Why You Should Do an MSW Degree

By  //  September 15, 2020

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An MSW degree is one of the premier ways for an American to get into the social working job market and be competitive within it

There are many jobs out there that require specialist degrees to make sure you have the correct knowledge and skills before you start them.

This is the case for most vocational professions and is definitely true for social work. An MSW degree is one of the premier ways for an American to get into the social working job market and be competitive within it.

Obtaining this qualification can be hard work and requires dedication, but it’s extremely worthwhile, and in some cases essential, to obtain in order to get you that dream job in social work.

What is Social Work?

The term ‘social work’ covers a wide spectrum of roles and duties, and because of that, there is a lot of variety within the field. In essence, social work is a practice-based profession that promotes social change, development, cohesion and the empowerment of people and communities, and obtaining an MSW degree is the best way to be in a position to do that.

Good social work can enhance lives and better communities and can help aid and combat key issues such as:

Civil rights

Unemployment Insurance

Disability Pay

Workers Compensation

Social work has been around in the US for over 100 years and has been at the forefront of many movements that have helped improve the average American’s life. It’s a critical role in society, and an MSW degree can help give students the skills and knowledge to perform the role admirably.

Being a social worker involves using professional knowledge to enhance and improve the overall wellbeing of vulnerable individuals and communities and help them meet their basic needs.

May social workers will be supporting difficult and perhaps even hostile individuals such as addicts, mental health sufferers, domestic abuse survivors and those with disabilities, so it’s important to figure out quickly if the career choice is right for you.

Benefits of Social Work

There are a lot of benefits social work can have not just for society but also for you as an individual. This makes doing an MSW degree a really rewarding venture as it opens up the possibilities to access some of these awesome benefits.

For You

There is a plethora of benefits social work can have on an individual. It’s a brilliant field for any passionate American to get involved with as despite the challenges, it’s super rewarding for the following reasons:

The first is that it’s a rapidly growing field within the country, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that demand for social workers will increase by a huge 16% by 2026, which is faster than any other occupation out there.

This means that it’s more likely that an experienced social worker with the right qualifications will be hired quickly, meaning you won’t have to go through the grueling job searching process for too long. Plus, it’s a field with a lot of job options, meaning you’re highly likely to find a role that’s meaningful to you.

The pay is fairly good too, especially for social workers who obtain an MSW qualification, as they can expect to earn around $61,500 on average a year.

There’s also the potential to have some or most of your student loans forgiven.

What this means, is that due to the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, if you work in the public service – which most social workers do – and do so full time while making payments on your loans, you can apply to have the remaining balance discharged after ten years of service.

Some employers may also provide loan repayment or assistance programs to help defray the upfront costs of your education.

There’s also a lot of choice within social work in terms of what you can do and what kinds of environments you work in. Despite popular belief, not every social service agency is government-run, meaning there are many private companies and organizations that you can work for, boosting the variety.

You can find jobs within schools, hospitals, health centers, churches and even in businesses like law firms and insurance companies.

The positions within these environments can alter heavily as well, with positions ranging in direct client care, supervisory roles, or policy development, and a qualification in social work can prepare you for this kind of work.

Social work is also a great profession for boosting personal growth as it provides opportunities for you to learn new skills, but also develop as a person. There are countless educational qualifications you can obtain while working that go far beyond an MSW degree, which can all help you advance in your social care career.

For Society

Social care does not just benefit you, it is, in fact, a really beneficial profession for the people around you and within your community. In fact, social care gives you the opportunity to make a real difference in peoples’ lives and support them so that they can get the best chances in life. In some extreme cases, good social care can help save lives.

There’s at least 11% of the American population living below the poverty threshold, and social work provides important services and care to help these people and make their struggles just a little bit more bearable.

A social worker will connect those people in need with the right agencies, so that they can access services such as medical care or food banks. Social workers can aid a wide array of people, but regardless of who they help it’s all about providing a solid foundation so people can build better lives for themselves.

Some of the most common things social workers do to help society include:

• Helping those in hospitals cope with and better manage chronic illnesses.

• Providing therapy for vulnerable individuals who need it, who may include insomniacs, PTSD sufferers, child abuse survivors and many more.

• Encouraging struggling students and children to keep up with their studies.

