Social Work Degrees in Maine

Social workers help people in a number of different ways. Some social workers connect families with community resources like subsidized housing or food stamps. Other social workers support individuals struggling with specific problems such as addiction or job-related stress. Clinical social workers may also diagnose and treat a variety of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.

employment of social workers throughout the country will increase by 16% through 2026, more than double the rate of growth for all other occupations

Because of the many important roles social workers play in our society, their job prospects are incredibly strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of social workers throughout the country will increase by 16% through 2026, more than double the rate of growth for all other occupations. Similarly, the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information projects more than 350 new job openings for social work professionals in the state each year. Trained social workers can also find work in many other community service roles, including as probation and parole officers or family therapists.

The vast majority of job opportunities in this field require a postsecondary social work degree. For entry-level and direct-service positions, candidates must have, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree. More advanced roles, such as clinical social worker, require a master's or doctoral degree and approximately two years of supervised clinical experience. All social workers in Maine must also receive a license in order to practice in the state.

The first step to becoming a social worker in Maine is earning a bachelor's degree. To apply for a basic social worker license, you must have a four-year degree in social work from a college or university accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). You must then pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor's-level examination, along with a criminal background check. Individuals who earn a bachelor's degree in another field can apply for conditional licensure while they complete a state-approved internship program. To become a licensed master social worker, you must earn a master's degree from a CSWE-accredited institution and pass both the ASWB master's-level examination and a background check.

Becoming a licensed clinical social worker is a two-step process. First, you must meet the requirements of the master social worker license. You must also provide the signature of another licensed clinical social worker who agrees to supervise your clinical experience. At this point, you will receive a conditional clinical license.

Once you have your conditional license, you can begin your supervised clinical experience. Candidates with a master's degree in a clinical concentration must complete 3,200 hours of employment and 96 hours of consultation. Candidates with a master's in a nonclinical concentration must complete 6,400 hours of employment and 192 hours of consultation. After you meet these requirements, you can receive your full clinical social worker license.

All social workers in Maine must renew their licenses every two years. License renewal requires completing at least 25 hours of continuing education courses.

Students have a variety of options when it comes to earning a social work degree in Maine. Earning an associate degree can be a good first step towards a career in the field, but most social work jobs require at least a bachelor's degree. Clinical roles, such as mental health counselor, require a master's degree. You may need a doctoral degree for positions in academia or social work management.

In general, an advanced degree means better job prospects and a higher salary. According to PayScale, the average salary of a social worker is $47,040. A licensed clinical social worker, however, earns nearly $10,000 more each year. The BLS reports that the median salary for social work postsecondary teachers was $64,370 in 2017.

Associate Degree
Associate programs feature foundational coursework in topics like psychology, sociology, human development, and social work practice. Full-time students typically complete these programs in two years. Because all licensed social workers in Maine must have a bachelor's degree at minimum, you should consider an associate degree as the first step in your education.
Bachelor's Degree
A bachelor's degree covers coursework in social welfare policy, diverse populations, program development, and professional ethics. To receive accreditation, these programs must also feature a field experiences or internships. Most full-time students earn their bachelor's in about four years.
Master's Degree
Becoming a licensed clinical social worker in Maine requires a master's degree. Through advanced and specialized coursework, two-year master's programs equip students with research, clinical assessment, and leadership skills. Clinical master's programs often feature additional field experiences and practica.
Doctoral Degree
Earning a doctoral degree in social work prepares students for teaching positions and high-level management roles. Many of these programs emphasize data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Most doctoral degrees require students to write a research-based dissertation. Because work on a dissertation is self-paced, students usually earn their doctoral degree in anywhere from four to seven years.

There are many professional paths in the field of social work. Depending on your training and area of interest, you may choose to work with children, young adults, or the elderly. You may find a job at a school, nonprofit organization, hospital, or private practice. You may coordinate an array of social services for a community or work on a specific issue like helping individuals overcome opioid addiction. Below are some of the most common social work specializations.

Child and Family Social Worker

Child and family social workers help families access community resources such as childcare or housing. Some social workers evaluate living situations so that they can intervene when a child is at risk of neglect or abuse. Others may specialize in coordinating foster care or adoption services.

