Social workers are valuable members in school, military, and medical settings, drawing on specialized knowledge to treat mental health issues, drug addiction, and physical therapy needs for various populations. A degree in social work is a path to a job in a thriving and rewarding field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual income for social workers is $47,980. Additionally, employment opportunities in the field are expected to grow by 16% from 2016 to 2026.
For those seeking a social work degree in Maryland, the state offers many options. Social work schools in Maryland include well-regarded institutions such as the University of Maryland College Park and Salisbury University. Maryland employs 43,290 in community and social service workers, including more than 23,000 in Baltimore alone.
Maryland boasts the highest median household income in the country at $78,945, according to the American Community Survey. The opportunities for quality academic instruction and a rewarding career in the field should entice prospective social workers to schools and jobs in the state.
How to Become a Social Worker in Maryland
To get the lowest level of official licensure for social work, you need a bachelor's degree. In Maryland, there are four levels of licensure: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW), Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Certified Social Worker- Clinical (LCSW-C).
To begin working towards LBSW licensure, students must first obtain a bachelor's from a program accredited by the Council of Social Work Education. The learner must then apply for the Association of Social Work Board's exam for the LBSW license, which includes a criminal history background check. The steps are identical for graduating with a master's in social work. Neither license requires field work.
In Maryland, there are four levels of licensure: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW), Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Certified Social Worker- Clinical (LCSW-C).
LCSW licensure, on the other hand, requires extensive supervised clinical work in a direct client context. Applicants then take the advanced generalist Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) exam. LCSW-C licensure also requires extensive supervised course clinical work. The applicant undergoes supervision in diagnostics, assessment, and treatment of mental disorders as well as in psychotherapy. A master's, LCSW licensure, and completion of the ASWB clinical exam are also required.
The state requires licensed social workers to maintain continuing education for each two years of licensure. License renewal at the bachelor's level is $100, $200 at the graduate level, and $275 at the certified and clinical levels. Additionally, renewals from the graduate level to the clinical level require an additional $26 fee.
Types of Social Work Degrees in Maryland
If you're evaluating social work programs in Maryland, it's important to consider the field's many education options. The higher the level of degree, the greater one's chances of having a range of rewarding career opportunities. A four-year bachelor's in social work can put graduates on the path to licensure. The level of education with the most utility for a prospective social worker is a two-year master's in social work. Graduates can then immediately begin working to accumulate experience or pursue a doctoral degree in the field. Earning a doctoral degree in social work will likely take 3-5 years and lead to a research-oriented position.
- Associate Degree
- An associate in social work provides a broader overview of the field. In some states, the degree gives qualification to apply for Licensed Associate Social Worker licensure and to work a variety of generalist social work positions.
- Bachelor's Degree
- A bachelor's in social work gives students an overview of social work practice, research methods, sociology, and psychology. The curriculum may include field work involving direct service. A bachelor's holder is prepared for non-clinical social work such as residential counseling.
- Master's Degree
- A master's in social work prepares graduates for positions in social policy, research methods, and micro and macro levels of social work practice. The curriculum includes field work and is often divided into two parts: the core curriculum and a specialized area of interest. A master's in social work prepares its holder for clinical social work as a family practitioner, medical social worker, or school social worker.
- Doctoral Degree
- A doctoral degree in social work prepares the holder for either advanced clinical positions or more research- and education-oriented occupations. The curriculum focuses on advanced concepts in either clinical work or social policy, research methods, teaching, and theory.
Finding a Social Work Program in Maryland
Finding the right social work degree requires considering factors such as time, money, utility, relevance to one's specific interests, and location. The densely populated metropolis of Baltimore provides graduates with a wide range of professional opportunities. Prospective learners should consider whether a program will prepare them for licensure in the state they want to reside. For instance, an associate degree in social work will not be useful in Maryland by itself, as an associate degree does not lead to licensure.
Additionally, learners should choose programs carefully based on whether they offer the kinds of specialization they are seeking. Different degrees involve varying investments of time (two years for an associate and up to six years for a doctorate) and money. Online degrees can be a viable path as learners incur fewer costs and often graduate sooner.
Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Maryland?
Working professionals and distance learners on a budget often find online learning appealing. Online degrees offer flexibility and freedom from the costs of textbooks, on-campus housing, and parking. Maryland's Salisbury University offers social work degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level. Like other viable paths to social work licensure, online social work programs in Maryland are accredited by the CSWE.
While Salisbury's online social work degrees do not involve on-campus work, they involve field education. The fieldwork component of an online degree gives students a jumpstart towards licensure that requires logged, supervised hours of social work.See The Best Online MSW Programs
How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Maryland?
Learners find online degrees appealing because they usually offer more flexibility than on-campus options. Programs may even be offered at an accelerated pace, enabling the curriculum to be finished sooner. Cohort models, including Salisbury's MSW degree, allow another path to faster progress, but follow a more controlled pace in a smaller classroom. Whether or not class meetings are live, students learn together through collaborative projects.
The length it takes to complete an online bachelor's program depends on the model and the pace.
The length it takes to complete an online bachelor's program depends on the model and the pace. Typically it takes four years, but at an accelerated pace, students can graduate in less than three. Similarly, an online master's typically takes two years, just like an in-person program, but can take as little as 14-15 months at an accelerated pace. Earning a doctoral degree in social work may take as few as three years, while doctoral programs in other disciplines can take as long as six years.
How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Maryland?
