Social work is the helping profession: professionals can combine a passion and purpose. In a career as a social work leader, professionals can make their mark as a person who cares about people and wants to relieve suffering and improve living conditions. Social workers are needed in a number of spaces, and those in this field have a number of reasons to become a leader in this profession. The online Master of Social Work (MSW) – Standard program from Arkansas State University (A-State) can prepare graduates to pursue further qualifications and training needed for a handful of high-demand jobs in the field such as clinical social worker, victim advocate, social work supervisor, EAP advocate, telehealth therapist, social services director and more.
What Is a Social Worker?
Social workers provide valuable support to individuals, families and communities in identifying, solving and managing various challenges. These dedicated professionals play a crucial role in advocating for social change and working to ensure their clients have access to the necessary resources and services to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
Social workers can serve in many roles, either in a clinical or community-oriented capacity, depending on their specific qualifications, licensure and professional interests. Their expertise and training equip them to address a wide range of complex issues and provide personalized care to meet each client’s unique needs. Whether working one-on-one with clients or serving their community at large, social workers are essential in promoting individual and societal well-being.
Meet the Rising Demand for Social Work Leaders
Changing social and demographic factors are driving a surge in demand for U.S. social workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 9% job growth in the profession between 2021 and 2031, which is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. Recent legislation has increased the need for social workers. For example, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has brought about significant changes in the healthcare system, leading to a greater emphasis on preventative care and integrating mental health services.
The Baby Boomer generation, one of the largest in history, is now entering retirement age, creating an increased need for social workers in eldercare settings. This generation is also experiencing significant changes in their personal lives, including the loss of spouses, downsizing their homes and managing complex health conditions — all of which can require the support of social workers.
Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic continues to impact communities. Social workers are critical in supporting individuals and families affected by addiction, providing counseling, connecting them with resources and advocating for policies to combat the epidemic.
Improve Patients’ Quality of Life and Mental Health
One of the key ways social workers help people is by providing support and counseling. They work with clients to develop coping mechanisms and strategies to manage the increasing levels of stress, anxiety and depression in society. Clinical social workers, with the required training and qualifications, are authorized to provide diagnoses and treatments to patients experiencing specific mental health conditions.
A study by Health Affairs suggests that professional social workers are the largest group of mental health service providers in the U.S., as they outnumber psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric nurses combined. Moreover, in many communities, social workers are the only available mental healthcare providers.
Advocate for Change in Public Policy
Many social workers contribute to systemic change to positively impact mental health and quality of life. They advocate for policy changes that increase access to mental health services, improve healthcare quality and address the social determinants of health. Social workers also work closely with community organizations and political leaders to develop initiatives that promote mental wellness, reduce social isolation and build resilience. By addressing the root causes of social and health disparities, social workers advocate for a more equitable society that supports the health and well-being of all individuals.
Enjoy a Dynamic and Diverse Professional Experience
Professionals in this field work in a variety of settings, from healthcare and government agencies to private practices. Social workers visit homes, schools, hospitals and community centers to help their clients. They also have a wide range of responsibilities and engagements wherever they go, from counseling individual clients to speaking at large public events to collaborating with groups of community, political and healthcare leaders.
Becoming an LCSW or LISW
Completing A-State’s CSWE-accredited online MSW – Standard program is a major step toward becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW).
LCSW and LISW are professional licenses required to practice as a clinical or independent social worker in many states. To become an LCSW or LISW, you must first obtain a master’s degree in social work from an accredited institution and complete a certain number of clinical hours under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker. After fulfilling these requirements, you can sit for the LCSW or LISW licensing exam.
Once licensed, social workers can provide a range of mental health services. For an LCSW, these include psychotherapy, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders. For an LISW, these include assessment, diagnosis and treatment of
Prepare for Leadership Roles
A-State’s online MSW – Standard program enables professionals to lead in a compassionate and ethical clinical practice that enhances the well-being and quality of life for individuals, families, groups and communities. Foundation courses cover issues such as social justice and diversity, human behavior and social welfare policy and services. Students can focus on specific types of work they are interested in pursuing with concentration courses in social work evaluation and research, trauma-focused practice and clinical practice.
Those who want to combine a passion and sense of purpose for a dynamic, fast-growing career that can make a difference for individuals and society should consider this degree program as a major stepping stone towards that goal.
Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online MSW – Standard program.