Getting a Master of Social Work degree is a significant commitment. There are many rewards, but it can be difficult to decide if you want to take the leap and advance your education or choose an alternative method to progress in your career. Whether or not an MSW will be worth it is a personal question. The social work field is not about financial rewards for the most accomplished professionals in the sector. It’s an industry that prides itself on fulfilling work in which professionals can make a difference in the lives of others. With this overarching priority in mind, here’s a look at major value points associated with pursuing an MSW to help you determine if the degree is a fit for you.
Financial and job opportunity benefits
You’re not likely to get rich as a social worker, but that’s not why most people get into the field. However, an MSW can help you move to more advanced positions that offer a higher median salary, providing more financial stability and opportunity in your life. In general, the social work industry is growing quickly, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that new job creation for social workers will occur at a 16 percent rate from 2016 to 2026. In 2017, median pay for social workers was $47,980, a figure that likely accounts for a blend of entry-level, unlicensed social workers and licensed professionals with advanced degrees.
However, take that median salary for all social workers and narrow the field to jobs that specifically require an MSW, and you’ll generally see a significant increase in median salary. According to Payscale, the average salary for licensed clinical social workers in the U.S. is $55,911. For social work supervisors, the average salary is $54,174.
Pursuing an online MSW to obtain a more advanced position can create opportunities to increase your earnings enough to offset the costs of a degree, but you may not experience a drastically different financial outlook immediately. It is more of a step forward from a financial perspective.
The advantage in terms of the types of jobs you can pursue are where an MSW really begins to deliver value. Many managerial and supervisor positions in the social work sector require a master’s degree. In some cases, this is meant as a reflection of experience and broad expertise, with the degree serving as a benchmark to show that a job candidate has the wide breadth of skills needed to manage a team and understand the types of challenges subordinates go through. In other cases, managerial positions will require an MSW because they need specialized skills, such as a particularly deep awareness of regulatory laws. Either way, if you want to take on a leadership role, an advanced degree is often the first step.
Clinical licensure is another key element that comes with pursuing an MSW. This is particularly the case for the online MSW at Regis College, as our program focuses on clinical social work. Counseling is often an attractive job for social workers because it allows individuals to work closely with clients on a one-on-one basis, serving as powerful helpers and potentially changing lives for the better. However, having this close working relationship with clients requires a great deal of skill and expertise. Clinicians must have a deep understanding of a variety of sciences and academic disciplines, with key materials covered in detail during an MSW course.
Knowledge is just the starting point for clinical work. Practicing under the supervision of a licensed professional is also vital, as this gives counselors an opportunity to gain essential experience without the risk of private practice. A supervisor is there to step in and offer guidance in the event that an especially unusual or difficult situation arises. Required professional practice hours within an MSW program are designed to provide this kind of learning opportunity through supervised clinical work.
Whether you are looking to lead or interested in clinical counseling, the MSW can open up opportunities for fulfilling, exciting work that gives you a chance to help others.
Practical reasons to pursue an MSW
Of course, you may also be in a situation in which not pursuing an MSW serves as a roadblock to your long-term career goals. Beyond needing the degree for a specific position you may be interested in or to broadly move toward a more fulfilling job role, an MSW can help you:
- Obtain mandatory licensure that may be required for different positions or to work in certain roles
- Work toward a higher-level degree if you hope to teach
- Set an academic foundation to position you for research in the industry
- Help you switch careers. For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree in one field and want to switch to social work, an MSW is an option
How does the online MSW at Regis College deliver value?
An MSW can be worthwhile for a wide range of reasons, depending on your circumstances. However, you’ll also want to consider how the specific program you’re thinking about could be valuable relative to your goals and needs. Here are a few ways the online MSW at Regis College stands out from a value perspective:
- We don’t require the GRE for application.
- We offer three start times so you never have to wait too long to begin your learning process.
- Our curriculum is designed for flexibility and convenience, making it easier to fit your coursework into your schedule.
- We structure our courses so you can complete the degree in as few as eight semesters.
- We accept eligible transfer credits, so any past work you’ve done toward the degree isn’t lost.
We’d love to talk to you more about how we can help you achieve your goals by pursuing an MSW. Visit our website today and reach out if you have any questions.