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FAQs About Becoming a Social Worker in North Carolina

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1. How much do social workers make in North Carolina?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary range for social workers in North Carolina is $50,000 to $64,000 per year, depending on area of specialty. Salaries can vary based on factors such as experience, specialization, and geographic location within the state. (You can learn more about specific salary averages for various social work occupations in our guide here.) Social workers in roles such as clinical social work or healthcare social work may earn different salaries compared to those in school or community settings. It’s therefore advised to check more recent salary data or specific job postings for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

2. What can I do with a Master of Social Work (MSW)?

There is a diverse range of fulfilling careers in the field of social work that you can pursue with an MSW degree (see our complete guide here). Options include becoming a clinical social worker providing therapy and counseling, a medical social worker assisting individuals and families in healthcare settings, a school social worker addressing the emotional welfare of students, and more. Additionally, an MSW can help open doors to roles in community organizing, policy advocacy, and administration, allowing you to influence social change and contribute to the well-being of diverse populations. The degree provides a versatile skill set that can carry you through various professional settings, from mental health agencies and hospitals to schools, non-profits, and government organizations.

3. How can I become a social worker in North Carolina?

In order to become a social worker in North Carolina, one must obtain a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, which typically takes two years to complete (if you are attending school on a full-time schedule). This means you will need to hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject in order to begin your social work education. Upon completing your MSW program, you will be eligible to pursue your social work license, which includes an examination and can also include around two years of additional field work experience. In North Carolina, this is overseen by the North Carolina State Certification and Licensing Board (NCSWCLB)

4. Do you need a master’s to become a social worker?

Generally speaking, yes, you do. Without an MSW degree, you will not be eligible for your social work license and therefore will be prohibited from taking on the responsibilities of a full-fledged social worker. While there are some entry-level opportunities available in the social work field, you cannot take on more advanced positions until you obtain your master’s. This is why those who are interested in pursuing long-term careers in social work are strongly advised to pursue their Master of Social Work degrees.

5. What is an MPH MSW dual degree?

An MPH MSW dual degree program is a graduate-level academic program that combines the curriculum of both a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a Master of Social Work (MSW) into an integrated course of study. This dual degree is designed to provide students with a comprehensive skill set that spans public health and social work disciplines. Graduates of an MPH MSW dual degree program are equipped to address complex health issues at both individual and community levels. This integrated approach prepares professionals for diverse roles that require expertise in both public health and social work, such as healthcare management, policy analysis, and community advocacy.

6. How do I get a Master of Social Work in North Carolina?

To obtain an MSW, you must already hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue your Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), which will help accelerate your MSW journey. Most full-time MSW programs take two years to complete, which includes a significant amount of field work. There are also part-time MSW programs available, as well as numerous online options. You can learn more about the steps and requirements to receiving your MSW by reading our guide here.

7. Is an MSW worth it?

If you are looking to devote your career to helping those in need, an MSW can open up many professional doors for you, allowing you to enter a variety of social work fields to make a difference in the lives of others. For those looking to become counselors and therapists or work as case managers helping individuals and families access the resources they need to get on their feet, an MSW will absolutely be worth the time and effort, leading to a career that will fulfill you in the long term.

8. How long does a Master of Social Work program take?

A Master’s in Social Work program typically takes two years to complete, including both academic coursework and supervised fieldwork. Those who hold BSWs are eligible for Advanced Standing MSWs, which take only one year to complete. It is also possible to complete programs on a part-time basis, which will typically take three years.

9. How do I become a licensed social worker in North Carolina?

To become a licensed social worker in North Carolina, you need to complete a social work program, accrue supervised experience, and pass the licensure exam for your intended license level – Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). To learn more licensure requirements for social workers in North Carolina, read our guide here.

10. What are the steps of receiving your social work license in North Carolina?

Once you complete your MSW degree program, your next step toward acquiring your social work license is by accumulating supervised work experience through internships or employment. For those aiming for the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) designation, a minimum of 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised clinical social work is required. The next step involves submitting an application to the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board (NCSWCLB), which should include transcripts and documentation of the supervised experience. Successful candidates must then pass the required licensure exam for the specific level of license you seek.

11. Are there accredited online MSW programs in North Carolina?

Great news for those who have been concerned about commuting to an in-person program: there are numerous accredited online MSW programs available in North Carolina, allowing flexibility for individuals pursuing a Master’s in Social Work. This is especially useful for those who intend to pursue their degree while balancing other responsibilities such as employment or childcare. For more information about online MSW programs, take a look at our guide here.

