Average Social Worker Salaries and Wages

Most social workers don't enter this field in order to earn a high salary; they choose social work careers because they genuinely care about helping people and want to provide assistance and direction to those who are dealing with certain challenges throughout their lives. Social workers need to have at least a bachelor's degree in sociology or a related field, and typically pursue a master's degree or advanced training programs to increase their knowledge and skills, and also earn higher-than-average social worker salary. Still, national salary trends for this line of work are still on the lower end for many positions, and only some individuals earn close to a six-figure salary during their lifetime.

Typical Wages for Social Workers

According to Indeed.com's January 2012 statistics for social worker salaries, the typical social worker earns about $53,000 a year. Average salaries and wages for social workers depend on the field or specialty they are working in, their experience, and also the location of the clinic or employer. The majority work in large cities and urban areas, and may encounter a higher cost of living. This is why salaries for this profession are considered to be on the lower end of comparable positions. Social worker salaries for those who work in the medical field or provide psychology services are significantly higher than for those who work in a non-clinical setting.

Indeed.com reports the following average salaries for different types of social work positions, as of January 2012:

  • Supervising Psychiatric Social Worker - $82,000
  • Supervisor Counseling Psychologist - $92,000
  • Children's Services Specialist - $58,000
  • CPS Investigation Worker - $47,000
  • Social Worker LVL - $39,000
  • Social Service Worker - $32,000
  • CPS Conservatorship Worker - $48,000
  • Social Worker Hud Vash - $73,000
  • Psychiatric Social Worker - $54,000
  • Clinical Social Worker - $60,000
  • Supervisor Social Worker - $92,000
  • Medical Social Worker - $65,000
  • Social Service Specialist - $54,000
  • Licensed Social Worker - $48,000
  • Eligibility Worker - $42,000

Factors that Affect a Social Worker Salary

There are several factors that affect a social worker's salary. Keep in mind that not all salary and wage information accounts for benefits and bonuses offered by the employer. Some employees may be eligible for an annual raise and receive other benefits for serving their employer for a number of years.

Some of the factors that would affect a social worker salary and wages include:

Social worker job descriptions include details such as:

  • Level of education completed and any advanced training received
  • Certification and licensing received
  • Location of the employer
  • Years of experience
  • Specialty or field of concentration
  • Clinical versus non-clinical training and work experience

Most social workers with bachelor's degrees are only eligible for entry-level positions in the field. Those with master's degrees and a few years of experience typically earn higher salaries and enjoy more attractive job opportunities. Some social workers choose to advance in their careers by pursuing research and teaching positions. These require a doctorate degree and may also involve several years of specialized training.