Social Work Degrees, Schools, and Careers in Texas

Texas is among the nation’s leaders in social work education, at least if the number of programs is the metric of choice anyway. According to the Council on Social Work Education, the nation’s only recognized accreditor of social work degree programs, Texas is home to 44 undergraduate and graduate social work degree programs. Also, the state has an impressive 14 MSW degree programs, which is especially important because MSW programs are far and away the most popular choice for students interested in a career in social work.

A state the size of Texas should be expected to have a large and diverse social work community and the Lonestar State does indeed live up to expectations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas is home to at least 25,000 social workers of all shapes and sizes. The largest population of social workers in the state are child, family and school social workers who, when lumped together, number more than 16,000. The average annual salary for social workers in Texas ranges from $40,480 to $61,560 depending on the specialty of the social worker and the type of organization they are working for. Social workers have many employment opportunities, in both the public and private sectors, working with children, adults, or seniors as they adapt to new situations and changes in their life. Hospitals and community service organizations hire social workers to assist patients and clients in finding the medical and social services that ensure a high quality of life for as long as possible.

The social work field is growing at about 19 percent per year. In Texas, the highest employment levels of social workers fall in the metropolitan areas, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston, but that’s not to say that rural areas don’t require social workers. According to the National Association of Social Workers Texas Chapter, thousands of potential clients are going to require the services of a licensed social worker in the upcoming years to come. Jobs are available throughout the state, but the first step toward helping vulnerable people is to get your social work degree and get licensed by the state.

The Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners (TSBSWE) is the regulating board for social workers within the state.  Even someone with a bachelor’s degree who is working in the profession must have be licensed. The board currently issues three licenses along with some specialty recognition. Here are the licenses and an overview of their requirements.

Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)

  • Applicant has been conferred a baccalaureate degree in social work from a CSWE accredited social work program.
  • Applicant has passed the Bachelors examination administered nationally by ASWB.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

  • Applicant has been conferred a master's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited social work program, or a doctoral degree in social work from an accredited university acceptable to the board.
  • Applicant has passed the Master's examination administered nationally by ASWB.
  • In order to be considered an advanced practitioner in the state’s eyes, applicants must, while fully licensed as a social worker, complete 3,000 hours of board-approved supervised professional non-clinical social work experience over a period of 24 to 48 months
  • They must also complete a minimum of 100 hours of board-approved supervision, over the course of the 3000 hours of experience, with a board-approved supervisor. Supervised experience must have occurred within the five calendar years immediately preceding the date of LMSW-AP 29 application.
  • Applicant must pass the Advanced Generalist examination administered nationally by the ASWB.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

  • Applicant has been conferred a master's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited social work program, or a doctoral degree in social work from an accredited university acceptable to the board.
  • Applicant has passed the Master's examination administered nationally by ASWB.
  • Applicants must, while fully licensed as a social worker, complete 3,000 hours of board-approved supervised professional non-clinical social work experience over a period of 24 to 48 months.
  • They must also complete a minimum of 100 hours of board-approved supervision, over the course of the 3000 hours of experience, with a board-approved supervisor. Supervised experience must have occurred within the five calendar years immediately preceding the date of LMSW-AP 29 application.
  • Applicant must pass the Clinical examination administered nationally by the ASWB.

Each license requires a criminal background check, appropriate degree from an accredited university, the ASWB exam, and a jurisprudence exam. There is a complete application package on the TSBSWE website that helps applicants make sure that they have each of the requirements included in the process. There is no reciprocity with other states, if an individual has been licensed before application to the Texas board, they will still need to include everything that Texas requires.

Austin Social Work Degrees, Schools, and Careers

Only in Texas can the state’s capital city also be only its fourth-largest city in terms of population. Austin has a little less than one million people living in it according to the latest census data and that means that it also has a large and vocal professional social work community. According to the BLS, Austin has more than 2,000 social workers employed across the metropolitan area and those social workers earn an annual average salary of between $41,510 and $68,950 depending on the specialty of the social worker.

