Careers in Social Work: Now is the Time to Earn an MSW

MSW CareersNow is the time to earn an MSW. The future is bright for social workers as the field of social work evolves to accommodate the ever-changing needs of vulnerable populations.

Political turbulence, climate disasters, widening class divides, an increasing emphasis on mental health—these have all combined to open and solidify, a promising job market for social workers. As different populations across the world face unique struggles, social workers are primed to improve their conditions, health, and wellbeing. Despite global unrest, it’s a good time to be a social worker.

Opportunities abound

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects social work employment to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026—faster than the average of all other professions. Although those entering the field of social work have strong prospects, an advanced degree prepares students for 21st-century issues and is a powerful step toward helping people create meaningful outcomes in their lives.

To help individuals and communities cope with a wide array of vulnerabilities, social work encompasses a range of skills and is certainly not limited to therapy — or Child Protective Services, which many wrongly assume. The ever-broadening field includes professionals in positions from forensics to community programming, healthcare institutions to public policy, across three main pathways.

Clinical social workers assess individual patients one on one, while community social workers work with marginalized populations in concentrated areas—and some positions require a combination of both. Depending on where you choose to focus your career, you could work with countless diverse populations: veterans, people experiencing homelessness or addiction, those recovering from natural disasters, school children, and many more.

Room to grow

Social work is a rewarding career, allowing you to make a positive difference in the lives of others and entire communities. Despite wide misconception that social workers obtain a paltry income, in reality many social workers go on to work in highly esteemed positions—directing nonprofit organizations, affecting public policy, and becoming reputable therapists. The top 10% earn more than $78,000 per year.

A number of factors determine a social work salary, including the state in which you practice, your area of work, and your education level. Studies find that earning an MSW can increase earning potential by an average of $15,000 per year compared to those with only an undergraduate degree.

Licensing, too, has an impact on salary. Although some believe a license is unnecessary for a successful job outlook, obtaining one shows a commitment to standard ethical practice and the profession overall. Each state has different requirements, but all have established licensing to protect residents.

A career in high demand

Regardless of background or credentials, all social workers strive to alleviate suffering by providing access to resources and working to improve social conditions and physical and mental health — not an easy job, but a fulfilling one. It’s often up to social workers to speak on behalf of the populations they serve when our country’s leaders propose policy that negatively impacts them. Many decision-makers do not understand the full implications of their mandates. In this way, social workers play a critical role advocating on an institutional level.

As social and political trends evolve—along with the mounting struggles associated with them—so too will the social worker’s role in individual and community stability. But as long as suffering and social and economic discrimination exist, social workers will have work to do. And at a time when people are taking mental health more seriously, and access to information — like being able to know what other individuals and communities are up against — is at an all-time high. It is a good time to become a social worker – now is a great time to earn an MSW!


If you are interested in pursuing your Master’s in Social Work, or even if you’re simply interested in discussing the program, please reach out to an Enrollment Counselor at (207) 221-4143 or via email at socialworkonline@une.edu.

Interested in applying to UNE Online? The sooner you apply, the sooner you hear back. Fill out an online application today at online.une.edu/gateway-portal-page – we look forward to hearing from you!

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