This guide presents a comprehensive overview of the social work profession in Ohio. The guide contains information about master of social work (MSW) programs in Ohio. It also contains information about social work licensing requirements in the state.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social Work in Ohio
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker jobs and salary
- School Listings
- Expert Advice
Social work in Ohio
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are currently 28,310 social workers employed in Ohio. That number is likely to grow in the coming years for one reason in particular: Ohio has been one of the states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.
In 2015, Ohio had the highest deadly opioid overdose rate in all of the United States. By 2018, state and local leaders had managed to address the problem to some degree such that Ohio fell to the fourth-highest overdose rate in America.
Nonetheless, opioid abuse in Ohio is a serious public health concern. Solving the problem will require more social workers than police officers. Incarcerating a drug addict does little to solve the problem, whereas a social worker can create rehabilitation strategies for a patient as well as connect them with resources in the community. More broadly, a social worker can provide the support a recovering addict needs to stay clean.
For social workers in Ohio who are looking for professional guidance, support, or networking opportunities there is the Ohio chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
MSW programs in Ohio
As mentioned in the introduction, most social work positions in Ohio require a master’s degree. As a result of that requirement, there are many Masters of Social Work (MSW) programs available in the state.
One of the most important considerations when judging an MSW program is that it has a Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation. A CSWE accreditation proves that an MSW program conforms to accepted standards within the social work field. While social work employers all across the United States prefer to hire graduates from a CSWE program, in Ohio, it’s mandatory to graduate from an CSWE approved institution in order to work in the state.
Currently, there are about a dozen MSW programs available in Ohio. One of the most popular is the MSW program at Ohio State University. An accelerated program (the ASAP program) is available to anyone who has a bachelor’s in social work while there is a standard duration learning path for students with a bachelor’s degree in another field.
Cleveland State University offers another popular MSW program. According to CSU’s website their program, “provides a rigorous intellectual base, an opportunity for effective skill development, and an educational perspective that views human diversity as desirable and enriching to society.”
Online MSW programs in Ohio
It’s important to point out that there are two different types of online MSW programs. A hybrid program includes both online lessons as well as campus-based instruction. There are also complete online programs where 100 percent of the teaching happens over the internet.
Ohio University’s college of health sciences and professions offers an online MSW program that can be completed in two years. The program is taught fully online and does not require a GRE or GMAT test for admittance.
There’s also the 100 percent online-based MSW program from Ohio State University. The program prepares students to work in a variety of fields such as substance abuse, child services, and mental health. Since students can view the classes at any time this program is convenient for anyone who would like to work part-time while they’re studying.
How to become a social worker in Ohio
The following steps are necessary in order to become a social worker in Ohio.
- Obtain either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. The degree must come from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited university.
- An applicant with a bachelor’s degree can apply for a SWA license. The SWA will allow the license holder to work under the supervision of another social worker.
- Those who graduate from a MSW program can obtain a LISW license. This is a higher level of licensure and will allow the license holder to perform unsupervised social work, including handling a caseload and running group sessions.
- Having both a degree and a license, a social worker can begin applying for jobs in Ohio.
Graduates with a PhD will find themselves eligible to work at the highest levels of the social work field. Typically this will involve managing other social workers, writing public policy, and doing detailed statistical analysis.
More information on studying for a PhD is available on our doctorate degree page, as well as a list of PhD social work programs that are available in the USA.
Social work license requirements in Ohio
To be employed as a social worker in Ohio you must have a license. While there are four different types of licenses we’ll only cover three in this guide, as these are the most common. For more information on social work license requirements in Ohio please see the Counselor and Social Worker Board’s website for Ohio.
- Registered Social Work Assistant – SWA license holders are only permitted to work under the supervision of another psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist. While being supervised they may perform any of the jobs that a normal social worker does.
- Licensed Social Worker – LSW license holders can practice under the supervision of another social worker. This license is available to anyone with a bachelor’s degree or higher in social work.
- Licensed Independent Social Worker – The LISW license requires the applicant to have completed an MSW program from a CSWE-accredited institution. LISW license holders can practice social work unsupervised.
Social worker salary in Ohio
Currently, there are 28,310 social workers employed in Ohio. These social workers are employed in a variety of positions.
