This guide is intended to present a complete overview of the field of social work in Montana. The guide includes information about social work salaries, employment statistics as well as the steps necessary to become a licensed clinical social worker in Montana.
There is a special focus on MSW programs as most people who begin a career in social work do so with a master’s degree. Master’s degree holders have more employment opportunities and can earn a higher salary versus bachelor’s degree holders.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- MSW programs in Montana
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker jobs and salary
- Job outlook
- School listings
Social work in Montana
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 2,480 social workers in Montana. One of the most important skills that a social worker learns is suicide prevention and this is a very relevant topic in Montana.
For more than thirty years Montana has ranked in the top five states in America for its suicide rate. There are several factors causing this, including a lack of social contact. There are approximately 90 percent fewer people per square mile in Montana than the national average for the USA.
High altitude is also a factor, as living at more than 2,500 feet has actually been shown to have a negative effect on mental health. Vitamin D deficiency is also a cause for concern, especially during Montana’s long, cold winters. Combine all of these factors together, along with a high level of gun ownership, and it becomes clear why Montana has such a high suicide rate.
Of course there are factors outside of anyone’s control, however, social workers have a role to play in alleviating some of the circumstances that can lead to suicide in Montana. They can spread awareness about the problem, connect rural residents with each other and teach people to recognize the warning signs of suicide so that a person can get help rather than take their own life.
Social workers in Montana can be instrumental in reversing a decades long trend and improving the lived situation of those in the state.
MSW programs in Montana
Before applying for a MSW program in Montana a student should check that the university is CSWE accredited. A CSWE certification guarantees that a school is teaching the latest social work methodologies. Furthermore, many employers will only hire a social worker if they have a degree from a CSWE accredited university.
There’s currently only one in-state MSW program and it’s offered by the University of Montana. According to the University’s website, “Our advanced integrated-practice curriculum embraces the profession’s commitment to value-based social work practice and promotes social and economic justice.”
Unfortunately an advanced standing program is not currently available. The regular standing program takes two years to complete. A full curriculum detailing the classes that students will take is available here. The estimated cost of the full time program for Montana residents is $13,600 per year while out of state students can expect to pay $32,800 per year. Part time study for Montana residents costs $10,300 per year and $26,900 per year for out of state students.
There are financial aid and scholarship opportunities for students who qualify. More information about these opportunities is available here.
Online MSW programs in Montana
Unfortunately at this time there are no online MSW programs being offered by Montana universities. However, students can study with an out of state, online MSW program. While some online MSW programs require students to take a few classes on campus, many programs are 100 percent online based and can be taken from anywhere in the country.
One example is Florida State University’s (FSU) online MSW program which is tailored specifically to students from Montana. The program, which was ranked as one of the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, can be taken 100 percent online and has both a regular standing and advanced standing option. The advanced standing program requires 39 credit hours of study and can be completed in two years. The regular standing program requires 61 credit hours of study and can be completed in three years.
More information about admission requirements for the program is available on FSU’s website. The MSW program is fully CSWE accredited and graduates will be able to find a job in Montana just as easily as if they completed their degree in-state. Although FSU’s program is 100 percent online, students can still expect to interact with their professors using a variety of virtual technologies.
To learn more about Florida State University’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 Montana
While anyone may engage in non-clinical social work in Montana without a license, clinical social work requires a LCSW license. The following steps lay out the path to acquiring that license.
- Graduate from a MSW or Ph.D. program from a CSWE accredited university
- Apply for the SWLC license. This is a provisional license that a social worker will hold while they gain the supervised experience necessary to apply for the LCSW license
- Accrue at least 3,000 hours of supervised, clinical social work experience. This experience must be gathered in a timeframe of two to five years
- Submit an application online for the LCSW license
- Take and pass the ASWB clinical level exam. There is a testing fee of $260 to take the exam
- As long as all of the documents are in order the Board will grant the social worker their LCSW license
A master’s degree is the most popular choice for most social workers. With a master’s degree a social worker can attain the most advanced licensure and perform clinical social work in a private practice. However, certain social workers find that to perform the kind of work they’d like to do a PhD is a necessity.
For example, managing a community center, performing complex statistical analysis or holding a high level government job, these types of jobs typically require a social worker to have a PhD. For more information about a PhD in social work, as well as a list of PhD programs in the United States, please visit our doctorate degree page.
Social work license requirements in Montana
Montana has a lenient approach when it comes to social work licensing. The state allows anyone to engage in social work without a license, as long as they don’t practice clinical social work.
In order to engage in clinical social work a LCSW license is required. For more information about social work licensing requirements in Montana please visit Montana’s Board of Behavioral Health website.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
With a LCSW license a social worker is permitted to engage in clinical social work. In order to attain a LCSW license a social worker must have graduated from a CSWE accredited university. After that they’ll need to accrue 3,000 hours of supervised, clinical social work experience. Once these requirements are met a social worker may apply for a LCSW license so that they can practice clinical social work.
Social work licenses must be renewed every year by December 31st in Montana. Before the LCSW license can be renewed a social worker must complete 20 hours of continuing education. There is a $175 license renewal fee.
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in Montana
Employment surveys from the BLS have shown that the average salary for a social worker in Montana is $43,336 per year. As of 2019 there are 2,480 social workers employed throughout the state.
Healthcare social workers earn the highest average salary in Montana at $50,740 per year. Mental health and substance abuse social workers earn the lowest salary, at $38,710 per year. Further employment statistics are provided below.
Child, family, and school social workers: There are currently 1,020 child, family, and school social workers in New Hampshire and they earn an average salary of $40,390 per year.
Mental health and substance abuse social workers: There are currently 350 mental health and substance abuse social workers in New Hampshire and they earn an average salary of $38,710 per year.
Healthcare social workers: There are currently 550 healthcare social workers in New Hampshire and they earn an average salary of $50,740 per year.
All other social workers: There are currently 560 social workers employed in various other fields, including in private practices. These social workers earn an average salary of $44,320 per year.
Social work outlook in Montana
Whether it’s Montana or Maine the job outlook for social workers is excellent. According to the most recent data from the BLS the field of social work is projected to grow by 13 percent from 2019 to 2029.
This high level of job growth is well above the national average and makes social work one of the fastest growing fields in the entire United States.
Social Work Programs in Montana