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How a Master’s in Social Work Can Broaden Your Career Opportunities

Make a difference in the lives of others with an MSW degree

Social workers with a bachelor’s degree in social work, human services, social science, or psychology are in demand in a wide variety of settings, including public agencies, hospitals, schools, police departments, courts, and private practices. But for social workers interested in advancing their careers and broadening their options, it’s time to earn a Master of Social Work degree.

What Can You Do With a Master's in Social Work From an Online College?

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. One special group of social workers also diagnoses and treats mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. Their job titles are clinical social worker, mental health social worker, and substance abuse social worker.

How a Master’s in Social Work Can Broaden Your Career Opportunities

As a social worker with an MSW degree, you can seek employment in a variety of settings, including mental health clinics, schools, child welfare and human services agencies, hospitals, and private practices. People in these positions generally work full time and may need to work evenings, weekends, and holidays.

When you enroll in one of the accredited online MSW programs that emphasizes advanced clinical practice skills, you’ll be prepared to critically apply social work theory and methods to assess and intervene in situations involving individuals, families, and groups. Your master’s studies can prepare you for a variety of career options, such as:*

  • Licensed clinical social worker
  • Mental health social worker
  • Substance abuse social worker
  • Healthcare social worker
  • Caseworker
  • Direct-service social worker 
  • Child or family social worker
  • School social worker
  • Private or public agency leader or director
  • Policy analyst
  • Supervisor in social work field or agency
  • Program director  

Special Requirements for Clinical, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Social Workers

Although most types of social workers only need a bachelor’s degree in social work, you will need more credentials to practice as a clinical, mental health, or substance abuse social worker. In addition to completing a Master of Social Work degree , you must complete 2 years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting and be licensed in the state in which you will practice.

Salaries for Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Nationally licensed clinical social workers have a median annual income of $52,697. However if you’re seeking better-than-average salaries at a top firm, consider high payers like Kaiser Permanente (up to $128,000) or DaVita Inc. (up to $80,000).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that job growth between 2014 and 2024 will grow by 12%, a rate that will outpace the average job growth for the time period.

Walden University’s Online CSWE-Accredited MSW Program

Walden University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Graduation from a CSWE-accredited MSW degree program is necessary for licensure as a social worker in most states and is a strong indication of academic excellence. Walden University’s MSW online program is taught by faculty members who are scholar-practitioners with diverse experience working in the field. The program features:

  • Four concentrations
    • Advanced Clinical Practice
    • Military Social Work
    • Social Work in Healthcare
    • Social Work With Children and Families
  • Customized video and written case studies that give you the opportunity to apply current research and best practices to cases that social workers face every day, as well as build the foundational skills needed to excel in the field.
  • In-person residencies to give you real-world experience and an opportunity to work one on one with faculty members and classmates.
  • Six optional elective clusters, allowing you to enhance your knowledge in your areas of interest:
    • Addiction
    • Children, Families, and Couples
    • Crisis and Trauma
    • Forensic Populations and Settings
    • Medical Social Work
    • Military Families and Culture
  • Three degree tracks so that you can complete the program on a schedule that works for you: part time, full time, and advanced standing.
  • Four convenient start times throughout the year so you can begin your MSW degree when your schedule allows.

Walden University, an accredited institution, has been serving the higher education needs of adult learners for more than 45 years. Today, more than 52,600 students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 155 countries are pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees or certificates online at Walden.

Explore Walden University's online CSWE-accredited Master's in Social Work program and specialized certificate programs that fit your career goals. Earn your degree in a flexible, convenient online format that fits your life and schedule.

*Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

†, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Salary (United States), on the Internet at

‡Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014–15 Edition, Social Workers, on the Internet at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,

Walden University’s Master of Social Work (MSW) program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CSWE’s Commission on Accreditation is responsible for developing standards that define competent preparation for professional social workers and ensuring that social work programs meet these standards.

Note on Licensure

The minimum academic credential required to obtain licensure to practice as a social worker in most states is a Master of Social Work (MSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Walden University’s MSW program is accredited by CSWE.

State licensing boards are responsible for regulating the practice of social work, and each state has its own academic, licensure, and certification requirements.

Walden recommends that students consult the appropriate social work licensing board in the state in which they plan to practice to determine the specific academic requirements for licensure. Walden Enrollment Specialists can provide information relating to the state-by-state requirements for licensure. However, it remains the individual’s responsibility to understand, evaluate, and comply with all licensing requirements for the state in which he or she intends to practice. Walden makes no representations or guarantee that completion of its coursework or programs will permit an individual to achieve state licensure, authorization, endorsement, or other state credential as a social worker.