Whether you are a New Yorker born and bred or would like to study and begin your career in the country’s largest city, there are abundant opportunities for social workers in New York City.In this guide
- Campus-based programs
- Online programs
- Fieldwork and internships
- Licensing and certification
- Jobs and employers
There are numerous prominent social welfare agencies in NYC, some of which were founded in the 19th century. Examples of well known and respected agencies include the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) and JCCA. These agencies provide a range of services including family services, home-based services, foster care and adoption, mental health services, and job training and programs.
New York City is home to nine accredited BSW programs and thirteen accredited MSW programs. All BSW programs are in person while five NYC based MSW programs offer an online option. There is an incredible diversity of social work field work and training opportunities for BSW and MSW students residing in the city. Students and recent graduates may choose to work in a number of areas including child welfare, mental health, policy advocacy, research, education, gerontology, healthcare, among other social work subfields.
The median household income in New York City was $67,046 in (Census Bureau, 2020) while 17.3% of New Yorkers in 2020 lived beneath the poverty line. Therefore, there are numerous opportunities for students and graduates to work with low-income families struggling to balance the demands of work and family. New York City has enacted several innovative anti-poverty programs, including a basic minimum income pilot program, creating a unique laboratory for students to engage in different approaches to assisting low-income individuals and families. Students or grads may provide employment counseling or connect clients to needed benefits and daycare services, provide job training, work on advocacy projects, or evaluate anti-poverty programs.
The national average annual salary for social workers was $63,000 in 2021, but average is $ 72,850 for social workers based in the NYC metro area. Salaries in most occupations are generally higher in the “tri-state” New York City area due to the high cost of living and the high skill level of workers. Housing is quite expensive in the five boroughs of the city and its suburbs, but there are some communities that have rent controlled apartments or reasonably priced single family homes. Though hit hard by the pandemic, NYC’s economy is expected to rebound.
Campus-based social work programs in New York City
Campus based MSW programs in New York City are located at Adelphi University, College of Staten Island, Columbia University, Fordham University, Lehman College, LIU- Brooklyn, New York University, Nyack College, SUNY Stonybrook, Touro University, Yeshiva University, and York College. Programs at private universities have higher tuition than those at public universities. For example, one private program costs $995 per credit, while one public program costs $620 per credit. Each program’s website has information about tuition and fees.
There are several schools that offer advanced standing to students with a BSW degree, allowing them to complete their MSW degree more quickly. MSW programs that offer an advanced standing track are located at Adelphi University, College of Staten Island, Columbia University, Fordham University, Hunter College, Lehman College, LIU, NYU, Nyack College, SUNY Stonybrook, and Yeshiva University.
Many of the NYC based MSW schools also offer dual degree programs. Columbia University offers the most social work dual degree options including in public health, urban planning, and divinity. Fordham University offers social work dual degree programs in law and public health, while Hunter College offers a dual degree program in social work and education. Public health and law dual degree social work programs are generally most common and popular. You may search the CSWE database of accredited MSW programs to locate a dual degree program of interest.
Online social work programs in New York City
The following NYC based universities offer an online MSW program option: Adelphi University, Columbia University, Fordham University, Touro University, and Yeshiva University. Of course, students attending online programs do not have to relocate to NYC but there is the benefit of attending a program that has many city based professors with their attendant knowledge and experience living and working in a social service rich setting like NYC. Online students may complete their fieldwork wherever they live.
The cost per credit for online programs is typically the same as in-person programs, but there are obvious cost savings advantages to earning an MSW online. Students do not have to live in NYC where rents often are high and apartments are small. Some schools offer graduate housing but this is at an additional cost. Furthermore, online students are not spending money commuting back and forth to campus, but they will have to travel to their field work placement.
MSW programs at Adelphi, Columbia, Fordham, and Yeshiva offer an online advanced standing track. Several online programs also offer dual degree programs. Columbia University offers the largest variety of online dual degree programs including in social work and business administration, public policy, and urban planning. Fordham University offers an online dual degree in social work and public health, and Yeshiva University offers online dual degree programs in social work and divinity as well as law. Students interested in online dual degree programs should check with the online MSW program director to confirm availability of a program and find out how to apply.
