Although New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state in the United States, it is the most densely populated in the nation. It is known as “The Crossroads of the Revolution” because British and American armies crossed over the state several times and fought many battles in the state during the American Revolutionary War.
New Jersey has the second-highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States, and nine of the state’s counties are in the wealthiest 100 of the nation (1). It is a wealthy, bustling state, close enough to New York City that many of its Northern residents commute to the Big Apple for work.
Issues Facing Social Workers
The median household income in New Jersey is $71,637, and only 9.9 percent of the state’s population is living in poverty, establishing New Jersey as one of the wealthier states of the country (2). The Garden State is known for its beautiful communities and lovely shoreline, but social workers will still find plenty to do in the state. Per usual, New Jersey’s social workers work to promote ideals such as social justice and ensure child safety. However, a couple of issues have demanded attention in the recent years.
According to the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, the number of incarcerations (to prisons) has quadrupled in the past 25 years, resulting in a higher need for correctional social workers (3). If you are interested in inmate rehabilitation programs or in working with families of inmates, you will find opportunities in this state. Substance abuse is also an issue in the state.
The number of people admitted to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased in recent years (from 54,658 in 2001 to 71,855 in 2011) (4). Opportunities for substance abuse social workers are expected to increase; the job growth rate is predicted to increase at 13 percent per year (5).
According to the 2014 US News & World Report school rankings Rutgers School of Social Work (in New Brunswick) is ranked number 26 in the nation for graduate social work programs. Monmouth University’s Department of Social Work is ranked number 60, and Kean University’s Master of Social Work Department is ranked number 172 in the nation (6). Scroll down to our MSW Program List for all MSW programs located in New Jersey.
Rutgers School of Social Work provides traditional, online and hybrid graduate programs. They also team up with Princeton Theological Seminary to offer a Master’s of Divinity/Master’s of Social Work dual-degree. Additionally, they work with Rutger’s School of Law to offer a Juris Doctor/Master’s of Social Work dual-degree. If you are interested in pursuing your doctorate, they also offer a combined Master’s/PhD program (7).
As you look for a job as a social worker, make sure you’ve investigated loan forgiveness programs like the National Health Service Corps loan forgiveness program (NHSC). If you can find a job in a “Health Professional Shortage Area” (HPSA), you could be forgiven up to $40,000 of your student loans you took out for school. You might want to check out the Primary Care Loan Redemption Program of New Jersey (RBHS), since this is a state-specific loan forgiveness program.
Finding a Job as a Social Worker
If you check the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, you’ll discover that most of the social workers employed in the state of New Jersey work as child, family and school social workers. As of 2010, 8,960 were employed in such a role. The data from 2013 reports the average social worker in this role was paid a median salary of $58,600. Employment opportunities are expected to continue to open up, but only at a rate of nine percent per year (8).
Healthcare social workers make up the next biggest segment in the field. In 2010, 3,060 healthcare social workers were employed in the state; by 2013 the median wage for this role was $56,900 a year. Opportunities for healthcare social workers are expected to grow by 18 percent each year (9).
As of 2010, 1,550 mental health and substance abuse social workers were employed in the state. The 2013 median salary for this position was $51,700 (10).
The best-paying but scarcest social work jobs are in higher education. Postsecondary social work educators make a median wage of $70,800, but there are few jobs, and opportunities are only predicted to increase by five percent each year (11).
Licensure and Professional Development Resources
- Social Work License Requirements in New Jersey
- National Association of Social Workers, New Jersey Chapter
- New Jersey State Board of Social Work Examiners
- New Jersey Association of School Social Workers
- New Jersey Society For Clinical Social Work
Universities with Master’s of Social Work Degrees in New Jersey
- “Top States for Millionaires per Capita,” 2014. CNBC. http://www.cnbc.com/id/101338309
- State and Country Quick Facts: New Jersey, 2013. United States Census Bureau. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/34000.html
- Advocacy Legislative Agenda, National Association of Social Workers. http://www.naswnj.org/?page=LegislativeAgenda
- State Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services, 2001 – 2011. http://www.samhsa.gov/data/DASIS/TEDS2011St_Web.pdf
- Graduate School Social Work Programs: New Jersey, 2014. US News & World Report. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/search?spp=10&program=top-social-work-schools&name=&zip=new+jersey&program_rank=Any&sort=&sortdir=
- Dual Degrees, Rutgers School of Social Work. http://socialwork.rutgers.edu/Academics/Dual.aspx
- Occupation Profile: Child, Family, and School Social Workers: New Jersey, 2013. Career One Stop. http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=011000000&soccode=211021&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=34&search=Go
- Occupation Profile: Healthcare Social Workers: New Jersey, 2013. Career One Stop. http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=011000000&soccode=211022&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=34&search=Go
- Occupation Profile: Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: New Jersey, 2013. Career One Stop. http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=011000000&soccode=211023&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=34&search=Go
- Occupation Profile: Social Work Teachers, Post-Secondary: New Jersey, 2013. Career One Stop. http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=011000000&soccode=251113&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=34&search=Go