Below, you’ll find everything you need to complete a New York social worker program or become a licensed social worker in New York. The guide emphasizes MSWs or master’s in social work programs since these degrees are necessary to achieve social work licensure and because of their general popularity. MSWs are needed if you want to practice social work clinically.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
Social work in New York
Master’s in social work (MSW) programs in New York
How to become a social worker in New York
Social work license requirements in New York
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in New York
Social work job outlook in New York
Social work in New York
New York is the third most populous state in the entire US and is comprised of both rural and many major urban communities. The most famous of these is New York City, a metropolis centered on Manhattan Island that’s home to 8.4 million people alone.
New York’s demographics are extremely diverse. Social workers can provide valuable assistance to the Empire State’s various populations, both in upstate New York and around and within New York City.
As a state of immigrants, New York’s social environment provides plenty of opportunities for social workers to practice their profession. Immigrants may need help assimilating into the culture or getting through language barriers. Immigrants may also need help tackling more specific problems, like finding a job or accessing the healthcare system.
Furthermore, New York City and other big metropolitan areas typically feature high concentrations of individuals with mental illnesses and emotional disturbances. The high number of families in New York means that social workers will be needed to help with marital or family difficulties. Furthermore, social workers can assist individuals struggling with alcohol or substance abuse issues.
Ultimately, New York is a place with great potential, but it’s very much in need of social workers’ assistance. Those who want to become social workers in the state will find plenty of opportunities for employment and meaningful work.
MSW programs in New York
Like every other state offering these programs, New York provides several master’s in social work (MSW) programs for aspiring social workers to pursue. Students can find MSW programs in both state and private universities, and in both on-campus and online formats.
All MSW programs incorporate coursework and clinical working hours. The latter is necessary to provide future social workers the hands-on experience they need to adequately care for the people under their charge. Many MSW programs that incorporate clinical working hours will also include enough hours such that graduates can take the licensure exam immediately after graduating.
The available focuses or specialties that a student can pursue will vary from school to school. Students will want to find an MSW program from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or CSWE. Such programs are oftentimes required for social work licensure and ensure that coursework that is up-to-date with current social work practices and concepts.
All CSWE-accredited MSW programs will include:
- Coursework that encompasses all general social work concepts and ideas. Programs may either include coursework for advanced students only (if the students in the program came from a bachelor’s program for social work) or include coursework from the undergraduate to the graduate level.
- MSW programs may include special classes or coursework if the university allows students to focus on a particular social work path, such as healthcare social work or substance abuse social work.
- MSW programs include practical or clinical work experience opportunities. In most cases, these powers will take place under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker and at a clinic attached to the university which provides the program. In the event that a student takes an online MSW program, the practical hours may be fulfilled at a local clinic, provided they have an LCSW on-hand to supervise.
- The majority of MSW programs also allow students to take several electives to focus even further on a particular social work field or to diversify their education.
After graduating from an accredited MSW program and after acquiring the requisite number of critical training hours, students may take one of two New York social work licensure tests and become a licensed social worker.
There are 27 total MSW programs can find in New York, six of which are online. Columbia University is a particularly good example, and it’s ranked fifth in the entire nation when compared to other universities that offer graduate-level social work programs. It offers a comprehensive social work education and easy access to clinical settings to complete your required hours for licensure.
Online MSW programs in New York
On-campus programs are often beneficial for students pursuing an MSW since clinical social work hours are easy to incorporate into an existing schedule. These clinical sessions may also be geographically easy to reach – they often take place in a clinic at the main university.
However, students can also find online MSW programs. To ensure that students still complete the necessary number of clinical hours, students will be required to visit local clinics or medical centers that they can reach from wherever they live. The hours will still be logged and count for the program and licensure test.
Many may opt for online programs because of their unique benefits. For instance:
- Online MSW programs often offer more flexible scheduling than their own campus counterparts. Flexible programs may be excellent choices for busy professionals or for students who need to juggle bustling home lives. Other online MSW programs may have rapid-pace scheduling and be suitable for particularly motivated students or those who already have some social worker credits under their belts.
- Online MSW programs from universities outside New York might be a good choice, especially if a student can get a better financial deal or if they recently moved to New York and wish to continue their education at their former university. Students just need to be sure that the university in question requires the same number of clinical practice hours as New York’s state licensure requirements.
