Should I Earn My Social Work Degree in the State in Which I Wish to Eventually Practice?

If you like the idea of working with others and helping them with their problems, you might look at earning a social work degree. Many students enrolled in these programs and those interested in enrolling want to know whether they should study in the same city or state where they hope to work. All states have different requirements regarding how you can get your license and find work, but you can study in one state and work in another. There may be some benefits to earning your degree in the same place you want to work though.


One thing you need to consider is whether you want to earn a BSW or an MSW. A BSW is a Bachelor of Social Work. An MSW is a Master of Social Work. If you want to complete an MSW, especially one in clinical social work, you might find that studying in the state where you want to work is right for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you will need to complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of fieldwork over the course of two years. This lets you gain a better familiarity of the social work departments in your area, the type of patients you might work with and even the legal system of that state.

See: 20 High-value BSW Degrees in Metro Areas with Top Salaries for Social Workers

Getting Your License

Many agencies and organizations require that you have a social work license before practicing in the field. In addition to a license, you may need a special type of certification before working with certain populations. Those working in rehabilitation and substance abuse centers might need a certificate in substance abuse treatment. You can apply for your license after graduating from an accredited degree program and passing a criminal background check. Even if you move to another state after graduating, you can still get your license as long as you meet the minimum licensing requirements in that state.

Getting References

One reason why many students find that earning a social work degree in the state or city where they want to work is helpful is because they can gain better references. When you complete an internship or a supervised program in your local community, you show those workers exactly what you can do. They can then serve as references for you when you apply for jobs later. Others in the state may know your references personally, which can help you get a better job later.

Finding a Job

Many students complete social work internships with the goal of landing a job due to the work they do. A local agency may agree to take you on as a full time worker once you graduate because you did such a great job during your internship. As you'll work with professionals in the field, you may also form connections and relationships with people who can tell you about high paying jobs and help you land those jobs. You'll also hear about upcoming jobs faster than if you lived in a different area.

Social workers assist individuals with making important medical decisions, recovering from abuse and with other needs. You generally need a BSW or an MSW before working in one of these fields. While it isn't mandatory that you live in the same city or state where you want to work, many find that earning a social work degree in the same area is helpful.

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