• Helping convicted felons to re-enter society effectively and safely after completing their conviction and rehabilitation program.

• Providing rehabilitation support in drug and alcohol centers, as well as rehab facilities.

What is an MSW Degree?

An MSW degree is one of the many social working qualifications out there which can make getting a job in social work a lot easier. An MSW degree is a highly respected degree and is the equivalent of a master’s degree, which can help make people who obtain it far more competitive and successful in the social working job market.

There is a lot that an individual can learn from an MSW degree, such as focusing on social policy, learning about human behavior and psychology, and clinical practice. It’s a really demanding course due to the emphasis on research, so because of this, it’s important that you obtain the best research methods to be successful.

It’s typically a two-year course, however, it can be longer if done over part-time hours. It focuses on general basics in the first year but then moves onto specialized areas and fields within social work. This means that an MSW degree works best for those that know what they want to do and what kind of social work they want to go into.

These degrees can also be taught online, and in fact this is a good option for those that don’t have the capabilities to join a university or college fulltime. Online courses offer a lot more flexibility, giving you the chance to work in different environments as well as around your working life, and can also be a cheaper alternative to traditional educational methods too.

MSW Degree Entry Requirements

Entry requirements to join an MSW degree do vary, with some requiring a previous baccalaureate degree, however, there are some online institutions that don’t need this, instead preferring a good GPA score of 3.0 or better.

Most courses also want you to send them a statement of purpose, outlining your intentions, your skills and your reasons for applying for the course. Applying for an MSW degree also requires a resume to be attached, so it’s important that you make your resume be a good as it can be, meaning that it’s clear to follow, has all your vital information, such as educational and work experience history, and isn’t too long.

When applying for this degree, you should also be comfortable with committing at least two years of your life to complete it, regardless if you’re learning online or at campus.

Sometimes courses can take even longer, especially if you are enrolling part-time to add greater flexibility around your life.

You should also be comfortable and eligible to work in the US, as most courses require you to go on at least two placements in the social work field. This experience is crucial as it gives you practical insight into what social work will be like and can teach you a lot of things the classroom simply cannot.

Skills a Social Worker Should Have

There are plenty of skills an MSW degree can teach you, however, there are some vital skills that would be beneficial for an individual to possess before the start of their course.

Being a social worker can be both rewarding and emotionally taxing and for this reason, it’s important that candidates and students have strong interpersonal skills and the ability to exercise empathy.

A social worker should also be confident as this will allow them to be a strong communicator, however, being able to listen and think critically is also important.

Benefits of Doing an MSW Degree

There are a lot of benefits of doing an MSW degree. As mentioned before, it is a perfect way to get your foot into the social worker industry and gives you a clear avenue to find a role where you can help and serve others.

It’s a perfect degree for those who are passionate about social justice and can also open an individual’s eyes to issues that they may not have been aware of before the course, such as issues within homeless, LGBT and foreign communities.

The standard of education and training in this type of degree is also at an incredibly high standard, meaning that you’re going to get superb quality education, equipping you well for when you enter work.

These degrees combine academic study with insightful practical training which gives you opportunities to practice what you are learning and assess your abilities as you progress through the course.

It will also teach you how to mentally prepare for the clinical and working environment and help you to become mentally stronger and better deal with the many challenges of the profession.

Although a master’s degree in social work is tailored for those wanting to go into social work, it also teaches you valuable transferable skills to help you with whatever you do. These skills include advanced training in statistics and research, giving you the ability to both find and analyze data, as well as informing you about critical social policies, legislation and law, which can be very beneficial in all walks of life.

You can also learn skills that will benefit your personal life too. Your communication skills will naturally improve during this course, which can help you become more persuasive and assertive. Your written communication skills will also improve tenfold, as well as your organizational skills and time management.

Social work pays well regardless of your qualifications, however obtaining an MSW degree also helps you earn a better salary in the future, as achieving this degree can on average help you earn $15,000 more than people who don’t obtain it.

It doesn’t end there though, as gaining this degree grants you the opportunity to obtain even further and more impressive qualifications, which all help you become more employable and able to attract offers from some of the more premium jobs and roles.

In fact, an MSW degree is almost critical in getting a good salary within the industry as a survey performed by the NASW Workforce center found that individuals with a master’s degree always earned more than those who didn’t have one, regardless of the region they worked in.