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 or higher.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social work in Maryland
Online MSW programs
How to become a social worker
Social worker salary
Social Work In Maryland
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 12,260 social workers in Maryland. Although there are many social issues affecting the state, one key area that is crucial to resolve is human trafficking. Women at Risk (WAR) is a non-profit organization seeking to bring attention to this issue, especially as it affects women from large cities like Baltimore and nearby Washington D.C.
A 2018 conference in Waldorf, Maryland, proved successful in shedding light on this pressing problem as 250 people from Maryland and the surrounding states showed up to learn about trafficking from the WAR speakers. One the group’s key messages is that individuals in the community, including social workers, can make a difference.
This is especially the case as a majority of Maryland’s social workers are employed in dense, urban areas where trafficking is most likely to be noticeable. Namely, Baltimore and Washington. 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.
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 certified university and most of the social work licenses in Maryland require a CSWE approved education.
The University of Maryland School of Social Work is one such CSWE approved institution 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.
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.
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.
Although MSW graduates can perform many different roles within the field of social, certain jobs do require the applicant to have a PhD For instance, statistical analysis and the highest levels of management are typically reserved for PhD level social workers. 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 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.
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 4,610 in Maryland and the make an annual salary of $61,910.
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers in Maryland number 2,410. This group makes an average annual salary of $52,710 a year.
- Healthcare social workers in Maryland make up another large group of social workers. They make an average annual salary of $59,530 a year.
- Social worker all other is the last group of social workers with reported employment data. The group, numbers 1,030 and makes an average salary of $71,820 a year.