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Mental Health

Social Worker

Career data updated last on 9/22/2014
Social Worker Social workers help people prevent and deal with problems such as poverty, poor housing, illness, illiteracy, drug abuse, and child and spouse abuse. Social workers interview individuals, families and community groups to find out what their specific needs are, then apply their skills to improve the clients' situation. Some social workers help religious, civic, business and union organizations address social problems and help people find jobs or housing. Other social workers provide counseling to individuals, families or other groups needing guidance with problems.
Salary $24.15 hourly- $50,230 annually
Significant Points Employment is projected to grow much faster than average, with a master’s degree in social work or a related field becoming the standard for many positions. Competition for jobs is expected to be keen in cities but opportunities should be good in rural areas.
Specializations Although some social workers conduct research or are involved in planning or policy development, most prefer an area of practice in which they interact with clients. They may specialize in the following areas:
  • Substance abuse
  • Medical and public health
  • Mental health
  • Family and children's services
Work Environment Social workers are employed in private and public social agencies, schools, correction centers, corporations, courts of law and private practice. Health care and mental health social workers work in hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, hospices, mental health clinics, substance abuse centers and employee assistance programs. Full-time social workers usually work a standard 40-hour week; however, some occasionally work evenings and weekends to meet with clients, attend community meetings, and handle emergencies. Some, particularly in voluntary nonprofit agencies, work part time. Social workers usually spend most of their time in an office or residential facility, but also may travel locally to visit clients, meet with service providers, or attend meetings. Some may use one of several offices within a local area in which to meet with clients.
High School Prep General college preparation is recommended: three courses in math including algebra I, algebra II and geometry, or a higher level math course for which algebra II is a prerequisite; three science courses including one biological science, one physical science and one lab course; four English units and two social studies units, including one in U.S. History; and two years of a second language.
Academic Requirements

The baccalaureate degree in social work (BSW) is the entry degree for the field-- preparing graduates for direct service positions such as caseworkers. A masters degree (MSW) is necessary for more advanced positions, allowing graduates to work in their chosen field of concentration and continue to develop the skills required to perform clinical assessments. In Colorado, all individuals with a bachelor's, master's or doctorate in social work from a Council On Social Work Education(CSWE)- accredited school of social work can call themselves a "social worker."

To become licensed in Colorado, an applicant must hold a master's degree in social work from a school accredited by the CSWE, submit recommendations, have supervised experience and pass the Advanced Generalist or Clinical level ASWB examination to be titled as a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Additionally, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers voluntary credentials. Social workers with an MSW may be eligible for the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW), the Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW), or the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) credential based on their professional experience. Credentials are particularly important for those in private practice; some health insurance providers require social workers to have them in order to be reimbursed for services.

Schools/Organizations

Colorado State University
Bachelor Degree Bachelor's
Doctoral Degree Doctoral
Masters Degree Master's    On-line program available On-line program available
Colorado State University-Pueblo
Bachelor Degree Bachelor's
Iliff School of Theology
Masters Degree Master's
Metropolitan State College
Bachelor Degree Bachelor's    On-line program available On-line program available
University of Denver
Doctoral Degree Doctoral
Masters Degree Master's

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