- Online MSW Program from Top-Ranked Fordham University: four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy. Request Information!
- Simmons University's online Master of Social Work program can be completed in as few as 16 months, and GRE scores are not required. Request Information
- Capella University's CSWE accredited online Master of Social Work program helps prepare students to enter the general or clinical practice role. An Advanced Standing MSW option is available. Capella also offers an online Doctor of Social Work. Click Here to contact Capella University about their Master of Social Work program or Doctor of Social Work program.
Washington, named after the first president, is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the nation and shares an international border with Canada. Washington is the 18th largest state in area and is the 13th most populous (1).
Olympia is the state capital, however, the largest city in the state is Seattle, with a population of over 608,000. Seattle is located along the Puget Sound region of the Salish Sea and is known as the founding city of Starbucks and the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix. The rest of the state contains rain forests, mountain ranges, and farmland. Washington has leading industries in lumber, agriculture, fishing, shipping, salmon canning, and mining (2).
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Concerns
The state of Washington has a higher-than-average percentage of the population that has been diagnosed with mental illness. Approximately 20.77 percent of the population is diagnosed with mental illness (compared to 18.19 percent of the nation) and 5.14 percent is diagnosed with severe mental illness (compared to 3.97 percent of the nation) (3).
Substance abuse also appears to be on the rise in the state; the number of people admitted to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased from 30,041 in the year 2001 to 36,836 in the year 2011 (4).
Marijuana is legal for adults in the state, so campaigns to educate the population on safe usage and to discourage minors from using the drug are a state focus (5). Emerging evidence suggests legalization may be related to an increase in traffic fatalities (6). Heroin use is also on the rise in the state. Experts say the use of prescription opiates often acts as a gateway to the use of heroin, so drug abuse prevention efforts are in place to watch the use of prescription opiates (7).
There are 197 mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities in the state (8), and employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers in on the rise. In 2010, 1590 social workers were employed in this sector. Experts predict job growth to increase at a rate of 18 percent, meaning approximately 70 new jobs will open each year between now and 2020 (9).
Studying Social Work
Do you want to study to become a social worker in the state of Washington? The University of Washington’s School of Social Work is ranked third in the country (according to the 2014 US News & World Report school rankings of MSW graduate programs), so you need go no further than Seattle. You could also pursue your MSW at either Eastern Washington University or Walla Walla University (10).
The University of Washington’s MSW programs offer concentrations in all of the traditional courses typical of graduate social work programs – child welfare, community organization, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, gerontology, and criminal justice. However, the university also offers a very unique educational opportunity through their partnership with Cambodia. Cambodia’s social work infrastructure is still in its infancy. Students and faculty at the University of Washington can engage with, influence and learn from students from Cambodia who are studying here in preparation for work back home (11).
After you get your master’s degree, you might want to look into loan forgiveness programs. The National Health Service Corps loan forgiveness program (NHSC) encourages social workers to find work in “Health Professional Shortage Areas” (HPSAs) by offering loan forgiveness to those who support underserved populations. If you work in such an area, you may qualify for loan forgiveness of up to $20,000 a year, for up to two years.
Plenty of Job Growth
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median salary for a social worker in the state of Washington is somewhere between $46,200 (for a child, family or school social worker) and $53,240 (for a healthcare social worker). Mental health and substance abuse social workers make a median wage of $47,270 (12).
Some areas of the state pay significantly better than others. For example, the median salary for a healthcare social worker in the Wenatchee – East Wenatchee area is $67,180. Likewise, the median salary for a child, family or school social worker in Longview is $51,540, and the median salary for a mental health or substance abuse social worker in Olympia is $55,770 (13).
Licensure and Professional Development Resources
- Washington State Social Work License Requirements
- National Association of Social Workers, Washington Chapter
- Washington State Department of Health (Licensure Information)
- Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work
Which Universities Have a Master’s in Social Work Program in Washington State?
- State and County QuickFacts, 2014. US Census Bureau. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/53000.html
- Washington Facts and Trivia, 2014. 50 States.com. http://www.50states.com/facts/washingt.htm#.U7w1L41dXgI
- State Estimates of Adult Mental Illness, 2012. National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. http://www.samhsa.gov/data/2k14/NSDUH170/sr170-mental-illness-state-estimates-2014.htm
- State Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services, 2001 – 2011. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. http://www.samhsa.gov/data/DASIS/TEDS2011St_Web.pdf
- Marijuana Ad Campaign Launched, 2014. Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention. http://wasavp.org/marijuana-ad-campaign-launched/
- Study: Fatal Car Crashes Involving Marijuana Have Tripled, 2014. CBS Seattle. http://seattle.cbslocal.com/2014/02/04/study-fatal-car-crashes-involving-marijuana-have-tripled/
- Heroin Trends Across Washington State, 2013. University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. http://adai.uw.edu/pubs/InfoBriefs/ADAI-IB-2013-02.pdf
- National Mental Health Services Survey, 2010. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. http://www.samhsa.gov/data/DASIS/NMHSS2010_Web.pdf
- America’s Career InfoNet – Career Profile, 2014. Career One Stop. http://www.careerinfonet.org/occ_rep.asp?optstatus=011000000&soccode=211023&id=1&nodeid=2&stfips=53&search=Go
- Graduate School Search – Social Work Programs, 2014. US News and World Report. http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/search?spp=10&program=top-social-work-schools&name=&zip=Washington&program_rank=Any&sort=&sortdir=
- Cambodia Partnership, 2014. University of Washington School of Social Work. http://socialwork.uw.edu/programs/global-reach/cambodia-partnership
- Statewide Statistics for Washington, 2013. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Statewide Statistics for Washington, 2013. Bureau of Labor Statistics.