The following article is an introduction to the social work profession in South Carolina. Included in the guide are salary statistics, information about social work licensure as well as an overview of the educational opportunities available to students who would like to study social work in South Carolina.
There is a special emphasis on MSW programs since a majority of students who decide to pursue a career in social work get a master’s rather than a bachelor’s degree.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social Work In South Carolina
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker jobs and salary
- School Listings
Social work in South Carolina
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 9,560 social workers in South Carolina. About 15 percent of the state’s residents live in a rural area and across South Carolina fully 11 percent of people don’t have health insurance.
Given the difficulty of getting quality healthcare in a rural area, especially without health insurance, there is a consistent demand for healthcare social workers. Healthcare social workers can refer clients to affordable treatment centers as well as help the uninsured to access medical benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
Relocating to a rural area can also benefit the social worker. By working in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) a social worker may be eligible for loan forgiveness. In fact, the HPSA program may forgive up to $20,000 per year in debt, a significant amount that can help a social worker to quickly pay off their school loans.
MSW programs in South Carolina
Many social work jobs in South Carolina require the applicant to have graduated from a CSWE (Council on Social Work Education) accredited university. A CSWE certification guarantees that an MSW program is teaching the latest and best practices in the field of social work.
The University of South Carolina (USC) offers an MSW program which is CSWE certified until 2024. One of the reasons that the USC social work program is so popular is that students can dual major in one of four fields.
- Social work and public health (health promotion, education, and behavior) — Learn more about MSW and MPH dual-degree programs
- Social work and public health (health service policy and management) — Learn more about social work and policy
- Social work and public administration
- Social work and law
These dual majors are a great option for students who already know which area of social work they would like to get into — for example, forensic social work or hospice social work. More information about the MSW program at USC is available here. Students can also check the financial aid page to see which scholarships and grants they may be eligible for.
Winthrop University offers another popular MSW program in South Carolina. The Winthrop MSW is CSWE-certified and is available in five different formats.
- Full time program of 60 credit hours
- Weekend program of 60 credit hours
- Full time advanced standing program of 39 credit hours
- Weekend advanced standing program of 39 credit hours
- Online MSW program
In order to qualify for the advanced standing program, a student must possess a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited university.
Online MSW programs in South Carolina
Limestone University offers one of the best online MSW programs in South Carolina. According to the program description, “Assessment, evaluation, and empowerment are some of the skills learned along with patience, insight, and the use of best practices treatment approaches builds the infrastructure that leads to effective careers.”
The program is 100 percent online so that students never need to attend classes on campus. Students with an undergraduate degree in social work can take the advanced program and obtain their master’s in just one year.
How to become a social worker in South Carolina
Even though it’s possible to be employed as a social worker in South Carolina with only a bachelor’s degree, the following steps assume that the candidate has a master’s degree. Only master’s degree holders are eligible for advanced social work licensing in South Carolina.
- Graduate with a master’s degree from a CSWE-certified university
- Complete the online application for a LMSW license and pay the $45 application fee
- Take and pass the ASWB master’s exam. The exam costs $230 and is comprised of 170 questions, although only 150 are graded
- Once the candidate passes the ASWB exam they will be given the LMSW license. This permits the social worker to engage in supervised social work in a variety of fields
- After a social worker has 3,000 hours of supervised experience they may apply for the LISW-AP license so that they can work without being supervised
- Optionally, a social worker may also apply for the LISW-CP license so that they can practice unsupervised, clinical social work. The LISW-CP requires the candidate to have 3,000 hours of supervised, clinical social work experience
While a MSW is suitable for most jobs, a PhD in social work can enable the graduate to reach the highest levels in the field of social work. Crafting public policy, managing a community center or shelter and performing complex statistical analysis are all jobs typically done by PhD holders. To find out more about getting a PhD in social work, and to see a list of available programs in the United States, please visit our doctorate degree in social work page.
Social work license requirements in South Carolina
The most reliable source for up to date information regarding social work licensing requirements in South Carolina is the state licensing board’s official website.
South Carolina currently has four different levels of social work licenses available. Two of the basic license types stipulate that the license holder can only work under supervision. After the social worker has gained enough experience they can apply for an advanced license which will permit them to work without being supervised.
Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
Bachelor’s degree holders can apply for the LBSW license. The LBSW permits the license holder to engage in general, non-clinical social work. All work must be supervised.
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
Master’s degree holders can apply for the LMSW license. While LMSW license holders will still need to work under supervision, they can perform more types of work than an LBSW license holder.
Anyone with an LMSW license can practice supervised, clinical social work. Most importantly, once LMSW social workers gain enough experience they can apply for a license which will let them practice independent social work.
Licensed Independent Social Worker-Advanced Practice (LISW-AP)
The LISW-AP is an enhanced version of the LMSW license. With the LISW-AP a license holder can perform the same work as the LMSW license holder, except without supervision. All clinical social work must still be supervised, however.
Licensed Independent Social Worker-Clinical Practice (LISW-CP)
Social workers who have an LMSW license and 3,000 hours of supervised, clinical social work experience can apply for the LISW-CP license. This license permits the holder to practice unsupervised social work in South Carolina.
License renewal in South Carolina
All social work licenses in South Carolina must be renewed on a bi-annual basis. Other states charge varying fees based on the license being renewed but in South Carolina, there is a flat fee of $90 for all license renewals. Before they can renew their license a social worker will need to complete 40 hours of continuing education.
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in South Carolina
Data provided by the BLS shows that there are currently 9,560 social workers in South Carolina. These social workers are employed in several different fields, as is shown below by their total employment numbers.
The average salary for a social worker in South Carolina is $44,201 per year, according to the BLS. The average salary ranges from $38,380 for family social workers to $57,470 for healthcare social workers. A full breakdown of social work salaries in South Carolina is presented here.
- Child, family, and school social worker: There are 3,220 child, family, and school social workers in South Carolina making an average salary of $38,380 a year.
- Mental health and substance abuse social worker: The average salary for mental health and substance abuse social workers is $34,710 and there are 1,440 of them working in South Carolina.
- Healthcare social worker: Healthcare social workers account for 2,130 jobs in the state and make an average of $57,470 a year.
- All other social workers: All other kinds of social workers, including private practice social workers, make an average of $45,700 a year. There are 2,770 in this group.