Social Work Salary: How Much Do Social Workers Make?

Interested in learning about the variables behind social workers' salaries? Read this guide to find out how much social workers make in your state and why.
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Updated on April 16, 2024
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  • Social workers typically make from $46,000-$76,000 a year.
  • The typical social worker's salary in 2023 was around $58,000.
  • Their pay depends on different factors, such as industry and geographical location.
  • As a social worker, your level of education may influence your salary potential.

Social workers dedicate their careers to advocating for vulnerable people and promoting social justice. While challenging, the job can also be rewarding, especially for those driven to serve others. But how much does it realistically pay?

Social work salaries vary widely and depend on many factors, like the sector you work in or your degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2023, the median annual salary for social workers was $58,380. However, different types of social workers report different earnings.

Median Social Work Salary by the Numbers

$58,380

Social workers

$62,940

Healthcare Social Workers

$55,960

Mental Health and Substance Use Social Workers

$53,940

Child, Family, and School Social Workers

Source: BLS, May 2023

Keep reading to learn how social work salaries vary based on your job, industry, and level of education.

Featured Online Bachelor's Programs in Social Work

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Highest-Paying Social Work Jobs

Social workers who become directors or supervisors in social service organizations tend to earn salaries on the higher end for all social workers. These social workers may also have several years of clinical experience or advanced degrees.

Highest-Paying Social Work Jobs
Social Work Job Average Salary
Clinical Director $85,490
Social Work Professor $80,840
Executive Director of a Social Work Organization $74,800
Behavior Analyst $71,210
Licensed Clinical Social Worker $65,880
Clinical Supervisor $65,890
Social Services Director $62,760
Medical Social Worker $60,940
Source: Payscale, April 2024; BLS, May 2023

What Industry Pays Social Workers the Most?

A social worker's salary can depend on the industry they work in. Social workers can find jobs in many industries, including schools, hospitals, small private clinics, and large government agencies.

Social workers tend to earn the most money working for the federal government, where they research and develop social service, healthcare, and education policies. Social workers working for the federal government earned a median salary of $93,870 in 2023.

Other top-paying industries for social workers include:

  • State-Owned Hospitals: Median annual wage of $77,570 in 2023
  • Medical and Surgical Hospitals: $75,360
  • Physicians' Offices: $68,000
  • Insurance carriers: $65,250

More Education Leads to Higher Social Work Salaries

Bachelor's in Social Work Salary

In bachelor's in social work (BSW) programs, students learn the foundations of social work. They may complete internships assisting licensed social workers. When they graduate, they can start a master's degree program or enter the workforce.

BSW graduates are not legally qualified to provide clinical services or therapy. However, some social work jobs only require a BSW. These are entry-level positions in direct service:

Social and Community Service Managers

These professionals coordinate programs and manage staff at social service organizations. They might hire people, create budgets, and use data to improve their organization's offerings.

Median Salary
$77,030 (BLS, May 2023)

Community Outreach Workers

Community outreach workers work for social service organizations to spread the word about their agency's services. They also recruit or enroll people who may need help. These professionals typically complete extensive on-the-job training.

Average Salary
$48,340 (Payscale, April 2024)

Housing Case Managers

Case managers support individuals through major life transitions. They advocate for people and connect them to needed services. Housing case managers work with people experiencing homelessness. They help people apply for housing and stay in housing for the long term.

Average Salary
$47,020 (Payscale, April 2024)

Master's in Social Work (MSW) Salary

A master's in social work prepares graduates for clinical social work, healthcare, and administration careers. You need a master's degree to become a licensed social worker.

Most social workers have master's degrees, according to O*NET OnLine, including 77% of mental health and substance use social workers and 70% of healthcare social workers. However, just 26% of child, family, and school social worker occupations require master's degrees.

Social workers may increase their earning potential by pursuing an MSW. Check out some of the jobs and salaries for MSW graduates below:

Medical Social Worker

Medical social workers primarily work with patients and their families in hospitals or outpatient clinics. These professionals advocate for patients and help them cope through treatment. They may provide families with emotional support and connect them to support groups or financial resources.

Median Salary
$62,940 (BLS, May 2023)

Geriatric Social Worker

Geriatric or gerontological social workers work with older individuals and their families. They may specialize in:

  • Transitioning to long-term care
  • Investigating elder abuse
  • Coping with age-related disease or other aspects of aging

Average Salary
$65,790 (Payscale, April 2024)

School Social Worker

School social workers try to understand students' lives outside of school to help students do their best. These professionals connect students and families to services when needed. They may also influence school policies to better support students' social and emotional lives.

Median Salary
$53,940 (BLS, May 2023)

Doctorate or Ph.D. in Social Work Salary

If you want to study social work at the doctoral level, you can earn a Ph.D. or a doctor of social work degree (DSW). People with a Ph.D. in social work may be qualified to work as professors or researchers. The DSW prepares students to perform macro-level social work, which involves solving systemic problems in society through policies and social programs.

Doctoral degrees in social work may correspond to higher paychecks. Below, check out some of the careers for these graduates.