Here are some excellent examples of top online New York MSW programs:
- The University of Buffalo also offers an excellent online MSW program. It offers an advanced standing MSW if you already have some social work experience and want to get your licensure ASAP. It doesn’t require a capstone or thesis, but it does require some on-campus courses, so it’s more of a blended program overall.
- Fordham University is another excellent online MSW source, posting more than 16,000 students across all its schools. Its MSW program emphasizes integrated practice and is broken down into two phases, one exploring theory and the other focusing on practical social work components. Courses can be delivered either synchronously or asynchronously depending on your scheduling needs.
How to become a social worker in New York
New York offers two social work license types, either of which may be pursued if you want to become a full social worker.
Licensed master social worker (LMSW)
The LMSW is an entry-level social work license in New York. It allows social workers to be employed at social work clinics and social work organizations. It’s often used as a stepping stone so that social workers can get the experience or practical hours necessary to obtain licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) status later. Here are the steps required:
- Complete a required “identification and reporting of child abuse” course, which can be obtained from several approved providers throughout New York State. You may be exempted from this requirement if you won’t be providing services for children or disabled adults who live in residential facilities.
- Next, complete your application for LMSW licensure. This involves submitting a $294 licensing fee, as well as asking your school to submit your degree’s documentation. You may practice under the supervision of another LMSW or LCSW with an extra application and another $70 licensing fee.
- Complete the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) master’s examination. It is a four-hour exam consisting of 170 multiple-choice questions and it costs $230.
- If you pass the exam, you’ll get your LMSW license.
Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)
The LCSW level is the most common social work license in New York because it is required if you want to open your own clinic or even practice in a clinical setting. You’ll need either an MSW or a doctorate of social work from a CSWE-accredited program. These are the steps after:
- Finish three years of postgraduate and supervised clinical experience. These must be full-time years and must total at least 2,000 hours providing service to clients directly. Of the 2,000 hours, 100 of them must be directly supervised by an LCSW.
- Submit your LCSW application, which has a cost of $294. You’ll also need to submit other required documentation and proof of your degree(s).
- Complete the ASWB master’s exam, which has a cost of $260 and consists of 170 questions over four hours.
- Receive your LCSW license if you passed the exam.
Social work license requirements in New York
Exact LCSW requirements vary from state to state. New York’s are handled by the New York State Education Department.
- be of good moral character
- at least 21 years of age
- have an education that includes an MSW with at least 12 semester hours of clinical coursework
- have at least three years of post-MSW supervised experience in psychotherapy, diagnosis and assessment-based treatment planning
- meet clinical examination requirements
- complete all course worker training required for the identification and reporting of child abuse, offered as a single course
You’ll also need to renew your New York social work license every three years. This involves completing 36 hours of continuing education courses, and no more than 12 of those hours per every license renewal period can be self-study – in other words, 24 hours must be taken in a classroom or group setting. You’ll also need to pay a renewal fee of $179.
Social worker salary in New York
Social workers as a whole can expect reasonable salaries, with a national average of around $50,470 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But what about New York specifically? Social workers tend to make slightly different salaries depending on their professional focus. The BLS breaks down social worker earnings and populations across the four categories below:
- Child, family, and school social workers are the most common type in New York, totaling about 29,880. They also make better money than the national social worker, earning an average of $50,380 every year, with an hourly wage of $29.03.
- Healthcare social workers are not far behind in terms of population, numbering about 15,720. They can expect an annual salary of $61,470 and an hourly wage of $29.55.
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers number about 11,540 and make an average annual salary of $63,520. Their hourly wage is $30.54.
- All other social workers are the least common in New York but make the most money on average. They number 4,910 and can expect an average annual salary of $67,580 with an hourly salary of $32.49.
Job outlook for social workers in New York
The good news for social workers overall is that the profession is expected to grow by 11 percent over the next eight years. This is significantly faster than the national average, and it should result in another 707,400 social worker jobs opening up across the entire country. As New York already employs a significant portion of social workers, many of these will be needed in the Empire State, and soon.
The BLS predicts that healthcare social workers and mental health and substance abuse social workers will grow by 17 and 18 percent, respectively.
It’s likely that social workers will continue to become more and more necessary as people live longer and as America becomes increasingly more urbanized. Social work’s importance, and its role in good mental health, will also likely come into increased focus and appreciation.