School Social Worker

School social workers collaborate with educators and parents to support students' academic, social, and emotional development. They may help teachers find ways to deal with aggressive behavior in the classroom, refer students to out-of-school enrichment programs, or counsel children who experience problems at home.

Healthcare Social Worker

Healthcare social workers provide additional assistance to individuals undergoing medical treatment. For instance, they may help a client come to terms with their diagnosis and create a plan for managing their illness. They may also support patients as they leave the hospital and return to their normal lives.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

Mental health and substance abuse social workers help individuals with mental illnesses or issues like depression, anxiety, or addiction. They often provide direct counseling services to their clients, but they may also refer individuals to support groups or programs. Professionals working in this area must be clinically licensed.

In Maine, all social workers must have a license to practice. The state licenses five kinds of social workers: conditionally licensed social workers, licensed social workers, licensed master social workers, conditionally licensed clinical social workers, and licensed clinical social workers.

Conditionally licensed social workers hold a bachelor's degree in a field other than social work. They hold this license until they complete an internship and, if necessary, foundational social work classes. Licensed social workers have a bachelor's degree in social work and pass the ASWB exam. They may conduct basic data gathering, serve as an advocate for their clients, coordinate social services, and supervise other licensed social workers.

Licensed social workers have a bachelor's degree in social work and pass the ASWB exam

Licensed master social workers must have a master's degree and pass the appropriate ASWB exam. In addition to performing the basic functions of licensed social workers, licensed master social workers may conduct more comprehensive research, engage in nonclinical private practice, and teach.

Under the supervision of fully licensed clinical social workers, conditionally licensed clinical social workers may engage in psychosocial evaluation of patients, including the diagnosis and treatment of various mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. The supervision period lasts between 3,200 and 6,400 hours, depending on the nature of their master's degree. Finally, licensed clinical social workers must hold a master's degree, pass all relevant exams, and complete their supervised clinical experience. They are authorized to provide a full array of services to their clients.

In addition to licensure, many social work professionals pursue optional certifications in order to demonstrate their expertise in a particular area of practice. Earning a certification may improve your chances of getting a job, promotion, or raise.

Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials

There are many factors to consider when reviewing social work schools in Maine. For example, how much will a program cost, and how much financial aid will you receive? In addition to tuition, make sure to account for costs like room and board, school fees, books, and other course materials.

Where is the school located? If you plan to study in-person, you will need to commute to campus on a regular basis. How long does the program take to complete? Some schools offer accelerated courses for students who want to earn their degree faster. Does the program feature a specialization in your area of interest? You may hope to work in a particular area after graduating, such as helping veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, but your school might not have classes in that subject.

Online social work programs in Maine can help to alleviate some of these issues. Online courses provide greater flexibility and a broader set of academic options. By living at home, you can lower the total cost of your education. For all of its benefits, however, earning an online social work degree requires a great deal of time management and self-discipline, so it is important to make sure this style of learning is right for you.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Maine?

You can earn an online social work degree in Maine from several different schools. However, in order to become a licensed social worker in the state, you must receive a degree from an institution accredited by the CSWE.

Online students must meet all of the same graduation requirements as on-campus students, including completing a field experience or practicum. While most social work programs maintain a list of possible host organizations, the school may not have a partner in your area. If you plan to study at a distance, you should research possible internships sites local to you.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Maine?

A bachelor's degree in social work qualifies you for some entry-level positions in Maine. Most full-time students complete these programs in about four years. If you have already earned a two-year associate degree or have college-level transfer credits, you may be able to earn your bachelor's even faster.

More positions are open to social workers with a graduate or postgraduate degree. Master's degrees typically require students to earn about 60 credits. For full-time students, these programs usually take about two years to complete. In addition to graduate-level courses, doctoral programs often require students to conduct original research and write a dissertation. Earning a doctoral degree can take anywhere from four to seven years.

Some online programs are self-paced, meaning students can advance through coursework as soon as they demonstrate mastery of a particular subject. While this is ideal for individuals hoping to earn their degree as quickly as possible, it does limit opportunities to engage with other students.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Maine?

