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A Master of Social Work is a versatile degree that prepares students to work in a variety of settings, with a wide range of populations. The growing demand for social workers across the United States presents numerous opportunities for MSW graduates who have advanced skills in direct practice with individuals and families.
The MSW Program at WCU has gathered resources for you to plan your career path. These presentations can help you get started:
Our students and graduates are in demand at local agencies and organizations, which send us employment opportunities throughout the year. We list these postings in our Job Board. Listings are related to the field of social work and come from trusted sources within the field. Questions about particular job listings should be directed to the employer.
The Twardowski Career Development Center provides a variety of services to students, including:
The Career Development Center is open to students and alumni, no matter how long it has been since graduation.
WCU offers several graduate certificates that may be a good fit with an MSW.
Professional licensing and regulation is a way of protecting the public by ensuring that those who have a license are qualified to work in their professions.
Each state has its own laws that determine how social workers become licensed. Requirements for licensure include earning a degree in social work from an accredited program and passing an exam.
Most, but not all, jobs in social work require a license at the Licensed Social Worker or Licensed Clinical Social Worker level. Those who work in private or nonprofit practice often obtain clinical licensure so their fees can be reimbursed by insurance companies, Medicaid, and Medicare.
If you take a fee-for-service position, you will be paid based on how many clients you work with rather than receiving a regular salary. You will most likely not be paid if a client misses an appointment. Social workers who are paid fee-for-service often say they need to maintain a full caseload to earn a comfortable income.
Many private practitioners work on a fee-for-service basis. Many agencies hire fee-for-service employees as well. Some of these positions include benefits, although many do not.
One major advantage of fee-for-service work is that it's usually more flexible than a regular schedule. Taking a fee-for-service position can also be a good way to break into professional social work or gain experience in a new area of practice.
The term "per diem" means "for each day" in Latin. A per diem position could mean you are filling in for social workers who are sick, on vacation, or taking parental leave. Social workers are hired on a temporary basis for similar reasons.
Taking a short-term position can be a good way to break into professional social work or gain experience in a new practice area. It might lead to permanent, full-time work.
Some temporary or per diem social workers are hired directly by employers. Others work for placement agencies.
Here are some sources of short-term social work positions:
Professional social workers are supervised in several different ways. Clinical supervision is a process in which social workers grow in their competence by building a relationship with a supervisor, who serves as a sort of mentor. It is sometimes called “educational supervision.”
Social workers who plan to pursue clinical licensure need to complete a specific amount of clinical supervision. Each state has a required number of hours of clinical supervision that a social worker needs to apply for clinical licensure; this number varies among states.
Clinical supervision might happen one-on-one, or it may take place in a small group. While supervisors document the time they spend on supervision, social workers should keep track of their supervision time as well.
Some employers provide clinical supervision to social workers who don’t yet have clinical licensure. However, some settings don’t provide enough supervision for social workers to accumulate the necessary hours for clinical licensure, others provide no clinical supervision at all. In these cases, a social worker can hire a clinical supervisor. Here are some online directories of clinical supervisors:
If you decide to become a licensed social worker, you will need a license from your state. Each state has its own procedures to apply for licensure:
Professional associations exist for many fields within social work. Many professional associations maintain their own job boards, and some offer student memberships.
Getting involved in these organizations is an excellent way to meet practitioners in your area of interest. Joining a state or regional chapter gives you these opportunities closer to home. WCU's Graduate Student Association may reimburse your expenses for attending or presenting at a professional conference.