How to Become a Social Worker in Michigan

Social work is a rewarding and challenging career. Individuals who would like to pursue social work must complete the required education and seek state licensing in order to work in the state of Michigan, and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to become a social worker; however, some jobs require a master’s or a doctoral degree.

Michigan Social Worker Salary and Job Outlook

There are approximately 24,770 individuals working in the social services field in Michigan, earning a mean annual wage of $51,358.1 Social workers are employed by hospitals, local, state and federal government agencies, and private social advocacy agencies. Average wages are higher for individuals working in hospitals and at the federal level, averaging approximately $63,000-69,000 yearly. According to the Michigan state job portal, social work has an average of 800 positions available yearly.3

Social Worker TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers13,800$46,750
Healthcare Social Workers6,160$53,940
Mental Health and Substance Abuse3,970$47,240
Social Workers, All Other940$57,500

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

Top Ranked Social Work Programs in Michigan

US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor; Ann Arbor #1
Michigan State University; East Lansing #26
Wayne State University; Detroit #37
Western Michigan University; Kalamazoo #66
Eastern Michigan University; Ypsilanti #89
Grand Valley State University; Grand Rapids #104
Andrews University; Berrien Springs #148

Social Worker Programs in Michigan

Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University’s Master of Social Work provides students with a well-rounded education in all levels of social work practice within the context of Advanced Generalist theory and practice. Students may elect to pursue the degree through full-time or part-time study. Those admitted to the Advanced Standing program may be able to complete the degree in fewer credit hours. A heavy focus is given to field education, as twelve credit hours of field work across three semesters are required for graduation. Multiple international service learning programs are offered to students through the School of Social Work.

University of Michigan

University of Michigan offers a Master of Social Work that uniquely allows students to individualize their degree. Each MSW candidate chooses a practice method concentration as well as a practice area in order to establish which courses will be necessary for graduation. Numerous opportunities for specialization within the student’s field of interest provide further options for individualization of the MSW. Students may pursue the degree on 12-month, 16-month, or 20-month schedules. The Curtis Center, an agency for social change, is a major resource for students on campus. The active faculty of the School of Social Work frequently undertake research and publication projects, and have developed multiple learning communities for MSW and doctoral students alike.

Michigan Social Worker License Requirements

The social worker licenses available in Michigan include the Limited Social Service Technician, Social Service Technician, Limited License Bachelor Social Worker, Licensed Bachelor Social Worker, Limited License Master Social Worker, and Licensed Master Social Worker.

Social Service Technician

A Social Service Technician must have 2,000 hours of work experience under a Licensed Bachelor or Master Social Worker and attend two years of college. No state board exam or licensing is necessary to be a Social Service Technician.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker

The Licensed Bachelor Social Worker must have 4,000 hours in two years of supervised work experience, including 100 hours by a Licensed Master Social Worker. They also must pass the bachelor level Association of Social Work Board Exam.

Limited License Master Social Worker

To become a Limited License Master Social Worker requires a master’s degree or higher in social work from an accredited program by the Council on Social Work Education. Applicants must pass an Association of Social Work Board Exam and be supervised by a Licensed Master Social Worker from their area of practice. The license is limited to 6 years.

Licensed Master Social Worker

To become a Licensed Master Social Worker requires a master’s or higher degree in social work from an accredited program by the Council on Social Work Education. The applicant must obtain 4,000 hours of supervised experience under a Licensed Master Social Worker over a two-year period of time. There are two disciplines: macro and clinical. Macro is for those who want to direct a community group, facility or large organization. Clinical is for those wanting to be more involved in one-on-one diagnosis and psychotherapy. Both disciplines must pass an Association of Social Work Board Exam.

All licenses for social workers in Michigan expire in three years, except the first initial license which has a shorter expiration (four months to a year). All licensed social workers must have 45 hours of continuing education every three years to renew a license. Five hours must be in ethics and one hour in pain management.
(Source: Michigan.gov)

Michigan Social Work Career and Job Resources

Graduates with a social work degree can work in many settings. Most are employed by government agencies at various levels – local, state, or federal. However, private social service agencies such as churches and social and medical advocacy agencies also employ social workers. Hospitals, mental health, and addiction treatment centers may also hire social workers. The Michigan chapter of the National Association of Social Workers has employment listings on its website, and so does the Michigan Jobs and Career Portal.

Schools with Social Work Programs in Michigan

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Michigan: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mi.htm#21-0000
2. National Association of Social Workers Michigan Chapter: http://www.nasw-michigan.org/
3. Michigan Jobs and Career Portal: http://www.michigan.gov/careers
4. Northwestern Michigan Collegehttps://www.nmc.edu/programs/academic-programs/social-work/index.html