Social Worker Salary

What is a Social Worker?

social workers compensationThe life of someone wanting to become a social worker will involve the life of someone who wants to make a difference in the society and change the lives of the people who surround us. They are those health professionals who help people dealing with issues related to various fields in their life, starting from the psychological problems and up to the financial, health, relationship and abuse problems that can be found in various human cases.

Job description of Social Worker

This term of social worker comes from the field with the same name – social work. In this field, the so-called social theories are used by specialists and these theories have the main objective to have impact in understanding what people are confronted with, what their problems are. But it also contributes a lot to change other people’s lives, and as well as to bring great improvement in the society, making it be seen as a whole.

The individuals who are working in this field have their specialization in those particular areas that are involved in giving the necessary aid to the children in need, being of assistance in the particular problems which are life threatening, or helping those people who are in great need to overcome addictions.

A social worker’s list with some of the main duties on the line of job involves: the support that is granted to the clients that are in need, as well as counselling those who need assistance. They are usually referred to as advocates for the people whom they are offering their assistance and so on. But they also educate and teach the people who are their clients new skills. They make sure that the vulnerable clients are protected and that their best interest is being searched for and they are in a constant search for remedies to make a difference for them.

How to become a Social Worker?

As in many new career opportunities, it all starts with you getting your high school diploma or GED (General Educational Development). This will give you a clean start if you’ve decided that this is the career that you want to follow. Now, the next step towards a college is to fulfill the entrance exams that will decide on what universities or colleges you can apply to, like your scores on ACTs, SATs or A Levels.

To earn a place among the best in this field, you should apply to enroll in a college that will provide you with a BSW (with other words a bachelor’s degree) in the field of social work. With you enrolling in a four year accredited college, it will give you a clear change on the way of getting the license to practice.

If you’ve decided that you want to follow the path into becoming a clinical social worker or you may want to work in the school system and so on, then you may probably want to keep in mind that you need a school that will provide you with a master’s of social work degree (MSW). This degree is a must to do, after you’ve completed your BSW.

Even though there are requirements that vary according to each state, most of them in the US require that all the social workers to be licensed, registered or even certified in this field. A licensed clinical social worker is usually expected to take a certain exam, but also to have two years of clinical experience under supervision.

The skills are very important, because you have to deal with issues related to people, so the school in which you are enrolled should offer internship or applications that have a practical part. This is because jobs can be found that will require you to have one or more years of experience in this kind of setting.

As mentioned earlier, an important fact for you is to look up (by contacting the Association of Social Work Boards) which the requirements for license are. For example, if you would like to work in a non-clinical environment, then your state might not require a license. But if you want to find a job in the clinical social work, then in each state a license to practice is required.

In order to obtain a clinical social worker license, you are required to present proof of attesting the fact that you’ve completed three thousand hours of clinical experience and also present letters of recommendation.

Your chances for a great career opportunity will also increase if you will get a credential after having an MSW, a credential that you can obtain from the NASW or the National Association of Social Workers. If you will want to obtain a certain specialization in a particular field, even if you are not a clinical social worker (like in the area of social work that involves the children, the elderly or any other area), then there are institutions, which are specialized in social work that can provide you with a voluntary certification.

In order to keep your license viable, each state will require when working as a clinical social worker to earn those educational credits, which can be achieved by maintaining a continuous education.

Work Environment and Schedule

Social workers can find a job option in the public or private domain starting from various settings. They can find jobs in areas like hospitals, schools, agencies which are non-profit, mental health clinics, or even government offices or private practices.

The ones who are working in the field of the government will help individuals who are in need for public assistance, or will work with people who have any contact with the criminal justice system.

Your schedule will depend on some factors. For example, if you are at a BSW level, then it will be a slight change if you work on an hourly wage or if you are a salaried employee, but it will also depend a little on the state in which you work and the area of specialty.

If you work as an hourly paid employee, then you are required to fulfill a number of forty hours and if you would have worked more, then you’ll have paid overtime. But if you are not working on an hour wage, thus being a salaried employee, you don’t have the possibility to do overtime.

Pros and cons of being a Social Worker

The career of a Social Worker involves many times a passion and involvement from your part for the lives of people who are needy. If you possess great skills to work with people and if you want to make this dream a reality then you’re on the right track to a great career opportunity.

