How to Become a Child and Family Social Worker

A child and family social work career can appeal to those interested in helping children and those in challenging situations. Social workers in these roles provide essential services to families in need and monitor the well-being of children and families. If you want to learn more about child and family social work, read on to discover how to join this rewarding profession. 

Steps to Become a Child and Family Social Worker

It is a big decision to become a social worker, which requires completing specific education and training requirements. To become a social worker, complete your education, and pass a social work licensing exam, which may vary by state and profession.

Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

You must complete your undergraduate studies before becoming a child and family social worker. Students earning a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) may be required to complete field experience or do work placements besides listening to lectures and reading assignments. Field experience allows students to apply what they have learned in class to real-life situations and develop new skills.

Step 2. Research Advanced Degrees

Many prospective child and family social workers pursue advanced degrees rather than just a BSW. Some social work jobs are available to applicants with a BSW, but you may have more lucrative job opportunities with an advanced degree. Clinical social workers typically should have a master’s degree in social work (MSW). 

Step 3. Pass the ASWB Examination

You must take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Examination (ASWB) to become licensed. To practice social work, you must take the correct exam based on your educational level and the type of work you plan to do.

There are 170 multiple-choice questions at each level of the ASWB exam, which include 150 questions for scoring and 20 for data collection. Verify your local social work licensing board’s eligibility before registering for the ASWB exam.

Step 4. Get Licensed

As a child and family social worker, you’ll need to get social work licensure once you pass the ASWB exam. Each state has its licensing process, but most require applicants to submit an application and pay a fee. Your local social work board will review your results after you complete the ASWB exam.

Based on your ASWB exam results and the licenses available in your state, you will obtain a certain type of social work license. It’s based on your level of education and practice: associate, bachelor’s, master’s, advanced generalist, and clinical. 

Step 5. Apply for NASW Credential

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers an Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker Certification. It provides an opportunity for MSW-level practitioners to demonstrate their experience with child and family social work by obtaining this social work certification. This helps social workers stand out from other professionals in the field. It may also prepare you for your future child and family social worker career.

What does a child and family social worker do?

Social workers provide social services and support to improve the mental and social well-being of children, families, and schools. They aim to improve the child’s academic performance by maximizing academic performance and improving parental well-being. To accomplish this, they assist single parents, arrange foster care, address teenage pregnancies, and address misbehavior and truancy. 

Child and Family Social Worker Salary & Job Outlook

Social workers assist people in preventing and coping with everyday problems, which is why these positions are almost always in demand. There are also many places where social workers are employed, including child welfare agencies, hospitals, and schools. Several people work full-time, while others work weekends, evenings, and holidays depending on the need.

Child and Family Social Worker Salary 

Salary levels for social workers vary depending on where they live and what they do. The median child and family social worker salary in 2020 was $48,430, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In addition, the industry in which you work affects your potential earnings, according to BLS data. Individuals and families services social workers earned higher median salaries than those in local government. 

Child and Family Social Worker Job Outlook 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers are projected to have a positive job outlook regardless of specialization. Over the next decade, social work jobs are projected to grow by 12%, faster than the average projected growth for all professions. 

Child and Family Social Worker Education Requirements 


Here are a few of the accreditation organizations that focus on assessing and accrediting universities and colleges:


With a bachelor’s degree, you’ll still learn the foundational knowledge to succeed in the area. Still, the requirements may vary depending on your state regulations and the position you’re applying for. Of course, you may find internship opportunities and other options with a master’s degree.  

Licensure Credentials

As a specialized professional social worker, the credential enhances your professional recognition. It also increases your visibility and allows you to associate yourself with a select group of specialized, professional social workers. Here are the basic credentials

  • Graduate from an accredited university with a baccalaureate in social work.
  • The completion of twenty (20) hours of post-degree continuing professional education on biopsychosocial issues, interventions, or dynamics of working with children, youth, and families.
  • After graduation from the BSW program, you must have worked as a child, youth, and family social worker for at least one (1) year and 1,500 hours.
  • Passing score on an ASWB BSW-level exam or a current state BSW-level license.
  • NASW Standards for Continuing Professional Education

Would continuing my education help? 

The benefits of continuing education for child and family social workers include learning new skills and developing a deeper understanding of the latest therapies and research. Higher salaries and more prestigious positions may also result from education and skill development.

Child and Family Social Worker FAQ 

You should research viable career options to decide whether social work is the right path. We address some of the most frequently asked questions about careers as child and family social workers.

Do you need a master’s degree to be a child and family social worker? 

Despite popular belief, not all child and family social work positions require a master’s degree. To be eligible to work as a child and family social worker, you must have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW).

Is licensure required to become a child and family social worker? 

Your state must license you for your clinical child and family social work. State requirements will vary but typically include earning a master’s degree in social work (MSW), working in a clinical setting for at least two years, and passing an exam.

How long does it take to become a child and family social worker?

Child and family social work requirements take four to six years, depending on the individual. The average time to earn your bachelor’s degree is four years, and the average time to earn your master’s degree is two years. The minimum requirement for social workers interested in working in a clinical environment is two years of supervised experience.

Where does a child and family social worker get a job? 

Social workers who work with children and families usually have an office as their base of operation. Still, they do outreach in the community by visiting clients and connecting them with services such as food stamps and childcare. Some social workers may work remotely, meeting with clients over video conference.

What’s the difference between a child and family social worker and a child and family counselor?

Child and family social workers may seem similar to child and family counselors. These positions serve unique roles. Although both professionals work with students, children, and families, the way they do so differs. A social worker’s role is more action-oriented. They connect people with social services and community resources, monitor their safety and well-being, and work to improve unhealthy and unsafe situations.

Counselors provide behavioral therapy and counseling primarily in therapeutic settings, despite concerns about their client’s safety and well-being. In case of red flags or concerns with a client, social services or a social worker can intervene; the social worker can give further instructions.

Resources for Child and Family Social Workers

Some websites offer support to families and children who are struggling with a range of challenges. These resources help and support child and family social workers in their jobs.


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Accsc. “Accreditation Alerts.” Welcome | Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges 

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“Careers.” NASW, National Association of Social Workers

“Coping with Pressure at School (Teen’s Guide).” Free Social Work Tools and Resources:, 28 June 2019

Council on Occupational Education

Detc. “Welcome to Deac.” DEAC

“Exam.” Association of Social Work Boards, 20 July 2022

“Free Social Work Resources & Tools.” Free Social Work Tools and Resources:

“Life Journey through Autism: A Guide to Safety.” Free Social Work Tools and Resources:, 4 Oct. 2018

“MSW Field Education.” UGA Social Work, 8 Sept. 2022 

“MSW Field Placement.” Masters in Social Work (MSW) Field Work & Placement

“NASW Home.” NASW, National Association of Social Workers

“Preventing Bullying: A Guide for Parents.” Free Social Work Tools and Resources:, 30 Nov. 2020

Social Work, Skills for Care

“Social Workers: Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Sept. 2022

“What Are Child and Family Social Workers?” |, 20 Oct. 2021 

Writers, Staff. “About the ASWB Exam.”, 1 July 2019

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