How to Become a Social Worker in Missouri

When learning how to become a social worker in Missouri, it is important to consider several points: which schools offer social work programs, how to earn a social work license in Missouri, potential earning power and the nature of the job itself. Social work is a rewarding profession that is well-suited for those who care about others. A social worker in Missouri needs to have at least a bachelor’s degree to start working as a professional in the field, however, obtaining a master’s degree or higher can help boost earning potential and increase advancement opportunities.

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Missouri Social Worker Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean salary for a social worker in Missouri can range from $33,530 to $41,510. Healthcare social workers are paid the most and those who work in mental health and substance abuse are at the lower end of the pay scale.1 The need for social workers is expected to increase through 2018.2 The BLS estimates there are about 16,640 social workers employed in Missouri.

Social Worker Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 7,140 $34,740
Healthcare Social Workers 4,580 $41,770
Mental Health and Substance Abuse 3,520 $32,050
Social Workers, All Other 600 $46,530

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2011.

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Top Ranked Social Work Programs in Missouri

US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs
Washington University in St. Louis; St. Louis #1
St. Louis University; St. Louis #52
University of Missouri; Columbia #66
University of Missouri–St. Louis; St. Louis #89
University of Missouri–Kansas City; Kansas City #148
Missouri State University; Springfield #172

Social Worker Programs in Missouri

St. Louis University
St. Louis University offers a Master of Social Work degree program that can be highly tailored to the student’s career interests. Four major concentrations are available to accepted students, as well as six specializations. With the help of a dedicated advisor, students can choose an appropriate course of study. Regular and advanced standing students attending full-time can complete this MSW in two years; the timeline for completion is typically four years under part-time study. However, to assist working students and students who wish to accelerate completion, additional credit hours can be taken in a variety of formats. In addition to traditional field practicum the school offers, and encourages students to take advantage of, international field education opportunities.

University of Missouri
University of Missouri awards a Master of Social Work with the option of one of two concentrations, Clinical Practice or Policy, Planning, and Administration. Both programs reflect the school’s emphasis and leadership in rural social work. Regular and advanced standing programs are offered in full- and part-time formats, including evening and weekend courses. Off-campus satellite options that incorporate online learning are an option for distance learners. Certificates in Military Social Work and Gerontological Social Work may supplement the MSW. On-campus resources related to social work available to students include the Cambio Center, Gaines Oldham Black Culture Center, Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Center, and Phi Alpha Honor Society, as well as traineeships, fellowships, and assistantships.

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Missouri Social Worker License Requirements

Social workers in Missouri can apply for two types of licenses: the Licensed Bachelor Social Worker or the Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

To become a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker requires a bachelors degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. A supervision plan must be submitted before experience requirements can be accumulated. This plan must be sent to the Missouri Committee for Social Workers. No experience is needed before licensure to become a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker. The applicant can qualify for an Independent Practice certificate with 3,000 hours and at least two years of supervised experience. Once the plan of supervision is submitted, the applicant can take the basic or intermediate level Association of Social Work Board Exam. After sending in the forms and test scores, the candidate is notified of license status.

To become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker requires a masters degree or higher in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. After submitting a plan for supervision, the applicant must acquire 3,000 hours in no less than two years of supervised clinical experience. The clinical level test, which is given by the Association of Social Work Board, must be passed. Once the forms and test scores are submitted, the applicant will receive notification from the Missouri Committee for Social Workers.

Continuing education courses must be taken to be eligible for relicensure. Every renewal cycle, 30 clock hours must be passed with three of those hours being in ethics. Licenses must be renewed every 24 months. If a license is late, it can still be updated up to two years by submitting an application and extra fees. Out-of-state social workers can get a reciprocal license and avoid the exam if there is documented proof of having taken equivalent education, experience and exams.
(Source: Missouri Division of Professional Registration)

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Missouri Social Work Career and Job Resources

Social workers can work in all types of facilities including public agencies, schools, medical facilities, foster care facilities, juvenile detention homes, private practices and courts. These jobs can be found a number of ways, including visiting local employment agencies and by looking through the jobs area on the Missouri Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers’ website and the Missouri Department of Social Services website.

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Schools with Social Work Programs in Missouri

Social Work Programs and Schools in Missouri and Online

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References
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/2010/may/oes_mo.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Community-and-Social-Service/Social-workers.htm

Sources:
National Association of Social Workers – Missouri
Missouri Department of Social Services
University of Missouri
Southeast Missouri State University

Page edited by Charles Sipe.

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