Human Services Guide

Master of Social Work (MSW)

In the field of Human Services, few degrees offer as wide a variety of job opportunities and titles as the Master of Social Work degree. There are diversity of career paths one can take once you a have earned the Master of Social Work degree. Without question the MSW is one of the most coveted degrees for prospective employers in the Human Services field. The level of training and expertise one gains from earning their Master’s degree is extremely helpful for increasing performance levels. This is true regardless of the career path you take in the Human Services sector.

It is often said in today’s “employer’s market” economy that “The Master’s degree is the new Bachelor’s degree”. What this means is that employers that used to require a Bachelor’s degree as a minimum requirement have decided that they have the option to only seek only the most qualified candidates. Not only will a Master’s degree open more doors than a Bachelor’s degree in terms of employment within agencies, but in many cases it is simply required to even get an initial interview. If you are interested in holding the title of Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) you will need to first earn your MSW degree and then go on to meet your State’s additional licensure requirements. If you wish to have a private practice in Social Work counseling, the Master of Social Degree is a critical first step towards becoming licensed.

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In Social Work one of the most lucrative and flexible career paths is found in becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Different states have different benchmarks that have to be met to become a Licensed Clinical Social Work. While there are other social work licensure levels that only require a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), the vast majority of states have more stringent educational standards for licensure. In most states, if you wish to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), then you will need to obtain a Masters of Social Work degree. Once you have your MSW you will then be required to show a certain amount of paid professional experience under the supervision of a LCSW. After meeting the professional experience requirements – usually in the 1000’s of work hours – you will be eligible to take certain Social Work Licensure Exams (LCSW Exam). This in turn gives one the ability to open a private practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. To read more about the process of please click here to view our in-depth article on Social Work Licensure.

Here are just a few of the Human Services job titles you can hold with a Masters in Social Work:

    • Marriage and Family Therapist
    • Social and Community Service Manager
    • Social Work Administrator
    • Social Service Permanency Worker
    • Social Service Screener
    • Licensed Clinical Social Work
    • School Social Worker
    • Child Welfare Case Manager

The freedom of choice you gain from a Master’s degree is exponentially larger than what one gains from simply having a Bachelor’s degree. Having a Master’s degree also opens up the potential of joining a management team straight out of university. You may even be able to teach at certain community or junior colleges. In addition to career choice, having a Master’s degree tends to bring with it significantly higher financial benefits as well. As many states have complex educational and licensure requirements, it is important that you carefully plan your educational journey, starting your education as soon as possible to fast track your career. There is no time like the present to get started on your path towards earning your MSW.

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