Overview of Online Certificate Programs in Military Social Work
There is at least one online certificate program in military and veteran culture that is designed for helping professionals, such as social workers and family therapists, as well as a hybrid continuing education certificate in serving veterans and their families. An on-campus certificate program in military social work practice is also available specifically for master's students in social work. All of these programs -- the online, hybrid, and on-campus certificate -- are available at the graduate level. These certificate programs aim to prepare students for providing specialized services for military members, their families, and/or veterans. Students in these programs aim to achieve cultural competence for this population and develop the skills to meet the individualized needs of members in the military community.
The online certificate program can be completed in as little as 3 semesters, while the hybrid continuing education certificate can be completed in 14 weeks. Applicants to the online program must have at least a bachelor's degree, and the program does offer 3 different start dates (fall, spring, summer) throughout the year for flexibility. Students in the online program may also choose to apply courses from the certificate program to a Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Students in the hybrid certificate program can earn 56 clock hours towards continuing education units (CEUs).
Requirements for Online Military Social Work Certificates
Students pursuing a certificate in military social work will study topics in military culture, generational differences, resources in the military community, and therapies used in the community. The online certificate in the field can be completed fully online and discusses topics in mental health services, military benefits, social problems, trauma, military history, and more.
The online certificate program in military and veteran culture requires 9 credits. This is comprised of 3 core classes of 3 credits each. Students in the continuing education certificate complete various modules over a 14 week period. Students in these programs examine issues in military culture, military family systems, and clinical interventions used in the population. While the on-campus certificate program includes field experience with military members, the online program provides students with a clinical framework for working with this population, including common diagnoses and interventions.
Students in the online and hybrid program learn from experienced military members and/or professionals who have extensive experience working with the population. These certificate programs aim to equip students with the skills to analyze structures in military culture, assess various conditions, research treatments and apply the appropriate interventions. Students may be prepared to work with common diagnoses within the military community like substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicide.
Career Outcomes with a Certificate in Military Social Work
Although a range of careers that interact with the military community, such as therapists and family studies professionals, may benefit from a certificate in military social work, many students may pursue a career as a social worker. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers typically need at least a bachelor's degree in the field, which usually requires an internship experience or fieldwork. However, clinical social workers (CSW) or licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), who are licensed to identify and treat a range of disorders, are required to have a master's degree and 2 years of clinical experience for licensure. Although the BLS does not provide information specifically for military social workers, a variety of social workers may work with the military community, including child and family social workers, clinical social workers, and mental health and substance abuse social workers.
As of 2019, the BLS reported that social workers as a whole made a median annual salary of $50,470. The job outlook for social workers from 2018 to 2028 was 11%. This job growth is much faster than average and may be attributed to the growing need for social services.
An online certificate program in the field of military social work is available at the graduate level and can be completed in 3 semesters. Students in the program must complete several courses that touch on military culture, diagnoses and interventions in the population, and available services and resources.