If you want to practice social work and live away from the big cities, Montana is the state for you. Montana’s largest cities, Billings, Missoula, and Great Falls, all have around 100,000 or fewer residents. As a result, Montana is very sparsely populated. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the population density in Montana is 6.8 people per square mile, compared to the national average of 87.4 people per square mile.
As a social work student, you should know what situations and challenges you may face as a social worker. American Indians make up 6.5% of the state’s population, which is almost six times higher than the national average of 1.2% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). You should be prepared to learn about culturally sensitive care and treatment in the field of social work.
There are two schools in Montana that allow you to earn your MSW degree. Earning your MSW in Montana can be very affordable, since the average cost of tuition is $6460. Combine that with an average scholarship award of $3687, and you can finish your degree with very little student debt.
The MSW is a two-year program that is designed to give you a complete knowledge in the various aspects of the field of social work. This means that you will be investigating evidence-based care, societal influences on different groups of people, and social work policies on a local level. Your core year, the first year of your degree, will help you start exploring these issues and more. In your second year, you gain a more intensive knowledge in each of these subjects while learning how to apply your knowledge to your future career.
Throughout your MSW program, you will complete a variety of practicum hours. You need to complete about 900 hours over the course of your program, and most schools spread that out evenly over your four semesters. In the first year, your practicum hours may include working with all sorts of different people. In your second year, you may begin to concentrate on working with groups that fit with your career goals.
As a social worker, you can work in just about any setting serving any type of population. Your employment choices may be partially determined by your concentration or specialty during school.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that, nationwide, most social workers work for government agencies or healthcare organizations. This is demonstrated by Montana’s largest social work employers, which include Diamond Healthcare Corporation, Allied Medical, and Dialysis Clinic Inc.
You may also consider working independently in your own private practice. After you have completed two years of supervised work experience, this option allows you to work anywhere in Montana.
As a social worker, you must be licensed by the Montana Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors. After you apply and take your licensing exam, you can legally work as a social worker in Montana.
To earn LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) status, you must complete at least 3000 hours of clinical work experience. This work must be supervised and documented. Once you reach 3000 hours, you can apply for the advanced licensing exam.
Salaries for social workers in Montana vary significantly. As a Master’s degree holder, you may be able to earn more money than someone who has a Bachelor’s degree. However, you can maximize your earning potential by becoming an LCSW.
Overall, the highest paid social workers are healthcare social workers. They earn an average salary of $47,200 per year (O*Net, 2012). They are followed by family social workers, with an average salary of $32,600, and mental health social workers, with an average salary of $30,400 (O*Net, 2012).
The overall job outlook for Montana social workers is strong, and in some fields, the job outlook is brighter than the national average. With anticipated job growth of 38%, healthcare social workers are in high demand (O*Net, 2012). Mental health social workers can expect a 31% increase in job openings, and family social workers can anticipate a 14% increase (O*Net, 2012).
Schools in Montana Offering Masters in Social Work Programs
Montana State University
- Masters in Family and Consumer Sciences
- $5,330 Tuition Cost
- $3,807 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
- Rural Campus Setting
The University of Montana
- Masters in Family and Community Services
- Masters in Social Work (MSW)
- $4,603 Tuition Cost
- $3,567 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
- Urban Campus Setting