Social Work Degrees in Utah

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that between 2016 and 2026, the social work profession should grow 16% nationally, outpacing the majority of other occupations. With this in mind, Utah's social work profession should experience higher-than-average growth (but likely not as much as nearby Arizona and Colorado). As the need for social workers grows throughout the nation, social worker salaries in Utah should rise as a result.

As the need for social workers grows throughout the nation, social worker salaries in Utah should rise as a result

Notably, while Utah offers in-state students a lower cost of private and public education, licensed social workers earn 10-20% less than those living in adjoining states. A partial explanation for this salary is that Utah grants social work licenses to applicants with a bachelor's degree, while the majority of states require a master's degree for licensure. Clinical social workers in Utah must hold a master's degree and have extensive work experience. Someone who saves money by earning a master's degree at a Utah university may consider moving to an adjoining state to earn a significantly higher salary.

Becoming a licensed social worker in Utah begins with earning a bachelor's in social work. Graduates with an associate degree may work under the direction of licensed social workers, but many use this degree as a stepping stone toward earning a bachelor's.

After earning a bachelor's degree, graduates sit for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor's-level examination. In Utah, passing this exam qualifies social workers to apply for a social service worker (SSW) license, the basic social worker license in the state. Candidates who hold a bachelor's degree in a subject besides social work may apply for this license after they've worked 2,000 hours as a social worker's assistant or similar job.

The CSW license is equivalent to the licensed master social worker (LMSW) license offered by other states

A student finishing a master's program has two possible paths to become a licensed social worker. First, she may choose to become a certified social worker (CSW). The CSW license is equivalent to the licensed master social worker (LMSW) license offered by other states; candidates for this license must pass the ASWB master's-level exam. Second, she may become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). This specialized license requires 4,000 hours (i.e., two years) or work experience in a clinical setting. Within the work requirement, candidates must document extensive work experience in crisis intervention, therapy, and treatment methodology.

All licensed social workers must undergo license renewal every two years. The renewal process, like the initial application, costs a fee. To renew, social worker SSWs and LCSWs must complete continuing education hours. As of this writing, Utah has no official licensure reciprocity agreement with any other state.

As with other academic disciplines, social work students can earn an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. Specialized careers such as clinical social worker require a master's degree, and most college or university professorships require a doctoral degree. Degree requirements for a particular position may vary between government agencies and private organizations. Prospective students interested in a specific career field should research degree requirements before applying to a program.

Earning an associate degree requires one to two years. Applying this degree toward a bachelor's program, a student can finish his undergraduate education in an additional one to two years. Most master's programs require two years of study, and doctoral degrees in social work take anywhere from four to six years, with the majority of that time spent researching and writing a dissertation.

Associate Degree
An associate degree indicates a graduate received a foundational education in social work. In Utah, social workers with an associate degree can work as social worker assistants.
Bachelor's Degree
In addition to studying the field more deeply, students in a bachelor's program may complete practicum or internship experiences. Completing a bachelor's program qualifies graduates to become licensed social workers in Utah. Graduates should know that a Utah license may not transfer to a state that requires its social workers to hold a master's degree.
Master's Degree
A master's program in social work focuses on specialization and research. Some programs require students to undertake a lengthy research project like a thesis. In Utah, all clinical social workers must hold a master's degree, which is usually compensated with greater career mobility and a higher salary.
Doctoral Degree
Doctoral programs emphasize research into the most pressing issues facing social workers in the 21st century. A multi-year research project and dissertation represent the core of all doctoral programs. Earning a doctoral degree prepares graduates to work in academia as professors, researchers, or policy advisers.

Social workers choose a specialty based on the population or group of people they wish to help throughout their careers. All specialties include the opportunity for salary growth and promotion. Through a combination of work experience and continuing education, a social worker may elect to change his specialty at any point throughout his career. The four specialties below represent those that the majority of new social workers select.

Child and Family Social Worker

Child and family social workers interview children and their family members to understand and remedy problems in a child's home life. On the job, these social workers spend much of their day visiting clients' homes to perform interviews and inspections.

School Social Worker

School social workers work with children in the school setting. They interview students, teachers, and administrators so that they may propose appropriate academic and social interventions. These social workers often work alongside child and family social workers, as many children's academic problems stem from poor home life.

Healthcare Social Worker

In the hospital setting, healthcare social workers meet with patients and their families to discuss resources to help patients cope with changes to their physical health. These social workers often travel to patients' home to perform follow-up interviews.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

In the hospital and home settings, mental health and substance abuse social workers educate addicts on topics such as rehab and lifestyle changes to reduce chances of addiction relapses. These social workers work with the same individuals over a period of months, making frequent home visits to gauge their patients' recovery.

