Social Work Salary with Masters on the Rise

Jan 02, 2018
Social Worker Master Graduates

Now is a great time to get a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) because the salary of social workers with an MSW is on the rise. In addition, a master’s degree makes you a stronger job applicant and opens your career path to many new opportunities.

Recent statistics show that salaries for Social Workers with masters degree have increased. Here’s why.

There are many factors that can affect how much you will earn within the field of social work. The single most important factor, however, is your level of education. The median annual wages for social workers in May 2016 was between $42,700-$60,230. Masters in social work salary is directly correlated to the degree held and length of experience in the field. Typically, the higher the degree and licensures, the higher the wages. According to the National Association of Social Workers Compensation and Benefits Study, “those who did not progress beyond a BSW typically earn $15,000 less than their colleagues with an MSW.” As you can see, just a few more years of school can make a huge difference!

According to the U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers will see a 15% growth rate in the industry vs. the 7% growth rate average for all other industries. Some of the specific masters-level careers that have seen an increase in pay are Healthcare Social Workers, Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) and Substance Abuse Counselors.

What can you do with a Master’s in Social Work?

While a Bachelor’s in Social Work (BSW) allows you to work in positions such as a caseworker or mental health assistant, an MSW opens up the possibility of working in more advanced positions. Below, you will find descriptions of the types of jobs you could have with an MSW.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Median Salary: $66,625

Licensed Clinical Social Workers typically help clients face issues surrounding mental and emotional health. Specializations in this field would allow you to focus specifically on areas such as marriage counseling, child and family therapy, substance abuse or mental health.

Healthcare Social Workers

Median Salary: $59,877

Medical and Healthcare Social Workers can usually be found working in hospital settings. If you choose to go this route, you may work in positions such as a therapist or case manager where you will encounter many clients facing multiple emotions as a result of their health. Your clients will have varying needs, and your job is to help them evaluate these needs and navigate through their healthcare options.

Substance Abuse Counselor

Median Salary: $42,150

Substance Abuse Counselors help individuals overcome their addictions and dependencies on substances such as drugs and alcohol. As addiction continues to be a growing problem, the need for Substance Abuse Counselors is especially high. The projected job growth is much faster than average at 20%.

Child Welfare Case Manager

Median Salary: $43,282

Child Welfare Case Managers are crucial to protecting the health and well-being of children. They are the professionals who step in when a child is in need as the result of abuse, neglect, homelessness, disability or other harm. As a child welfare case manager, your main job would be to protect children from these situations.

Non-Profit Director

Median Salary: $64,079

Non-Profit directors reside at the top of their non-profit organization to oversee the non-profit’s efforts and help them meet their goals. As a non-profit director, you would likely participate in legal, financial and leadership endeavors.

While some of these careers may be obtained with other graduate degrees, a Master’s in Social Work is the most direct route to prepare you for one of these positions.