With large, arid deserts in addition to bustling cities, New Mexico can be a great place for you as a social worker. The two largest cities in New Mexico are Albuquerque and Las Cruces, with 555,000 people and 101,000 people respectively. However, with a population of almost 2.1 million people, the majority of New Mexico residents still live in rural or suburban areas.
There are several aspects of New Mexico’s makeup that make it different from other states. First, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 47% of the population is Hispanic. With such a large Hispanic population, social workers that are culturally competent and bilingual have a big advantage. In addition, almost 20% of the population lives below the poverty line, creating the need for social workers who understand the widespread effects of poverty.
Whether you want to study in an urban, suburban, or rural setting, New Mexico can help you. There are three MSW schools in New Mexico with an average tuition cost of $5,468. This is already extremely low, but there are scholarship and grant opportunities that can lower your educational costs further. The average scholarship award in New Mexico is $3,091, almost 60% of the average tuition cost.
An MSW degree generally takes two years of full-time study. However, there are exceptions. New Mexico State University gives you the choice to complete an MSW and a Master’s of Public Health degree at the same time, adding approximately one year to your degree. Your first year consists of course courses that educate you on social work practice, theoretical perspectives, and evidence-based care.
In your second year, you delve deeper into each of the subjects listed above. There are also elective courses you can take; your selection of elective courses should be relevant to your career goals, since many employers will consider what courses you completed in school. This year is considered your concentration year, where you develop the critical thinking and abstract reasoning skills to be an effective social worker.
Throughout both years of your MSW program, you work at different field sites. You can plan on completing at least 900 hours at sites like hospitals, community mental health clinics, and rehabilitation centers.
Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are over 607,000 social workers in the United States. They claim that the majority of social workers are employed in healthcare settings or by government agencies. What is available to you depends on what level of licensure you have and what experience you have.
Some of the primary social worker employers in New Mexico include the University of New Mexico Hospital, Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, Consulate Health Care, and Sandhill Child Development Center.
After attaining clinical licensure in New Mexico, you can also decide to become self-employed and open your own private practice. If you want to serve a community with few mental health resources, this can be a very rewarding option.
To work in New Mexico, you must have a license from the Board of Social Work Examiners. The process is a bit different from other states. In addition to taking a Master-level exam, you must either take a course on cultures in New Mexico or prove your cultural competence by taking a test. Fees at this level are $100 for your application and $230 for the exam.
To practice independently, you must work under the supervision of an LISW for 3,600 hours. Pass the second licensing exam, and the independent practice license is yours.
It can be hard to determine what your salary will be in New Mexico, since your licensure level, amount of experience, and area of concentration all affect what jobs you get and how much money you can make.
Overall, O*Net reports that average salaries for mental health, family, and healthcare social workers range from $38,800 for mental health social workers to $51,900 for healthcare social workers. If you work as a family therapist, you may be able to earn an average salary of $34,500 (O*Net, 2012). Substance abuse counselors earn an average of $40,300 per year (O*Net, 2012).
Overall, the job outlook for social workers and clinical social workers is very strong. Job growth for mental health, family, and healthcare social workers is expected to increase by 16% to 17% through 2020 (O*Net, 2012). The outlook for family therapists, a job you can do once you have attained independent clinical licensure, is expected to grow by 30% through 2020 (O*Net, 2012). Job openings for substance abuse counselors are anticipated to increase by 18% in the same time frame (O*Net, 2012).
Schools in New Mexico Offering Masters in Social Work Programs
New Mexico State University-Main Campus
(Las Cruces, NM)
- Masters in Social Work (MSW)
- $4,766 Tuition Cost
- $5,966 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
- Suburban Campus Setting
University of New Mexico-Main Campus
- Masters in Family and Consumer Sciences
- $4,826 Tuition Cost
- $2,550 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
- Urban Campus Setting
Western New Mexico University
(Silver City, NM)
- Masters in Social Work (MSW)
- $3,200 Tuition Cost
- $758 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
- Rural Campus Setting