As for higher education options, the obvious one is the University of Texas, which has a nationally ranked baccalaureate degree program in social work in addition to a nationally ranked MSW program as well. Texas State University is located just south of Austin in San Marcos and it too offers both a Bachelor’s degree program in social work and an MSW program. If the students are looking for smaller private institutions, Our Lady of the Lake University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in social work and they are just south in San Antonio, also St. Edward’s University in Austin has a respected baccalaureate degree program in the subject.

Dallas Social Work Degrees, Schools, and Careers

Dallas is the biggest and most populous city in the state and so it makes sense that it would also have the largest social work community in the state. There are more than 6,000 professional social workers employed across the Dallas Metropolitan area according to the BLS and they can make upwards of $60,000 as a social worker depending on the employer and the environment. Dallas is also home to a large higher education community. Just outside the city, Abilene Christian University provides the accredited MSW with a dual degree option in divinity or theology. The University of Texas – Arlington is one of the 50 best schools in the country for social work education according to the US World News and Report. Also Baylor University in Waco and Texas Christian in nearby Fort Worth both offer more than one social work degree option and both are considered highly prestigious.

Online Social Work Schools in Texas

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. Most programs are designed to be completed in two to three years, but it does depend on the number of classes taken each semester. The field practice is handled differently within each college, some allowing the practicum experience to take place in the student’s community under supervision of a LCSW while some require the practicum to take place in designated communities.

The University of Houston offers what they call a hybrid weekend college program for students in Texas. Part of the coursework is done online, but it does require travel to the campus for a once a month face-to-face meeting. Texas State University offers an online program which uses webcasting and a skills institute for face-to-face work. TSU gives priority to students who live more than 50 miles away from an accredited MSW program.

Top-ranked Indiana University, in Bloomington is an out of state MSW program that is open to residents across the nation. Rutgers University in New Jersey also has the online program open to residents in any state. The state where an applicant studies is not as important as the college being accredited by the CWSE. Because the need for social workers is growing, more opportunities for online programs are available than ever before.

Career Opportunities for Social Workers in Texas

Considering how many professional social workers are currently employed in Texas, it should come as no surprise that social workers are employed across dozens of industries in the Lonestar State. There are the obvious employers like the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Pearland, the Austin Travis County Integral Care in Austin, and the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth. Then there are state organizations like the Department of Veterans Affairs in Bonham and the Department of the Army in Fort Hood, both of which are looking for licensed clinical social workers. The Dallas County Community College District is looking for a program services coordinator with social work experience. The Bluebonnet Trails Community Services in Georgetown is looking for a crisis case manager and even the aforementioned Our Lady of the Lake University is looking for an MSW instructor.

For more information about the process of becoming a social worker in Texas, visit our page on Texas social worker license requirements.

Child, Family, and School Social Workers Salary in Texas

Location10%25%Median75%90%
United States$27,800$34,230$43,250$56,740$75,140
Texas$32,280$36,360$41,340$49,570$59,560
Abilene, TX$33,300$34,870$36,600$44,010$53,950
Amarillo, TX$31,570$34,860$37,920$42,820$49,570
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX$32,460$34,860$39,140$47,670$55,250
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX$27,610$32,840$37,170$44,910$51,260
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX$30,960$33,540$36,990$41,850$47,820
College Station-Bryan, TX$28,960$32,680$37,690$43,740$52,100
Corpus Christi, TX$32,660$33,960$39,440$47,150$53,690
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division$29,490$33,540$38,430$46,240$56,410
El Paso, TX$26,990$32,670$39,100$45,620$53,240
Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Division$29,750$33,740$39,100$45,720$52,560
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX$32,670$34,950$40,320$47,810$55,890
Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX$32,670$33,320$37,060$45,150$53,200
Laredo, TX$33,260$34,870$36,320$41,280$47,810
Longview, TX$32,670$35,060$41,380$47,820$56,250
Lubbock, TX$32,660$33,880$39,180$45,030$53,410
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX$32,660$33,320$37,270$45,980$54,650
Odessa, TX$34,000$34,880$36,820$46,760$53,600
San Angelo, TX$33,010$34,970$39,440$45,280$51,980
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX$31,720$33,320$37,700$44,680$54,290
Texarkana-Texarkana, TX-AR$30,590$32,730$36,510$41,410$47,420
Tyler, TX$32,660$33,320$38,780$46,050$53,500
Victoria, TX$32,660$34,870$36,570$43,000$48,940
Waco, TX$32,670$35,550$40,930$47,610$53,220
Wichita Falls, TX$27,740$32,960$38,260$43,690$50,940

