Most social workers enter the field because they want to contribute to their community and help others.
However, getting a master’s degree in social work can help you earn a higher salary, in addition to providing other advantages. Other reasons to earn your MSW degree include being able to offer better supports and services to clients, job security, and the opportunity for personal fulfillment.
The Advantages of Getting a MSW Degree:
The Opportunity to Serve Others
Social workers are passionate about social justice and have a measurable impact on the people in their community. They identify those who need help, assess their situations, and develop plans to address their needs.1 You have access to resources and the opportunity to work with people from vulnerable populations such as immigrants, people who are homeless, victims of abuse, and members of the LGBT community.
Social workers tend to have similar interests, including a desire to serve others, fight for social justice, make a difference in people’s lives, and act with integrity. They are kind, compassionate, generous, and caring, all of which are directly connected to the nature of their work.
A career in social work offers job security, since there will always be communities that need resources and advocates.2 The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth for social workers is expected to increase by 12 percent through 2024, which is almost double the average job growth rate of 7 percent.3
Greater Career Options
Depending on demand, you may be able to get a job if you only have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), but your career options will be limited. Having a master’s degree makes you a more competitive job candidate and allows you to advance in your career. Social workers with more experience and credentials get positions where they can make a larger impact on clients’ lives.4 A MSW degree also increases your chances of getting a higher level position with more responsibility earlier in your career.
Advanced Education and Training
MSW programs combine academics with practical training in the field, allowing you to demonstrate your ability to do the work before you even graduate. In addition to fieldwork, an MS in Social Work program offers advanced training in statistics and research, psychotherapy, and social welfare and policies.5
In addition, a MSW degree is generally required for the following:
- If you want to work in healthcare, administration, and schools.
- If you’re looking to specialize in an area, for example working with patients battling addiction or counseling children in schools.
- To obtain certain credentials, such as the clinical social worker in gerontology (CSW-G).
- In order to get certified as a licensed social worker and be able to open your own practice, and collect third-party insurance payments in private practice in most states.
As previously mentioned, most people go into social work to help others. However, income is still an important consideration when planning one’s career. The median average salary for a social worker as of May 2015 was $45,900, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the salaries for a social worker with a MSW degree tend to be higher. If you have a MSW degree, you can expect to earn $15,000 more than someone with a BSW.6 In fact, a survey performed by the NASW Workforce Center showed that no matter what area the social worker works in, the wages of social workers holding a master’s degree will always be much higher than those who don’t have one. And that difference can be tremendous — sometimes as much as $30,000 annually.7
If you are thinking about getting a MSW degree, you should consider enrolling in Widener University’s Online Master of Social Work program. To learn more, call 844-386-7321 to speak with a program manager or request more info.
- 1 “How to become a social worker: Social work degree programs & careers.” LearnHowToBecome.org. http://www.learnhowtobecome.org/social-worker/ (accessed on September 5, 2016).
- 2 “5 reasons why a career in social work might be right for you.” WorkItDaily.com. https://www.workitdaily.com/career-social-work/ (accessed on September 5, 2016).
- 3 “Occupational outlook handbook: Social workers.” BLS.gov. http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm (accessed on September 5, 2016).
- 4 “Why social workers should get their MSWs.” WorkItDaily.com. https://www.workitdaily.com/social-workers-msws/ (accessed on September 5, 2016).
- 5 Miller, A. “The advantages of having a master’s degree in social work.” eHow.com. http://www.ehow.com/list_6148576_advantages-masters-degree-social-work.html (accessed on September 5, 2016).
- 6 Childs, B. “What jobs are available with an MSW degree?” SocialWorkLicenseMap.com. https://socialworklicensemap.com/msw-jobs/ (accessed on September 5, 2016).
- 7 “Benefits of being a social worker with a master’s degree.” CareersInPsychology.org. http://careersinpsychology.org/benefits-social-worker-masters-degree/ (accessed on September 5, 2016).