Clinical social workers are specialized social workers who focus mainly on the health of their clients. They hold advanced degrees and have met various licensure and certification requirements before they can practice their profession. As a clinical social worker, you are a patient advocate. You ensure patients understand what healthcare resources are available to them, so that they can better manage their personal psycho-social environment.
Many people do not associate social work with medical work. Yet, the medical aspect of our lives has a huge impact on our social life as well. Clinical social workers are there to handle that impact. Their focus is strongly on public health, but they often also have a somewhat medical role, particularly in diagnosing and treating emotional and behavioral disorders. To be able to take on these responsibilities, however, they must have completed at least a master’s degree, as well as passed various licensing requirements. This means they have to make a significant investment of both time and money. So is that investment worth it, will they see a return on their investment, through their earnings?
Salary Outlook for Clinical Social Worker
The job of clinical social worker is ranked #4 by the U.S. News & World Report for social services. Furthermore, it is ranked #62 in the 100 best jobs. They have also reported a $52,380 per year median salary and a 2.1% unemployment rate. Currently, 30,900 clinical social workers are employed throughout the country.
The above-mentioned salary figure, however, is relative. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has put it at $45,900 per year, which is considerably less, and instantly demonstrates how it can be difficult to provide a single ballpark figure for a country as large as this. There are, in actual fact, a wealth of factors that influence what someone will earn.
Factors Influencing Salary
- Your Concentration
First of all, many clinical social workers specialize in a certain field. The most popular concentrations are:
- Public health
- Substance abuse
- Children and family therapy
- Marriage counseling
- Mental health issues
- Administrative services
- Policy making
- The Type of Organization You Work For
The BLS has reported that:
- 29% of social workers are found in state and local government, excluding education and hospitals. Average earnings are $46,940 per year.
- 18% of social workers are found in individual and family services. Average earnings are $38,760 per year.
- 13% of social workers are found in ambulatory healthcare services. Average earnings are $46,050 per year.
- 11% of social workers are found in private, local, and state hospitals. Average earnings are $56,650 per year.
- 9% of social workers are found in nursing and residential care facilities. Average earnings are $40,440 per year.
They have also reported that average earnings for healthcare social workers are $52,380.
- Where in the Country You Work
The next hugely significant factor is where in the country you are employed. According to the BLS, the top five states to work as a social worker are:
- California, with average earnings of $69,970 per year
- District of Columbia, with average earnings of $67,450 per year
- Connecticut, with average earnings of $64,660 per year
- Oregon, with average earnings of $64,210 per year
- Nevada, with average earnings of $62,070 per year
Do remember, however, that the areas that tend to attract the greatest annual salaries, are also the areas with the highest cost of living. As such, it may not be reflective of disposable income, which you need to calculate.
- Whether You Are Licensed or Not
Holding a license will make a tremendous difference to your overall salary. Clinical social work licenses are not always required, but even in states where they are not mandatory, those who are licensed have far greater job opportunities – and far greater salaries. This is due to the fact that a licensed clinical social worker is able to work completely independently.
- How Much Experience You Have
The longer people work as a social worker, the more experienced they get, and the more they can expect to earn. Those with less than one year of experience, according to Salary.com, can expect average earnings of between $60,815 and $63,841. Those with 10 to 14 years of experience, by contrast, can expect average earnings of between $64,749 and $67,715 per year.
- Your Employer
The fact that the type of organization you work for has a significant impact on how much you earn has already been discussed. Indeed.com, however, has performed a study to determine exactly what the differences are between various employers in terms of annual salaries for clinical social workers. They reported that:
- 360 HealthCare pays an average annual salary of $100,000.
- CMC Limited pays an average of $84,038 per year.
- BestNest Management pays an average of $83,200 per year per year.
- InGenesis pays an average of $80,734 per year.
- All’s Well pays an average of $75,235 per year.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs pays an average of $72,743 per year.
- The Office of Children & Family Services pays an average of $64,861 per year.
- The Office of Mental Health pays an average of $64,652 per year.
- The New York State Civil Services pays an average of $63,768 per year.
- KVC Behavioral Health Care pays an average of $40,000 per year.
These are just a few examples that show the tremendous differences of salaries between various employers. The difference between KVC Behavioral Health Care and 360 HealthCare, for instance, is $60,000. Naturally, the higher the salary is, the more demanding the role will be, and the greater the expectations the company will have.
A final thing to remember is that all of the above factors influence the social worker’s base salary only. Besides receiving a salary, clinical social workers also receive other benefits, including a bonus, profit sharing, commissions, pensions, health benefits, childcare provisions, and more. Payscale.com has provided examples where these bonuses, when put together, exceed $6,500 per year.
- Clinical Social Worker Overview. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/clinical-social-worker
- Social Work Salary: What You’ll Earn. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.allpsychologyschools.com/social-work/salary/
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Social Workers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Salary. (2017, Jan. 18) Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Licensed_Clinical_Social_Worker_(LCSW)/Salary
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker Salaries. (2017, Feb. 22) Retrieved from http://www1.salary.com/Licensed-Clinical-Social-Worker-Salary.html
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker Salaries in the United States. (2017, Mar. 30) Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Licensed-Clinical-Social-Worker-Salaries?period=yearly