Table data taken from 2016 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211021.htm)

Healthcare Social Workers Salary in Texas

Location10%25%Median75%90%
United States$32,750$41,620$53,760$65,860$80,020
Texas$33,180$43,920$55,500$66,330$83,160
Abilene, TX$32,410$34,610$38,280$48,590$62,730
Amarillo, TX$29,310$40,860$50,510$59,040$68,880
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX$39,960$45,800$53,460$59,630$67,920
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX$32,850$36,310$45,750$57,240$66,920
Brownsville-Harlingen, TX$23,120$31,030$38,520$51,760$71,020
College Station-Bryan, TX$39,660$43,000$48,580$56,140$61,930
Corpus Christi, TX$36,870$42,450$50,200$60,570$75,500
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division$36,370$45,860$56,780$69,930$83,610
El Paso, TX$32,800$41,000$51,730$59,900$69,930
Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Division$35,900$44,510$55,730$68,190$82,070
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX$41,520$50,120$57,620$67,370$76,240
Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood, TX$40,520$44,050$50,330$59,480$74,410
Laredo, TX$35,550$43,190$50,040$63,530$77,360
Longview, TX$24,270$39,320$51,170$60,550$75,010
Lubbock, TX$39,500$47,030$62,110$73,240$84,820
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX$31,840$40,150$46,580$56,230$65,990
Odessa, TX$34,070$51,250$61,720$71,860$87,470
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX$35,950$44,480$53,930$62,260$73,180
Sherman-Denison, TX$41,410$45,370$52,160$62,740$131,710
Texarkana-Texarkana, TX-AR$34,400$40,230$46,820$58,650$69,220
Tyler, TX$39,280$43,500$50,880$65,250$76,060
Victoria, TX$48,700$52,200$56,910$61,880$78,610
Waco, TX$25,460$30,470$42,680$57,520$69,640
Wichita Falls, TX$30,450$39,190$43,750$48,230$59,070

Table data taken from 2016 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211022.htm)

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Salary in Texas

Location10%25%Median75%90%
United States$26,730$33,240$42,700$56,610$74,650
Texas$25,710$33,530$42,110$50,050$59,810
Abilene, TX$32,860$34,560$35,770$38,220$41,760
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX$24,370$29,940$37,870$48,500$56,890
Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX$21,870$25,480$33,700$37,030$39,030
Corpus Christi, TX$34,520$35,920$41,590$46,760$49,870
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division$31,660$36,210$43,690$52,130$59,990
Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Division$26,230$28,500$34,210$46,530$58,700
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX$32,480$35,350$39,510$49,490$59,760
Laredo, TX$34,370$39,770$45,240$51,960$58,910
Lubbock, TX$22,900$27,330$34,560$36,960$39,840
San Angelo, TX$16,920$18,560$21,990$33,780$37,870
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX$34,750$37,880$42,910$48,740$60,010
Tyler, TX$34,060$37,780$42,260$45,910$48,110
Waco, TX$29,030$32,440$35,640$38,830$44,770

Table data taken from 2016 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211023.htm)

Featured Texas Schools with Social Work Degree Programs