Social Work Degrees, Schools, and Careers in Rhode Island
It would be an exaggeration to say even that Rhode Island has a breadth of options when it comes to social work degree programs. In reality, according to the Council on Social Work Education, the small state has just four accredited social work degree programs and just three schools that offer those programs. As if that wasn’t limiting enough, there is just one school in the entire state, Rhode Island College that offers a Master’s degree in social work. The other two schools that offer social work degree programs are Providence College and Salve Regina University, both of which only offer Bachelor’s degree programs unfortunately. The MSW is far and away the most popular and useful social work degree for students.
The state doesn’t have a very large professional social worker population either. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state does have nearly 2,000 child, family, and school social workers that are making a healthy annual average salary of $58,250. But there are also less than 1,200 other professional social workers employed across the state. The silver lining is that those other professional social workers also make a healthy annual average salary of between $50,730 and $70,850, which should allow anyone exploring the career to live comfortably in Rhode Island.
In Rhode Island, the best location to seek employment opportunities is in the Providence metropolitan area not only because it is the most populous city in the state but also because it offers opportunities in neighboring parts of Massachusetts as well. Social workers are required both rural and urban settings. Hospitals and community service organizations are the primary employer of social workers, but there are drug rehabilitation clinics, hospices and retirement homes that have social workers on staff to help and add expertise.
Rhode Island recognizes two social work licenses – the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). Essentially, the main difference is that the LICSW is a more advanced version of the LCSW. LICSW applicants are required to have 24 months of experience as an LCSW before they can be considered for the other license. The Rhode Island Board of Social Work Examiners is the state agency which oversees all licenses for social work in Rhode Island. The requirements are as follows:
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- Has a doctorate in clinical social work from a duly accredited college or university or master's degree from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education
- Has satisfactorily completed an examination for this license.
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
- Is licensed under the Act as a "licensed clinical social worker"
- Has twenty-four (24) months of experience acceptable to the Board, which experience shall only be acceptable if the applicant was licensed as a licensed clinical social worker (if required in the jurisdiction where the experience was attained) and under appropriate supervision.
- Has fulfilled the continuing education requirements for this license
- Has satisfactorily completed an examination for this license.
In addition to those qualifications, applicants must also:
- Be at least twenty-one years of age
- Is of good moral character and merits the public trust
- Has graduated with a master's degree from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or has graduated with a doctoral degree in clinical social work from a duly accredited college or university
- Has passed, to the satisfaction of the Board, a national examination at the appropriate level as specified herein
- Is a United States citizen or legal resident of the United States
- Has no record of the conviction of a felony.
To get licensed as a social worker in Rhode Island, an applicant is required to have a Masters in Social Work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CWSE). This does not mean that the student needs to have graduated from a school in Rhode Island, which is good, because as mentioned above, there is only one of those schools in the state that offers the MSW program. Getting into these programs can be difficult. Students can expect to provide letters of reference from professors or professionals, transcripts with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and an essay explaining why the social work degree is important to the applicant’s future. Most programs don’t require the GRE, but it’s important to check with the college before application.
Online Social Work Schools in Rhode Island
The online programs that are accredited by the CWSE include the same type of courses that a student would attend if they were in a traditional classroom setting, but the coursework is done online. Unfortunately, Rhode Island doesn’t have any online social work degree programs available to students looking for state-specific institutions. This doesn’t preclude students in the state of Rhode Island from enrolling in online social work degree programs however. There are national programs offered by prestigious institutions like the University of New England and Indiana University that offer students the opportunity to complete their degree online. There are also for-profit institutions that offer fully online social work degree programs in Rhode Island.
Careers Opportunities for Social Workers in Rhode Island
What is most impressive about a small state like Rhode Island is the number of local or regional care facilities that are looking for social workers. Sure, there are large hospitals like Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket and large healthcare providers like Blue Cross Blue Shield in Providence that are looking for case managers with social work experience and qualified clinical social workers. But the St. Mary's Home for Children in North Providence is looking for a qualified clinician; the Child and Family Services of Newport County in Providence is looking for a Foster Care Program Director with social work experience and qualifications; and the Scallop Shell Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Peace Dale is looking for a social worker too. These local organizations are just some of many that are looking for social work help. It is the perfect opportunity to get in on the ground floor for young professionals looking to start a career.
For more information about the process of becoming a social worker in Rhode Island, visit our page on Rhode Island social worker license requirements.
Child, Family, and School Social Workers Salary in Rhode Island
|Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA||$34,180||$42,440||$54,370||$69,690||$82,490|
Table data taken from 2020 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211021.htm)
Healthcare Social Workers Salary in Rhode Island
|Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA||$36,090||$45,860||$58,850||$70,990||$78,370|
Table data taken from 2020 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211022.htm)
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Salary in Rhode Island
|Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA||$22,020||$31,210||$43,940||$64,700||$75,880|
Table data taken from 2020 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211023.htm)