Are you looking to advance your social work career to better help underprivileged families, disadvantaged communities, and youngsters with substance use disorders? Well, the best way to do that is to gain more experience and further your education by enrolling in a master’s degree. You’d have already started asking yourself questions like:
- What are the benefits of pursuing a master’s in social work (MSW)?
- How will MSW impact my career?
And you might also consider whether you should enroll in an in-class MSW program or online.
Which MSW is Better: Online or On-Campus?
While on-campus learning comes with many benefits, the cost per credit hour for online courses is often lower than for traditional classroom settings. Online education also allows individuals with responsibilities outside school to learn around their schedules.
Most lesson materials are always available online. You can access them from anywhere with a stable Wi-fi connection. In addition, online classes are an ideal fit for independent, self-motivated learners. Some students need extended time on a subject, while others grasp the concept quickly. With an online program, you can work at your own pace. So you should consider an online MSW if you identify as a self-motivated student and juggle work and family. And there are several schools to earn your social work masters online, so you won’t have trouble finding a suitable program.
But if you’re still on the fence about getting a master’s in social work, we’ve outlined the top three reasons to convince you.
You’ll get invaluable hands-on knowledge and experience
MSW programs combine classroom instruction with field placements, allowing you to demonstrate that you have the skills necessary for the job before you even earn your degree. In addition to hands-on experience in the field, students enrolled in a master’s in social work program receive advanced instruction in research and statistics, psychotherapy, and social welfare and policy.
You’ll acquire knowledge and understanding beyond your undergrad education. Depending on your specialty, you’ll get professional training in practical settings and solve real-world problems. The skills and experience you’ve picked up can make your resume appealing to prospective employers.
You can pursue several career advancement opportunities
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of September 2022 show that those with a graduate degree or above have a far lower unemployment rate (2.6%) than those with a high school diploma or less (5.6%). The BLS data also revealed that social worker career prospects will probably increase by 9 percent between 2021 and 2031. On average, per year, there will be about 74,700 openings for social workers during the next decade.
While it’s possible to become a social worker after a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree in social work will allow you to dig deeper into your field of interest.
Perhaps you want to pursue social work in clinical settings. The job description may involve assessment, diagnosis, intervention, and treatment in various social contexts. Unfortunately, you cannot pursue clinical or medical social work as a career option without a license. Once you have completed your master’s coursework and internship, you will be eligible for licensure from your state’s licensing board. In most jurisdictions, obtaining certification as a licensed social worker is required to start a social work agency and accept payments from third-party insurance companies while working in private practice.
In addition, a master of social work degree is typically necessary for the following positions:
- Healthcare, administration, and schools.
- If you want to specialize, such as counseling addicts or schoolchildren.
- To get certificates like gerontology clinical social worker (CSW-G)
After MSW, you’ll also be able to broaden your social work to marginalized groups, low-income families, and communities with high infant mortality rates. Perhaps you aspire to become a juvenile court liaison, a psychiatric crisis screener, an adjunct lecturer at a college/university, or a K-12/secondary school counselor. In either case, a master’s degree in social work will help open up a range of options for your career in social work.
Your pay and earning potential increases
As previously mentioned, most people enter the social work field to bring about a positive change in the world. However, financial security remains a priority when choosing a career path.
Like with other professions, your salary and earning potential in social work will be directly related to your level of education. Based on the BLS data, if you have a master’s in social work, you’re more likely to receive an annual salary of over $80,000. It’s 15% higher than your bachelor’s counterparts, who make a little less than $70,000 in a year.
The expression “I want to make a difference” has come to represent the aspirations of many people. Working as a social worker is one way to achieve this goal. And an MSW degree will provide you credibility as a professional and equip you with the proper knowledge, skills, and tools to advance in your profession and help people to the best of your abilities.