Why Get an MSW?

1. You’ll be proud of what you do. Go ahead, you’ve got bragging rights. Among all of the careers you might pursue, this one definitely comes with bragging rights. Becoming a social worker carries the message that you want to make a difference in the world, and want to dedicate yourself to helping others. It is a power and a privilege to change lives and support people through difficulties and tragic circumstances. And a career as a social worker is full of self-sacrifice. So go ahead, earn a master’s of social work (MSW), and make a real difference. While you’re at it, be proud.

2. You’ll have life-changing impacts on those you help. "I want to make a difference" has become a catchall phrase for those individuals who hope to have an impact on others. But most people do not dedicate their professional lives to this mission. Social workers are the real deal. Your MSW training will position you to go out in the world with a professional identity, bringing focus, discipline and skills to your desire to help.

3. Being an influencer and activist — and fighting for social justice — is cooler than ever. Social workers impact and change how we treat and recognize the suffering of marginalized and vulnerable populations. Now more than ever we live in a world where commitment to social justice is valued, and is essential to righting wrongs. A degree in social work lets you play a big part in this cultural movement. So yeah, this is the coolest degree.

4. Your career will be rewarding, meaningful, and professionally satisfying. Job dissatisfaction is a leading cause of unhappiness and stress. Many individuals change careers in order to enter helping professions such as social work, after years of unrewarding work in other fields. Doing work you love is engaging, and will likely lead to your greater happiness and success.

5. EQ, or being emotionally smart, is the new business degree. Many businesses are now looking for the skills that MSWs possess. Some graduate business schools are even offering a joint MBA/MSW. The emotional intelligence and understanding that social workers possess is considered essential to doing smart and ethical business. With this degree, you’ll be poised to enter new professional realms of work like social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and ethical and sustainable business ventures.

6. The Fast Track: with just two years of study required, the MSW is one of the fastest professional degrees available. Among the professions that require state licensure in order to work with and help people in practice (such as psychology), an MSW requires the shortest route by far. If you want to earn a master’s degree that will lead to this field of practice, but are worried about the time investment, an MSW is the degree to get.

7. Go BIG. Social Workers shape policy at the local, state, and national level. As an MSW you will be empowered to protect human dignity and rights through advocacy and change. How many of your peers can say they do that? If you have a desire to change the world, and to bring a voice to those who have been silenced, the MSW can help you make those BIG impacts.

8. You’ll always have a job. The demand for social workers will outpace the average employment rate of growth rate for all US occupations in the next decade. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) reports that the job outlook for social work employment is high; it’s expected to increase by 12 percent in the next ten years. By comparison the average rate of growth in any field is 6 percent.

9. You’ll have flexibility with your career options, and you will be able to fulfill many job duties. Because of their central mission, MSWs are trained in a broad set of problems and in many practice areas of the profession. This means MSWs can perform a variety of roles and different jobs. With this degree, you can switch to an entirely different position or job within your organization — or at another agency — with relative ease, and without the need for more formal training.

10. You won’t be stuck in a cubicle or at a desk. A social work career is invigorating and challenging. You won’t be bored. You will get to engage problem-solving skills and develop your creativity and resourcefulness, all for a noble cause.

There are many more reasons to pursue an MSW, particularly if you are someone who has always wanted to make the world a better and more positive place. While the degree can be challenging and requires serious commitment and dedication, it may be the exciting first step towards a long and fulfilling social work career.

Nedda
Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.