The Master of Social Work (MSW), a graduate-level, practice-oriented degree that prepares you for advanced roles in the helping profession of social worker, is one of the highest-paying master’s degrees. To work as a social worker, you don’t need a master’s degree in social work. With a bachelor’s degree in social work, many people can get started in the field and have a successful career without ever going to graduate school. There are, of course, some positions in social work that require a master’s degree.
A Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work Can Get You Into These Careers
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree is the entry-level education for this field (BLS). Micro, macro, and mezzo are the three main types of social work that bachelor’s social workers, as the BLS calls them, can pursue. Some of the best opportunities are reserved for social workers with a master’s degree, but this is not the case in all fields.
In order to find employment with a bachelor’s degree in social work, you’ll need to select an area of specialization. As an example, O*NET reports that 69% of child, family, and school social workers only have a bachelor’s degree, and only 29% have a master’s degree. According to the BLS, 342,500 out of 713,200 social workers are employed in this field of social work. That’s a lot of job opportunities.
There are a wide range of tasks that social workers in these regions are responsible for. Social workers who specialize in children and families are trained to seek out and remove children who are being abused or neglected. When families face issues like finding housing for the homeless, applying for food stamp benefits, or locating affordable childcare programs and services, others help them get the resources they require. Adoption and foster care can also be arranged by social workers to help children find a permanent or temporary home. The role of school social workers is to help students improve their academic and social performance by coordinating programs and services.
Caseworker, residential case manager, family service worker, mental health assistant, habilitation specialist, and community activity director are just a few of the job titles you could hold with a BSW degree.
If you only have a bachelor’s degree in social work, you may not be able to pursue some of the more specialized fields. According to O*NET, 57 percent of mental health and substance abuse social workers have a master’s degree, and another 15 percent have completed a post-certificate. master’s Graduate education in social work is preferred even more in healthcare roles. Over 92% of healthcare social workers have a master’s degree, with another 4% holding a post-certificate, master’s according to O*NET data. Post-baccalaureate certificate holders comprised the final four per cent of the profession’s workforce.
Clinical practice is a job opportunity that you won’t have if you don’t have an MSW degree. Clinical social work focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional health disorders, as well as the application of psychotherapeutic interventions to help clients cope with difficult situations. The approach a clinical social worker takes to treatment is slightly different from that of fields like counseling and psychology because it emphasizes the importance of the client’s social environment.
To become a clinical social worker, you must complete at least two – and in some states, three to four – years of supervised clinical work experience after completing your MSW degree. At this point in time, you can take the state-issued exam to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).
As an LCSW, you have the option of running your own private practice or joining a group practice as a clinical mental health provider. You would not be able to practice clinical social work in a private practice without a master’s degree in social work.