The following guide outlines master of social work (MSW) degree programs in New Jersey. Also included in the guide is an overview of the requirements for getting a social work license in New Jersey as well as the social work job outlook in the state.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social Work in New Jersey
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social work salary
- Social work outlook
- School Listings
Social work in New Jersey
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 10,260 social workers in New Jersey. A disproportionate number of these social workers are employed in the fields of mental health and substance abuse, as opposed to “general” social work. That’s the result of the high prevalence of drug abuse in New Jersey.
This trend is unlikely to change. As we continue to hear calls to defund the police, it will be social workers who step in to fill the gap. There are many situations where it makes more sense to call on a mental health professional rather than an armed police officer.
Another area of concern in New Jersey is the wealth disparity between white residents and residents of color. According to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, New Jersey has one of the most exaggerated wealth gaps in the United States. The average white family in New Jersey has a net worth of $309,000, while the average net worth for a family of color is less than $10,000.
There is a big opportunity for social workers to make a difference in communities of color in New Jersey. From helping children through school and into college — to improving families’ access to state and federal resources — social workers in New Jersey have a chance to make the lived experience better in communities all across the state.
MSW programs in New Jersey
Before we cover some of the master’s programs available in New Jersey it’s important to mention the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation. This is an accreditation that guarantees that an educational program meets a high standard and only teaches current practices in the field of social work. Many employers will only hire graduates from a CSWE accredited MSW program.
One of the most popular CSWE accredited MSW programs in New Jersey is offered by Rutgers University. The Rutgers MSW is well-reviewed by the U.S. News and World Report and the program can be taken at several different locations throughout the state. A specific advantage of Rutgers is their large network of social workers which can make finding a job after graduation easier.
Stockton University also has a good MSW program in New Jersey. The Stockton program places a special focus on social issues including discrimination, oppression, and other forces that prevent individuals from realizing their potential. Stockton believes it’s the role of the social worker to help their clients to find ways to overcome difficult situations so that they can thrive.
Online MSW programs in New Jersey
There are two online, CSWE-accredited MSW programs in New Jersey and both are offered by Rutgers University. The first is a 100 percent online program, where all instruction takes place over the internet.
Unlike a traditional MSW, students enrolled in the fully online program complete their degree in three years rather than two. The classes are asynchronous which means that students can view the lessons at any time, there is not a set schedule. In this program, students will interact with their instructors via forums and other online discussion methods.
Rutgers also offers a hybrid program, where some of the lessons are taken online while others are campus-based. The campus-based classes are flexible, however, as they can be taken at any of Rutgers’ three campuses including Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick.
How to become a social worker in New Jersey
Every social worker who wants to start a career in New Jersey must complete a certain set of steps in order to become legally eligible to work in the state. The following information explains how to apply for and receive an LSW license, as this will be the first license that an MSW graduate applies for when they enter the workforce.
- Seek board approval to take the ASWB exam. To take the exam a candidate will need to pay a $75 fee as well as submit a transcript from their MSW program. It’s possible to apply for the exam during the final semester of an MSW program, however, many social workers wait until after graduation to apply.
- Complete the ASWB master’s exam and receive a passing grade. The test includes 170 multiple-choice questions but only 150 are scored. The testing fee is $230 and once the results come in they are sent to the New Jersey social work board.
- Apply for the LSW license. An applicant should fill out the LSW application and submit it to the New Jersey social work board as soon as they’ve received permission to take the ASWB, it is not necessary to wait until after the test has been taken.
- Pass a background check. Before a social worker can seek employment in New Jersey they must pass a criminal background check.
- An LSW license will be issued once the applicant has received a passing grade on the ASWB exam, passed their background check, and submitted their application for the LSW license. The license will be issued by the New Jersey social board.
- With the LSW license, a social worker is legally allowed to work in New Jersey and can begin applying for jobs.
A PhD is the highest level of education possible for a social worker in New Jersey. PhD holders often work in management positions or conduct research and perform statistical analysis, rather than handling a caseload. Students who are interested in learning more about earning a PhD in social work can visit our doctorate degree page. The doctorate degree page also includes a list of PhD social work programs in the United States.
Social work license requirements in New Jersey
To get the most up to date information about licensing in the state of New Jersey a social worker can check the state’s consumer affairs licensing website.
In New Jersey, there are three different types of certifications for social workers. All three social work licenses require the applicant to have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Certified Social Worker (CSW) — The only social work license in New Jersey that can be obtained with a bachelor’s degree. The CSW grants the license holder the authority to carry out policy research, administrative tasks, community organization, and client assessment. CSW license holders are not permitted to perform clinical social work.
- Licensed Social Worker (LSW) — A candidate must have an MSW in order to obtain an LSW license in New Jersey. LSW license holders may perform all of the same tasks as a Certified Social Worker, however, they may also engage in clinical social work provided that the work is done under supervision.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) — An LCSW requires the candidate to have a master’s or doctorate in social work. Licensed clinical social workers are the only type of social worker authorized to perform unsupervised clinical social work in New Jersey. Before this license can be acquired a social worker must complete a certain amount of supervised clinical social work.
License renewal in New Jersey
Social work licenses in New Jersey must be renewed every two years. In order to renew a license, a social worker must complete five hours of education in ethics and three hours of training in social and cultural issues.
Each license also has its own additional requirements for renewal. More information is available on New Jersey’s licensing website, linked to above. Social workers may also find some of these tips useful in making the license application process easier.
Social worker salary in New Jersey
Different types of social workers earn different salaries in New Jersey. According to the BLS, there are 10,260 social workers in New Jersey. The average reported salary for a social worker in New Jersey is $69,806 per year. However, the range of salaries extends from a low of $64,150 to a high of $83,050.
The following is a breakdown of social worker salaries in New Jersey.
- Child, family, and school social worker – There are 4,910 child, family, and school social workers making an average of $68,830 a year.
- Healthcare social worker – Roughly 3,200 social workers are employed in New Jersey’s healthcare system, making an average salary of $64,150.
- Mental health and substance abuse social worker – There are 1,670 mental health and substance abuse social workers in the state, making an average salary of $83,050.
- Social worker all other – There are 480 social workers that fall into the category of “all other,” which could include research social workers and private practice social workers. The reported average annual salary for this group is $71,420 a year.
Across the United States, the job outlook for social workers is excellent. The BLS predicts a level of job growth well above the national average.
As there are now 10,260 social work positions in New Jersey, an 11 percent growth rate would suggest that New Jersey will be adding approximately 1,100 social work positions by the year 2028.