Policy and Public Administration Researcher

These researchers study forces that impact society's well-being. They may specialize in housing, child welfare, or drug rehabilitation, among other fields. They design research projects, uncover best practices, and help inform policies and legislation.

Median Salary
$132,350 (BLS, May 2023)

Department Chair

Department chairs lead an academic department at a college or university. A social work department chair may supervise other faculty, work with the school's administrators, and help get resources for the department or social work research.

Average Salary
$87,960 (Payscale, April 2024)

Professor

Professors teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Social work professors might teach courses about family systems, public policy, or program evaluation methods. Professors who are also clinicians may instruct and advise students pursuing social work licensure.

Median Salary
$75,020 (BLS, May 2023)

Social Worker Salaries by State

According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Pacific region social workers tend to make higher salaries. Salaries for social workers in the South Central area of the U.S. tend to be lower. Additionally, metropolitan areas tend to have higher social worker salaries than rural areas.

Median Salary for Social Workers by State (2023)

Sort Results by:
Median Salary for Social Workers by State (2023)
State Child, Family, and School Social Workers Healthcare Social Workers Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Other Social Workers
Alabama $45,970 $55,850 $37,870 $83,470
Alaska $63,360 $64,500 $60,120 $57,630
Arizona $48,220 $63,790 $45,100 $57,640
Arkansas $44,820 $60,580 $45,910 $44,370
California $65,840 $89,800 $71,450 $63,680
Colorado $62,520 $62,660 $60,450 $52,150
Connecticut $63,050 $79,210 $78,720 $66,750
Delaware $44,820 $63,460 $54,550 $79,620
District of Columbia $73,560 $83,460 $84,560 $99,110
Florida $47,490 $61,940 $50,900 $48,980
Georgia $46,330 $59,280 $47,340 $78,740
Hawaii $65,920 $76,480 $55,570 $95,870
Idaho $57,090 $67,460 $48,040 $52,790
Illinois $59,220 $63,880 $49,550 $63,630
Indiana $49,300 $61,710 $50,950 $76,710
Iowa $46,860 $60,630 $48,850 $77,830
Kansas $48,950 $61,810 $51,660 $86,130
Kentucky $43,510 $60,830 $44,820 $46,510
Louisiana $54,090 $61,620 $44,300 $58,570
Maine $60,880 $64,040 $66,380 $55,220
Maryland $67,070 $63,700 $55,060 $66,600
Massachusetts $61,970 $64,860 $61,760 $82,910
Michigan $57,210 $62,880 $57,290 $61,710
Minnesota $67,080 $68,470 $65,890 $70,100
Mississippi $41,620 $53,130 $45,540 $82,830
Missouri $41,620 $47,810 $38,150 $49,910
Montana $47,070 $58,060 $39,310 $46,090
Nebraska $46,050 $58,160 $45,180 $62,740
Nevada $53,390 $70,690 $53,020 $100,240
New Hampshire $58,060 $75,100 $71,760 $93,270
New Jersey $73,100 $77,680 $69,980 $61,160
New Mexico $47,380 $61,440 $55,380 $62,590
New York $67,370 $58,860 $75,960 $79,040
North Carolina $50,820 $62,320 $53,220 $59,320
North Dakota $62,160 $63,750 $55,850 $71,900
Ohio $48,250 $61,520 $45,150 $60,050
Oklahoma $42,020 $49,880 $37,740 $93,870
Oregon $60,220 $81,380 $59,120 $61,140
Pennsylvania $50,140 $62,200 $45,700 $65,770
Puerto Rico $32,290 $30,770 $29,430 $34,910
Rhode Island $64,920 $76,750 $66,000 $93,350
South Carolina $44,390 $60,230 $48,220 $82,830
South Dakota $47,930 $48,370 $43,990 $85,300
Tennessee $48,410 $57,110 $43,890 $47,060
Texas $50,380 $63,260 $45,350 $82,910
Utah $47,010 $67,880 $46,040 $52,830
Vermont $59,700 $67,240 $61,070 $74,840
Virginia $57,240 $61,260 $58,070 $79,360
Washington $63,170 $65,130 $64,850 $94,250
West Virginia $46,060 $58,730 $37,740 $77,380
Wisconsin $52,010 $60,980 $51,540 $57,360
Wyoming $50,540 $62,280 $39,090 $61,680
Source: BLS
The Highest-Paying States for Social Workers (by Median Salary, 2023)
Child, Family, and School Social Workers Healthcare Social Workers Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers Other Social Workers
  1. New Jersey
  2. New York
  3. Minnesota
  1. California
  2. Oregon
  3. Connecticut
  1. Connecticut
  2. New York
  3. New Hampshire
  1. Nevada
  2. Hawaii
  3. Washington
Source: BLS

Job Growth for Social Workers

The BLS projects that social worker employment will grow 7% from 2022-2032. That's faster than the average for all occupations.

The BLS projects even more growth for social workers in healthcare (10%) and mental health and substance use (11%).

As the population ages, social workers in healthcare settings can help people and their families adjust to medical interventions and elder care. And, as more people seek out mental health and substance use treatment, social workers help staff the clinics and services that assist people in recovery.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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