In this guide, we’ll break down all that you need to know about pursuing and acquiring a social work degree in Delaware. Specifically, the guide will emphasize MSWs or master’s in social work, as these degrees are required for clinical licensure within the state and are popular degrees for social work students regardless.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social work in Delaware
- MSW programs in Delaware
- How to become a social worker in Delaware
- Social work license requirements in Delaware
- Social worker jobs and social work salary in Delaware
- Outlook for social workers in Delaware
Social work in Delaware
Delaware is one of the least populous states in the nation, but this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have several social ills that could use the assistance of trained social workers. For example, many of Delaware’s children are clinically overweight or obese, signaling a need for child, family, and school social workers. Furthermore, some of Delaware’s cities suffer from dramatically growing homeless populations.
There are other problems related to the state’s small size, as well. Delaware residents often have to look to out-of-state employment in order to better their personal lives — the state suffers from spikes in unemployment and low job availability more than many others, like the kind the entire country is experiencing due to COVID-19. This, in turn, has resulted in higher incidences of physical abuse, mental health issues, and other problems.
All in all, opportunities for social work in Delaware are many and varied.
MSW programs in Delaware
Those looking to practice independently in Delaware will need a master’s in social work degree, which is an advanced degree that allows you to progress to clinical level licensure. These degrees first require a bachelor’s degree in social work. Furthermore, students should prioritize programs that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, or CSWE. These accredited programs are often also required for clinical licensure – accreditation serves as a seal of approval and ensures that the program carries a requisite amount of rigor.
CSWE-accredited programs normally include:
- Core social work classes, which will be up-to-date with modern concepts and practices to ensure that graduates can progress and succeed in a modern social work environment
- Some specialized classes, which may even result in a specialized degree
- Time for electives if a student wishes to round out their education further
- A certain number of clinical practice hours. Some of these will be required for graduation, while others will be needed for social work licensure later down the road
It’s no surprise that, due to Delaware’s small size, there’s only a single university that offers MSW programs: Delaware State University. Located in the capital city of Dover, it builds on the same school’s generalist bachelor’s degree curriculum and focuses on issues specifically faced by African-American communities – this is partly because Delaware has a higher than average proportion of African-Americans in its population.
The advanced generalist perspective will help students look at social work both for broad populations and for African-Americans in versatile ways. Furthermore, the program is a good choice for social workers that may want to take up leadership positions in the future. Field education placements will allow students to put what they learn in the classroom into real-world practice.
Online MSW programs in Delaware
While on-campus MSW programs can be a great choice, many students may choose online MSW programs instead. This is because online MSW programs nowadays carry the same level of rigor and academic opportunities as their on-campus counterparts. Furthermore, online MSW programs can usually be completed asynchronously, allowing the student to hold a job or care for their family while finishing their education at the same time thanks to a more flexible schedule.
Students of online MSW programs still have to finish a certain number of clinical practice hours. These can be completed at any local clinical or social work center, however, not just the clinic or center associated with the university.
As stated, only Delaware State University offers an MSW program in the state, though it’s offered both on-campus and online. The online program doesn’t differ from the in-person program that much, and both versions can be completed in two years. Furthermore, advanced standing opportunities are offered to students with additional social work credits and for those who have a CSWE-accredited bachelor’s degree. The program can be completed across four years overall if students want to progress with part-time study.
How to become a social worker in Delaware
Up until recently, Delaware only required social work licensure for the clinical level of work. However, June 2019 saw the addition of two non-clinical social work licenses. Social work licensure requirements are dictated by the Delaware Board of Clinical Social Work Licenses.
Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
This first level of licensure is the most basic and it allows social workers to practice non-clinical social work so long as they are under the supervision of a clinical social worker. These social workers must also have a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program.
- Apply for the program by submitting your application to the Board. You must also pay the $195 fee
- Complete the Association of Social Work Board’s Bachelor’s Exam
- If you pass, you’ll receive your license
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
The LMSW license is pretty similar to the last, although it allows social workers who hold it to independently practice social work in non-clinical contexts. They can also provide clinical social work services provided they are under supervision.
- Submit your application to the Board and pay the $195 fee
- Pass the ASWB’s Master’s Exam, which costs $120 and which has 170 questions
- If you pass the exam, you’ll receive your license
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
This last level of licensure is the most difficult to attain, but it also allows you to practice social work independently and clinically in any context. You must have completed additional social work hour requirements to apply (more on that below).
- Complete the required number of clinical practice hours
- Submit your application to the Board and pay the $195 fee
- Pass the ASWB’s Clinical Exam, which is 170 questions and which costs $120
- If you pass the exam, you get your license
Social work license requirements in Delaware
The Delaware Board of Clinical Social Work Examiners handles all clinical licensure requirements. They dictate that any aspiring clinical social worker must:
- Complete at least 3,200 hours of supervised and post-degree clinical experience
- At least 1,600 of those hours must be under the supervision of an already licensed social worker
- At least one hour of supervision must be provided per week
- At least half of the total supervision hours must be in person
Delaware also allows licensure by reciprocity, meaning clinical social workers can become quickly licensed in Delaware if they already hold an equivalent license in another state. The fee is $183, plus another $69 for a criminal background check. Social workers can apply here.
All social workers must renew their licenses every odd year (i.e. 2021, 2023, etc.). They must also pay a renewal fee of $40 and complete 45 credits of continuing education, at least three of which must be in ethics.
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in Delaware
We can find informative salary information for social workers in Delaware by looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They indicate that:
- Child, family, and school social workers can expect an annual salary of $39,880 or $19.70 per hour. 1320 of these social workers practice in Delaware at this time.
- Healthcare social workers should get an annual salary of $57,310 or $27.55 per hour. Only 620 practice in Delaware.
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers will receive an annual average salary of $50,190 or $24.13 per hour. There are only 400 of these.
- All other social workers are the rarest social worker type at just 130 in Delaware. They can expect an annual salary of $62,630 or $30.11 per hour.
The average national salary for social workers is close to $51,000. This indicates that Delaware social workers are mostly paid similarly to the national average, with the exception of child, family, and school social workers. Some Delaware social workers will receive higher than average salaries if they specialize in healthcare or more niche focuses.
Outlook for social workers in Delaware
The job outlook for Delaware social workers can be partially estimated from the national projections. In short, almost 91,000 new social workers will be needed by 2029. Several thousand of these new positions might open up in Delaware, particularly as the state’s population is growing, and as people become older and require more healthcare social worker assistance.
Furthermore, those who live in Delaware might also be able to easily commute to surrounding states for other job opportunities thanks to the state’s close proximity to major metropolitan areas, many of which are connected by commuter rail.
Ultimately, Delaware social workers have a lot to look forward to and will likely enjoy many job opportunities in the future.