This guide presents an overview of the social work profession in Minnesota. That includes educational opportunities, industry salaries, and government projections for job growth in the next decade. There is a special emphasis on MSW programs as most social work positions in Minnesota require the applicant to have a master’s degree.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social work in Minnesota
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker jobs and salary
- School Listings
Social work in Minnesota
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 16,340 social workers in Minnesota. Since 1987, when the law was changed, social workers have gradually become one of the key providers of mental health services in the state. In fact, it is estimated that 75 percent of all of Minnesota’s mental healthcare professionals are now social workers.
In spite of how many social workers there are offering counseling service, there is still a shortage of qualified professionals in the field. This shortage is showing no signs of letting up and even social workers who are just now beginning their education should expect to find plenty of employment opportunities upon graduation. The BLS has predicted that the job growth rate for social workers will be significantly more robust than the average job growth rate for most other professions throughout the United States.
There’s never been a better time to start a career as a social worker and it all begins with getting a good education.
MSW programs in Minnesota
When evaluating MSW programs it’s important to check that a university is CSWE accredited. A CSWE accreditation guarantees that a program is teaching the latest social work practices and many employers will only consider hiring graduates from CSWE certified universities.
The University of Minnesota offers a CSWE-accredited MSW program with a special focus in the following areas,
- Clinical mental health
- Community practice
- Families and children
- Health, disability and aging
The program is available full or part time. Students with an undergraduate degree in social work can take the advanced degree course while students who majored in a different field can apply for the normal MSW program. There is also a chance to take a dual degree in one of the following fields.
- Master of Social Work & Master of Public Policy (MSW & MPP)
- Master of Social Work & Master of Urban Regional Planning (MSW & MURP)
- Master of Social Work & Master of Public Health (MSW & MPH)
The Augsburg School of Social Work also offers a CSWE accredited MSW degree. With small class sizes of just 10 to 20 students the program is designed to, “prepare social work students for advanced professional practice in public and non-profit agency settings.”
For students who are interested in the administrative side of social work, Augsburg offers a dual degree in business administration. More information about the MSW & MBA dual degree is available here. Students can also check the Augsburg website to find out about financial aid opportunities.
Online MSW programs in Minnesota
Students who would rather study online have several options. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota gives students the chance to study via a 100% online program. Students will take all of their classes online, there is no requirement to visit the campus.
According to the Saint Mary’s website, “As a graduate, you’ll gain autonomy in your partnerships with clients, working directly with individuals, couples, families, and communities to diagnose mental health conditions, treat issues, and encourage a positive response to personal and societal challenges.”
The normal program requires 60 credit hours of study, however, there is an advanced standing program that only requires 30 credit hours. In order to qualify for the advanced standing program a student should have already completed an undergraduate degree in social work.
Another option is the University of St. Thomas hybrid program. Rather than taking 100% of the classes online, a student in the hybrid program will take certain classes online while others will need to be taken on campus. There is a two year part time program for advanced standing students and three year part time program for regular students.
For more information about St. Thomas’ online MSW degree program, as well as other online programs throughout the United States, please visit our online MSW degree page.
How to become a social worker in Minnesota
Becoming a social worker in Minnesota is a relatively straightforward process.
- Take a master’s degree from a CSWE accredited university.
- Pass a background check. The fee for a background check in Minnesota is currently $77.
- Apply for a LGSW license online.
- Pass the ASWB master’s exam. The fee for the exam is currently $230 although this can change. The ASWB exam consists of 170 questions, 150 of which are graded.
- Receive the LGSW license.
- Once a LGSW social worker has accrued 4,000 hours of supervised experience they can apply for the Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) license. This will allow them to practice unsupervised social work.
- A social work license must be renewed once every two years in Minnesota.
Although MSW graduates have a lot of flexibility in the type of work that they do, a social worker who aspires to reach the top of the field will need to get a PhD. With a PhD a social worker can perform advanced statistical analysis, craft high level public policy or manage a community center. To find out more about getting a PhD in social work, and to see a list of available programs in the United States, please visit our doctorate degree page.
Social work license requirements in Minnesota
The most reliable source for social work licensing information is Minnesota’s Board of Social Work official website. Social work licensing requirements can change often which is why it’s important to get information from an official source.
There are four types of social work licenses in Minnesota. Eligibility for an advanced license will depend primarily on education level as well as hands on experience.
Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
The only social work license available to bachelor’s degree holders, a LSW allows the license holder to perform basic social work. While LSW license holders can engage in many types of social work, much of that work must be supervised.
Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
In order to qualify for a LGSW license a social worker will need to have graduated from a MSW program. Compared to a LSW license holder, a LGSW licensed social worker can perform more types of tasks and even perform clinical social work as long as it’s done under supervision.
LGSW license holders command a higher salary and once they’ve gained enough hours of supervised experience they may apply for more advanced licensure.
Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
A LISW license allows the social worker to practice unsupervised social work. In order to attain this license a social worker will need to already have a LGSW license as well as complete 4,000 hours of supervised social work.
The one exception for LISW social workers is that they cannot practice unsupervised clinical social work. In order to do this a social worker in Minnesota must have a LICSW license.
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
A LICSW is the highest level of licensure available to social workers in Minnesota. The LICSW permits the license holder to practice unsupervised clinical social work for a public agency or in a private practice. LICSW license holders typically earn above average salaries and have multiple opportunities for employment.
License renewal in Minnesota
Social work licenses in Minnesota must be renewed every other year. Before a social worker can renew their license they must complete 40 hours of ongoing education. Up to date information about license renewal fees and requirements is available here.
Social worker jobs and social work salary in Minnesota
Surveys conducted by the BLS have shown that there are currently 16,340 social workers employed in Minnesota. As one would expect, these social workers fill many different roles in the state. Below are the total employment numbers for different social work fields in Minnesota.
The BLS has calculated that the average salary for a social worker in Minnesota is $58,067 per year. There is only a small discrepancy between salaries for different types of social work in Minnesota. The lowest average annual salary is $56,900 and the highest average salary is $62,890. Below is the average annual salary for different types of social workers.
- Child, family, and school social worker: There are 8,430 child, family, and school social workers in Minnesota. The average salary is $56,900.
- Mental health and substance abuse social worker: Make an average of $60,090 a year. There are 2,490 of this category of social worker in Minnesota.
- Healthcare social worker: There are 4,390 healthcare social workers in Minnesota. The average salary is $58,030.
- Social worker all other: There are 1,030 social workers that do not neatly fit into the other categories described above. The average salary for this type of social work in Minnesota is $62,890.