This guide offers an overview of the social work field in Louisiana. There is a special emphasis on MSW programs since master’s degree holders earn higher salaries and typically find it easier to secure a good position in the field of social work.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social work in Louisiana
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker job and salary
- School Listings
Social work in Louisiana
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 4,410 social workers in Louisiana. If the budget were available more should be hired. The reason for this is simple: Louisiana has major, systemic social issues. A 2016 survey by Nola found that Louisiana ranks dead last in the United States for social justice. More recently, a US News and World Report survey found that Louisiana ranks last in “opportunity,” last in crime and corrections, 48th in education, and 45th in health care.
Change is slow and for Louisiana to fix these social issues is a multi-year process. In the meantime social workers can make a difference in communities throughout the state. Social workers can connect residents with state and federal resources, advocate for children’s welfare and help to craft policies that will benefit at risk populations. There is a strong demand for the services that social workers offer and a rewarding career begins with a good education.
MSW programs in Louisiana
When comparing universities one of the first things a student should consider is whether a curriculum is CSWE-accredited. A CSWE-accreditation guarantees that a social work program meets a high standard and that the instructors are teaching the latest methodologies in the field. Most high level social work positions are only open to graduates of CSWE-certified universities.
Louisiana State University’s (LSU) master’s in social work is one of the more popular MSW programs in the state. The program is offered at LSU’s Baton Rouge campus and is fully CSWE-accredited. According to LSU’s mission statement the MSW course is designed to, “advance social science and social wellbeing by engaging in applied and practice-informed research, as well as evidence-informed practice and teaching, with the goal of improving lives and working toward sustainable social justice.”
Students with a four-year undergraduate degree in a field outside of social work can choose to either take the 60-credit hour full or part time program. In the full time program students will take classes two days per week and intern for an additional two to three days a week. The program can be completed in two years. The part time program takes three to four years to complete, with classes and internships spread out over that time.
Students with an undergraduate degree in social work can study in the advanced standing program, which takes just one year to complete when taken full time. More information about all of these programs is available here.
Louisiana College (LC) also offers a MSW program. Located in Alexandria, right in the heart of the state, the Louisiana College MSW program sets itself apart due to its strong focus on behavioral health social work. Similar to the LSU program, at Louisiana College students can study full time or part time. The full time program takes two years to complete and the part time program takes three to four years, depending on how many classes per semester a student takes.
There is also an advanced standing program for students with an undergraduate degree in social work. This program takes just one year to complete. A complete overview of the MSW curriculum is available here.
Online MSW programs in Louisiana
The best choice for students who would like to take their degree online is the LSU online MSW program. All of the classes take place online, making this a convenient choice for students throughout Louisiana. In addition to the course work, students will also be expected to complete an internship.
Similar to LSU’s campus-based program there are two options for students, either a regular or an advanced standing program. The regular program normally takes two years to complete, although students who are willing to take more classes per semester may complete it in 18 months. The advanced standing program takes just 9 to 12 months to complete.
For more information on the LSU online MSW program, as well as other MSW programs throughout the United States, please check our online MSW degree page.
How to become a social worker in Louisiana
The following seven steps lay out a path for someone to become a licensed social worker in Louisiana.
- Graduate from a CSWE-certified MSW program
- Apply for a Licensed Master Social Worker license from the Louisiana State Board Of Social Work Examiners. To expedite the process students may apply for the license one semester before graduation. The fee for the license is $75
- Take the ASWB master’s level exam. The fee for the exam is $230
- Pass a background check
- Receive the CSW temporary permit. A social worker may hold this temporary license for up to six months while they wait to take the LMSW licensing test
- Upon passing the LMSW licensing test the social worker will be issued the LMSW license. They can now practice social work in Louisiana
- Optionally, a social worker may apply for a LCSW license after they have 5,760 hours of supervised clinical social work experience
For many students a master’s degree will be the highest level of education necessary to start a fulfilling career in social work. However, a PhD may be a prerequisite for those interested in upper management and having a hand in crafting public policy. To learn more about the advantages of a PhD in social work please visit our doctorate in social work degree page. The doctorate degree page also contains a list of PhD social work programs currently available in the United States.
Social work license requirements in Louisiana
Social workers who would like to know more about licensing requirements in Louisiana can visit the Louisiana State Board Of Social Work Examiners’ website. It’s recommended to get information directly from the Board’s website, as licensing requirements can change at any time.
Registered Social Worker (RSW)
The Registered Social Worker license is designed for social workers with a bachelor’s degree. While RSW social workers can perform many tasks unsupervised, they must be employed in an agency or state organization, they are not permitted to practice independent social work.
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
The LMSW license is only available to master’s and PhD degree holders. In order to obtain the LMSW an applicant will need to take and pass the master’s level ASWB, an exam which costs $230. The LMSW license itself costs $75 and requires a background check before it can be issued. Once a social worker has their LMSW they can begin acquiring the supervised clinical experience they need in order to apply for the LCSW license.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
The LCSW license permits the holder to practice unsupervised, clinical social work. While most states require a social worker to have 3,000 hours of supervised experience before they can practice independent, clinical social work, Louisiana is different.
To acquire a LCSW license a social worker must have 5,760 hours of supervised experience. They’ll also need to take the clinical level ASWB exam and pay a $100 license application fee.
License renewal in Louisiana
Social workers in Louisiana must renew their license every year by August 31. Different license types have different renewal fees, ranging from $25 to $150. The number of continuing education hours required to renew a license also varies by license type.
Social worker salary in Louisiana
The average salary for a social worker in Louisiana is $50,091 per year, according to the BLS. Salaries range from $41,350 per year for mental health social workers to $58,330 for all other types of social workers. A full breakdown of social worker salaries is provided below.
BLS employment surveys have shown that there are currently 4,410 social workers employed in Louisiana. These social workers fill many different roles. The figures below show the social work position and the total number of social workers engaged in that role.
- Child, family, and school social worker: There are 450 social workers in Louisiana, making an average salary of $45,060 a year.
- Mental health and substance abuse social worker: The 1,270 mental health and substance abuse social workers in the state make an average of $41,350 a year.
- Healthcare social worker: In Louisiana, 1,770 healthcare social workers make an average salary of $53,360.
- Social worker all other: All other kinds of social workers, including social workers in policy, administration, and private practice, make an average salary of $58,330.