expect to earn $73,153 per year
- Social workers with 6-9 years of experience can expect to earn $92,123 per year
- Social workers with over 10 years of experience can expect to earn $94,201 per year
Here, you can find a few examples of local social work job openings at government organizations and independent agencies in the city:
- Social Worker at the San Francisco Community Health Center: MSW or ASW required
- Medical Social Worker in the City and County of San Francisco: Must have LCSW
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Invo Healthcare – Family of Companies: LCSW required
- Social Worker at Seneca Family of Agencies: Must have at least a MSW degree
There are so many opportunities to practice social work in and around San Francisco. If you are still unsure about what kind of social work you would like to pursue, be sure to check out our career guides for more helpful information.