How to Become a Social Worker in New Jersey

When researching how to become a social worker in New Jersey, it is important to consider several factors: the types of social work programs available, how to earn a social work license in New Jersey, possible earning potential and the nature of the job itself. Social workers offer advice and resources for people, children and families who need help to live healthy and productive lives. They help their clients navigate a wide range of challenges, including homelessness, mental and physical disability, unemployment and end-of-life decisions.

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New Jersey Social Worker Salary and Job Outlook

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2010, New Jersey child, family and school social workers earned an annual mean salary of $56,420; health care social workers averaged $55,000; mental health and substance abuse social workers averaged $57,230 and social workers in other areas earned an average of $51,760.1 Although a graduate with a bachelor’s degree can find work, many social workers continue their education and earn master and doctorate degrees.

Social Worker Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 7,350 $57,770
Healthcare Social Workers 2,970 $55,330
Mental Health and Substance Abuse 1,760 $59,230
Social Workers, All Other 620 $56,080

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

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Top Ranked Social Work Programs in New Jersey

US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey–New Brunswick; New Brunswick #26
Monmouth University; West Long Branch #60
Kean University; Union #172

Social Work Programs in New Jersey

Monmouth University has a Master of Social Work degree program centered in academic excellence and social work ethics. Two areas of focus are available to students, practice with families and children or international and community development. The empowerment approach to social work is an important emphasis in the coursework for this degree, and students learn how to use empowerment for the betterment of individuals and communities. Two semesters of field coursework totaling 500 field hours are a requirement for the degree; students receive placement assistance to match their aconcentration area. Advanced standing and regular enrollment programs are available for full- and part-time students.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey offers a Master of Social Work through the Rutgers School of Social Work, one of the largest social work schools in the US. The MSW program prepares students for direct practice and for the assumption of administrative supervisory roles with a concentration in either Clinical Social Work or Nonprofit and Public Management. All courses for the program are available on Rutgers’ three campuses. In addition to traditional full-time and part-time course schedules, the school offers Intensive Weekend programs of study. The Institute for Families is a valuable research and practice resource for students, who also have access to the school’s other well-recognized social work institutes, such as the Center for International Social Work and Center on Violence Against Women and Children.

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New Jersey Social Worker License Requirements

Three types of social work licenses are offered by the New Jersey State Board of Social Work Examiners: Certified Social Worker, Licensed Social Worker, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. All three licenses require background checks and fingerprinting.

To become a Certified Social Worker requires at least a bachelors degree in social work from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. A school under review to be accredited will meet the requirement. An applicant with a bachelors degree earned from an accredited school before April 1995 may have a degree in one of the following: psychology, sociology, guidance and counseling, vocational/disability rehabilitation, human services, marriage and family counseling or social work. A bachelors degree in social work is necessary if the pre-1995 degree is an unaccredited school. An affidavit must be submitted proving at least 1,600 hours of social work experience in 18 consecutive months.

To become a Licensed Social Worker requires a masters degree or higher in social work from a Council on Social Work Education accredited program (the school can be under review to be accredited). An Association of Social Work Board Exam at the masters level must be passed. A student in the last semester of getting a masters degree in the field of social work can apply to take the test.

To become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker requires a masters degree or higher from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (the school can be under review to be accredited). The candidate also needs a supervisor’s certified statement, or affidavit, that proves two years (1,920 hours) of face-to-face client-contacted social work experience has been acquired by the applicant in at least two years, but not more than three years. 12 hours must be in clinical social work practice including diagnosis, assessment, and psychotherapy. The applicant must gain the experience after the masters is earned while a Licensed Social Worker. The supervisor must be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. A clinical level Association of Social Work Board Exam must be passed as well.

An out-of-state licensed social worker may apply for licensure by endorsement if they hold a valid, current license and can prove equivalent education and experience. Licenses expire every two years on August 31st. Continuing Education must be completed to renew licenses; 40 hours of continuing education is required for a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, 30 hours for a Licensed Social Worker and 20 hours for a Certified Social Worker. Some extra hours earned may be carried over into the next two year license cycle. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker may carry over eight hours with two hours being in clinical work. A Licensed Social Worker may carrry over six hours. A Certified Social Worker may carry over four hours of continuing education.
(Sources: The State of New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety, State Board of Social Work Examiners)

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New Jersey Social Work Career and Job Resources

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers can work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practice, residential facilities, schools and colleges, social services agencies and state and local governments. The New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Social Workers maintains a classifieds section on its website, listing a wide range of social work jobs within New Jersey. Most colleges and universities offer job placement services. Also, most social service agencies post their job openings at their facilities, as well as schools. Students in many social work programs must complete internships, and agencies will often hire students who have excelled during their internships.

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Schools with Social Work Programs in New Jersey

Social Work Programs and Schools in New Jersey and Online

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Programs:

  • DSW - Social Work
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Programs:

  • Master of Social Work

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  • M.S. in Christian Counseling of Substance Abuse and Addictive Disorders
  • M.S. in Professional Counseling
  • Master of Public Administration with an Emphasis in Government and Policy

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  • Master of Science in Human Services

Programs:

  • Human Services (MS) (online)
  • Counseling Psychology(EdD) (Online)
  • Pastoral Community Counseling (EdD) (Online)

References
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/2010/may/oes_nj.htm

Sources:
U.S. News & World Report
National Center for Education Statistics

Page edited by Charles Sipe.

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