Known as the “land of 10,000 lakes” and for the “twin cities” of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota has a reputation of being clean and green. Natives pride themselves on enduring the frigid winters and braving the elements in the Boundary Waters, where campers travel from campsite to campsite via canoes.
The Mayo Clinic and technology giant IBM have put the city of Rochester on the map, and the farms of rural Minnesota are known as national agricultural leaders in the production of wheat, soybeans and corn. Minneapolis is known for the Mall of America (the biggest mall in the country) and the Vikings; Saint Paul is known for its annual summer State Fair and winter carnival, which sometimes includes a full-sized ice castle.
Contribute to a Top Notch Social Work System
Even though Minnesotans have the 11th highest median income in the nation (while enjoying a lower-than-average cost of living), the state of Minnesota is the tenth biggest spender for social services. It’s a state with a reputation for providing generous social services in excellent care facilities (1).
As such, you may find an opportunity to work with respected experts at the world famous Mayo Clinic or with disadvantaged families at the Hennepin County Medical Center, where a wide range of patients are brought in needing help for everything from substance abuse, domestic abuse or basic support services. Hazelden is considered one of the leading substance abuse treatment centers in the region (2).
One challenge unique to Minnesota is seasonal in nature. The homeless population in Minnesota has risen significantly in the past several years, rising from 8,000 in 2006 to over 10,200 in 2012 (3). Winters in Minnesota can be deadly, so the demands on homeless shelters and the associated social work programs can be intense during the months of October to April. If you have considered working with the homeless and disadvantaged, you may find the twin cities to be a particularly rewarding place to work.
Graduate-Level Social Work Programs
The state of Minnesota is home to several reputable graduate social work programs. According to the 2014 US News & World Report school rankings, there are five master’s of social work programs that rank in the top 175 schools in the nation. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities School of Social Work is ranked number 33, and the St. Catherine/St. Thomas School of Social Work is ranked number 52 in the nation (4).
These two schools are both located in the twin cities area, but they offer distinctly different learning environments. The University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) is a large, sprawling urban campus with over 52,000 students (5), while both St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas are small, quaint liberal arts schools. The two schools combined have a total enrollment of 15,000 students (6) (7). At the University of St. Thomas Interprofessional Center, social work, law, and psychology students work together to meet the needs of underserved people from the community.
Minnesota offers two loan repayment programs specific to social workers, both of which require you to work in one of the designated “Health Professional Shortage Areas” (HPSA). This means you would have to work to serve a pre-determined underserved population in order to qualify for loan forgiveness of up to $20,000 a year for two years, for a total of $40,000 of loan forgiveness. Click here to learn more about these programs, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Minnesota State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP).
Working as a Social Worker
If you are concerned about opportunity, mental health and substance abuse social worker positions are predicted to open at the fastest rates in the state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for mental health and substance abuse social workers should increase at a rate of 29 percent per year. As of 2013, these types of social workers were making an average of $52,430 per year (8).
Healthcare social work opportunities are also plentiful. Job growth in this sector is anticipated to grow by 23 percent in the same time frame. Healthcare social workers make, on average, $51,950 per year (9).
However, the job market is not nearly as strong for child, family and school social workers. The sector is only expected to produce new jobs at a rate of seven percent for this time frame, which is lower than the predicted national job growth (a prediction of 15 percent growth in job creation) (10).
Licensure and Professional Development Resources
- Social Work License Requirements in Minnesota
- Minnesota Board of Social Work
- National Association of Social Workers, Minnesota Chapter
- Minnesota School Social Workers Association
- Minnesota Society For Clinical Social Work