Social Worker Associate Degree Online

By Erika Lasrado

Updated February 10, 2023

Erika Lasrado

Erika has broad experience in counseling, psychology, and human resources. Although she has done a master’s in psychology, she is currently pursuing a master’s in educational psychology to change careers. Erika is a foodie and reader and loves to research and write about various topics when time permits.


Master of Psychology, Master of Educational Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

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A career in social work is for those who desire to assist people in need, overcome obstacles, and improve their lives. Students who study social work will get the skills and knowledge needed to help people with a variety of concerns, including psychological/mental health, behavioral, financial, health, relationships, and substance abuse issues. An Social Worker Associate Degree Online program covers social work theory and practice, as well as human needs and behaviors. It studies the pressing issues of today in society and how to address them at various levels using critical thinking, effective communication, sociology, psychology, etc. The associate degree in social work is designed to equip social work assistants for work in agencies and communities, as well as to assist social workers. Social worker associate degree online graduates can also work as paraprofessionals in social service environments. A rapidly changing and in-demand sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social work is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country, expected to grow by 12% between 2020 and 2030. This article provides in-depth information on social work studies and online schools for associates in social work, covering a variety of topics such as the best schools, what this degree is all about, career options, and more.

Best Social Worker Associate
Degree Online Programs

Many online schools for associates in social work have what it takes to make it to the top of the charts. Nevertheless, filtering the best program from hundreds available across the country is an arduous and time-consuming task. Several teams at FBD have researched and assessed the best colleges offering an associate in social work degree based on parameters such as the institution’s reputation, the quality and experience of faculty, infrastructure, student services, affordability, accreditation, and more. The best online AA degree can be found in the list below: *

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

Find Social Worker Associate Degree
Online Programs Near Me

An online social work associate degree Ohio, for example, may not be of much interest if one resides in another state. To put it in perspective, while programs and colleges widely vary, the convenience of location often is a priority with most students, largely because in-state tuition is typically and substantially lesser than out-of-state tuition. Although online associate degree programs may carry one standard fee, irrespective of where one resides, some students may feel comfortable pursuing their degree in their home state. In contrast, others may want to cross borders and look for a specific college instead. Whatever the personal choice, several teams at FBD have worked to make finding a suitable college easy. Here is a list of ‘associate degree in social work near me ‘:

What to Expect from the Social Worker
Associate Degree Online Program?

Degree Format of Social Worker Associate
Degree Online

Area of Specialization for Social Worker Associate
Degree Online Programs

Specializations are an excellent way to dive deep into social work and gain specific knowledge and skills in a particular area within the domain. Specializing can give social work students an added edge over the competition and make them eligible for particular jobs in the social work sector.

Unfortunately, an associate degree in social work does not offer the choice of specializations or concentrations. However, it is possible for students to tailor their course in a way that their program will focus more on a specific area within social work, such as substance abuse, social advocacy, etc. In some instances, a related associate degree program – Human Services – allows students to choose from several areas of concentration, such as business, dietetics, education, health, criminal justice, psychology, and sociology.

Although an associate clinical social worker is sometimes construed as a specialization, it is certification and licensure that leads an individual to this role. Moreover, licensure to become a clinical social worker requires further education (a bachelor’s or master’s degree) and internship or supervised training.  

Why Should I Do a Social Worker Associate
Degree Online?

Free Social Worker Associate
Degree Online Courses

Free courses in social work are an excellent way to acquire knowledge and skills that may not be part of the associate degree in social work online program. Students should note that free courses and programs typically do not award certificates or confer degrees of value in the job market. Here are a few resources for free content and courses for social work students:

Course Description Offered by
Topics on Social WorkOpenLearn, from The Open University, offers free courses in social care and social work at three learning levels. Topics range from ‘An Introduction to Social Work’ to ‘Supporting and Developing Resilience in Social Work’.OpenLearn
Topics on Social WorkUdemy has over 580 free courses on social work and topics related to social work at three different learning levels. Topics range from ‘Introduction to Psychology in Social Work’ to ‘Self-Advocacy: Be your Own Champion’ to ‘Learn Social Psychology Fundamentals’.Udemy
Topics on Social WorkCoursera offers over 1,200 free guided projects, courses, specializations, and professional certificates in social work and topics related to social work, from reputable universities such as Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, Wesleyan University, Yale University, and more.Coursera

How to get into the Social Worker Associates
Degree Online Program?

How long does a Social Worker Associate
Degree Online take?

2-Year Social Worker Associate Degree
Online Accelerated Programs

Accelerated programs are best suited for fast-paced students who wish to finish their degree earlier than usual and get to work right away. They also save time and cost considerably. Although there are few to no accelerated associate degrees in social work, there are a few ways by which students can speed up their programs and shorten their time to graduate, such as:

Take a Credit-Earning Exam

Instead of taking classes, students can take an exam for a small fee, such as the College Level Examination Program standardized test, usually comprising 90 multiple-choice questions. Students will receive full credit for the class if they pass with a score of at least 50%. Most tests are worth three credits, and most colleges will allow students to earn up to 30 credits by taking an exam, some whole years’ worth of coursework they will not have to take.

Make Use of Life & Work Experience

Students may apply to their school for credit for prior learning if they have worked, served in the military, or lived in a foreign country. Work experience could be anything like a course one took, volunteer work, or even work abroad. Any of these experiences can be put together in a portfolio and submitted to the school’s advisor, potentially earning the student up to 15 credits or an entire semester’s worth of classes

Enroll for the Maximum Classes

Most universities allow students to take nearly twice as many credits in a year. One can take up to 18 credits every semester and classes during the summer. This gives you three semesters and 54 credits per year.

