The Advantages of Upgrading Your Social Work Degree to a Masters

The social work field is a very challenging but exciting one where you are responsible for improving the lives of many people from different walks of life. Social workers need to learn about counseling, mental illness, addiction, family abuse matters and so much more.

As many social workers evaluate the job market, they may be thinking about upgrading their bachelor’s degree to a master’s level. Read on to understand the specific advantages of upgrading your degree and why it could be the right choice for you.

Higher Earning Potential

The earning potential between a bachelor’s and a master’s is quite different. A specialized social worker can earn a substantial amount more than a general social worker. To put this into perspective, a social worker with a master’s specializing in child abuse can earn at least $20,000 more than someone in the same field with only a bachelor’s degree. It may take more years of hands-on practical experience but it’s entirely worth it for the paycheck.

With an increase in salary for a social worker, the profession automatically demands more respect and credibility in the field as it shows that the person is more experienced and can tackle harder social work cases.

No Shortage of Demand

The demand for social workers increases each year, whether due to increased substance abuse cases or the negative effects of the economy. In 2019, the need for social workers to assist those less fortunate became paramount to deal with the stresses of unemployment and COVID-19.

In the United States alone there are 700,000 social workers in the industry, but research indicates that this number will increase by 112,000 in the next five years. The same statistics are evident across the whole world, and in Europe, almost 20% of the workforce is made up of social workers with specialized master’s degrees.

Increased Specialization

A social worker with a bachelor’s degree will only be able to work in the general field of the industry. While this is okay for many social workers, some will find that as they progress in their career that there is an area that they would like to specialize in. In these cases, a master’s degree is essential and more credible than a bachelor’s.

If a social worker wants to become licensed in the clinical sense and open a practice, they have to have a master’s degree in social work. Specializing in a particular field allows a social worker to become more experienced with specific types of people and backgrounds. This includes cases of substance abuse, depression, and unemployment issues. If social workers want to elevate their career, they should consider transitioning their bachelor’s to a master’s of social work.


The truth is that a person doesn’t need a bachelor’s degree to earn a master’s; they can start with a higher degree from the very beginning. This is one of the reasons that social work makes up such a large percentage of the market. Instead of studying towards two separate degrees, prospective social workers can jump straight into a master’s degree which saves them money in the long term. The cost of an average master’s degree in the U.S is about $3200 per year, which is substantially less than many other degrees.

The prerequisites to apply for a master’s in social work include a minimum GPA that is determined by the individual university. In many cases, with enough experience, a simple motivational letter is sufficient enough to enroll for a master’s degree.

Less Time Consuming

To earn a bachelor’s degree, social work graduates have to study for a minimum of four years at an accredited institution, whereas a master’s can be completed in only two years. This is great news for anyone changing careers or looking to fast-track their professional career. Many bachelor students will study for a minimum of four years and then apply for an advanced course that will take an additional one year to complete.

By jumping straight into a master’s, social work students can cut their study time by half and save a ton of money in the process. The program itself will be harder to achieve but with the right attitude and drive to complete your degree, you can get into a steady career much quicker by opting for the master’s qualification.

Many Career Choices Available

A social worker doesn’t need to remain in one particular field for their whole career. If you find that you work better with medical facilities or within a community, these careers are more than obtainable. A graduate with a bachelor’s degree can work as a patient care coordinator, whereas a master’s degree will allow them to work as a specialized mental health care counselor.

The professions available with a master’s degree are immense and there are tons of different fields you can go into depending on where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

More Fulfilling

Social work is not an easy job, and oftentimes counselors will need to handle very uncomfortable family situations, such as removing a child from an abusive home. This takes quite a bit of sacrifice on the social worker’s part to make that child’s life better and offer them an opportunity at some form of normalcy. Even though this work is extremely tough, it can be even more rewarding at the end of the day to see that you have made a tangible difference in someone’s life.

From the current 700,000 social workers in the U.S, most have situated themselves in the family, child, and school environment because this is where people seem to need the most help. Master’s degree-holders use this expertise to enter more non-traditional professions such as mediators and family counselors.

More Challenging Subjects

With great challenges comes great knowledge and experience. Without the necessary grunt work to understand the intricacies of sociology and psychology, social workers would not possess the proper skills that effectively help people deal with their situations. The difference in coursework between a bachelor’s and a master’s degree is very important because it validates that your knowledge and understanding are on par with what the world needs.

Social workers are also great researchers and they contribute a lot to how psychology works and our understanding of political science, emotions, and mental welfare. Social workers are subjected to some awful situations, but learning to deal with those problems is why these professionals are in such high demand. It takes a special type of person to assist a broken home or help a parentless child get their life back.

You Gain Different Skills

Studying towards a bachelor’s degree in social work will prepare you for various scenarios that you will deal with, but it doesn’t cover every possible case you may encounter. Earning a master’s degree will give you the upper hand and a greater advantage in tackling those difficult cases, but the experience will be the main factor.

There will be many times when a particularly difficult situation may present itself, and it could be one you have never encountered before. By working with these cases, you will develop essential life skills that aren’t easily taught in an educational setting.

The Field is Always Expanding

Just as there is no shortage in the demand for social workers, there is also no sign that the field will ever go away. Everyone in the world can benefit from a social worker’s help, whether it be to improve their career opportunities or to get through a stressful period of their lives. Since economists have predicted that more than 100,000 jobs will become available over the next five years, there is also no shortage of job opportunities. For those on the fence about studying towards a social work master’s degree, it’s a viable field to enter, but you have to be disciplined.

The profession itself can take a lot out of a person because you are subjected to all kinds of negative situations, and it will be your responsibility to make people’s lives better.

Forgotten Student Loans

One of the biggest advantages for social workers is that, depending on their position and the firm they choose to work for, many can have their student loans nullified. This is based on the notion that social workers are part of public service, and some may be classified as government officials who are eligible for debt relief.

To qualify for this incentive, you will need to work at a community-based site for at least two years, in an area where social workers are in high demand. You will be put onto a Health Professional Shortage program where you may get up to $50,000 of your student loans taken away completely.

The world needs people who want to make it a better place to live, and social workers are exactly that. They are skilled experts that understand sociology and psychology in a way that can only be learned through experience and a dedication to improving people’s lives. The experience you gather will be the most important reason to earn a master’s degree, simply because it opens up many doors to different career options, and is much quicker to achieve than a bachelor’s degree.