This guide covers master of social work (MSW) programs in Arizona. It also covers the social work licensing requirements in Arizona. Additionally, the guide provides information about the social work job outlook and salary information in the state.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social Work in Arizona
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker job and salary
- Job Outlook
- School Listings
Social work in Arizona
Arizona is a state currently facing a set of unique pressures. The two most important of these are high rates of immigration and excessive poverty that disproportionately impacts Native American populations.
Latinos are 30.2 percent of Arizona’s population as of 2018 — more than twice the average found in other states. As a result, social workers who are bilingual and who are willing to work with families as they integrate in the US will be crucial. Immigrant families often struggle to find jobs and secure homes in the US.
Additionally, over 6,000 kids are in foster care in Arizona every year. Many of these kids are undocumented, requiring the guidance of social workers to handle these students across Arizona’s public schools.
When it comes to drug use, Arizona has a high rate of youth drinking and drug use. These problems and more will require the assistance of social workers over the next few decades, meaning future social workers should expect a variety of new employment positions to crop up in the future.
MSW programs in Arizona
The good news is that there are plenty of avenues to acquire a master of social work degree. Although your options for a Council on Social Work Education-accredited degree are limited if you want to attend a traditional, campus-based university. And the CSWE accreditation is important because it is required to get a social work license in the state. In other words, not just any MSW will do.
All in all, a CSWE-accredited program is important as it indicates the program meets a certain level of rigor and includes modern social work classes and concepts. These programs include:
- coursework that covers the fundamental concepts you’ll need to succeed as a social worker, including topics like ethics, sociology, and social work research practices
- more specialized classes that will let you become one of four broad types of social workers
- clinical practice experiences. Even after graduation, you’ll need to attend more clinical practice hours, many of which are under the supervision of an already licensed social worker, in order to achieve your own license
- extra electives you can take to round out your education
At this time, only Arizona State University offers a full MSW program. Fortunately, this program is one of the best in the country. It can be completed in two years of full-time study after acquiring a bachelor’s in social work, or you can complete it over three years with a part-time schedule. This allows both busy professionals and dedicated social work students to complete the program depending on what works best for them.
The program’s focus is on specific issues that affect southwestern US communities, making it a good fit for the challenges faced by Arizona’s future social workers. This university also allows students to complete a dual degree with a focus on law or public administration: an ideal pathway if you want to become an administrator at a social work clinic in the future.
You’ll also need to specialize your MSW degree to focus on children, youth and families, mental health or behavior health with adults, public child welfare, or another specialization.
Online MSW programs in Arizona
There are, of course, tons of other online MSW programs you can attend while living in Arizona. Many schools actually prioritize out-of-state students to encourage diversity. Online MSW programs are often convenient if you need to finish your education while working in Arizona or if you just moved to Arizona and want to stick with the same university to finish your education.
Regardless, any online program will require you to complete a number of extra clinical practice hours. While campus-based universities will have you complete these clinical hours at a medical center or hospital partnered with the university in question, online students will be allowed to complete their clinical hours at any qualifying medical center that works for their geographic needs.
ASU is the only online CSWE-accredited MSW program you can find from Arizona schools. Like its in-person counterpart, this program focuses on southwestern exclusive issues and is a great training program for future Arizona social workers.
How to become a social worker in Arizona
There are three major types of social workers in Arizona. Each of these social work license levels requires approval from the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.
Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
This starter social worker position is usually a stepping stone for advancement along the social work career track. Such professionals are allowed to participate in social work clinics but cannot run their own practices.
- Apply for a license from the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners after attaining a bachelor’s degree in social work. You’ll also need to pay a $290 fee
- Take the Association of Social Work Board’s Bachelor’s exam. This constitutes 170 multiple-choice questions and a $230 fee
- If you pass the exam, you’ll receive LBSW license
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
This type of social worker is one step above the last and allows social workers to practice non-clinical social work or practice clinical social work under the supervision of a licensed partner.
- Apply to the Board for a license and pay the $250 fee. You must have a CSWE-accredited MSW
- Take the ASWB Master’s exam. This is comprised of 170 multiple-choice questions and costs $230
- Receive your license if you pass the exam, and pay an additional $100 fee
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
This social worker is fully licensed and qualified to practice social work in a clinical context. Such professionals can also set up their own social work practices or businesses.
- Apply for a state license from the board, and fulfill all postgraduate experience requirements. You must also have an MSW and pay a $250 fee
- Take the ASWB Clinical exam. It’s a 170 multiple-choice test and the fee is $260
- If you pass the test, you’ll receive the LCSW license in Arizona.
After becoming licensed to practice social work in Arizona, you’ll have to renew your license every two years. This involves completing 30 hours of continuing education and paying a renewal fee of $325.
Social work license requirements in Arizona
Arizona requires all LCSWs to complete 3,200 hours of supervised postgraduate clinical experience within a two-year period. Furthermore, the experience has to be in actual clinical social work, and must include 1,600 hours of direct client contact. Of these hours, 100 must be supervised, and 50 of those hours must be supervised by an LCSW.
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in Arizona
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides wage and occupation data for Arizona and other states in the US. It breaks down social workers into four broad categories:
- Child, family, and school social workers in Arizona can expect an average salary of $41,420 per year or an hourly wage of $19.91. There are currently around 7,630 in the state
- Healthcare social workers in Arizona number 2,970 and can expect an annual salary of $59,600 or an hourly wage of $28.65
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers in the state earn an average salary of $40,450 and an hourly wage of $19.45. There are 2,890 in Arizona at this time
- All other social workers make up a catch-all group of social workers that include researchers, non-profit managers, or others that don’t fall neatly into one of the other categories. There are 1,160 in the state and they make an average annual salary of $60,540 or an hourly wage of $29.11.
As you can see, social workers that focus on health care tend to make the most money. However, child, family, and school social workers hold more positions – this is likely to stay the same or increase, and their wages may rise as their importance does as well over the next decade.
Job outlook for social workers in Arizona
As described earlier, the general job outlook for future social workers in Arizona is good. Because the state faces such strong immigration pressure, future social workers, particularly those who are bilingual, will find plenty of employment opportunities. New social work clinics and practices will undoubtedly be needed.
This tracks with country-level data, which indicates that social work employment is supposed to grow by many thousands of positions over the next eight years. While Arizona’s specific future employment projections aren’t known, total country-wide employment is set to increase by over 80,000 positions. Some states, like Arizona, will need more of these future social workers than others.