Social Workers: Salary Overview
Social workers help people cope with problems and those who work in a clinical environment may also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional problems.
A social worker’s job description includes identifying people who need help, assessing their needs, researching and advocating for community resources, and following up on the cases to make sure that the situation has improved.
They also have to maintain case files and records, develop and evaluate programs and services, and some of them also provide psychotherapy services.
There are different types of social workers, depending on their field of expertise.
Clinical and family social workers help families and assist them in finding housing or childcare, food stamps, and other services.
They also intervene when children are in danger.
School social workers develop plans and strategies in collaboration with teachers, parents, and school administrators to improve students’ academic performance.
Mental health and substance abuse social workers work with patients with mental illnesses or addictions.
Healthcare social workers help people make the transition from hospital to their homes, work with patients to help them understand the diagnosis and they may also help doctors and other healthcare workers understand the way their patients’ are affected by diagnosis and illnesses.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for social workers was $50,470 as of May 2019.
The median annual wage shows that half the workers in this occupation earned less than this amount and half earned more.
Salaries vary depending on the social worker’s specialty, his/her education, and experience but also based on the industry of employment.
The lowest 10 percent made less than $31,790 while the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,540 a year.
Social Worker Salary by Specialty
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers held about 70,400 jobs in the United States in 2018, most of them being child, family, and school social workers or healthcare social workers.
The same report shows that the highest median annual wage was reported by social workers who had a different specialty (other than healthcare, child, family, and school or mental health and substance abuse).
These social workers reported a median annual wage of $61,230.
Healthcare social workers reported a median annual wage of $56,750 while child, family, and school social workers earned, on average, $47,390 per year.
The median annual wage was $46,650 for mental health and substance abuse social workers.
Salaries for social workers in a specialty also vary depending on the place of employment.
For example, healthcare social workers who worked for general medical and surgical hospitals reported an average annual wage of $65,980 as of May 2019.
Those who worked in the field of individual and family services earned an average annual wage of $52,460 while healthcare social workers who worked in the field of home health care services reported an average annual wage of $61,900.
The average annual wage was $55,630 for healthcare social workers who worked in nursing care facilities and $61,420 for those who worked for outpatient care centers.
The highest average annual wage was reported by healthcare social workers employed in the field of computer systems design and related services and for religious organizations.
Healthcare social workers who worked in the field of computer systems design and related services earn $73,880 a year, on average, while those who worked for religious organizations earned $72,730.
However, we should mention that these higher-paying fields offer only a few jobs for these professionals, and finding employment in these sectors can be hard.
Social Worker Salary by Industry
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics most social workers worked in the field of individual and family services or for local or states governments.
Salaries for social workers also vary depending on the social worker’s industry of employment.
The median annual wage reported by social workers who were employed by local governments was $55,500.
Social workers who worked for ambulatory healthcare services earned $51,290 a year on average, while those who worked for state governments earned $49,100 a year on average.
The median annual wage for social workers hired in the field of individual and family services was $43,030.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Social Workers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.