How Much do Social Workers Earn?

Projected to grow 12% in employment from 2014 to 2024 according to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who aspire to be social workers can be at a bit of an ease when it comes to employment outlook.

What is Social Work?

Social work is a career field in which people work with all kinds of families, communities, and individuals to help them improve, deal with, or solve situations such as poverty, abuse, mental illness, disabilities, addiction, adoption, and/or financial hardships.

In some cases, social work can also include implementing or improving policies that can help solve or deal with existing social issues. Only those who has a degree in social work and required licensing as well as training can be referred to as professional social workers.

While social work is primarily focused on the wellbeing of individuals, often times it can also focus on the wellbeing of families, couples, groups, or communities. Social workers can be found working in crisis intervention, rehabilitation centres, government agencies, educational institutes, and more.

A Brief Job Description

Some of the very basic things a social worker does is inform others about various ways to get help. This could be food assistance, elderly services, or government benefits.

Some social workers — known as clinical social workers — diagnose and treat those with mental health, behavioral, and/or emotional issues. Others can take part in legal cases dealing with child or spousal abuse. Research on a wide range of topics relating to social issues can also be a part of a social worker’s job.


Social workers need to have, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in social work. Alongside the degree, social workers need to acquire a license– the requirements to obtain the license is dependent on where one works — in order to be eligible for employment. It is important to note that licensing requirements does not matter if one has a master’s degree in social work, thus social workers with a master’s can work anywhere in the United States.

Coursework in social work is incredibly interdisciplinary, with topics that incorporate foundations and theories from economics, sociology, law, medicine, counseling, politics, and more. Additionally, as part of their study, students working towards a degree in social work will have to complete two to three years of a practical hands-on internship.


A social worker’s salary can depend on experience, education, location, company, and specialization. For example, as of May 2016 according to the United States Department of Labor Bureaus of Labor Statistics, Child, Family, and School Social Workers has an annual salary of $47, 510, in comparison to Healthcare Social Workers who earn $55, 510 annually.

Location also matter in these fields. For example, Child, Family and School social workers who work in Connecticut have the highest earning by state with an annual salary of $66, 410. Healthcare social workers earn the highest in California with an annual salary of $71, 080.

As of May 2016, the average annual salary of social workers across all fields is $46, 890, with the lowest 10% earning $28, 800 and the highest 10% earning $78, 510. In general, a starting salary for those with a bachelor’s degree in social work is around $30,000, while those with graduate degrees can expect an annual income of over $40,000.

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