Many factors can determine a social worker salary.
The salary can be determined through various means such as the specific area of social work as well as the region in which you live.
It can also depend upon your employer as well as the type of education you have.
You will need to figure all these when you try to determine your potential salary as well as any bonuses and benefits that may come with your job.
Average Social Worker Salary According to Industry:
The social worker salary tends to start off in the same range no matter which industry you work in. For instance, if you start off in the adoption and foster care services sector, on average you will start off with a salary of a little more than $25,000 a year.
Social services workers start off with a little less than that but still in the $25,000 salary range.
If you start off in the community mental health or nursing home sector, your salary usually begins at more than $26,000 per year. However, social workers in the healthcare sector usually start at a little more than $27,000 a year.
Not surprisingly, the average highest salary for healthcare social workers is also higher than other industries at more than $60,000 a year and a nursing home worker comes close to this high average as well.
While the adoption and foster care services industry usually plateaus around $53,000, the salary for those who work in social services and community mental health both average close to $56,000 a year as its highest salaries.
Within all these industries, the average salary is more than the national average for all social workers even after bonuses have been factored into the salary. However, you will also want to consider other elements such as your degree or certification.
Average Social Worker Salary According to Education:
The lowest averaging social worker salary belongs to the one who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. These workers can start out close to $20,000 a year.
A regular bachelor’s degree can merit more than $24,000 as a starting salary while a Bachelor of Social Work degree is worth a slightly larger starting salary at more than $25,000. Interestingly, a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology can get a salary of more than $25,000.
Of course, a master of social work degree can get a worker a higher average starting salary of more than $31,000 a year. Not surprisingly, the highest average salary is also in this area with more than $61,000 a year.
What may be surprising is that the other degrees plateau at much lower yearly salaries. The BSW usually peaks at more than $47,000 and the bachelor’s degree can net nearly $49,000 per year.
The B.A. in psychology averages closer to $48,000 a year. However, what you may not know is that the B.S in psychology starts lower but ends higher than the B.A. with more than $51,000 a year.
Another factor to consider that may shock some is that although women make up more than 80% of all social workers, they tend to make less than their male counterparts in all areas of social work.
Average Social Worker Salary According to Region:
The city in which you work can also have a huge effect on the average social worker salary. The highest paid social workers are typically found in Columbia, South Carolina.Those who live in Los Angeles and St. Paul also enjoy relatively higher salaries than other social workers. Boston and Phoenix are also ideal locations if you are looking for an area that pays social workers rather well.
If you are fortunate, you can find an industry and city that can get you much a higher than average salary if you have the right degree. For instance, social workers in Chicago on average start off at less than $25,000 a year, but there are some who average nearly $83,000 a year.Those in Charlotte and Philadelphia may begin at nearly $30,000 and usually end up around $65,000 per year. However, New York still remains a popular place to work.
Of course, there are many other factors that will determine an individual’s social worker salary. For instance, you will probably make more as you gain more experience. You may also find a better salary opportunity if you are in an industry in which social workers are in demand. However, the primary factor that will determine whether or not you get the salary you desire is your own sense of fulfillment with the job.
Average Salary by Career:
Social Service Worker
Often called social workers, social service workers are assigned cases of clients who are involved in a variety of situations, and it is the worker’s responsibility to contact the client and provide resources and services that are needed. These may include counseling, advisement, and guidance, as well as how to access social and community services such education; child care; treatment or rehabilitation; government funds; housing programs; food programs; and more. Social workers may also start legal action in cases where child abandonment, abuse, or neglect are involved. Social service workers also collaborate with other agencies and professionals, including police departments, schools, foster home agencies, adoption centers, physicians and court-appointed guardians. The average salary for a social service worker is $34,000.
