Average Salary for Social Workers

Social workers help people improve their lives by assisting clients with problems such as disabilities, social problems, disease, substance abuse and housing on a case-by-case basis. Average salaries can vary depending on a social worker's chosen specialty. View article »

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Video Transcript

Average Salaries by Specialty

Social workers are often employed by a governmental or nonprofit agency and receive relatively small paychecks compared to other professions that require similar degrees. A bachelor's degree in social work is usually required for work in the field. Social workers often work for organizations that receive funding from the local, state or federal governments or a combination of these and public schools. Average social worker salaries vary depending on their specialization.


Healthcare social workers provide support to those dealing with illnesses, as well as their families. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that these professionals earned a median yearly salary of $54,870 as of May 2017. Most of these workers were employed at hospitals; healthcare social workers in this employment environment earned an average wage of $58,490. Jobs in the field were expected to grow 20% from 2016-2026, which was much faster than the national average, according to the BLS.

Child, Family and School

Child, family and school social workers supply assistance to children and their families, helping parents find daycare and coordinating other services to families who need it. Social workers in this specialty made a median wage of $44,380 in May 2017, according to the BLS. The most popular employers for this field were those involved in individual and family services, and these workers took in an average income of $40,800 per year. Jobs for child, family and school social workers were predicted to increase 14% from 2016-2026, which was about average.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Mental health and substance abuse social workers help individuals cope with an alcohol or drug addiction. They may also assist in the social rehabilitation related to a mental illness or disorder. These professionals took in the lowest median salary of $43,250 in May 2017, reported the BLS. Most mental health and substance abuse social workers were employed at outpatient care centers. Jobs in the field were expected to rise 19% from 2016-2026, which was much faster than average.

Social workers are often employed by government and nonprofit agencies and their work can generally be broken into the fields of health care social work, child, family and school social work, and mental health and substance abuse.

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