Social Workers help people a lot with mental, emotional problems, people that have behavioral problems, by working in clinical settings. For most of these professionals, their job will involve their services in helping people by finding the necessary resources and will offer solutions on how to handle their issues.

The cons that appear right away in this job involve a huge amount of stress since you are working with patients a lot. Dealing with their emotional problems is not always easy and sometimes can affect you, but, you’ll always have the possibility to learn that this con can be transformed into a pro. How? Well, it will take your time, but learn to leave your work in the office and not take it home with you. Don’t get stuck in a case more than you should and always try to provide people with the best solutions and choices, and then move on to the next case.

The work opportunities are many, and you can choose from a variety of settings. From the public and up to the private setting, you won’t get bored at all. The con that can rise in this career is your safety since you’ll be asked to work with inmates inside of a prison, so choose well and don’t hesitate to pursue what you like.

To be able to operate as a Social Worker, you’ll need to complete the years required in a college and obtain a bachelor’s degree in social working. If you want to work in a clinic, then you’ll probably need to possess a master’s degree in this field. Those who are working in the clinical social worker setting will have to gain a license according to each state requirement.

The job opportunities for social workers are booming more and more. The growth in this field comes based on a need in the health care system for these professionals that will provide best answers and solutions when it comes to helping people with various addictions and mental diseases.

Social Worker Job Growth

All throughout 2016 the employment of social workers has great reviews with plenty of work opportunities. The main factors are the number of demanding as well as the constant and rapidly growth among the aging population and the baby boom population. These generations are those that create a huge demand for health services as well as social services. The employment growth will vary a lot also according to the specialty of the Social Worker.

The employment job growth rate is projected for the next five to ten years at an increase of 12.5% or even higher depending on the specialization of social workers. These professionals have plenty of job opportunities to choose from. Finding a job in a private social service agency is also estimated to increase and expand, but it may vary due to the need and the government funding levels.

According to the type of specialty, the job prospects should be very good for those professionals that have a background in substance abuse treatment and gerontology. The average rate of employment growth for substance abuse treatment social workers is projected to grow up to 28%-29%. However, the competition will not miss in this career especially in the cities where the training programs of social workers are most prevalent.

Social Worker Salary

According to the work that a social worker is doing, his salary is higher quoted than in other fields, because the demand in the educational system (and not only) is increased. The studies which are required vary from the entry level and up to the highest positions in this job.

The salary of a social worker is based on numerous factors and the average income in this field is of $42,490. Their salary varies according to the location in which these professionals work, but it also depends according to the type of setting and the facility in which they provide their services.

The responsibilities of a social worker start from the type of setting, as well as the facility in which he or she works. Industries have a large impact in a social worker’s job, because his average salary depends on this. For example, if a social worker has cases that involve legal work in the area of his job, he is rewarded with a more competitive salary due to the responsibilities that have to be assumed in these cases.

The top industries will pay a good salary to those hired as social workers, for example the average salary in the Federal Executive Branch is of $70,590 while in the Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals the income reaches at $69,610.

So, according to the responsibilities and according to the facilities in which a social worker does his job, the average salary is highly influenced. There are facilities in which these professionals work with people that are poor or with those clients that are in need for legal assistance or financial aid. Also, the average social worker salary is different here according to the level of experience and the education that you’ve acquired across the years. As a social worker, your salary can be good or at an entry level smaller. For example, in the field of Individual and Family Services, the main average salary is of $40,735.

Taking salaries by each state in the US, the social worker average salary per state will vary greatly due to the facilities in which you are working, but also the economic fluctuation and the social interaction. There are states that pay over the average salary that is usually granted to a social worker, and these enter in the category of top paid states. For example, in West Virginia a social worker salary is of $68,620, while in South Dakota it is of $66,640.

In other states of the US, even though the level of employment is much higher as well as the number people in the area, those who want to work as social workers or those who are already working in this area, the salary is lower. For example, in New York, the average salary is of $57,255, while in Illinois it is of $53,225 per year.

Also, there are other factors and influences that come into the way of a good earning and salary. For example, the education and the training both mean a great deal when it comes to obtaining a good job and a great increase in the way of living, and also in the salary which is granted.

Like in every job, there are levels of salary that are quoted as lowest or best points, due also to the metropolitan areas or geographical locations, but there are also the factors mentioned earlier, which affect the economy in any state a lot and the income of a social worker and his responsibilities as well.

