What To Do With a Master’s in Social Work

Social work is not just a profession; it’s a journey of impact, and you’re invited to be a part of it. With a remarkable 12% job growth forecasted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2020 to 2030, it’s an ideal time to join this rewarding field. To unlock these opportunities, a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is essential. It not only prepares you for licensure but also enhances your competitiveness in the job market, empowering you to create lasting change in individuals, families, and communities.

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In this article, we will discuss the different opportunities for careers in the social work field with MSW graduates, as well as the benefits of choosing a university like New Mexico State University (NMSU) Global Campus, where we offer a comprehensive MSW program that equips you with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in various fields of social work.

Careers With MSW: What Can You Do?

If you want to pursue an MSW degree, you may wonder what an MSW can do for you. In short, MSW graduates have many career opportunities in social work practice and social services.

There are many jobs available for those with an MSW degree. It’s not just about becoming a social worker; the skills and knowledge you acquire can be applied to many sectors, including healthcare, education, government, and nonprofit organizations. With it, you can pursue a fulfilling career as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and provide therapy to individuals or groups.

This degree prepares you to address complex social issues and make a positive impact on communities. Below are some potential career paths for those with a Master of Social Work degree:

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

With your MSW, you can specialize in mental health and substance abuse social work. Your mission: to provide education and counseling to those facing mental health and substance abuse challenges. This role often involves conducting assessments, developing treatment plans, and connecting clients with their needed resources.


  • Make a positive impact on individuals’ lives by helping them overcome challenges.
  • High demand for mental health services provides job stability.
  • Opportunity to work in various settings such as hospitals, clinics, or private practice.


  • The nature of the work can be emotionally demanding.
  • Working irregular hours or being on-call may be required.
  • There’s a potential risk of vicarious trauma or burnout from working closely with individuals facing severe challenges.

The median annual salary for these professionals is $47,660, with a job outlook growth of 17% from 2019 to 2029.

Child and Family Social Worker

As a child and family social worker, your focus centers on guiding children and families through life’s challenging moments, including divorce, illness, or school-related difficulties. You may intervene in cases of child abuse or neglect, facilitate access to essential resources, and offer counseling services to those in need.


  • Play a crucial role in protecting vulnerable children and strengthening families.
  • Opportunities to collaborate with other professionals such as educators and healthcare providers.
  • Varied work environments include government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and schools.


  • Dealing with challenging family situations can be emotionally draining.
  • High levels of stress can result from heavy caseloads.
  • Confrontations with family members resistant to intervention or change are possible.

These social workers earn a median annual wage of $47,390.

Healthcare Social Worker

Healthcare social workers provide unwavering support to patients navigating various health-related challenges. They offer emotional support, help patients grasp their medical conditions, coordinate care services, and connect them with valuable community resources.


  • Contribute to improving patients’ overall well-being during challenging times.
  • Collaborate closely with medical teams to ensure holistic care for patients.
  • Growing demand for healthcare social workers due to an aging population.


  • Difficult or distressing situations occur every day in healthcare settings.
  • The workload can be demanding, especially in hospitals or emergency departments.
  • Navigating complex healthcare systems and insurance issues can be challenging.

They earn an average annual salary of $56,750.

School Social Worker

School social workers are indispensable in fostering students’ academic success by addressing emotional or behavioral challenges that may impede their learning. They collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators to create intervention plans and offer counseling services.


  • Make a positive impact on students’ lives by promoting their well-being and success.
  • Collaborate with educators to create supportive and inclusive learning environments.
  • Opportunity to work directly within schools and have regular interaction with students.


  • Individual time with students might be limited due to heavy caseloads.
  • Addressing systemic issues within the education system can be challenging.
  • Balancing the diverse needs of students, teachers, and parents might lead to conflicts.

School social workers earn a median annual salary of $49,760.

These are a few examples of the career options available to those with an MSW degree, each requiring specific skills such as empathy, communication, problem-solving, and cultural competence. With this degree, you are poised to embark on a fulfilling career where you make a difference in people’s lives daily.

NMSU Global Campus: Master of Social Work

Pursuing a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is your gateway to a world of opportunities in social work. If you’re passionate about making a profound impact in people’s lives, consider the MSW program offered by New Mexico State University Global Campus. 

Our program is robust and comprehensive, equipping you with diverse career paths in social work. Best of all, our online program allows you to earn your degree at your own pace.

Take the first step toward a fulfilling career by applying to the MSW program at NMSU Global Campus today.

FAQ: Learn More About the MSW Degree Requirements Below

As you dream of these fulfilling careers, it’s crucial to understand the requirements for earning your MSW degree.

Find MSW Degree Requirements Here.

What Skills Are Important for a Social Worker?

Social workers need a diverse set of skills to thrive in their roles, including empathy, active listening, effective communication, problem-solving, and adaptability. They also must respect and understand the beauty of cultural diversity.

How Much Can You Make With an MSW?

The earning potential with an MSW degree can fluctuate depending on factors like location, experience, and specialization. On average, MSW professionals can anticipate a competitive salary. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for social workers was $51,760 in May 2020. Salaries can range from around $32,000 to over $80,000 annually.

Do You Need an MSW to Become a Licensed Social Worker?

In many instances, an MSW is a prerequisite for becoming a licensed social worker. State licensing boards typically mandate candidates to have completed an accredited master’s program in social work. Additional requirements may include supervised clinical experience and successfully passing a licensing exam.

What Prerequisites Are Required for an MSW Degree?

Specific prerequisites for an MSW degree may differ across universities and programs. However, most programs generally require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. 

While some programs accept students with undergraduate degrees in any field of study, others may prefer applicants with coursework related to social sciences or human services.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an MSW?

The duration of an MSW program can vary, depending on factors like full-time or part-time enrollment. Full-time students typically complete their degrees in approximately two years, while part-time students may take longer due to their reduced course load. Some universities also offer accelerated programs for students with relevant undergraduate degrees or prior social work experience.

What are the Admission Requirements for an MSW Program?

Admission requirements can differ from program to program but often include:

  • Holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Maintaining a minimum GPA
  • Providing letters of recommendation
  • Submitting a personal statement

Some programs may also require prior work experience in the social work field.

Is Financial Aid Available for MSW Programs?

Don’t let financial barriers hold you back from your dreams. Financial aid is often available for MSW programs, with options including federal aid, scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities. We recommend contacting your university’s financial assistance office to explore available resources. 

At New Mexico State University Global Campus, we offer affordable tuition and a range of scholarship opportunities. Learn more about them here.

What Are the Different Specializations Available in an MSW Program?

MSW programs frequently provide various specializations to cater to diverse interests. NMSU Global Campus offers an MSW program with two primary concentrations: Direct Practice and Advanced Generalist. 

The Direct Practice concentration focuses on equipping students with the skills to work one-on-one with clients in various settings. Conversely, the Advanced Generalist concentration emphasizes addressing systemic issues and preparing students for roles in administration and policy-making.

Both concentrations empower students with the knowledge and competencies to meet the evolving needs of individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations in a multicultural and global society.

About New Mexico State University Global Campus

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At NMSU Global Campus, our mission is to help prepare the next generation of leaders. We focus on offering high-quality education that spans a multitude of disciplines and career pathways. Whether you’re seeking a degree or certification in teaching, science, engineering, healthcare, business, or others, we provide exciting opportunities that can help shape your future. 

NMSU Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), with specialized accreditation offered for some programs. We offer flexible, career-focused 100% online courses and degree options in New Mexico, across the nation, and around the globe. Start your journey with our accessible and affordable degree options.