The average salary for a social worker in Ohio is $50,006. This salary is very close to the national median salary in America, although one benefit of social work is that the benefits package tends to be comprehensive.
Thanks to BLS data we can break down social worker salaries in Ohio into four categories. Mental health and substance abuse social workers have the lowest average annual salary at $46,950 while healthcare social workers have the highest average salary at $55,760 per year.
- Child, family, and school social workers are the most numerous kind of social workers in Ohio. There are 11,560 child, family, and school social workers working with families to ensure that all of a child’s needs are being met and that they’re growing up in a healthy, safe environment. The average annual salary for this group is $47,260.
- Healthcare social workers number 7,230 in Ohio. These social workers engage with sick patients at the hospital or make house calls to provide any medical assistance that is needed. The average annual salary for healthcare social workers in Ohio is $55,760.
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers make up about 6,650 members of the workforce. Social workers in this field interact with addicts and their families to build comprehensive rehabilitation strategies to help the addict stay clean. The average annual salary for this group is $46,950.
- All other social workers is a catchall term for social workers that do not neatly fit into one of the other categories. The total employment for this group is 2,870 and may include social workers employed in the court system as forensic social workers or even in a corporate setting, typically in the human resources department. The average annual salary reported for this group is $53,560.
Social Work Programs in Ohio
1. What are the most important factors for students deciding on an MSW program in Ohio?
2. What are the challenges or opportunities for becoming a social worker in Ohio?
3. What types of jobs are MSW graduates finding in Ohio?
What are the most important factors for students deciding on an MSW program in Ohio?
Foremost, prospective MSW students need to confirm whether the program is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE accreditation indicates that the school successfully prepares MSW students to be effective micro, mezzo and macro practitioners by meeting core competencies in social work education. Secondly, given the number and options of MSW programs in the state of Ohio, prospective MSW students need to consider whether to attend class on campus or pursue an online degree. Students then need to give thought into the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing an MSW degree on campus or online. Along these same lines, and before applying to any MSW program in Ohio, students should consider the population they see themselves working with. Do you see yourself working with youth, adolescents, early adulthood, middle adulthood, or the elderly? Is your hope in the early stages of your career to work in a school setting, a child and family agency, hospital, or elderly care facility? Once given thought into such questions then look at the concentrations offered by the MSW program you are considering and how that fits into the direction you would like to take your career.
What are the challenges or opportunities for becoming a social worker in Ohio?
Graduating and current social workers in Ohio are faced with multiple challenges and opportunities in each region and geographic location of the state. Whether a current MSW student or practicing professional, social workers need to ensure the healthy development for all youth, close the health gap we witnessed with the COVID-19 pandemic, stop family violence, advance the long and productive lives of the elderly, eradicate social isolation and homelessness, create social responses that focus on social justice, harness technology for social good while making it available for all, advocate and promote smart incarceration policy, and reduce economic inequality. All of which are not only challenges in Ohio but also opportunities to establish and continue our professional footprint in critical areas.
What types of jobs are MSW graduates finding in Ohio?
The employment growth for graduates of MSW programs will likely be above average in the state of Ohio. Increased trends for social support services, government funding for health/social services, and an aging population speaks to the employment growth for graduates of MSW programs. Additionally, given the number of current social workers approaching retirement age as well as the number of retiring social workers, graduates of MSW programs in the state of Ohio will see potential benefits. Jobs such as mental health and/or clinical social worker, medical and/or healthcare, hospice care, substance abuse/addictions, prison/criminal justice social work, gerontological social work, family and child welfare, social justice advocacy, and school social work will be some of the most available in the state.
Do you have advice or guidance for MSW graduates pursuing a license in Ohio?
Ohio offers four main levels of licensure to social workers. Registered Social Work Assistant (SWA) Licensed Social Worker (LSW) Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) Licensed Independent Social Worker with Supervision Designation (LISW-S). Ultimately, it is advised that aspiring social workers research each level’s duties to better understand the type of licensure in which support services and practice is to take place. With that said, nothing can match the importance of planning and test preparation. As such, identify the Ohio state licensure requirements and application materials that must be completed before taking the exam, identify the exam you qualify for, and, most importantly, consider taking the exam and applying for licensure during the term you plan to graduate.