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Child and Family Social Worker: Career and Salary Overview


A career in social work offers an exciting opportunity to affect real change in vulnerable communities. Social workers also collaborate with other agencies, such as police departments, to address family crises.

Depending on their specialty, social workers may have a bachelor's in social work or a master's degree. Some social workers also hold state licenses and certifications. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), child and family social workers, who need only a bachelor's degree, make a median annual wage of $47,390. However, many factors affect the average child and family social worker salary.

Keep reading to learn how to become a child and family social worker.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a child and family social worker make an hour?

Social workers earn a median hourly wage of $24.26. However, the salary potential for child and family social workers varies according to industry, educational experience, and credentials. The top 10% of earners drew a median wage of more than $82,540 a year.

Where do child and family social workers work?

The BLS projects job growth in social work to outpace other fields, with some 24,800 child and family social workers entering the industry through 2028. Child and family social workers serve students, teachers, and families in private and public schools. They also work in youth programs, shelters, and child welfare agencies.

How long does it take to become a child and family social worker?

Employers hiring child, family, and school social workers for entry-level positions typically expect candidates to hold at least a bachelor's degree, while advanced positions often require a two-year master's degree or doctorate. It typically takes about four years to earn a bachelor's degree. Social workers seeking clinical positions need a master's in social work degree and two years of supervised training to obtain licensure.

Is a child and family social worker a mandated reporter?

Yes. In most, if not all states, social workers must report suspicion of child abuse and neglect just like teachers, doctors, and police officers. Being a mandated reporter means that under the state law, social workers must file a report with authorities if they suspect any type of child abuse.

Top Paying Industries for Child and Family Social Workers

Workplace and industry can strongly influence a social worker's pay rate. According to the BLS, the top-paying industries for social workers include local government agencies, ambulatory healthcare services, state government agencies, and individual and family services.

Social workers who land positions in local government (not hospitals or education) earn a median annual salary of $55,500. Ambulatory healthcare services ranks the next highest paying industry, offering social workers a median annual wage of $51,290.

Top Paying States for Child and Family Social Workers

A social worker's state of residence also determines their earning potential. Factors like cost of living and population size often influence a professional's paycheck.

The BLS reports that the top-paying states and districts for child and family social workers include the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maryland. In the District of Columbia, social workers earn an annual mean wage of $71,590.

The two states with the highest employment of child and family social workers are California and New York, which offer annual mean salaries of $59,990 and $60,380, respectively.

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas for Child and Family Social Workers

Child and family social workers in cities often earn more compared to those in rural areas. Bridgeport, Stamford, and Norwalk in Connecticut rank among the top-paying cities for child and family social workers. Social workers in these cities earn an annual mean wage of $74,130.

Other metropolitan areas offering high salaries for child and family social workers include Trenton, New Jersey; Hartford, Connecticut; Bismarck, North Dakota; and Salinas, California.

Metropolitan areas with the highest pay are not always home to the most social workers. New York City, Newark, and Jersey City boast the highest employment levels of child and family social workers, with 24,950 employees.

Salary and Job Growth for Child and Family Social Workers

The BLS projects an 11% growth rate for social work jobs from 2018-28, as employers add 81,200 social work positions. At 7%, job growth for child and family social workers measures lower than the overall employment rate for all social workers. Learn more about the career outlook for social workers on this page.

Private and public schools should need more child and family social workers as student enrollment increases. However, the number of available positions depends on state, local, and federal budgets. Check out this site to see which social work positions offer the highest employment growth rates.

How to Become a Child and Family Social Worker

Clinical positions and other social work specialty areas require candidates to complete a master's degree. However, child and family social workers only need a bachelor's in social work to secure entry-level positions.

Unfortunately, social workers with only a bachelor's degree often face limitations on the job market. Many of today's employers prefer candidates who hold a master's degree.

As a result, some 18.9% of social workers with a bachelor's degree report that they want to earn a master's degree in the next two years, according to the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Some 59.6% have already begun a master's program.

Out of all social work concentrations, 25.5% of those who responded to the CSWE's workforce survey say they study child and family social work.

Licensure and Certification Requirements

Candidates with a bachelor of social work degree can take the Association of Social Work Board's licensing exam. While some states do not require licensure, all clinical social workers in the U.S. must be licensed.

Child and family social workers can also increase their marketability by earning the Certified Children, Youth and Family Social Workers credential. Applicants need one year of experience, 20 hours of continuing education, a bachelor's degree, and a license.

Explore how to become a licensed social worker in this guide.