Children Services Specialists
Children services specialists assist in developing, implementing, and administering an area’s, region’s, or state’s services to children and families who are in need of the services provided. Specialists may assist program providers in accessing, delivering and maintaining programs for children services, and they often oversee departments of social services; care facilities for children and families; county youth programs; private and public agencies; as well as field-based staff in regards to state and federal requirements and professional industry standards. Specialists also create, implement, maintain and evaluate policy and guidelines for services and programs, and they evaluate a client’s ability to participate in a variety of programs and services. A children services specialists can expect to make on average $57,000.
Senior Social Worker
A senior social worker may provide management and leadership to team members or other lower-level social workers, as well as take on complex casework arrangements and treatment planning in high-risk situations. They often travel, evaluating social work programs for the agency they represent, and may be used to train and advise other social workers and case managers. Typical duties include helping individuals and families find resources and services that can aid them in varying situations, from meal programs and assisted living to adoption and rehabilitation programs. At this level, social workers may also be involved in policy making and research. A senior social worker can earn up to $77,000.
Clinical Social Worker
Clinical social workers, also referred to as licensed clinical social workers, are responsible for diagnosing and treating disorders that are behavioral, mental, or emotional in nature; providing treatment plans with the patient and other healthcare professionals; providing therapy to individuals, groups, couples and families; and assess a patient’s progress. They are also able to monitor and work with patients to make changes or adjust to changes in their lives, as well as encourage patients to discuss their thoughts and emotions so that they can gain better control in their lives. Clinical social workers maintain patient records for evaluation and referrals, as well as provide referrals to community services. An average wage for a clinical social worker is $61,000.
CPS Investigation Social Worker
A CPS (child protective services) investigation social worker provides protection to children who are vulnerable or at risk and their families. For individual children, work entails assessing a home or living arrangements to ensure the child’s safety and to investigate claims of abuse, abandonment, or neglect. A worker may evaluate a family to determine way to reduce or resolve physical or emotional situations that cause neglect or abuse to a child, as well as work with families to gain assistance or locate services, such as applying for food stamps or finding daycare. CPS investigation social workers may set up adoptions, find foster families for children, and provide assistance in helping families resolve issues. They may also provide mental health care to families and children so that they may be able to deal with certain situations, such as living in foster care or seeing their parents divorce. Average salary for a cps investigation social worker is $39,000.
Licensed Master Social Worker
Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSW) provide a range of social work services to groups or individuals in a multitude of settings. They must be able to perform a number of tasks, including evaluating and treating patients who are considered a challenge and who display more serious social, mental, emotional, developmental, behavioral, and addictive disorders or disabilities. An LMSW should be able to evaluate an individual’s and a family’s needs; maintain patient records with additional treatments or findings; determine an appropriate treatment and arrange for referrals to the appropriate programs or facilities; and educate an individual or family on a disorder or illness and the proper way to treat or care for an individual. They also are able to perform tasks expected of an unlicensed social worker or an unlicensed clinical social worker, and they may offer supervision to staff members who are also involved in the treatment, program or case management. A licensed master social worker can expect $70,000/year.
Psychiatric Social Worker
A psychiatric social worker makes assessments of a patient’s mental capabilities, often through interviews, in order to develop a treatment plan or to determine the appropriate services required for the individual and family members. They often provide services directly, through such methods as rehabilitation, therapy (both in individual and group setting), outreach, and intervention. Psychiatric social workers also keep patient records; explain treatments to patients and family members; and monitor a patient’s progress and results. They may also be required to provide referral services from other agencies and help patients return to the community after the completion of an inpatient treatment program. Psychiatric social workers can expect to earn $53,000/year.
Substance Abuse Social Worker
Substance abuse social workers are trained to assess and then treat those who have a history or current issue with substance abuse, which can include drugs (illegal and prescription), smoking and alcohol. Social workers in this field often counsel patients or clients through individual therapy or group therapy sessions; evaluate an individual’s physical and mental capabilities; work with doctors and other counselors in coordinating treatments; and refer patients to community programs and resources for treatment, housing and other assistance. They may also need to assess and offer counseling to the individual’s family members or close friends so that they can understand, process and support the client. Social workers in substance abuse can earn up to $63,000.