The next five or ten years will guarantee a stability in the average salary of a social worker, due to those industries that will continue to grow and expand. The field of social work will continue to develop and grow, due to the number of population, which is dealing with a lot of issues and is in need for someone to represent them. They need someone who has the necessary amount of experience to deal with these kinds of situations.

Salary of a Social Worker in 2015

The salary of a social worker in 2015 is mainly influenced by the type of employer, the geographical area. It also depends on the years of experience that can make a social worker to be very skilled at what they are doing.

According to the type of employer, the salary of a social worker will vary. For instance, those who work in elementary and secondary schools will earn a salary that reaches $54,263 per year. Those who work in the family services will earn a median salary that reaches $35,124 per year. The years of experience will allow making contacts and becoming an expert in this field.

Social Worker Salary in 2016

In the U.S., the year 2016 brings for the social workers an estimated median average income that reaches to be at around $42,006 per year. The highest considered skills in this profession that are paid excellent associated with this career include Geriatrics, Patient Counseling, Psychiatrists and a few other.

The salary for this group starts mainly from around $30,056 per year and usually climbs up to earnings that reach up to $61,461 per year. To this paychecks, you can also add other benefits such as bonuses that usually can go up to $1,957 and profit sharing that can be estimated in many cases up to $6,010. The commission that is granted can reach only up to $610.

The salaries of these professionals vary a lot according to some of the influential factors such as geographical location, gender, education, work setting and let’s not forget years of experience in the field.

According to the male-female, the gender factor, male social workers tend usually to have higher incomes than their female social workers counterparts. The salaries for female social workers usually start from $35,068 and climb up to $59,089 per year while those for male Social Workers have estimated figures that start from $36,684 and climb up to $67,094 per year.

The level of education as mentioned earlier is another factor that impacts the income for these professionals. For instance, the annual income for someone who has just started in the field with a BWS degree (or else known as a bachelor’s degree), can expect to take home up to 30,010 per year. At the same time, those with an MWS degree- a master’s degree, can expect to take home a yearly income that can be comprised between $40,010 and $60,010 per year. The income continues to grow as the education level does. A social worker with a DWS degree- a doctorate can expect at an income with more than $40,010 per year.

The income also varies according to each state; metropolitan areas have a higher income than rural areas. Related also to the geographic factor the Pacific region is seen as having higher Social Worker salaries while the South Central is perceived as having lowest social worker incomes. For instance, in Seattle, the median payment for these professionals is estimated to be at around $50,827 per year. Further on, in Los Angeles, it can get to be around $50,161 per year.

Social Worker Salary in Canada, Australia and UK

In Canada, a social worker will earn per year an average salary of CAD$48,050, this being the median salary. For example, the lowest point in salary is at CAD$30,450, while the highest amount of the salary reaches at CAD$69,610. Of course that the salary varies according to factors that increase or decrease the social worker salary.

If you work as a social worker in Australia, then the average salary is of AU$55,010 per year, while in the UK, as a social worker, the average salary in this field reaches to an yearly amount of £29,010, being the annual average estimation in the salary. Transformed into US dollars, the average salary as a social worker in the United Kingdom would be equal to the US equivalent of $46,010 per year.

Mainly, the social worker average salary will vary according to each region or sector, but also according to the skills that a professional has gained during the educational process.

Conclusion on social worker salary

Working as a social worker can be very rewarding, especially if you are a dynamic person who likes to help other people, but there can also be situations of risk and danger. The job for a social worker is that these trained professionals work and deal with hard and many times exhausting cases in all the blankets of the population.

But the salary in the case of a social worker sometimes is a rewarding benefit on this career path. The outlook for the next ten years brings in front a growth in the way of living, as it shows a way of great advancement in the career opportunities. Due to the various types of facilities, as a social worker, you have the best opportunity to choose a good and advantageous average salary.


In this article, the main topic is about what a social worker is and which his job description is, and also the main duties that he performs in this field of profession. We also make a reference on how to become a social worker and which are the studies that one should have in order to gain the right to practice. The work environment and the schedule are other topics, which can be found, as well as the salary by state and not only, also by the types of facilities.

The salary of a social worker in the US is influenced by some main factors. The last in the topics of this article is the social worker salary in other countries such as Canada, Australia and UK, followed by a short conclusion on the salary of a social worker.

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  • First Published Date: 8 July, 2014
  • Last Updated Date: 20 August, 2016