2022 Guide: Online and In-Person Social Work

Continue your education by exploring social work certificate programs, both online and in-person. Discover how you may be able to apply for new positions, expand your understanding, and enjoy in-depth learning opportunities with a certificate program. Compare this program with others related to your career track with the help of this Campus Explorer guide.

What Are Social Work Certificate Programs Online and In-Person?

A certificate program is designed to offer students additional opportunities in the field. To be eligible to apply for a social work certificate program, you typically need to have a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in social work. You may also be able to enroll if you’re a current student of one of these courses.

Once enrolled, prepare to dive into specialized courses that prepare you for a particular aspect of social work. Build on the broad base of your bachelor’s or master’s degree with one or more of these specializations:

  • Case management
  • School social work
  • Human services
  • Social advocacy and justice
  • Gerontology
  • Criminal sentencing and sentencing advocacy

The length of study varies depending on your chosen certificate, your current degree, and your state. Some programs take as little as nine credits, while others require 30 credits. Online programs typically offer self-paced alternatives, while in-person courses require you to sign up for classes offered at specific times.

A certificate may be part of the minimum requirements for you to apply for a particular job, but many other positions simply recommend a certificate. Earning a certificate alone may not prepare you to practice social work in your chosen setting, so review the licensing and degree requirements of your state and prospective employee.

Consider a certificate in social work if you wish to assist communities in specific settings. With a certificate and the appropriate degree and license, you may be qualified to work with community members dealing with these and other issues:

  • Mental health issues
  • Unemployment
  • Substance abuse
  • Familial issues
  • Inadequate housing
  • End of life care

Social workers advocate, care for, and empower individuals and community groups to promote change and social development. A certificate program can be a great mid-career choice if you already hold a Master of Social Work degree and work in the field, but it can also help you learn more about your specialized area of service before your first position in the field.

How Much Does a Social Work Certificate Cost?

The cost of a social work certificate can vary considerably, but most courses cost between $10,000 and $20,000. Typically, online programs cost less than in-person certificate programs. Explore scholarship and grant opportunities to see how you can receive a more affordable certificate program. The type of certification you take may also affect the number of credits and total cost of your program.

Average Salary for a Social Work Certificate Holders

The 2020 median pay for social workers was around $51,800, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS. A social work certificate doesn’t qualify you for a career as a social worker, but you must have a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field.

A master’s degree can help you improve your salary expectations. A master’s degree in social work is required for clinical positions, according to BLS. You also must have the appropriate licensing required by your state.

A certificate may be part of the prerequisites for a position in social work. Some school districts and clinical settings require or strongly recommend a particular certificate to prepare you for the position. You may be able to negotiate a raise or apply for leadership positions upon successfully completing a certificate program.

What Is the Job Outlook for Social Work Certificate Holders?

The number of social workers in the United States is expected to grow by 13% between 2019 and 2029, according to BLS. This is much faster than the average job growth in the nation.

Courses in Social Work Certificate Programs

Because of the range of programs available, the particular courses you take online or in-person can vary. Here are some common classes that you must complete as part of your social work certificate program:

  • Social work in educational settings
  • Comprehensive assessment and case planning
  • Handling crisis in case management
  • Multi-tiered systems of support
  • Substance abuse: fundamental facts and insights
  • Foundations of aging

A certificate program is designed to dive into a particular aspect of social work, so you can expect many or all of your courses to focus on a particular discipline in the field, such as gerontology or school social work.

FAQs on Social Work Certificate Programs Online and In-Person

What Jobs Require a Social Work Certificate?

A certificate isn’t typically required to start a career in social work, but many competitive positions in specialty care areas may require a degree, license, and certificate.

Does a Social Work Certificate Offer Good Job Prospects?

The number of social workers is expected to grow between 2019 and 2029, according to BLS. Social work can be a very rewarding field as you help community members solve and cope with issues.

What Are the Different Fields of Social Work Certificate Programs?

Social worker certificates can focus on school social work, human services, case management, gerontology, or other fields.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Social Work Certificate?

Online programs are typically self-paced and can be completed very quickly or over the course of a few years. In-person programs typically take between one semester and two years to complete.

What Does Social Work Certificate Program Curriculum Typically Include?

Certificate programs focus on a particular aspect of social work and include courses in building relationships, providing care, assessing situations, and managing cases.

Summary Information

  • Online and in-person programs available
  • Popular concentrations include school social work and human services
  • Programs typically take 12-24 months to complete

  • Provides essential training in a particular aspect of social work
  • Prepares students to specialize their career
  • Offers opportunities in the high-growth social work industry

  • Program costs are highly variable
  • Online programs can cost less than $10,000 to complete
  • A number of scholarships are associated with certificate programs

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