In the United States, each state decides the number of social worker licenses it offers and the requirements to earn each one. Many states require licensed social workers to hold a master's degree. Utah represents one of the few states that grants a social worker license to applicants with bachelor's degrees in social work. Utah also offers a unique internship license for master's degree holders who have not yet passed the ASWB certification exam. Finally, with the right educational background, the state allows college graduates who hold a degree in a subject other than social work to become a licensed social worker.

Utah clinical social workers must hold a master's degree and complete extensive supervised work experience in a clinical setting

Besides some key differences, Utah's licensure regulations mirror those of other states in two essential ways. First, clinical social workers must hold a master's degree and complete extensive supervised work experience in a clinical setting. Second, all social workers who work independently must hold a license whether or not they work in a clinical environment.

Utah does not grant certifications, also known as credentials, but these endorsements play an important role in signifying that a social worker has expertise in a particular specialty. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) grants these certifications to social workers who have a combination of education, work experience, and continuing education credits. Social workers use certifications for career and salary advancement at their workplaces or to attract new clients if they work independently. Also, certifications play an important role if a social worker moves to a different state. The requirements to earn a credential are the same in every state, which helps social worker employers judge the quality of out-of-state applicants.

Utah grants social workers one of three active licenses: social service worker, certified social worker, and licensed clinical social worker. Utah also offers one temporary license: certified social worker intern. In the section below, learn more about each license and the requirements to submit an initial application.

Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials

With so many options, finding a social work program in Utah can feel daunting. But by answering at least three questions, your choices should become manageable. What can you afford? Private universities, for example, often charge more than public ones. Where will you attend school? Earning your social work degree may require you to commute long distances to campus. How many years can you dedicate to your education studying either full or part time?

Once you answer these questions and eliminate unsuitable programs, you should examine the remaining programs with a critical eye. At this stage, research each program's offered specializations: Do the specializations align with your interests and career goals? Do most graduates of this particular program succeed in the social work field? Disregard programs where you find dissatisfactory answers to either of these questions. If you are not sure about your future specialization, consider programs that have two or more specializations that interest you. Finally, research online social work degree programs. In the next section, learn more about online education and discover if it is the right fit for you.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Utah?

At minimum, a licensed social worker in Utah must hold a bachelor's degree. The University of Utah offers a entirely online program. Through group assignments, discussion forums, and peer review activities, students receive an academic experience that mirrors that of their on-campus peers. Also, the same faculty who teach on-campus courses teach for the UOnline program. The child welfare career path specialization appeals to prospective students who plan to work in the school or family setting. Transfer students benefit from a generous transfer credit policy. Accepted students may begin the program in the fall or spring semester. As an added benefit, online students pay the same tuition as on-campus students.

The online program at the University of Utah holds full regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and boasts specialized accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education -- one of only 16 in the nation that holds this impressive distinction. The program also thoroughly prepares students to sit for the ASWB bachelor's-level examination.

To date, no university in Utah offers an online master's in social work program for social workers who plan to earn a clinical license.

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

Many factors influence the length of time it takes to become a social worker in Utah. The first is whether a student studies full or part time. Part-time students require one to two more years to complete their degree compared to full-time students. After personal preferences, program requirements also influence the time needed to graduate. In an individually paced program, students can take courses at a faster pace and theoretically graduate before other students who started the program at the same time. In a cohort learning model, students who enter the program at the same time take courses together and graduate at the same time. The cohort model helps students develop professional relationships that may benefit them throughout their careers.

For a full-time student, earning a social work bachelor's degree in Utah takes between three and four years. A master's program requires an additional one to two years depending on the program requirements. Master's programs that include an internship or practicum component take longer to complete than programs that do not. Finally, a doctoral program may take up to six years to complete, as a significant portion involves researching and writing a dissertation.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Utah?

If a student attends a public university or college, residency influences tuition cost more than any other factor. At the University of Utah, undergraduates who are in-state residents save approximately 50% on tuition and fees compared to that paid by out-of-state students. Master's and doctoral programs cost more per credit hour than bachelor's and associate programs. However, even at the graduate level, in-state students continue to benefit from lower tuition. Also, some universities provide funding to doctoral students, thereby reducing the student's financial burden.

