The following guide is a complete overview of the social work industry in Rhode Island. Included in the guide are employment statistics, salary figures, and details about MSW program currently available in Rhode Island.
There is a special focus on MSW programs as a master’s degree will provide a social worker with the most job opportunities as well as a higher salary, versus a bachelor’s degree. In addition, only master’s and doctorate degree holders are permitted to practice clinical social work in Rhode Island.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social Work in Rhode Island
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker jobs and salary
- Job outlook
- School Listings
Social work in Rhode Island
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 2,700 social workers in Rhode Island. In the coming years the demand for social workers is likely to increase, especially in the healthcare sector as Rhode Islanders continue to age.
A recent Census Bureau survey found that 16.4 percent of all Rhode Islanders are over the age of 65. While this number isn’t terribly high, it’s only going to rise in the coming years. Demographic projections indicate that by 2035 there will be more people in the United States over the age of 65 than there are children.
The healthcare demands of this aging population will be high and part of that demand is going to need to be met by healthcare social workers. Healthcare social workers can work in hospitals, nursing homes or make home visits to their clients. For those who want to work at the intersection of medicine and social work, now is a great time to get a MSW.
MSW programs in Rhode Island
Most students should only consider studying at a CSWE-accredited university. A CSWE accreditation guarantees that a program is teaching the most advanced social work practices. Furthermore, only those who’ve graduated from a CSWE-accredited university can become licensed social workers in Rhode Island.
Currently, there is just one campus-based MSW program available in Rhode Island and it’s offered by Rhode Island College. According to the university’s website the CSWE-accredited program, “prepares students for social work practice in diverse communities throughout Rhode Island and southern New England, with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.”
Students have several choices in how they complete their degree. The full time program requires 62 credit hours of study and is typically finished in two years. There is also a part time program which is quite flexible and designed to meet the needs of students who are working while they study. Students are expected to complete the part time program within six years, although most students finish their degree within three to four years.
Students who already have a bachelor’s degree in social work can take the advanced standing program. This program requires just 33 credit hours of study and can be completed in one to two years. Financial aid information for all programs is available here.
Online MSW programs in Rhode Island
There is not currently an online MSW only program being offered by any Rhode Island university. However, there are many different online programs available from universities in neighboring states. For example, Boston University has a popular online MSW program that can be taken part time.
The regular standing program consists of 65 credit hours of study and is usually completed in three years. There is also an advanced standing program which requires 43 credit hours of study and can be finished in two years. Answers to some of the most common questions that students have are available on Boston University’s website.
For more information about the Boston University MSW program, as well as other MSW programs in the United States, please visit our online MSW degree page.
How to become a social worker in Rhode Island
Rhode Island permits anyone to engage in non-clinical social work, there is no licensing requirement. Realistically, however, most employers will only consider hiring candidates who have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work.
Anyone who wishes to practice clinical social work must have a MSW or PhD.. The following steps lay out the path to becoming a licensed, clinical social worker in Rhode Island.
- Apply for the LCSW license via the Board of Social Work Examiners’ website. There is a $70 application fee. Two reference letters are also required
- Take and pass the ASWB master’s level exam. The exam consists of 170 questions although only 150 of these questions are graded. There is a $230 fee to take the exam
- Once a social worker has submitted all of the correct documents and passed the ASWB exam, the board will issue them the LCSW. At this point a social worker may engage in supervised, clinical social work while they gather the necessary experience to apply for a LICSW license
- After gaining 3,000 hours of supervised experience a social worker may submit their LICSW license application to the board
- The social worker must take and pass the ASWB clinical exam. The fee for the exam is $260
- Once the exam has been passed the board will issue the social worker their LICSW license. With the LICSW a social worker is allowed to practice unsupervised, clinical social work in Rhode Island
Most students who pursue a graduate’s degree in social work end up getting a master’s degree. A master’s degree will provide a social worker with lots of employment opportunities as well as a chance to acquire advanced social work licensure in Rhode Island.
For social workers who want to manage large community centers, work in the highest levels of government or perform complex statistical analysis, a PhD may be necessary. More information about a PhD in social work, as well as a list of PhD programs currently being offered in the United States, is available on our social work doctorate degree page.
Social work license requirements in Rhode Island
In the following two sections we will provide an overview of the social work licenses available in Rhode Island. For more information about social work licensing in Rhode Island please visit the Department of Health’s website.
Rhode Island is quite lenient in terms of who can practice social work. Anyone can engage in non-clinical social work, a license is not required. The following two licenses are only necessary for those who want to practice clinical social work.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
In order to qualify for a LCSW an individual must have a MSW degree from a CSWE accredited university. Once a social worker has received their LCSW license they’re permitted to practice clinical social work under supervision. The LCSW allows a social worker to get the experience they need so that they can apply for a LICSW license.
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
In order to qualify for a LICSW license a social worker must already have a LCSW license as well as two years of supervised, clinical social work experience. With a LICSW license a social worker is allowed to practice unsupervised, clinical social work. The LICSW is the most advanced license that a social worker can acquire in Rhode Island.
Social workers in Rhode Island must renew their license once every two years. There is a $70 fee for license renewal. Furthermore, before a social worker can renew their license they must complete 30 hours of continuing education.
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in Rhode Island
The BLS conducts employment surveys every year in Rhode Island and these have revealed that there are currently 2,700 social workers employed in the state. The average salary for a social worker in Rhode Island is $55,424 per year.
All other social workers are the highest paid in Rhode Island with an average yearly salary of $74,520. Healthcare social workers are the lowest paid with an average annual salary of $59,090. Full employment and salary statistics are available below.
Child, family, and school social workers: There are currently 1,660 child, family, and school social workers in Rhode Island and they earn an average salary of $63,310 per year.
Healthcare social workers in Rhode Island number 590 and they earn an average salary of $59,090 per year.
All other social workers: There are currently 130 social workers employed in various other fields, including in private practices. These social workers earn an average salary of $74,520 per year.
Social work outlook in Rhode Island
There has never been a better time to go into social work than now. According to the BLS, “Overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.”
These employment projections suggest that even social workers who are just now beginning their education should expect to find plenty of career opportunities upon graduation. If the projections hold true, Rhode Island should be adding about 300 new social work positions by the end of the decade.