Is it Important to Earn an MSW to be Successful in the Field of Social Work?
A career in the field of Social Work can be both challenging and rewarding. Anyone who genuinely enjoys helping others and who has an outlet where they can cope with the tragic cases they would be responsible for managing could benefit from studying Social Work to earn their degree.
While not all candidates looking to work in the field need to have a graduate degree, taking your education and knowledge to the next level could propel you into new roles. Deciding whether or not you want to spend 2 to 4 more years studying for an advanced degree can be challenging. It is an investment of your time but you also have to determine if it will wind up being a financial investment or more of an expense. Here’s what you need to know about earning an MSW degree:
What Can You Do With an MSW Degree?
There are pluses and minuses associated with earning any type of graduate degree. The two biggest drawbacks are that you will be spending more time in school struggling to balance it all, and you’ll be spending more money on your education. This is why professionals in many fields choose to gain experience rather than furthering their education.
In the field of Social Work, having a Master’s degree makes a major difference in the number of jobs you’re qualified for. You may be able to work in a public health agency as a Social Worker with only a Bachelor’s degree, but you are limited to other job prospects. With a Master’s, professionals can pursue their licensure and work as a clinician. They can also work in general roles as supervising county Social Workers, or in specialist roles where they work as Health Care Social Workers.
Are These Jobs in High Demand?
Job outlook can vary from one region to another. Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the field for Marriage and Family Therapists will grow by 23%. Anyone who wants to pursue licensure can benefit from this growth if they are in a high-demand region like Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, Phoenix, Anaheim, Riverside, or Baltimore.
The projected growth for social workers who work in clinics, schools, and government agencies isn’t quite as high but is still positive. According to the BLS, the field is projected to grow by 16% by the year 2026. Demand is much higher for clinical social workers with a Master’s and 2 years of experience than it is for those with a Bachelor’s.
Cost vs. Potential Earnings
Earning a Master’s degree isn’t cheap. There is quality online and classroom degree programs that last anywhere from 12 months to 3 years, but you will have to pay for the education. The average direct cost of earning a degree is around $13,000 per year.
Upon graduation, candidates could find positions that pay substantially more with their Master’s. The difference in pay depends on region, the job, and experience. According to Payscale, the average MSW will earn around $46,768 in social work and $55,855 in a clinical setting.
Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees
You would have to assess your salary before and after your graduate degree to really determine how long it would take to pay off your student debt. If your goal is to work in a clinical or practical setting, having your Master’s is a must. If you would like to work in a general social work setting, it could help you advance your career with an MSW.