Social Work Careers, Licensure, and Salaries in California

California offers some of the highest-paying social work positions in the United States, but is fairly competitive in all fields. Over 15,000 positions exist in the mental health and substance abuse field, which is highest of any state in the country. Overall, there are more social work positions in this state than any other overall.

Average Salary of a California Social Worker

Average salary for practice in the field of mental health and substance abuse is at an annual mean wage of $65,020, which is third-highest nationally. Much of the concentration exists in the southern portion of the state, which connects into the Las Vegas metropolitan area in Nevada.

Los Angeles has the second-largest employment for health care social workers among other metropolitan areas, but is nearly half the amount of New York City according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

California Social Work Licensure Requirements

To become a licensed social worker in the state of California, applicants must become an associate worker. There is a requirement to completing a course on state-specific law and ethics before obtaining the associate designation, and passing the examination over these subjects. Additional coursework in child abuse assessment, human sexuality, chemical abuse, and gerontology are all needed prior to licensure.

Hours of Experience Requirements

At least 3,200 hours of postgraduate supervised experience must be completed in a span of two years. Within this requirement, 2,000 hours should be dedicated to assessment and treatment of clients. 750 clock hours must be reserved for direct clinical practice with clients.

Clinical Examination Requirements

Once all education and clinical hours are met, the Association of Social Work Boards distributes a clinical exam that must be also be passed. Those that are not able to pass the exam can retake it in 90 days. After completing 18 credit hours of continuing education prior to the first renewal, 36 hours of continuing education is needed for further renewal.