Social Worker Salary – How Much Can You Make and What Kinds of Social Work Pay the Most?

William Miller

As a social worker, you will help people in need and make a difference in their lives. But what’s the average social worker salary? Let’s talk about the wages and the factors that can affect your pay.

Social Worker Salary in 2022 – Hourly and Yearly Wages

In 2022, a social worker with a bachelor’s degree (BSW) can expect to make $29 per hour, or about $60,470 per year. With a master’s (MSW), the median annual pay is $67,000 ($32 hourly). These are social worker salaries calculated by

Now, let’s look at data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020. The mean annual wage for all kinds of social workers was listed as $55,950. It’s lower than the median because it includes social workers with lower levels of education and experience.

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Social Worker Salaries in Different Branches

How much a social worker earns depends on where they’re employed.

  • In the federal executive branch, they made $82,490 on average in 2020.
  • Healthcare social workers’ salaries amounted to $60,470 on average.
  • Those who do child, family, and school social work earned a mean wage of $52,370.
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers made $54,540 on average.

Social Worker Salaries over the Years

In 2020, social workers made $55,950 per year on average. Let’s compare that to the mean annual salaries from previous years.

  • 2019 – $54,190
  • 2018 – $53,060
  • 2017 – $51,630
  • 2016 – $50,710
  • 2015 – $49,670

As you can see, the average social worker salary increased by about 12.5% in 5 years. This could be due to a number of factors, such as increased demand for workers or experience-based pay raises.

Social Worker Salary by State

The geographic profiles depend on what kind of workers we’re talking about. According to the BLS, the 5 top paying states for child, family and school social workers were:

  • District of Columbia – $71,840
  • New Jersey – $71,110
  • Connecticut – $68,230
  • Rhode Island – $65,430
  • New York – $63,740.

Healthcare social workers salaries were highest in California ($83,000), District of Columbia ($76,100), Oregon ($75,730), Hawaii ($73,410) and Connecticut ($71,850).

Mental health and substance abuse social workers earned the most in New Jersey ($91,070), District of Columbia ($73,490), California ($73,150), Connecticut ($66,500) and Rhode Island ($65,430).

For all others, including those working at government agencies, the highest-paying states were: Hawaii ($85,740), Massachusetts ($84,540), Nevada ($82,410), Rhode Island ($79,720) and Virginia ($77,060).

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What Do Social Workers Do?

Though social worker salaries vary depending on experience, level of education and geographic location, one thing is for sure: they make a difference in the lives of others. They are advocates, counselors and connectors who work to improve people’s lives by providing support and resources when they need it most.

  • Family social workers help families in crisis, connect them with family support, and provide counseling.
  • School social workers help students with behavioral problems, connect them with resources inside and outside of school, and provide guidance on social and emotional issues.
  • Healthcare social workers help patients navigate the healthcare system and provide support and counseling to patients and their families.
  • Mental health social workers provide counseling and support to individuals with mental health issues or addiction.
  • Social workers in government agencies work with programs like foster care and adoption, food assistance, and housing.

No matter what branch of social work you’re in, you will be making a difference in the lives of others. And that’s something to be proud of.

Is a Social Worker Career the Right Fit for You?

There are a few questions you can ask yourself. Do you want to help people in need? Are you patient and compassionate? Do you have a strong desire to make a difference in your community? If the answer is yes to all of them, then social work may be the right career for you. It’s a demanding but rewarding profession.

What Hours Do Social Workers Work?

Most work full-time during regular office hours, though some may work part-time or provide after-hours assistance on weekends on top of their normal schedule.

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What Benefits Can Social Workers Get?

Many enjoy a good benefits package, which may include medical and dental insurance, paid vacation days, 401(k) matching, and continuing education stipends.

What Kind of Training Do You Need to Be a Social Worker?

There are many paths you can take to become a social worker. The most common level of education is a master’s degree in social work. Some people even choose to pursue a doctorate.

To specialize in a certain area of social work, you may need to complete additional coursework or earn a certification. For example, to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), you must have a master’s degree in social work and pass a state-specific exam.

What Are the Licensing Requirements for Social Workers?

Most social workers need to be licensed in order to practice. Licensing requirements vary by state, but in most states, they have to pass an exam after getting their degree. Some states also require them to complete continuing education credits every year in order to renew their license.

If You’re Considering Social Service, Kudos to You

If you’re looking for a career that is both challenging and rewarding, social work may be the right fit for you. With a social work degree, you can make an impact in the lives of others.

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