This guide presents a full overview of the field of social work in Mississippi. It includes salary and employment statistics, information about social work master’s degree programs as well as a summary of the three social work licenses available in Mississippi.
There is a special emphasis on MSW programs since social workers with a master’s degree tend to earn higher salaries and are eligible for more advanced licensure.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social Work in Mississippi
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker jobs and salary
- Job outlook
- School Listings
Social work in Mississippi
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 5,280 social workers in Mississippi. One of the unfortunate macro trends that these social workers must deal with is Mississippi’s high poverty rate. According to United States census data, 19.7 percent of Mississippi’s residents are living in poverty. Compare this to the national average for the United States, which is 11.8 percent.
A study published by the University of Minnesota has suggested that, “childhood poverty has lifelong consequences. In general, poor children are more likely to be poor as adults, more likely to drop out of high school, more likely to become teenage parents, and more likely to have employment problems.”
To combat the negative effects of poverty, social workers in Mississippi can help residents to sign up for government programs, apply for low cost educational programs as well as ensure that all of the children in a family are getting a good education. It’s hard work but helping a family to improve their situation can be very rewarding. For those who are interested in starting a career in social work the first step is to get a good education.
MSW programs in Mississippi
Before applying to a MSW program a student should ensure that the university is CSWE-accredited. A CSWE certification guarantees that a master’s program is teaching the latest methodologies in the field of social work. In Mississippi only students who have graduated from a CSWE accredited university may apply for an advanced social work license.
The University of Mississippi offers one of the most popular, CSWE accredited MSW programs in Mississippi. According to their website the program’s mission is to, “prepare competent and ethical clinical social workers, for scientific inquiry, who are leaders committed to diversity, social and economic justice, and the enrichment of the quality of life, with systems of all sizes, at every level of society.”
Students who already have a bachelor’s degree in social work may apply for the advanced standing program. This program requires just 36 credit hours of study and can be completed in one year. Students who have an undergraduate degree in another field can apply for the regular standing program which takes two years to complete. A full curriculum for the MSW program is available on the University of Mississippi’s website.
Another option for students looking to complete their MSW is the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). The USM program places a special focus on field work as it includes 900 hours of hands on experience. Social workers will graduate from the program with a good idea of what will be expected from them when they start their career. The advanced standing program requires 34 credit hours of study while the regular standing program requires 60 hours of study.
Financial aid is available to students who qualify and each year USM awards 13 social work scholarships to deserving students. Students may also apply for a graduate assistantship which includes a stipend in return for 20 hours of work per week.
Online MSW programs in Mississippi
There are not currently any online MSW programs available in the state of Mississippi. However, there are multiple online MSW programs available in the states bordering Mississippi. For example, the University of North Alabama offers an online MSW which can be completed in one year for advanced standing students.
Most importantly, the program doesn’t necessarily have to cost more than an in-state program. According to the University of North Alabama’s financial aid page, “Departmental grants are offered to cover the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition.”
To learn more about North Alabama’s MSW program, as well as other MSW programs throughout the United States, please consult our online MSW degree page.
How to become a social worker in Mississippi
The following steps assume that the candidate has a master’s or Ph.D. in social work. While bachelor’s degree holders can become social workers in Mississippi, the salary and number of employment opportunities is lower.
- Complete a MSW program at a CSWE accredited university
- Fill out this form and then submit it to the Examiners Board in order to apply for the LMSW social work license
- Take and pass the ASWB master’s level exam. There is a $230 fee to take the exam. While there are 170 questions on the ASWB, only 150 are graded
- Pass a background check
- Once the Board has received the background check, proof of a passing ASWB grade as well as a transcript of the applicant’s degree, the board will issue a LMSW license
- Should a social worker wish to engage in unsupervised, clinical social work they can accrue 1,000 hours of experience and then apply for a LCSW license
Most social workers decide that a master’s degree is all they need to start a good career. Master’s degree holders are eligible for an advanced social work license and can perform a majority of the tasks associated with social work.
For those who would like to learn about the advantages of a PhD there is more information available on our doctorate degree page. Also included is a list of PhD social work programs currently being offered in the United States.
Social work license requirements in Mississippi
Provided below is an overview of the three different social work license types available in Mississippi. For additional information about social work licensing in Mississippi, please check the Mississippi State Board of Examiners’ website.
Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
Graduates of a bachelor’s degree program in social work can apply for the LSW license. With the LSW a social worker is permitted to practice general social work, so long as they are supervised by a social worker with a LMSW or LCSW license.
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
The LMSW license is only available to master’s and Ph.D. degree holders who have graduated from a CSWE accredited university. With a LMSW a social worker can practice unsupervised, general social work such as program development and case management. While LMSW license holders can engage in clinical social work, it’s only possible to do so under supervision.
Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)
The LCSW is the most advanced license that Mississippi social workers can attain. With the LCSW a social worker may practice unsupervised, clinical social work either at an agency or in a private practice. Before applying for a LCSW license a social worker must already have a LMSW license as well as 1,000 hours of direct client contact.
Social workers can renew their license via the Board’s website. Licenses must be renewed once every two years and the license renewal comes with the following requirements.
- LSW – $70 renewal fee and 40 hours of continuing education
- LMSW & LCSW – $100 renewal fee and 40 hours of continuing education
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in Mississippi
Employment data compiled by the BLS shows that 5,280 social workers are currently employed in Mississippi. The average wage for a social worker in Mississippi is $41,755 per year.
All other types of social workers receive the highest average salary at $53,520 per year. Child, family and school social workers receive the lowest average salary at $37,190 per year. Below is a full summary of social worker salaries and employment figures for Mississippi.
Child, family, and school social workers: There are currently 2,680 child, family, and school social workers in Mississippi and they earn an average salary of $37,190 per year.
Mental health and substance abuse social workers: There are currently 910 mental health and substance abuse social workers in Mississippi and they earn an average salary of $42,140 per year.
Healthcare social workers: There are currently 1,320 healthcare social workers in Mississippi and they earn an average salary of $47,460 per year.
All other social workers: There are currently 370 social workers employed in various other fields, including in private practices. These social workers earn an average salary of $53,520 per year.
Social work outlook in Mississippi
The field of social work is full of opportunities for people who want to start a career. The BLS predicts a 13 percent social work job growth rate from 2019 to 2029. This would indicate that even social workers who are just now beginning their education should have no trouble finding a job when they graduate.