The cost of a social work degree varies tremendously based on a school's location, type of institution, and a host of other factors. On average, you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $20,000 for an associate degree in social work, between $50,000 and $125,000 for a bachelor's degree, and between $30,000 and $100,000 for a master's or doctoral degree. While a postsecondary degree can be costly, there are many scholarships and financial aid opportunities available to students studying social work.

Students pursuing a master's or doctoral degree will usually need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which costs about $160. Upon earning their degree, all social workers in Maine must take the Association of Social Work Boards exam, which costs either $230 or $260 depending on the level of the license.

Finally, all social workers in the state must complete 25 hours of continuing education every two years in order to renew their license. Continuing education courses cost of $20-$25 per credit hour on average.

Directory of Social Work Programs in Maine

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With a social work degree, you can take on many different jobs in community service. You may choose to work at a nonprofit organization connecting families with government benefits, or you may work at a mental health center helping patients cope with addiction. Alternately, you may work in private practice assisting couples as they navigate relationship issues. No matter what path you choose, you need strong communication, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills.

Social Worker

Social workers provide assistance to individuals and communities in need. Many nonclinical social workers coordinate community services like helping families find childcare. Clinical social workers diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral issues.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists help people solve problems in their relationships. They provide counseling to individuals, couples, and groups. Some work in private practice, while others work for hospitals or health centers.

Probation Officer of Correctional Treatment Specialist

Probation and corrections personnel provide social services to individuals in custody, on probation, or on parole. They may create rehabilitation plans for their clients, lead job training programs, offer substance abuse counseling, or help former inmates transition back into society.

Rehabilitation Counselor

Rehabilitation counselors help people with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities live independently. They may help their clients find work, teach employers their legal responsibilities to people with disabilities, and advocate for the rights of disabled persons to live and work as they choose.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor

Many counselors work with individuals suffering from particular mental or behavioral issues, including alcoholism, drug addiction, and eating disorders. These counselors evaluate their clients' needs and coordinate their treatment.

Median Salaries and Employment for Social Work Specialties in Maine

  Employment Annual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 1,600 $51,810
Healthcare Social Workers 800 $50,530
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 1,190 $59,680
Social Workers, All Other 440 $52,700
Source: BLS

While there are no scholarships specifically for students enrolled in social work programs in Maine, the state does administer a need-based grant program for undergraduate students regardless of their major. In addition, many national organizations offer scholarships to aspiring social workers pursuing their master's or doctoral degrees.

Social Work Scholarships

State of Maine Grant Program $1,500

Who Can Apply: This grant program is open to any Maine resident attending an undergraduate institution in the state. Applicants must demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial MSW Scholarship $4,000

Who Can Apply: To apply, students must pursue a master's degree in social work and demonstrate a commitment to working with Native-American or Latino populations. View Scholarship

Verne LaMarr Lyons Memorial MSW Scholarship $4,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must pursue a master's degree in social work and commit to working in African-American communities. View Scholarship

Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Scholarship $2,500

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to students pursuing a master's or doctoral degree in a field related to mental health, including clinical social work. View Scholarship
  • Maine State Board of Social Worker Licensure This state agency oversees licensure of all social workers in Maine. The board also investigates accusations of misconduct within the profession. Its website contains detailed information on how to apply for a license, as well as how to earn continuing education credits for license renewal.
  • National Association of Social Workers - Maine Chapter NASW serves roughly 132,000 social work professionals across the country. The Maine chapter advocates on behalf of its members, hosts an annual conference, and offers continuing education seminars.
  • Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care - Maine Chapter SSWLHC represents social workers in healthcare settings. The group organizes regular meetings to help its members network, share best practices, and learn about the latest research and trends in the field.
  • Maine Association of Community Service Providers MACSP is a network of organizations that provide support and services to individuals with disabilities in Maine. Agency membership allows an organization's employees to access training resources and attend the association's annual conference.
  • Sweetser Training Institute Sweetser is a private behavioral healthcare organization that operates throughout the state. In addition to employing more than 700 mental health professionals, the company offers continuing education workshops and courses on subjects such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and ethical considerations in counseling.