For those who live in Illinois who have been eager to take the first steps toward a career as a social worker, it’s never been easier to get started. The state offers numerous CSWE-accredited degree programs that will give you the knowledge you need to establish an impactful and lasting social work practice.
A BSW is ideal for any motivated student who plans on becoming a social worker, as it will qualify you for a one-year Advanced Standing Master in Social Work, speeding up your time in school so that you can get your professional life started more quickly.
BSW programs may also be the minimum degree requirement for many entry-level careers in the social work field. Some students may prefer traditional degree programs that include face-to-face learning and in-class lectures, while other students may require flexible online programs that fit the needs of a busy schedule.
In the last decade, the popularity of online degree programs has grown tremendously. Online BSW programs can provide students with an equal level of quality all while allowing them to pursue the degree of their dreams from their very own home.
What To Look For In A BSW Degree
When choosing an educational program to enroll in, you are encouraged to choose from programs that meet your scheduling standards. There are multiple programs throughout the U.S. that offer flexible scheduling, part-time or full-time enrollment, and multiple start dates per year.
Whether you choose an online or in-person option, a full-time courseload or a part-time one, be sure your degree program is approved by the CSWE, as this is the only widely recognized accreditation board in the country.
If you are an upcoming BSW student that is considering programs within the state of Illinois, read more in this guide below. Our team seeks to provide you with more information about these specific degree programs and the types of careers that they can lead you to in the field.
Popular Accredited Illinois BSW Program
Students within the state of Illinois may choose from a wide variety of BSW programs along their path. One of the most popular degree programs for students enrolling in BSW programs in Illinois is Illinois State University's innovative BSW.
Illinois State University BSW Degree
Illinois State University's program consists of a 54 credit-hour requirement that is spread over the course of 4 years. During this time frame, students can study the introductory aspects of social work, techniques related to assessment and planning in the field, and details about specific treatment groups that they may come in contact with while working in this field.
In addition to course work, many programs offering the BSW may also require that students participate in internships or other supervised field experience while enrolled.
The internship experience can allow learners to experience aspects of their curriculum that they may never have come in contact with and provide them with hands-on experience for use later in their careers.
BSW Degrees and Coursework
Social workers may be some of the most in-demand professionals throughout the state of Illinois. These professionals can provide extremely valuable services to the public and provide relief to social service agencies providing vital programs to children and families.
There are multiple universities throughout Illinois that currently offer BSW options to interested learners. Bradley University and Illinois State University are just a few of the many schools that provide reliable and accredited BSW programs for students to engage with.
During your BSW program, you can take a multitude of courses that are aligned to provide you with an optimum learning experience in this treatment area. The course work often includes concepts related to the development of the social work field, in depth practical skills, and ethics regarding your services in the public domain.
The standard BSW degree program typically begins with enrollment into general education courses such as Algebra, Sociology, and Psychology. These courses can set the foundation for learning within specific treatment areas and can be accompanied by introductory courses such as the Introduction to Social Work course.
Later in the program, you may take courses like Social Work with Women, which provide students with a detailed look at the specific struggles in society that may be faced by female citizens as well as the services and supports that are available through various community programs.
School Social Work Practice is another course offering that can be incredibly beneficial to social workers that are engaging within their communities. This course can offer skills related to educational planning, IEP team support, and identifying diverse needs in the educational environment.
Discovering your social work calling through school
Many people start their BSW programs with the strong sense that they want to be involved in social causes but less clarity on where they’ll focus their efforts. This is by no means a problem.
Your BSW education is a wonderful opportunity to explore the vast field of social work and see which career path is the most suited to your interests and skills.
Indeed, social workers’ jobs can vary tremendously depending on which issue they are focused on, what role they take specifically, and where they are employed. By immersing yourself in the many different offerings that are out there, you’ll get the opportunity to assess the field in relation to your own skills and interests so that you can find a career path that is engaging, meaningful, and sustainable in the long term.
Illinois BSW Careers and Salaries
If you are thinking of pursuing a career in social work after receiving your BSW, you can choose from a large number of potential career fields depending on your interests. Social work positions may be separated by specialty field or can focus specifically on different treatment groups that are separated by treatment need or age. Your compensation as a social worker will depend on which specialization you choose.<!- mfunc feat_school ->
Some common social work positions in the state of Illinois include Healthcare Social Workers, who are responsible for providing support and guidance to individuals receiving care through hospitals or other medical care agencies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare social workers in Illinois earn a mean annual wage of $59,090.
In other areas of the state, Child Welfare Social Workers can be popular options for new BSW graduates. In child welfare, social workers may be primarily assigned a caseload of children that are in need of permanency planning, therapeutic services, and weekly visits to check well-being. Child welfare may be one of the largest fields for social workers in the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Illinois-based child, family, and school social workers earn a mean annual salary of $55,930.
Other social workers are focused on helping people who are dealing with mental health crises and substance dependencies. This is another massive branch of the social work profession, one that is ideal for people who excel at one-on-one care. The BLS reports that mental health and substance abuse social workers in Illinois earn a mean annual wage of $52,560.
You are not limited to these particular fields after completing your BSW program. Alternative career options may also be available for professionals in the state of Illinois. There are many social workers who work for non-profits and other settings that fall outside of these more traditional options. Some of these social workers are engaged in macro-level advocacy work. Social workers in Illinois who fall outside of the above three categories earn a mean annual wage of $66,490.
What are the advantages of getting a BSW?
The biggest advantage of a BSW is that it qualifies you for a one-year MSW program, known as an Advanced Standing MSW. This is the most time- and cost-effective educational option for those pursuing careers in social work and is only available to those who hold BSWs. (Those who hold other bachelor’s degrees still qualify for traditional two-year MSW programs.)
Can I get my social work license through my BSW program?
No. You will not be eligible for licensure until you have completed an MSW program, which is the step that comes after completing your BSW.
Do I need to declare my social work focus area when I complete my BSW?
No. You will not need to choose a focus area until you are already in your MSW program.
Illinois Social Work Organizations
Some common social work positions in the state of Illinois include Healthcare Social Workers, who are responsible for providing support and guidance to individuals receiving care through hospitals or other medical care agencies. In other areas of the state, Child Welfare Social Workers can be popular options for new BSW graduates.
In child welfare, social workers may be primarily assigned a caseload of children that are in need of permanency planning, therapeutic services, and weekly visits to check well-being. Child welfare may be one of the largest fields for social workers in the U.S.<!- mfunc search_btn -> <!- /mfunc search_btn ->
You are not limited to these particular fields after completing your BSW program. Alternative career options in School Social Work, Geriatric Social Work, and Substance Abuse Social Work may also be available for professionals in the state of Illinois.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Social Workers, All other, reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2023.