How to Become a Social Worker in Colorado

When researching how to become a social worker in Colorado, it is important to consider some important factors: education and licensure requirements, potential income and the nature of the job itself. Those who enter the profession are passionate about working with people and help some of the most vulnerable in society, including children, drug users, the elderly, and those with mental health issues. It is a rewarding career for those who want to make a difference and help their clients live happy, productive lives.

Colorado Social Worker Salary and Job Outlook

A social worker in the state of Colorado can expect to earn an average salary of at least $40,000, but some earn up to an average of $55,000.1 According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean salary for a social worker in Colorado is $48,770.1 Mental health and substance abuse social workers are at the lower end of the pay scale, making about $42,000 a year; child, family, and school social workers earn an annual mean salary of $47,960.1 Demand for social workers is expected to grow over the next decade, mostly due to aging baby boomers who will need increased care.

Social Worker TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers6,290$47,960
Healthcare Social Workers2,020$54,660
Mental Health and Substance Abuse1,700$41,850
Social Workers, All Other1,240$50,610

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2015.

Top Ranked Social Work Programs in Colorado

US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs
University of Denver; Denver #26
Colorado State University; Fort Collins #60

Social Work Programs in Colorado

Colorado State University

Colorado State University offers a Master of Social Work degree through the College of Applied Human Sciences, School of Social Work. The MSW program at Colorado State began as a rurally focused course of study and has since expanded to prepare students to address the needs of all at-risk populations. This MSW degree is an Advanced Generalist degree, meaning that students are exposed to a diverse range of social work theories and ideas and equipped for both direct and indirect intervention at the professional level. Nearly one-third of the credit required to complete this two-year degree is earned through field placement. The MSW can also be earned in three years through a part-time Distance MSW Program.

University of Denver

University of Denver’s Master of Social Work program is highly attractive to students for its inherently tailored approach to social work education. This MSW allows students to choose concentrations and specialties from numerous tracks of study, and further customize their education through a wide array of social work electives. The University of Denver MSW program also permits students to complete clinical field placement requirements through one of 600 agencies working with the university. Like many other MSW programs, this degree can be completed in two years with an optional Advanced Standing track; unlike many other programs, this MSW also offers several part-time, evening, and weekend course options within the MSW course of study.

Colorado Social Worker License Requirements

There are two levels of licensure in Colorado: the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Both require a master’s level degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) approved program. There is currently no licensure for bachelor degree-level social workers. The LSW has to pass an Association of Social Work Boards Exam and obtain the required masters degree in social work. An LCSW must pass an Association of Social Work Boards Exam and complete two years (3,360 hours) of work experience with 96 hours of direct supervision from an LCSW or licensed psychotherapist; 48 of those hours must be direct, face-to-face contact. Both the LSW and LCSW have to also pass a Jurisprudence Exam. An applicant can retest every 90 days if they fail an exam. In addition, 40 hours of continuing education must be completed to renew a license every two years.
(Source: State Board of Social Work Examiners)

Colorado Social Work Career and Job Resources

In the state of Colorado, there is a wide range of both public and private sector employers that offer opportunities in the social work profession. The Department of Veterans Affairs offers licensed social workers (LSWs) the chance to work specifically with veterans. When it comes to working with seniors, private companies such as Brookdale Senior Living offer medical social work opportunities, as do Exempla Healthcare. Both the Educational Services of America and Denver Public Schools board employ social workers to work with children, and Amedisys provides opportunities for those who want to work with families.

Schools with Social Work Programs in Colorado

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_co.htm#21-0000
2. Colorado State University: http://www.ssw.chhs.colostate.edu/
3. University of Denver: http://www.du.edu/socialwork/