What further education opportunities are available to social workers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 708,000 social workers were employed in the US in 2021. Growth in the sector is around 9%, which is faster than average, with around 74,000 new job openings forecast per year. Social workers are employed in a range of settings including child welfare agencies, healthcare providers and schools. Educational requirements vary depending on the level of the role, and there are many opportunities for ongoing learning in social work.

Most social worker jobs require you to have a Bachelor’s of Social Work degree, at a minimum. This type of undergraduate degree will usually take around four years to complete. Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you will be able to work in positions such as case worker, family service worker, mental health assistant and rehabilitation case worker. 

Studying for a Master’s in Social Work degree (MSW) opens up a new range of career opportunities for you. The flexible Master’s in Social Work degree from Spalding University can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis, offering you the opportunity to continue to work and fit your studies around your work schedule. You will study a variety of subjects, including social history, social psychology, political economics and political science. With fieldwork running concurrently with your coursework, you will have the ideal opportunity to put your newly acquired knowledge and skills into practice. 

As part of most online MSW degree programs, field placement coordinators will arrange placements at suitable sites where you can achieve your educational goals. This direct experience working with clients is an essential part of your learning and development. 

For some roles, you may also need to complete post-master’s courses in areas such as child abuse assessment and reporting, aging and long-term care. As a graduate with a MSW, you will also need to carry out 3,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised practice to meet the licensing requirements. 

Once you have your license, you will be prepared to take on roles such as: 

  • Clinical social worker
  • School social worker
  • Substance abuse counselor
  • Youth services advocate
  • Agency executive director

If you want to take your social work education a level further, you can study for a Doctorate in Social Work. This is best suited to those who want to pursue careers in policy, program management, research or teaching at the university level. 

Licensing requirements vary by state, but if you wish to practice in a clinical setting or a school, you will certainly need a license. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) actively promotes continuing learning and provides details for a selection of approved events and courses. 

Most states mandate that social workers demonstrate their commitment to ongoing education as part of the license renewal process. Licenses usually need to be renewed every two years. There is a requirement to meet a specified number of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) per year; the minimum is 30 CEUs in many states. CEUs can be achieved through activities such as participating in workshops, attending conferences and completing professional development courses. 

There are numerous ongoing education opportunities for social workers at every stage of their career in social work