12. How long does it take to get an LCSW after completing an MSW?

In North Carolina, LCSWs are expected to complete 3,000 hours of supervised field work before becoming eligible to take their exam. When completed on a full-time schedule, this amounts to about two years of supervised field work. Though this may seem like a considerable amount of time, for many, it provides experience that will tie directly into your professional pursuits. You will be eligible to take your exam upon completion of these hours. You can find our full guide to becoming an LCSW here.

13. Is an MSW a terminal degree?

No, an MSW (Master’s in Social Work) is not considered a terminal degree, though it is sufficient to hold most social work positions. While it is an advanced professional degree that qualifies individuals for various roles in social work practice, terminal degrees in social work include the Doctorate in Social Work (DSW) and the Ph.D. in social work. These degrees are typically pursued by those seeking advanced research, leadership, or academic positions in the field. They are not necessary to hold most practical social work positions, so you shouldn’t think it is expected of you.

14. What is the difference between an MPH and an MSW?

The main difference between an MPH (Master of Public Health) and an MSW (Master of Social Work) lies in their respective focuses. An MPH is a degree centered around public health, addressing population-level health issues and health policy. An MSW, meanwhile, is a degree in social work, concentrating on individual and community well-being. While there can be overlap in areas like healthcare social work, the MPH emphasizes public health strategies, while the MSW focuses on the broader aspects of social work practice.

15. How do I become a child social worker?

You can begin specializing in child social work while in your MSW program. You can also gain practical experience by choosing to complete your field work internship in child welfare or related areas. From there, you can further specialize in child welfare through additional certifications or training. Find more information about becoming a school social worker here.

16. How do I become a medical social worker?

While in an MSW program, you can begin specializing in medical social work by selecting relevant coursework, internships, or field placements in healthcare settings. You can also opt for fieldwork opportunities that provide hands-on experience in hospitals, clinics, or other medical facilities, allowing you to develop the necessary skills and understanding of the unique challenges faced by individuals dealing with health issues. Find more information about becoming a medical social worker here.

17. Are there MSW/JD dual degree programs in North Carolina?

Yes, there are MSW/JD (Master of Social Work and Juris Doctor) dual degree programs in North Carolina. These programs are designed for individuals interested in integrating social work and law education to pursue careers at the intersection of both fields. Students enrolled in MSW JD dual degree programs typically complete coursework from both disciplines and gain practical experience through internships or field placements. These programs prepare graduates for diverse roles, including legal advocacy, policy analysis, and social work practice within legal settings.

18. What is field education in social work?

Field education in social work is a crucial component of social work programs that provides students with hands-on, practical experience in real-world settings. Through supervised field experiences, social work students gain valuable insights into the complexities of the profession and prepare for their future roles as competent and ethical practitioners. You can learn more about field education in your MSW program here.

19. Can you get your Master of Social Work online?

Yes, you can obtain a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree online through numerous accredited institutions that offer distance learning programs. Online MSW programs provide flexibility for individuals to pursue advanced education in social work without the need to attend traditional on-campus classes. These programs typically include virtual coursework, interactive discussions, and fieldwork placements in the student’s local community to fulfill practical requirements.

20. What are school social worker requirements in North Carolina?

To become a school social worker, start by completing a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) with a specialization in school social work, selecting courses that focus on educational systems, child development, and family dynamics. Look for fieldwork opportunities or internships specifically in school settings to gain practical experience working with students, families, and school staff.

21. What is the cost of an MSW degree?

The cost of tuition for an MSW degree program varies widely depending on the university, program length, and whether it is a public or private institution. On average, tuition for an MSW program can range from $15,000 to $70,000 or more. Funding opportunities, including scholarships, grants, and work-study programs, are often available to help offset the cost of tuition for MSW students. You can learn more about finding an affordable MSW as well as pursuing outside funding for school in our guide here.

22. Should I become an MSW?

Whether to pursue a Master of Social Work (MSW) depends on your interests, skills, and disposition. An MSW is an excellent choice for individuals who have a strong passion for helping others and addressing social issues. If you are empathetic, compassionate, and possess good communication and interpersonal skills, an MSW can provide the academic foundation and practical training needed for a fulfilling career in social work. Ideal candidates for an MSW are those who value social justice, diversity, and are committed to making a positive impact on individuals and communities. If you are drawn to advocacy, counseling, and working in diverse settings such as healthcare, schools, or community organizations, pursuing an MSW can open doors to a range of rewarding and impactful career opportunities.