Transfer Credits

Students may be able to transfer credited and apply them to their social work degree. Even if previous classes do not fit into the discipline, they may be used for elective classes.

How to Pay for a Social Worker Associate
Degree Online Programs?

FAQs Related to Social Worker Associate
Degree Online Programs

What are online social work associates?

How much does a social worker make?

What are the requirements for an associate in social work?

What associate’s degree should I get for social work?

Can you become a social worker with an associate’s degree?

How long does an online associate in social work degree take?

Is an online social worker associate degree worth it?

How to become a Licensed Social
Worker Online?

For many professions in social work, candidates must have licensure in most states. The Associate Social Work (ASW) License, administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), is widely accepted by employers but may be available to associate degree holders only in some states. In most other states, a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. education, usually accompanied by field experience, is required for obtaining licensure. Therefore, to become licensed social workers, students must consider furthering their education and experience in social work.

Accreditation for Social Worker
Associate Degree Online

Career Opportunities and Salaries Social Worker
Associate Degree Online

Social work is a helping profession that focuses on assisting individuals, families, and larger organizations, as well as addressing current social issues. There is a growing demand for social workers in domains such as aging and healthcare. Licensure and higher education opportunities in social work will lead to increased opportunities for employment in the sector. Social workers can be found in practically every aspect of society, including hospitals and nursing homes and child welfare, schools, jails, and private practice.

Within the social work profession, there is a range of jobs that one can take up, including in public health, family counseling, substance abuse, criminal justice, and more. Most of these jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree or sometimes a master’s, depending on the state one works in and business. However, it is not uncommon for individuals with associate’s degrees to seek entry-level positions in these and other sectors; a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. will tremendously improve job prospects and earning potential, without a doubt. Some available associate degrees in social work jobs and titles include:

  • Social Work Assistant
  • Recreation Worker
  • Teacher’s Assistant
  • Human Services Assistant
  • General Caseworker
  • Personal Care Aide
  • Psychiatric Technician
  • Discharge Planning Assistant/Specialist
  • Gerontology Aide
  • Intake Counselor or Administrator
  • Healthcare Social Worker
  • Probation Officer
  • Social Work Aide/Social Services Assistant
  • Preschool Teacher

As for associates degree in social work salary, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary of social workers (general) is $51,760, with occupations projected to grow 12% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Here is a quick run-down of ASW employment graduates can explore and their salaries and growth potential, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

OccupationSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2030)Job Description
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health CounselorInterpersonal skills, listening skills, compassion, patience, speaking skills.$47,66023% (much faster than average)Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors provide treatment and advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, or other mental or behavioral problems. A bachelor’s degree is required for most professions in this field. However, educational requirements can range from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree, depending on the state and employment.
Community Health WorkerAnalytical skills, instructional skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills.$48,14034% (much faster than average)Community health workers promote wellness by helping people adopt healthy behaviors. They usually require a high school diploma, while some professions may necessitate some postsecondary education. Wellness, ethics, and cultural awareness are just a few of the themes covered in education programs that might lead to a one-year certificate or a two-year associate’s degree.
Social & Human Service AssistantInterpersonal skills, organizational skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, time-management skills, compassion.$35,96017% (much faster than average)Social and human service assistants provide client services in various areas of psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. Even though high school graduation is usually necessary for this job, some firms prefer to hire people with relevant work experience or education beyond high school. Individuals joining this field are increasingly obtaining a certificate or associate’s degree in a subject such as human services, gerontology (dealing with older individuals), or social or behavioral science.
Social Worker (General)Emotional skills, organizational skills, problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills$51,76012% (faster than average)Social workers work in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics, schools, child welfare and human service agencies, hospitals, settlement houses, community development corporations, and private practices. They generally work full time and may need to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Recreation WorkerCommunication skills, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, flexibility, physical strength$28,44016% (much faster than average)Recreation workers design and lead activities to help people stay active, improve fitness, and have fun. A high school diploma or the equivalent is usually required of recreation workers. Many people undergo on-the-job training that lasts about a month.

Certification and Licensing for Social Worker
Associate Degree Online

ASW License

Although a bachelor’s or master’s degree is required to apply for an ASW license, most states, Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, and South Dakota, offer an associate’s level license. Individuals will not be able to perform direct social work services with an associate license, but they will be able to take on associated tasks like intake assessment and referral, case management and outreach, and education and advocacy. An associate license is not adequate to practice in clinical settings. [To work in the clinical field of social work, students will need more schooling. A Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) requires a bachelor’s degree, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) requires a master’s degree in social work (MSW). It’s worth noting that the LBSW is only used as a bachelor’s level license for social workers in a few states.] The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) provides more information on what it will take to become licensed in your state.

Associate degree holders who live in a state that offers an associate social work license can become licensed social workers online by applying through the Association of Social Work Boards following graduation (ASWB). A $230 fee must be paid, and applicants must pass a multiple-choice licensure exam.

Additional Resources for Social Worker
Associate Degree Online

Author Bio:

Erika Lasrado

Erika has broad experience in counseling, psychology, and human resources. Although she has done a master’s in psychology, she is currently pursuing a master’s in educational psychology to change careers. Erika is a foodie and reader and loves to research and write about various topics when time permits.


Master of Psychology, Master of Educational Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners. | Page last updated: Dec 2023.