Fieldwork/internships for social workers in New York City
Fieldwork and internships are integral to getting a quality social work education. There are a multitude of government agencies, private social service agencies, hospitals, schools, research centers, and other types of settings where social work students can complete their required fieldwork in NYC. There may be opportunities for summer internships or employment opportunities in many of these organizations and agencies as well.
New York City has its own child welfare system called New York City Administration for Children’s Services which offers ample opportunities for students and graduates to work in child protection, data analysis and quality assurance, foster care and adoptions, and advocacy. It also has numerous well known private foster care and adoption and family services agencies including Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children,The New York Foundling, and Graham Windham.
The city also has a unique array of community centers and settlement houses, some of which have been in operation since the advent of the settlement house movement over a century ago. Historic settlement houses, now multi-service centers, located in NYC include University Settlement, Henry Street Settlement, and Queens Community House. These centers provide a wide array of services that cater to the needs of New Yorkers from birth to old age. Opportunities for students and graduates with these organizations include working in senior services, case management, mental health counseling, daycare and after school programs, community theater and recreation, fitness, nutrition programs, and much more.
New York City has the largest public school system in the country with opportunities for social work students and graduates to train in school social work, policy analysis, teaching, and guidance counseling. New York City has a universal pre-k program and Head Start programs are located throughout the city offering opportunities for students and graduates to work in early childhood education, child mental health, and family services.
Licensing and certification requirements for NYC-based social workers
Depending on the subfield students want to work in they may have to be licensed or certified. For example, to be a school social worker in New York State you must first be provisionally certified.This requires having a BSW and being in the process of earning an MSW. For permanent certification applicants must have two years of experience in a school setting, an MSW, and licensure at the LMSW or LCSW level. The New York State School Social Workers’ Association provides detailed information about the process of becoming a New York State certified school social worker.
There are no statewide licensing or certification requirements to be a child welfare social worker in New York, but new employees will be required to complete in-service training at the beginning of employment with NYC Children’s Services.
For more information on New York’s licensing info, check out the full social work in New York page. The New York State Education Department also provides detailed information about the licensure process in New York for those seeking an LMSW or LCSW.
Several New York City-based social work programs offer social work certificate programs including in addiction, child welfare, school social work, gerontology, trauma, and military social work. Earning a certificate will also increase earning and promotion potential. The Council on Social Work Education provides a searchable directory of social work programs that can be used to identify programs located in New York City that offer certificate programs.
Social work job descriptions and employers in NYC
Just as there are numerous fieldwork and internship opportunities in NYC, there are also endless professional opportunities for social work graduates. Many positions require licensure at the LCSW or LMSW levels, but many non-clinical jobs in advocacy, government, legal organizations, or research settings do not. Graduates should carefully review certification and licensure requirements for fields of interest so they can earn the hours of experience needed to become certified or licensed.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationwide, the New York City metro area employs the second largest number of child, family, and school social workers. The average salary for these jobs in NYC is $ 73,840. The NYC metro area is the number one employer of healthcare social workers who make on average $65,890. Both subfields are expected to grow nationally by over 13% through 2030.
Although BLS provides data on mean and median salaries in metro areas the following factors can impact salaries: subfield, level of licensure, certifications, certificates, and experience. Based on job postings on Indeed.com social workers in managerial and leadership jobs in advocacy organizations, social service agencies, nonprofits, and government can pay $100,000 or more if the applicant has the specified number of years of prior experience in the field. A school social worker can make between $65,000 and $85,000 a year. Per hour clinical jobs can pay anywhere from $30/hr to $50+/hr. Private practice therapists can make $100 or more per hour.
All of the major job boards include NYC based social work job postings and NASW-NYC’s employment page posts social work jobs located in NYC. The following is a sample of social work job titles advertised on Indeed in 2022:
- Social worker – Veterans Administration
- Addictions Program Specialist
- Director of Social Services
- Psychotherapist/LMSW – private practice
- Social Worker – Northwell Health
- Director of Women’s Shelter
- Social Worker- Immigration Unit (Legal Services)