Social Worker Salary Guide

Social Worker Salary Overview

There are numerous roles, jobs, and responsibilities within the field of social work, all of which entail varying salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professionals in the field of social work typically earn a decent salary between $40,000 and $60,000 per year. The best-paid 10% of social workers made more than $70,390/year, while the bottom 10% of earners made less than $26,710/year.

Medical, Clinical & Managerial Salary

As stated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical social workers earn an average salary of $43,120 per year; medical social workers earn an average salary of $51,460 per year; and social and community service managers earn an average salary of $64,460 per year.

Average Salaries For Selected Careers in Social Work

Clinical Social Worker

Clinical social workers typically provide support services to individuals, families, and groups dealing with mental, behavioral, and emotional health issues. These issues can include substance abuse, addictions, disabilities, trauma, and more. With the variety of services they provide and the growing demand for these services, clinical social workers comprise the largest group of mental health care providers in the country. The median clinical social worker salary is $43,120 per year.

Clients—the individuals, families, and groups served by the social worker—benefit from direct services such as assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning, interventions, treatment, evaluations, and case management. Clinical social workers also provide preventive and crisis services, health education, and counseling or therapy, whether short- or long-term.

Clinical social work is a versatile profession that is needed in countless environments. The settings in which they provide services could include, but are not limited to: hospitals, private practices, health clinics, schools, courts, the public sector, elder care facilities, rehabilitation facilities, homes, religious organizations, hospices, nonprofit organizations, and social services offices.

Medical Social Worker

A medical social worker helping othersMedical social workers, also known as hospital social workers, provide needed services to individuals and groups dealing with difficult medicinal issues such as terminal illnesses or trauma. The social worker’s role involves assessing the needs and goals of the client; giving the client the support needed to cope with the situation physically, mentally, and emotionally; and connecting the client with the necessary resources and services.

They provide their clients with numerous other resources as well, such as education, counseling, advocacy, referrals, and any other service that will enhance their clients’ quality of life and preserve the clients’ dignity and rights.

Medical social workers typically must have a master’s degree or higher, some experience working with the population in which they specialize, and license and certifications to practice in their state. The median medical social worker salary is $51,460 per year.

The environments in which medical social workers provides services are numerous, and typically include hospitals, hospices, or other health care institutions. They provide counseling, organize support groups, and coordinate health care services, whether short- or long-term. The work of this type of social workers often involves travel, including visiting clients in hospitals, visiting them at their homes during recovery, or meeting with family and friends of the clients.

Social Work Case Manager

Social work case managers provide a wide range of services to families and individuals, to aid in difficult situations and help improve their clients’ overall quality of life. The case manager assists the client in identifying goals and works with the client to attain the resources necessary to reach those goals.

Case managers are the point of contact for clients, organizations, service providers, and agencies, and they keep detailed and organized records for each case. Their role is versatile and they often perform many functions for their clients, including mediator, advocate, and advisor, to connect the clients with the services they need.

Social work case managers could potentially work in a variety of settings, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals, insurance agencies, or home health care companies, or they can open private practices. The variety of specializations for social work case management is vast, and can include employment services, health care, housing, substance abuse treatment and/or counseling, physical or mental disabilities, child welfare, and immigrant or refugee services.

Social work case managers typically must have a bachelor’s degree or higher, skills and experience in the field, and the licenses and certifications required by the state in which they practice.

Social Worker Salary by Specialty & Employer Type

Salaries in the field vary according to different specializations and work environments among various social work jobs. According to the BLS reports, for social workers specialized in child, family & school care, elementary and secondary schools as well as local governments are generous when it comes to the average annual salaries they offer to their dedicated social workers. While for healthcare social workers, hospitals appear to be the ideal work environment. Are you considering a career in social work? Learn more about msw programs.

See the chart below for specific salary information:
*Salary figures are based on a national mean and may vary by location. Annual wages have been calculated by multiplying the hourly mean wage by a "year-round, full-time" hours figure of 2,080 hours; for those occupations where there is not an hourly mean wage published, the annual wage has been directly calculated from the reported survey data.
Specialization Work Environment 2012 Average Annual Wage
Child,Family, School Elementary and Secondary Schools $59,620 (1)*
Healthcare Hospitals $56,960 (2)*
Healthcare Home Health Care $55,720 (2)*
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Hospital $51,480 (3)*
Child, Family, School Local Government $50,600 (1)*
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Specialty Hospitals $49,160 (3)*
Healthcare Local Government $48,680 (2)*
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Local Government $48,070 (3)*
Healthcare Nursing Care Facilities $45,950 (2)*
Healthcare Individual and Family Services $42,110 (2)*
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Outpatient Services $41,270 (3)*
Child, Family, School Social Advocacy Orgnaizations $40,050 (1)*
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Individual and Family Services $39,950 (3)*
Child, Family, School Individual and Family Services $38,520 (1)*

If you are interested in pursuing a job that will help individuals and families improve their lives, a master’s in social work might be a perfect fit for you.

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own.” —Benjamin Disraeli

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