Being a social worker is a noble profession that is both challenging and rewarding. You’ll face a lot of emotional and mental strain because you’ll see many heartbreaking situations. Those hard circumstances are exactly why social workers are needed. It’s worth the daily struggle to see the positive change you can bring to those in need.
But what do you need to do in order to become a social worker? You need at least your bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) before you can join the field. Getting a BSW will prepare you for entry-level, professional, and general social work practices and set you up for success in a graduate program. You don’t have to get a BSW to go into an MSW program, but you’ll have a great headstart if you do.
You get a lot of education and experience with your BSW, but you might want to get your master’s degree in social work (MSW) in order to further advance in the field. Keep reading to find out whether you should get a master’s in social work.
With a BSW you’ll still be able to get a job in the social work field, but more doors and opportunities will be available to you if you have an MSW. For example, you can specialize in substance abuse programs or mental health in order to help children and families in specific, therapeutic ways.
Supervisory Roles & Specialization
With an MSW you’ll also be eligible for positions in schools and human services departments or work in administration or other high-level jobs that a BSW wouldn’t allow you to do. In these roles, you’ll have more power and be able to help other social workers and families.
School and human services social workers are trained mental health professionals who help with mental health, behavioral, and academic concerns. Your MSW will allow you to consult with teachers, parents, administrators, staff, and provide therapy.
Other than family and school social work, you can also choose to specialize in other areas if you get an MSW. These areas include working with the elderly, mental health, addiction, trauma and violence, developmental social work, and so much more.
As with any other career field, with a higher degree comes higher pay. This is a great incentive to get through the extra schooling an obtain a master’s other than just the career and personal opportunities. On average, social workers with a BSW make about $50,000 per year, while those with an MSW make around $70,000 for their annual salary.
Overall, an MSW degree will make you a more qualified and adept social worker. You can go into clinical work and do therapy, help children in schools, or specialize in trauma. Or you could get an administrative role and help organize the workers under you to do a better job. In the end, you’ll make more money and have more experience with an MSW that will open more doors for you.