Yes, an MSW Is Worth It
The Benefits of Getting a Master’s in Social Work
Does your work leave you personally satisfied and professionally fulfilled at the end of each day? Are your day-to-day efforts helping to move society forward, or are they helping people better navigate the world? And if the answer to either or both of these questions is “No,” what have you considered changing about your own reality to help you change that of others?
In today’s chaotically evolving global landscape, many people work jobs that they don’t find fulfilling, or even useful to society. Perhaps a majority of us feel this way. According to a recent study, over 50 percent of Americans don’t feel engaged at work.1 If you’re part of that group, trying to find a way to gain fulfillment and meaning in your nine-to-five job can be a daunting assignment, particularly when you consider that as many as 84 percent of North American workers said they felt stuck in their current job situation.2
So what jobs can help people foster a sense of personal and professional fulfillment while simultaneously generating a positive output that can benefit society at large?
Well, social work is one solid option, and it’s actually a common choice for second-career seekers. In fact, multiple social work roles were listed among U.S. News and World Report’s Best 100 Jobs of 2018.3 It’s a career path that could let you add value to others’ lives while also improving your own.
But in considering this possibility, what would be the value of earning a Master of Social Work (MSW)?
1: Broaden Your Career Opportunities
There are numerous options for social workers who do not hold a graduate-level degree. Usually, those with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or another undergraduate degree occupy roles in generalist social work, which can include positions in case management, child and family services, community health outreach, public policy, and research. However, earning an MSW opens many more doors in terms of job options, and can give you greater freedom when trying to customize your career trajectory.
For those who wish to pursue the following position types, an MSW from an accredited institution is almost always required:4
- Clinical roles and psychotherapy
- School social work
- Healthcare social work
- Management-level positions
- Private practice ownership
Additionally, any position that may include supervising social worker trainees will also require an MSW.
2: Prepare for Licensure Exams
In conjunction with broader career opportunities, an MSW is required for most licensure exams, and most states require those who will occupy advanced or clinical positions to be individually licensed. While license names and requirements vary from state-to-state, the three common levels for those interested in more advanced roles are:
- Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW)
- Licensed Master Social Worker-Advanced Generalist (LMSW-AG)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Each of these requires an MSW at minimum; some may also require a certain number years of experience.5
In addition to licensure options, social workers may also choose to pursue advanced credentials or specialty certifications in any number of focus areas, including military social work, addiction, gerontology and palliative care. Once again, exams for these credentials most often require an MSW and, in some cases, an existing license.6
3: Increase Your Earning Potential
On average, the higher education level a person achieves, the greater his or her income will be.7 With this in mind, pursuing an MSW is a statistically wise decision for your earning potential in the field.
An MSW program presents a valuable opportunity to build specialized knowledge; prepare for the challenges of working with those who may be marginalized, indigent, handicapped or facing personal challenges; and gain initial experience in the field, where students can begin to understand the real-world impact of their learnings. These programs can empower new social workers with far greater opportunity for advancement in the job market and, in turn, set them up for greater earning potential.
According to the National Association for Social Workers (NASW) Workforce Center, social workers who hold an MSW can earn as much as 50 percent more than their peers who hold only a BSW. They found that the wage gap varied across different professional settings—it was greater in clinical settings, like a hospital, but not as severe in social service agencies, for instance—but MSW holders still earned more in each case.4
4: Personal Fulfillment
Dedicating your career to a role in which you can help improve the lives of others can seem a purely selfless pursuit, and it certainly requires a deep-seated conviction to serve others. But it can also be extremely good for individual practitioners themselves. Not every job can engage people in a way that makes them feel as though they’re making a real difference in society, and for many, that calling to support others is a critical part of their own identity and sense of self-worth.
So for those who want to put their degree to literal good use, a master’s in social work may be the perfect decision.
Improve the Lives of Others—And Your Own
If you’re one of those unhappy workers who isn’t engaged in your job, it may be time for a change. While social work isn’t the right fit for everyone, it can be a great choice for those looking to make a difference in others’ lives as well as their own.
Want to learn more about earning your online Master of Social Work from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work? Contact an Admissions Advisor today at 866-545-9506.
1 Retrieved on May 10, 2018, fromcbsnews.com/news/why-so-many-americans-hate-their-jobs/
2 Retrieved on May 10, 2018, from payscale.com/career-news/2013/07/study-reveals-majority-of-workers-feel-trapped-in-their-jobs
3 Retrieved on May 10, 2018, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobs
4 Retrieved on May 10, 2018, from socialworklicensure.org/social-worker-education/why-a-masters-in-social-work/
5 Retrieved on May 10, 2018, from socialworkguide.org/licensure/
6 Retrieved on May 10, 2018, from socialworkers.org/Careers/Credentials-Certifications/Apply-for-NASW-Social-Work-Credentials
7 Retrieved on May 10, 2018, from pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/28/for-millennials-a-bachelors-degree-continues-to-pay-off-but-a-masters-earns-even-more/