This is a guide to the field of social work in Maryland. There is a special emphasis on MSW programs since the best opportunities in social work often require the job applicant to have a master’s degree.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social work in Maryland
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker salary
- School listings
Social Work In Maryland
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 12,260 social workers in Maryland. Statistics from a University of Maryland School of Social Work 2017 Alumni Survey show that of 244 respondents, 37 percent of social workers are employed in nonprofit agencies. Additionally, 25 percent of social workers work in for profit or private practice, 16 percent hold state government positions, 10 percent in local government positions, and the remaining 12 percent fall into “other” federal government or the military. Responses of the survey about Maryland’s social workers show that 23 percent work with adults, 17 percent work with children, 16 percent with minorities, and a similar number with the underserved. Smaller proportions work with the homeless, victims of intimate partner abuse, LGBTQIA persons, and in rural areas.
Although there are many social issues affecting the state, one key area that is little known, yet crucial to resolve is human trafficking.
The majority of Maryland’s social workers are employed in dense, urban areas where trafficking is most likely to be noticeable. Namely, Baltimore and Washington DC. By learning to recognize the signs of trafficking, and having an effective intervention plan, a social worker can be the person to identify a trafficking victim and take action. Social work can be a very demanding career at times, but also a rewarding one as the potential to make a difference is huge. As with most careers, the first step begins with education.
Advanced standing BSW programs in Maryland
A bachelor’s in social work (BSW) can be a cost effective path towards the MSW as the advanced standing programs allows you to complete the MSW in less time if you qualify.
Students who complete a BSW degree with a qualifying GPA (often 3.0) may be able to enter an MSW program under the “advanced standing option.” While these programs vary by specific MSW program, in a nutshell, they allow students to bypass the first year of coursework and fieldwork in the MSW program which shortens the degree from a 2 year to a 1 year program (sometimes one calendar year, or 3 semesters), which has a significant financial benefit if you know you are interested in social work before completing your bachelors degree. However, for someone who already has a bachelors in an unrelated field, it does not make sense to go back for a BSW, you would simply enter an MSW program as noted below.
For more info on BSW programs available in Maryland, check the complete school listings below.
MSW programs in Maryland
A Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation is a key factor when considering a MSW program. Many social work jobs require the applicant to have graduated from a CSWE-accredited program and most of the social work licenses in Maryland also require it.
The University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMB) is one such CSWE-accredited program and they offer a full range of social work degrees, everything from a bachelor’s to a Ph.D. Students can choose to take a MSW degree either at the university’s main campus in Baltimore City or at the Shady Grove campus in Rockville. The MSW program at UMB is known nationally for its excellence in preparing macro social workers.
Timing is also flexible, as a MSW can be completed in either two, three or four years. A full time program will cost $15,132 per year for Maryland residents, or $32,971 per year for out of state students. Information about financial aid is available here.
Two other state schools, Morgan State University and Salisbury University also offer in person MSW programs in Maryland. Morgan State is a Historically Black University located in Baltimore City, and Salisbury has a few locations across the state.
Online MSW programs in Maryland
At the moment there are two reputable online MSW programs available in Maryland. The first is offered by Salisbury University and is fully CSWE accredited. The degree is available for residents of the following states.
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
- New Jersey
- New York
Students interested in the program can learn more on the Salisbury University MSW program page.
The second online MSW program is offered by Morgan State University (MSU). At MSU the regular online MSW program requires 60 credit hours of study while the advanced standing program requires just 30 credit hours to complete. According to the university’s website the program, “is committed to the alleviation of human suffering and the improvement of the quality of life for urban residents.”
In addition to the regular coursework students can specialize in urban children, youth and families and addictions. More information about the Morgan State MSW program, as well as other MSW programs offered throughout the United States, is available on our online MSW degree page.
How to become a social worker in Maryland
The state of Maryland allows bachelor’s degree holders to become social workers. However, social workers with a master’s degree will earn more money and have a better chance of being promoted over time. For these reasons we will focus on the steps to becoming a social worker for MSW graduates.
