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FAQ For Students and Parents


Social Workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives.  We interface with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities to advocate for and make positive evidence-based change in systems that are not serving their constituents as effectively as possible. 

BSW prepared Social Workers typically work with groups, community organizations, and government agencies; however, they may also work with individuals providing counseling, locating resources, or providing advocacy and support in a variety of settings. 

MSW prepared Social Workers typically work as administrators, supervisors, and directors for social service and nonprofit agencies.  They are skilled in program evaluation, grant writing, and strategic planning as part of program management duties in addition to policy and advocacy work for large groups of clients or programs. Clinical Social Work is a potential specialty area. Doctoral prepared (Ph.D. & DSW) Social Workers generally research social issues and phenomena.  They frequently teach and prepare students to be professional Social Workers.

Social Workers work in a variety of settings including child welfare and human service agencies (state social services, private foster care agencies, etc.); health care settings (hospitals, clinics, etc.); mental health care settings (clinics, community mental health centers, private agencies, etc.); schools (pre-school through college); advocacy organizations (legal aid, legislative research commission, special interest groups, etc.) and government (local, state, federal).  Anywhere people are experiencing problems, you will find social workers!  

You can read more about what Social Workers do the National Association of Social Workers' Help starts herewebsite. 

Social Work as a profession is unique because it interfaces with many disciplines and, in fact, all disciplines at WKU. This occurs because in social work, the professional mission “… is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.” (NASW Code of Ethics, 2021, p. 1) Wherever humans exist, social workers are willing to interact with them in an effort to improve their well-being and meet basic needs.  That can be in the realm of art as social workers use art to bring joy or healing to others, in computer science as social workers work with coders to remove bias from artificial intelligence, or in a hospital where a social worker helps a family deal with a life-threatening diagnosis.  By bringing social justice into discussions and keeping human well-being as a focus, social workers are uniquely well suited for interprofessional collaboration and are truly distinctive among WKU’s programs. 

Social workers earn a median wage of around $51,760 as compared to the total for all occupations in the U.S. at $41,950 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).  In Kentucky, the mean wage is $60,510 due to a shortage of social workers (See Annual Mean Wage of Social Workers, all other, by state, May 2020). Pay will depend upon level of degree, licensure, and certifications completed. 

Social Workers are in high demand.  Because of social work’s unique focus and skill set, they thrive in a variety of settings adding value to any workplace.  You can find up to date statistics at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.Currently, Social Work jobs are expected to increase at a faster than average rate -- by 13-14% between 2019-2029 compared to 4% for all occupations.  Healthcare social workers (14%) and mental health & substance abuse social workers (17%) are experiencing particularly high growth.  You will get a job!

Many WKU graduates land their first post-graduation job during their field internship placement because of our unique approach to student placement. At WKU, we consider a student’s interests and professional goals and attempt to align and match those with a field placement site.

BSW prepared Social Workers practicing social work must be licensed at a LSW (Licensed Social Worker) level.

MSW prepared Social Workers practicing social work should become licensed at a CSW (Certified Social Worker) level. Current MSW students may apply with the Kentucky Board of Social Work to take the CSW exam starting six weeks prior to the last day of class.

MSW prepared Social Workers who want to practice clinical social work must become licensed at a CSW level and be under clinical supervision with a Board approved supervisor prior to practicing clinical social work. In Kentucky, the practice of clinical social work “…focuses on the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of an emotional disorder or mental illness as related to the total health of the individual…” (201 KAR 23:070), and requires an MSW, appropriate licensure, and supervision. After meeting the Kentucky Board of Social Work requirements, a CSW may earn the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) level of licensure and practice as an independent clinician.

More detailed licensure information and applications are available at the Kentucky Board of Social Work website.  Direct







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 Last Modified 7/14/22