Education and licensure are costly endeavors for many. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board) of a bachelor's degree is $21,728, and the average annual cost of a master's is $16,435. As they do not incur costs of room and board, transportation, and parking, online courses that charge a flat rate by credit will add up to costs below these averages, making them a viable pathway for learners on a budget. Additionally, some master's in social work programs require learners to take the GRE exam, which costs $160. The required exams and fees for clinical and non-clinical social work licensure add more to these costs. The Association of Social Work Board's exams for the LBSW and LGSW licenses entail a $230 exam fee as well as a $100 processing fee for the application. The LCSW and LCSW-C licenses both entail a $260 exam fee, along with the $100 processing fee. Upon passing, prospective workers pay a $75 fee for the initial licensure.
To renew their license, social workers in Maryland complete 40 credit hours of continuing education coursework approved by the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners for each two years of licensure. License renewal at the bachelor's level costs $100, $200 at the graduate level, and $275 at the certified and clinical levels. Additionally, renewals from the graduate level to the clinical level require an additional $26 fee.
Directory of Social Work Programs in Maryland
Types of Social Work Licenses in Maryland
All states require clinical social workers to be licensed, and many require non-clinical social workers to either hold licensure or certification. Although the terms can be used interchangeably, licensure refers to the legal right to practice a profession, as provisioned by the state. Certification, on the other hand, refers to voluntary credentials offered by authorities outside of the government, based on their own predetermined standards.
Social workers must hold any one of four levels of licensure recognized by the NASW: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW), Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Certified Social Worker- Clinical (LCSW-C).
Certifications can offer social workers opportunities to specialize and advance in their field. For instance, to obtain a certificate in social work case management, a social worker must apply to the NASW with documentation of 4,500 hours or three years of relevant logged experience for an organization or agency focusing on case management. In Maryland, certifications are not a substitute for licensure, but are intended to help professionals convey their experience and expertise in a particular subfield.
Social workers must hold any one of four levels of licensure recognized by the NASW: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW), Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Certified Social Worker- Clinical (LCSW-C). Educational experience from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) precedes all forms of licensing, and prepares applicants for ABSW examinations which quality them for licensure. The LBSW or LGSW licenses require a bachelor's and master's, respectively. However, for the LCSW, a certain amount of supervised field work is required in addition to a master's, and for LCSW-C licensure, LCSW licensure and a certain amount of field work are required in addition to educational experience.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials
Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM)
Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)
Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW)
Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology (CSW-G)
Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)
Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker (ACHP-SW)
Career and Salary Outlook for Social Work Degree Graduates
Social work entails a wide range of career paths and settings. Graduates who wish to give back to their community may find themselves working as residential counselors or school social workers. They may also find themselves pursuing a doctorate degree to become leaders in social policy, theory, and education.
Child, Family, or School Social WorkersThese social workers advocate for children and help them combat complex issues and conflicts in family dynamics, married life, and academic and social development.
Social Services DirectorsThese professionals lead social service organizations and agencies, often interacting with the public and providing educational resources.
Geriatric Social WorkersGeriatric social workers advocate for and attend to the complex needs of elderly adults. They may be part of institutions such as hospitals, hospices, or residential communities.
Medical Social WorkersMedical social workers manage client interactions in medical settings and perform administrative medical duties. A medical social worker helps to create a better overall profile for the patient in the system and helps create a positive relationship with patients.
Social Worker, HospiceHospice social workers counsel the terminally ill, provide resources for recovery for their families, and help design treatment strategies based on the client's status.
Median Salaries and Employment For Social Work Specialties in Maryland
|Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||4,600||$54,630|
|Healthcare Social Workers||4,370||$58,150|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||2,320||$46,890|
|Social Workers, all other||1,010||$66,500|
Scholarships for Social Work Majors in Maryland
Prospective social work students have a range of scholarships at their fingertips. Additionally, many Maryland institutions offer scholarships specifically to in-state students majoring in social work. Some of these scholarships are based on financial need, while others specifically aim to help minorities and women.
Social Work Scholarships
Maryland Graduate and Professional Scholarship Program $1,000-5,000
Ruth M. Kirk Public Social Work Scholarship $1,000-19,000
Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship $4,000
Maryland Delegate Scholarship $200-11,800
Julie and Erol Oktay Scholarship for Oncology Social Work $2,000
Resources for Social Work Students in Maryland
- National Association of Social Workers- Maryland Chapter The Maryland chapter of the NASW advocates for social justice, the innovation of the social work profession, and the development of social workers through events, continuing education, and other resources. Events include an annual Social Work Student Advocacy Day, which gives students an opportunity to explore their interest in social advocacy.
- Powell Recovery Center The Powell Recovery Center helps people cope with drug- and alcohol-related issues. The center offers mental health treatment in addition to substance abuse treatment, employing licensed social workers and counselors.
- Recovery for Life Recovery for Life offers transitional housing services and group therapy. The center hosts a weekly addiction recovery meeting and employs licensed social workers and counselors in conjunction with its transitional housing services tailored to addicts in recovery.
- Health Care for the Homeless Health Care for the Homeless assists homeless with healthcare needs, supportive services, and benefits enrollment assistance, transitional housing, and other needs. The nonprofit employs clinical social workers and healthcare professionals, and hosts annual events such as a client art show.
- Mosaic Mosaic offers health services for people with mental illness and addiction issues. The nonprofit hosts several mental health, residential services, child and adolescent services, and vocational services programs. The organization employs social workers in many roles including counselors, case managers, and other supportive positions.