This guide covers all you need to know about becoming a social worker in Atlanta, Georgia . Included in the guide is an overview of the city’s social work needs, opportunities, and the requirements for earning your degree and becoming a licensed social worker in the city.In this guide
Over the past decade, the state of Georgia has been experiencing exponential growth in its population. With this, the need for trained and licensed social workers in Atlanta is also increasing.
Licensed social workers can also expect to have a higher average salary in Atlanta, while those practicing social work in smaller, more rural cities in Georgia can expect to receive a lower income.Georgia’s social work licensing board require that social workers practicing in many social work settings obtain credentials as either a a Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW) or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
Below, you will find the education opportunities available in the city as well as how to become licensed and discover jobs in the area.
Campus-based social work degrees in Atlanta
If you are looking to earn your degree through a campus-based program, there are two main campuses offering social work programs located in Atlanta. Below you will find the costs and opportunities they offer for on-campus students.
A complete listing of all social work programs are available on the page highlighting social work programs in Georgia.
Clark Atlanta University
The Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University (CAU) is a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited school located in Atlanta, GA.
Some goals and opportunities for the on-campus student program includes:
- A field practicum partnering with the education community in the area
- Preparation for generalist practices with a focus on experience with diverse groups
- Preparing students to apply and evaluate research findings in their own practice
- Student preparation for social work with systems of all sizes
- Classes fostering critical thinking by combining a liberal arts foundation and a professional social work education
Master’s in social work program
CAU’s MSW program has a focus on the following themes: Afrocentric perspective, humanistic values, and autonomous social work practice roles. The school offers three study plans:
- The two-year plan ofsStudy (59 semester credit hours)
- The three year plan of study (59 semester credit hours)
- The advanced standing plan of study (38 semester credit hours)
Additional program information can be found on the university’s master of social work programs page.
Georgia State University social work options
The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University (GSU) is the most affordable option for those trying to achieve a degree in social work in the Atlanta area. Like CAU, its program is also CSWE-accredited.
The yearly cost for on-campus Georgia State social work students is an estimated $13,953. Georgia State also has nine social work competencies specific to their program, including:
- Demonstrate ethical and professional behavior
- Engage diversity and difference in practice
- Advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice
- Engage in practice-informed research and research-informed practice
- Engage in policy practice
- Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities
- Assess individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities
- Intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities
- Evaluate practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities
More information about a bachelor’s of social work or a BSW can be found on the university’s site.
Master’s in social work program
- Georgia State’s MSW program offers an advanced generalist practice curriculum with a focus on clinical and macro practice social work
- Students can choose a two year, full-time study plan or complete the 60-credit hours over a period of three years if opting for a part-time study
- Students must also complete a minimum of 900 hours of field education
Additional program information can be found here.
Online social work degrees in Atlanta
Completing your social work degree online is a great option for those who are unable to attend in-person classes. Local options for online social work degree programs within the city are highlighted below.
Georgia State University
- GSU online courses are best suited for those trying to earn a BSW degree due to a fully-online option for earning your BSW
- A hybrid option (split between on-campus and online) is also offered for advanced standing students
- Online tuition is the same as on-campus and may be more expensive than some online options in surrounding areas
Albany State University
Currently, Albany State University has the only fully online CSWE-accredited advanced standing MSW program nearby Atlanta in the state of Georgia. An advanced standing program allows those who have graduated with a CSWE-accredited BSW degree to waive a portion (or all) of the foundational year often required for traditional MSW programs. This way, students can jump into MSW specializations and complete their MSW degree at an accelerated rate.
For those wishing to join the advanced standing MSW program, prospective students should be aware of the following:
- Students will be required to complete a minimum of 32 coursework credits
- Students must complete two 225-hour field practicums (450 total hours)
- Students who are enrolled full-time may graduate in one year
Social work internships and fieldwork in Atlanta
Fieldwork and internships are a crucial part of a social work education. Not only does hands-on experience help students prepare for real-world social work, but many jobs in the field also require prospective social workers to have documented supervised field experience or an internship on record.
Some examples of places that accept social work students and provide hands-on experience in the city include:
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Social Work Internship
- Intern-Health Equity & Disparities with the Southeast Permanente Medical Group of Atlanta
- Haven Atlanta: clinical social work intern opportunities
- Development and Special Events Intern at the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research (social work students encouraged to apply)
New opportunities are always opening and closing. Sites such as Indeed.com and Chegg Internships are a great place to look for upcoming and active internships for gaining fieldwork as a social work student.
Social work license in Atlanta
To practice social work in Atlanta, you can choose between two levels of licensure offered by the state of Georgia. The two options are: Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Candidates must also have an MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program in order to secure one of these licenses.
By obtaining a license, you will be able to receive more professional opportunities and have a higher salary than those who remain unlicensed in the city.
The Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work also strongly recommends becoming a LMSW before becoming a LCSW. As a LMSW in Atlanta, you may practice privately, but must be supervised during counseling or psychotherapy in order to prepare for obtaining your LCSW license.
Steps to become a LMSW in Atlanta
- Submit an application to the state’s licensing board including two professional references and your MSW transcript. The application fee is $100.
- Take and pass the ASWB master’s exam. The test consists of 170 multiple-choice questions with a testing fee of $230.
- Receive your LMSW license and begin practicing.
Steps to become a LCSW in Atlanta
- Complete all necessary supervised social work experience. This can take anywhere from 2 to 9 years.
- Submit an application to the state’s licensing board including two professional references, forms verifying supervised clinical experience, and your MSW transcript. The application fee is $100.
- With the Board’s approval, take and pass the ASWB clinical exam. The cost is $260 with 150 multiple-choice questions.
- Receive your LCSW license from the Board and begin practicing.
To learn more about how to receive your license in the state of Georgia, refer to our state guide for more detailed information.
Social work job opportunities in Atlanta
While you can find some jobs doing social work without a license, earning your LMSW or LCSW licensure will allow you to be able to find and apply to more professional opportunities in Atlanta. Many jobs in the social work field also require you to be licensed or at least hold an MSW degree in order to apply for higher paying jobs.
According to Indeed Jobs, the yearly average base salary for social workers in the city of Atlanta is around $67,715. However, salaries also differ by years of experience.
Atlanta social work salaries by years of experience
- Social workers with 1-2 years of experience can expect to earn $62,551 per year
- Social workers with 6-9 years of experience can expect to earn $78,771 per year
- Social workers with over 10 years of experience can expect to earn $80,549 per year
Listed below are a few examples of some of the local social work job openings in Atlanta at government organizations and independent agencies:
- US Veterans Health Administration : Must hold a MSW degree
- Covenant Community, Inc.: Must have a BSW or MSW (preferred)
- Mental Health Assessor at New Beginnings Today, LLC: LMSW or LCSW licensure required
- Medical Social Worker at Crestview Health & Rehabilitation Center: Must have a MSW degree to apply
In summary, there are a number of different opportunities for social work education, licensing, and employment in Atlanta. And, according to the bureau of labor, the demand for social workers is only predicted to grow in the future.