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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.

How Much Does a Social Worker Make?

As of 2016, the median salary for all social workers was $46,890.1 The lowest-earning 10% of social workers earned less than $28,800, while the top 10% of earners made more than $78,510.1 Social workers in hospital settings tend to earn the highest average salary by industry, at $57,650 per year.1 A school social worker’s salary is among the highest on average by specialty, at $62,170 per year.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 AreaTypical Education AchievedNumber Employed in the USAverage Annual Openings10-Year Job GrowthAverage Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers4Not available318,0003,19214%$43,250
Healthcare Social Workers5Master’s (92%)177,0001,90820%$53,760
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers6Master’s (57%)124,0001,32519%$42,700
School Social Workers2Not available298,840Not availableNot available$62,170
Social Workers, All Other7Not available64,0006008%$60,230

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. While we used data for child, family, and school social workers–the largest group of social workers–in the Salary column, we aggregated the data for all social work categories to calculate the Projected Employment and Total Employed Columns. See how your state compares to this average using our easy-to-sort table.

RankStateUS Average2016 Average Child, Family and School Social Worker Salary2$59,270Zillow Home Value Index (11/2017)8$205,100% of Zillow Home Value Average Salary Buys29%Projected Social Workers (all categories) Employment in 202494,647,8002014 Total Social Workers (all categories) Employed94,924,70010-year growth (2024 versus 2014)96%Best States for Social Workers (Avg=1)1
1Utah$48,230$258,30019%5,1106,76032%1.47
2Kentucky$38,780$137,60028%12,05014,53021%1.41
3Indiana$38,940$124,10031%12,01013,99016%1.38
4Texas$43,800$172,60025%32,52039,78022%1.38
5Iowa$41,980$129,70032%9,15010,42014%1.33
6Tennessee$40,480$145,50028%10,66012,57018%1.32
7Alabama$40,890$126,50032%8,5909,58012%1.26
8Arkansas$35,640$122,20029%3,8704,43014%1.26
9Ohio$41,820$130,20032%27,54030,71012%1.26
10Maryland$51,210$273,00019%14,21017,74025%1.26
11Michigan$47,480$136,60035%25,70027,9209%1.25
12North Carolina$46,200$164,90028%18,53021,32015%1.24
13Idaho$48,180$200,80024%2,7203,23019%1.23
14Colorado$48,520$341,60014%10,62013,65029%1.23
15North Dakota$52,630$201,40026%1,5901,84016%1.21
16West Virginia$36,260$102,90035%2,7502,9307%1.21
17Kansas$40,130$127,80031%4,8405,34010%1.20
18Oklahoma$37,550$117,00032%10,50011,4609%1.19
19Illinois$58,790$170,30035%27,49029,1306%1.17
20Florida$41,210$214,80019%20,77025,16021%1.16
21New Mexico$42,870$175,10024%4,5405,22015%1.14
22Mississippi$34,480$114,40030%6,2606,8409%1.14
23Louisiana$51,710$204,90025%4,1604,70013%1.10
24Pennsylvania$41,090$162,50025%36,92041,65013%1.10
25South Carolina$35,610$147,00024%9,18010,41013%1.09
26Georgia$37,960$160,10024%14,57016,54014%1.07
27Nebraska$41,190$154,80027%5,3105,86010%1.07
28Wisconsin$48,940$169,10029%9,2909,9807%1.05
29Arizona$36,510$230,60016%15,37018,48020%1.04
30Missouri$36,560$143,20026%17,30019,11010%1.04
31New York$57,970$307,00019%60,53070,33016%1.01
32Virginia$50,780$246,70021%14,67016,79014%1.01
33New Hampshire$47,630$251,30019%1,5701,82016%1.01
34Connecticut$66,410$247,00027%10,52011,3208%0.99
35Wyoming$45,180$196,60023%1,2201,35011%0.97
36Minnesota$55,000$211,60026%12,05012,8407%0.94
37Nevada$48,900$255,60019%4,4104,93012%0.89
38Montana$35,050$205,80017%3,0603,48014%0.89
39South Dakota$40,220$174,80023%2,4302,5907%0.85
40Delaware$39,030$223,70017%2,2002,46012%0.84
41Rhode Island$59,660$261,40023%3,2303,4306%0.84
42Oregon$48,380$316,20015%8,6109,79014%0.84
43Alaska$49,130$271,30018%2,1502,38011%0.83
44New Jersey$61,740$311,10020%14,09015,3209%0.82
45Maine$50,580$211,60024%4,2004,3704%0.81
46Vermont$42,760$225,00019%2,6202,8509%0.80
47Washington$49,220$348,00014%15,48017,58014%0.80
48California$54,290$519,10010%69,50080,40016%0.75
49Massachusetts$46,990$383,00012%28,22031,41011%0.68
50Washington DC$63,260$544,70012%3,4103,7009%0.58
51Hawaii$55,250$613,5009%3,6103,9008%0.49

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2016.1

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/