1. Obtain a MSW degree from a CSWE accredited institution.
2. Go to the Board of Social Work Examiners’ website and fill out the online application for a LMSW social work license. The applicant’s university should send an official MSW transcript to the board.
3. Pass a background check. The total cost for the background check and license application is $130.
4. Take the ASWB master’s exam. The test consists of 170 questions and costs $230.
5. Upon passing the background check and ASWB exam the board will grant the LMSW. At this time the social worker may only work under supervision.
6. After three years of supervised experience the social worker may apply for the LCSW license. This license will allow the holder to perform unsupervised, non-clinical social work.
7. Social workers who wish to perform unsupervised clinical social work can accumulate 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work experience. After gaining the experience they may apply for a LCSW-C license which will allow them to practice unsupervised social work.
MSW graduates can perform the majority of different roles within the field, from a caseworker to clinician to the director of a nonprofit. Certain jobs do require the applicant to have a PhD such as research roles that involve statistical analysis or roles teaching social work. More information about the advantages of a PhD in social work, as well as a list of PhD social work programs throughout the United States, is available on our doctorate degree page.
Social work license requirements in Maryland
Maryland has four different licenses that social workers can apply for, depending on their education level and experience. These licenses are listed below. For more information about social work licensure in Maryland please visit the Maryland Board of Social work Examiners website.
Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
The LBSW is the only license that bachelor’s degree holders can apply for. It allows the social worker to offer basic, non-clinical social work services. Most of the work must be supervised, however, after accumulating enough experience the LBSW license holder can have their license upgraded so that they can perform unsupervised social work.
A LMSW is the first license that a MSW graduate will apply for. A LMSW license holder can perform supervised social work, including clinical social work. After several years of supervised experience a LMSW social worker can apply for the LCSW license, see below.
Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)
The licensed certified social worker LCSW is the next step after the LMSW and it allows the social worker to perform unsupervised, non-clinical social work. A social worker must hold a LMSW license before they can apply for a LCSW license. This license option is set to expire at the end of 2023 and instead social workers who do not wish to pursue an LCSW-C (see below) can earn a LMSW-Independent Practice as the next level.
Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C)
This license is similar to the LCSW, the difference being that the LCSW-C social worker is permitted to perform unsupervised clinical social work. The only way a social worker can obtain this license is first to have a LMSW and then complete 3,000 hours of supervised, clinical social work. The applicant will also need to pass the clinical ASWB exam.
License renewal in Maryland
Social workers in Maryland need to renew their license once every two years. To renew the LBSW license, social workers should complete 30 hours of ongoing education to renew their license while all other license holders will need to complete 40 hours of ongoing education. The renewal fee varies by license type.
Social worker salary in Maryland
Throughout Maryland there is a wide range of salaries for social workers. From $52,710 at the low end to $71,820 at the high end. The average annual salary for a social worker in Maryland is $60,117, according to the BLS. Below is a detailed breakdown of the different social work fields and their respective salaries.
- Child, family, and school social workers is the largest group of social workers, numbering 5,620 in Maryland and they make an annual salary of $62,440.
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers in Maryland number 2,870. This group makes an average annual salary of $53,890 a year.
- Healthcare social workers in Maryland make up another large group of social workers. They make an average annual salary of $62,560 a year.
- Social worker all other is the last group of social workers with reported employment data. The group contains 1,520 workers and makes an average salary of $68,040 a year.
Social work programs in Maryland
Find the latest social work career advice from people working directly in the field in Maryland. Learn more about all the different pathways and opportunities available in social work today.
- What are the most important factors for students deciding on an MSW program in Maryland?
- What are the challenges or opportunities for becoming a social worker in Maryland?
- What does the future of social work look like in Maryland?
- What types of jobs are MSW graduates finding in Maryland?
- Do you have advice or guidance for MSW graduates pursuing a license in Maryland?