After graduating from a social work bachelor's or master's program, graduates sit for the corresponding ASWB exam. The bachelor's and master's exams each cost $230. The clinical exam, open only to Utah residents who hold a master's degree in social work, costs $260. As of this writing, Utah charges social workers $85-$125 to apply for a license. The biennial license renewal costs approximately 75% of the cost of the initial license. Also, to renew a license, LCSWs and CSWs must complete continuing education (CE) credits -- 40 for LCSWs and 20 for CSWs. Completing CE credits may require a social worker to pay for courses, although many free CE opportunities also exist.

Directory of Social Work Programs in Utah

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Social workers in Utah work in schools, corporate offices, and government agencies. As Utah requires clinical social workers to hold a master's degree, careers associated with this profession generally pay higher than social work careers requiring only a bachelor's degree. Also, some positions require applicants to have additional education or professional development. The positions outlined below represent a handful of the potential careers that social workers with experience can successfully take on.

Health Educator and Community Health Worker

Health educator and community health workers strive to promote physical and mental health in their communities. Through individual and group sessions, they educate individuals on how to improve health, manage sickness, and prevent future illness.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Many social workers go into the field to help children. In this profession, social workers with a master's degree work with couples and families in small group settings. Much of the career involves using talk therapy to help clients find solutions to problems.

Correctional Treatment Specialist

Recently released prisoners need the help of these professionals to reintegrate back into society successfully. On the job, correctional treatment specialists visit parolees at their homes and interview family members. Other responsibilities include helping paroles locate job training resources.

School and Career Counselor

Social workers with a master's degree often work in the school setting, helping students develop skills that will help them in the classroom and home. This job involves working with students to improve their grades and explore possible careers.

Social and Community Service Manager

This administrative role gives social workers the ability to apply their years of experience in a leadership position. Social and community service managers oversee large social service programs and lead teams of social workers to accomplish community improvement goals.

Median Salaries and Employment For Social Work Specialties in Utah

  Employment Annual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 2,420 $42,320
Healthcare Social Workers 1,140 $58,590
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 800 $42,210
Social Workers, All Other 490 $49,800
Source: BLS

To offset the cost of a bachelor's or master's degree in social work, students can apply for one or more scholarships exclusive to their major or future specialization. NASW offers the four scholarships below, open to both Utah residents and students living in other states. Applicants must become NASW members before applying for any of the following awards.

Social Work Scholarships

Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship $1,500

Who Can Apply: This scholarship applies to doctoral students researching welfare policy and practice. The fellowship award pays for the student to present her research at an NASW policy conference. View Scholarship

Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship $4,000

Who Can Apply: The Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship benefits graduate students who work with minority groups. Applicants must demonstrate financial need in their applications. The award amount may change due to fund contributions. View Scholarship

Verne LaMarr Lyons Scholarship $5,500

Who Can Apply: Master's degree candidates committed to working in African-American communities may apply for this scholarship. Part of the scholarship includes the cost of the recipient attending an NASW conference. View Scholarship

Jane B. Aron Doctoral Fellowship $4,000-$17,900

Who Can Apply: NASW awards this fellowship to doctoral students studying healthcare policy. Funding lasts for five years. The amounts below reflect the total fellowship award. When applying, applicants must have already begun writing their dissertations on a pre-approved topic. View Scholarship
  • National Association of Social Workers - Utah In addition to awarding scholarships and fellowships to its student members, NASW - Utah advocates for the social work profession at the state level through lobbying and related political activities. Member benefits include career services, discounts, and continuing education opportunities. NASW provides specialized resources for members working as licensed clinical social workers.
  • Utah Society for Social Work Leadership in Healthcare The USSWLHC promotes professional development and social work best practices for its members. The organization holds annual conferences and professional development opportunities so members can network with peers throughout the state. The USSWLHC's many branches and networks mean that members can find local resources no matter their location in Utah.
  • Bachelor of Social Work Student Association A decentralized organization, the BSWSA has independent chapters on college campuses across the nation. The benefits of membership include networking with other social work students and access to local volunteering and internship opportunities. For many students, joining the BSWSA represents the first step in integrating into the broader social work community.
  • Council on Social Work Education The CSWE does much more than act as a specialized accrediting agency. Its members represent dedicated social workers teaching the next generation at the college or university setting. Membership provides access to networking events in the academic field and access to resources that help professors become more effective educators. Students planning to enter academia after graduation may also join.
  • Clinical Social Work Association As clinical social workers assist some of the most vulnerable individuals, such as those with mental illness, they require excellent continuing education opportunities and networking events. Membership in the CSWA meets both of these needs while conveying legal and professional services not offered by other social work organizations.