How To Become a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

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How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More

Mental Health Social Workers

Mental Health Social Workers assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs. Activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, case management, client advocacy, prevention, and education.

Salary
$54540
Becoming One
Very Hard
Education
Master's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match



What degree do you need

Recommended degree level

Master’s Degree

We did a survey to ask other Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers what degree they had when they became a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker. Here are the results.
Master’s Degree
56.87%


Post-Master’s Certificate
14.95%


Bachelor’s Degree
14.62%


One of the most common questions that we always get is what major or degree do I need to become Mental Health Social Workers or what courses do I need to take.

We also asked Mental Health Social Workers what did they major in college or university and here are the top 5 most popular majors that came up.

Social Work
Social Work
Clinical or Medical Social Work

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers must have a master’s degree and two years of post-master experience in a supervised clinical setting. A bachelor’s degree in social work is not required to enter a master’s degree program in social work. A degree in almost any major is acceptable. However, courses in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science are recommended.



Featured Schools

How hard is it

Difficulty
Very Hard

You will need an extensive amount of skill, knowledge and experience to be a Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, a surgeon must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.

Careers in this difficulty category may need some on-the-job-training, but most of these careers assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, and work-related experience and training. These careers usually involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Similar careers include pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, neurologists, and veterinarians.


Related work experience required
1 to 2 years

1 to 2 years
38.46%


2 to 4 years
33.32%


6 months to 1 year
12.09%


Job training
1 to 3 months

1 to 3 months
35.84%


Up to 1 month
25.52%


3 to 6 months
15.64%



License and certifications

Do you need any license or certification
Required

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice. All states have some type of licensure or certification requirement, which varies by state. However, some states provide exemptions for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers who work in government agencies. Becoming a licensed healthcare social worker usually requires a master’s degree in social work and a minimum of 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience after graduation. After completing their supervised experience, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers must pass a clinical exam to be licensed. Because licensing requirements vary by state, those interested should contact their state board. Most states also have licenses for non-clinical social workers. For more information about regulatory licensure board by state, contact the Association of Social Work Boards.


Skills required

We asked other Mental Health Social Workers if they could only have 5 skills, what would they be. Here is what they said.

1. Active Listening what does this mean
2. Speaking what does this mean
3. Social Perceptiveness what does this mean
4. Reading Comprehension what does this mean
5. Critical Thinking what does this mean

= Hot in-demand that most employers are looking for


Knowledge required

Just like any other job, you will need certain know-hows to excel at your job. Mental Health Social Workers are generally very knowledgeable in these 5 key areas.

1. Psychology what does this mean
2. Therapy and Counseling what does this mean
3. Customer and Personal Service what does this mean
4. Sociology and Anthropology what does this mean
5. English Language what does this mean


Learn more about Mental Health Social Workers

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Related to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Requirements

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