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Social Work Salaries and Hiring Outlook

While most people who choose this field are driven by a desire to help others rather than the expectation of a high salary, earning potential is still an important factor to consider when choosing a social work program and a social work career. Just like with many professions, the salary a social worker earns can vary significantly based on many factors, including geographic area, educational attainment, workplace setting, and practice specialty or focus area. Other variables impacting social worker salary include the level of licensure; years of experience; and job responsibilities. Even gender can play a role – female social workers tend to make less than male social workers. On this page, you’ll discover how these factors impact social work salary averages, the highest paying states for social workers, and additional salary resources for social workers.

Table of Contents
How Much Does a Social Worker Make?
Social Worker Salaries by State
Additional Resources

How Much Does a Social Worker Make?

As of 2018, the median salary for all social workers was $49,470.1 The lowest-earning 10% of social workers earned less than $30,750, while the top 10% of earners made more than $81,400.1 Social workers in hospital settings tend to earn the highest average salary by industry, at $60,100 per year.1 Overall employment of social workers is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations with 16 percent projected growth from 2016 to 2026.2

Another important factor impacting social worker salary that is not well-tracked by national surveys is educational attainment. According to the most recently completed National Association of Social Workers (NASW) survey, 78.6% of social workers held a master’s degree in social work (MSW), while just 12% held only bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW).3 The average salaries for those with a master’s in social work trend higher; according to the NASW, MSWs earn over 30% more per year than BSWs.3 The following table provides a quick overview that allows you to compare social worker salary by practice area.

Practice Area Typical Education Achieved Number Employed in the US Average Annual Openings 10-Year Job Growth Average Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers4 Bachelor’s (69%) 318,000 3,830 14% $46,270
Healthcare Social Workers5 Master’s (92%) 177,000 2,290 >15% $56,200
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers6 Master’s (57%) 124,000 1,590 >15% $44,840
Social Workers, All Other7 Not available 64,000 720 8% $63,140

Social Worker Salaries by State

The sortable table below will help you identify the best states for social workers while learning about average salaries for people in different fields of social work, helping to guide your decision about which school to attend and which type of degree to pursue. See how your state compares to the national average for each social work speciality using our easy-to-sort table.

StateUS Average Child, Family & School Social Worker Salary$49,470 Healthcare Social Worker Salary$58,570 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Social Worker Salary$49,630 All Other Social Worker Salary$62,660
Utah $44,160 $63,200 $45,830 $50,900
Kentucky $40,950 $50,340 $35,600 $58,050
Indiana $40,090 $51,710 $43,040 $65,010
Texas $48,920 $59,090 $40,470 $69,070
Iowa $44,720 $51,360 $47,580 $61,460
Tennessee $41,830 $50,700 $38,180 $52,540
Alabama $40,710 $47,740 $36,700 $59,860
Arkansas $38,270 $46,310 $40,560 $49,680
Ohio $45,030 $52,910 $44,840 $51,490
Maryland $59,280 $58,350 $53,780 $67,810
Michigan $50,620 $56,830 $50,060 $60,120
North Carolina $46,990 $54,730 $50,270 $57,310
Idaho $52,110 $56,080 $47,720 $70,610
Colorado $51,060 $52,150 $46,980 $54,600
North Dakota $54,870 $53,300 $53,760 $59,510
West Virginia $36,430 $49,440 $33,880 $69,700
Kansas $42,510 $53,580 $40,900 $55,610
Oklahoma $36,470 $48,580 $37,380 $59,250
Illinois $56,100 $52,830 $46,540 $61,640
Florida $42,640 $50,950 $44,100 $64,810
New Mexico $41,460 $55,490 $45,260 $58,430
Mississippi $35,1000 $48,080 $41,470 $55,420
Louisiana $50,690 $53,460 $40,960 $57,380
Pennsylvania $43,680 $53,770 $38,440 $64,260
South Carolina $38,930 $57,660 $35,330 $45,610
Georgia $41,040 $53,110 $39,600 $67,630
Nebraska $41,560 $48,230 $41,320 $61,120
Wisconsin $48,440 $52,300 $46,730 $55,950
Arizona $39,020 $62,920 $39,390 $61,130
Missouri $37,680 $46,370 $38,880 $59,730
New York $58,050 $62,280 $62,130 $67,120
Virginia $51,880 $57,510 $51,660 $69,650
New Hampshire $52,920 $64,570 $57,110 $70,920
Connecticut $69,520 $72,640 $63,290 $65,230
Wyoming $50,200 $57,270 $49,660 $56,620
Minnesota $55,560 $58,670 $55,460 $64,300
Nevada $52,410 $82,820 $60,540 $75,020
Montana $38,210 $49,570 $37,950 $43,980
South Dakota $40,030 $43,350 $40,330 $71,330
Delaware $40,380 $55,870 $50,700 $60,780
Rhode Island $61,440 $57,620 $52,730 $75,710
Oregon $51,510 $70,830 $49,380 $52,750
Alaska $48,970 $70,620 $46,420 $70,540
New Jersey $67,700 $64,570 $79,130 $68,630
Maine $52,130 $52,830 $56,000 $52,360
Vermont $50,270 $57,900 $42,620 $66,180
Washington $51,990 $62,180 $53,780 $73,180
California $59,500 $76,450 $61,640 $72,200
Massachusetts $48,670 $61,960 $43,270 $75,340
Washington DC $70,270 $72,090 $69,690 $82,900
Hawaii $56,030 $66,210 $67,930 $81,790

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2018.1

Additional Resources

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Child, Family, and School Social Workers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211021.htm
3. National Association of Social Workers, Licensed Social Workers in the United States: https://www.socialworkers.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=mV_QzN0aDzc%3d&portalid=0
4. O*NET OnLine, Child, Family, and School Social Workers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1021.00
5. O*NET OnLine, Healthcare Social Workers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1022.00
6. O*NET OnLine, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/21-1023.00
7. O*NET OnLine, Social Workers, All Other: https://www.onetonline.org/link/details/21-1029.00
8. Zillow.com: https://www.zillow.com/
9. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/