Studying social work in the hilly state of West Virginia gives you access to the Appalachian Mountains and the remote rural communities that live in that area. There are over 1.8 million people living in West Virginia, some of whom live in the state’s largest cities of Charleston and Huntington. However, both of these cities have around 50,000 people, so they are still relatively small.
As a West Virginia social work student, you may have unique challenges that students in other states do not face. A higher than average percentage of the population in West Virginia lives below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty can have individual and widespread effects, so it’s important to learn about the far-reaching implications of it.
West Virginia boasts two excellent MSW programs, both of which are located in urban areas. The average cost of tuition in West Virginia is $6,010, which is considerably lower than tuition costs in many parts of the country. Add in an average scholarship award of $3,307, and a West Virginia education can be very inexpensive.
The MSW programs in West Virginia are divided into two distinct years: a core year and a concentration year. Your core year puts you through coursework in social policy, research analysis, theoretical approaches, and therapy techniques. Your concentration year builds on this body of knowledge and allows you to apply it to a concentration of your choice. Concentration options vary between schools. For example, West Virginia University allows you to focus on individual counseling, families and groups, or community organizing.
Throughout the duration of your MSW program, you are expected to complete at least 900 practicum hours. Practicum hours put you in contact with real clients at sites like hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health clinics. While your field hours in your first year serve the purpose of letting you explore different fields, field hours in your second year allow you to focus on your area of concentration.
There are numerous employment opportunities for social work graduates in West Virginia. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that most social workers work for government agencies or healthcare organizations, although there are jobs in other industries. In West Virginia, some of the primary social work employers are Amedisys Hospice Care, Pressley Ridge, and Medical Services of America.
After you earn your advanced license, you have the option to work independently as a therapist or counselor. Since there are so many remote communities in West Virginia, you may be able to reach communities that are entirely devoid of mental health care options.
As a social worker, your work is governed by the West Virginia Board of Social Work. You can become licensed as a Licensed Graduate Social Worker after passing the required exam and submitting a completed application.
To work independently as a clinical social worker, you must attain Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker status. This process includes completing 3,000 hours of supervised work experience and passing an advanced licensing exam.
Social worker salaries are influenced by myriad factors, including licensure level, amount of experience, and field of expertise. On average, West Virginia social workers earn $28,800 per year to $42,700 per year (O*Net, 2012). You may be able to increase your earning potential as you gain experience, seek clinical licensure, and gain special certifications.
The overall outlook for West Virginia social workers is very strong. This is because the growing population has created a need for educated social workers that can work in a variety of fields. Mental health, healthcare, and family social workers can expect to see job growth of 6% to 26% between 2010 and 2020 (O*Net, 2012).
Schools in West Virginia Offering Masters in Social Work Programs
- Masters in Family and Consumer Sciences
- $4,860 Tuition Cost
- $3,237 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
- Urban Campus Setting
West Virginia University
- Masters in Social Work (MSW)
- $4,912 Tuition Cost
- $3,376 Scholarship and Financial Aid Awards
- Urban Campus Setting