Do you really need a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree to work in social work if you already have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)? It depends on where you see your future self. An MSW degree opens up your career options, allows you to specialize, improves your earning potential, and is even required for some careers.
Earning your BSW or a bachelor’s degree in a related field is an important first step that can put you on the path to a social work career. You can help people cope with problems in their lives with a BSW alone, but the degree typically only allows you to pursue entry-level roles, like a mental health technician or a case manager.
To advance your career, you need an MSW degree. Requirements vary by state but many social work positions require licensure that you can only attain after you complete an MSW program. A licensed clinical social worker (LSCW) licensure is one example.
Your salary as a social worker will vary greatly depending on where you live and who you serve. But careers that require the MSW have a higher average salary than those that require only a BSW. The need for social workers is also growing. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that demand for social workers will grow faster than average through 2031.
MSW programs usually take about two years to complete. While most people who pursue an MSW have a BSW, a bachelor’s degree in social work is not required. Other common bachelor’s degrees include psychology and sociology.
Some programs, like the MSW degree at Limestone University, offer a fast track if you already have a BSW from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited college or university. That means you could be eligible for advanced standing for the MSW and complete your degree in about 12 months.
When you start your MSW program, you may choose between a specialization program or a generalist program. Specialization programs allow you to do just that: specialize in an area of focus, like clinical social work, mental health and substance abuse, child and family social work, or social justice. Generalist programs prepare you for social work more broadly to work directly with clients in clinical social work as well as in broader policy and advocacy fields, for example. Clinical social workers also complete supervised training. The length of training varies by state.
Do you want to dedicate your career and your life to helping others? Especially in turbulent times, the demand for social workers rises. At Limestone University, you can pursue an online Master of Social Work that will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to make a difference. Request information about our program now.