Social Worker Salary and Info

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Are you interested in becoming a social worker? Would you like to make a difference in the world, offering professional guidance and help to individuals struggling with difficult and tenuous situations? A career as a social worker is both a fulfilling and demanding profession. It requires you to work closely with individuals dealing with very stressful and sometimes grave issues, giving them direction and encouragement, and helping them to determine the best course of action. The following career overview contains key information regarding the social worker job description, education and training requirements, social worker salary, and career outlook.

Social Worker Job Description

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The term social worker is an overarching description for a variety of roles within this area of the mental health profession. Social workers aid individuals in dealing with a wide spectrum of problems, including but not limited to:

  • Health
  • Financial
  • Relationship
  • Psychological
  • Substance abuse

Typical Tasks

Before delving into the social worker salary, it is important to understand the typical tasks associated with this career field and the skills required to succeed in it. Social workers must maintain a working knowledge of sociology and psychology to help them pinpoint the issues at play in a client’s scenario and determine what action is necessary to move forward. There are many specialties within the field of social work. For example, some professionals assist children solely while others focus on clients with addiction disorders.

Social workers act on behalf of clients, providing them with education and resources to build their skill set and improve their quality of life. With clients in dangerous or delicate situations, social workers help to provide protection and guidance. Social worker are counselors, offering insight and recommendations to clients.

Two of the most frequent aspects associated with the job are training clients on new life skills and helping clients to understand how to best deal with the problems they are facing. Social workers may counsel individuals or groups, often serving as an intermediary between wellness institutions or health care professionals and the client.

Social workers must deal with legal aspects of the job, sometimes testifying in court on behalf of a client. Social workers must conduct continuous research, create effective policies and treatment plans for patients, and manage careful records of each client’s background, history, and progress. The role requires you to confer with other social workers to assess patient needs and advancement, aid clients in finding solutions to crisis situations, and make referrals to resources like financial aid, legal help, job services, or educational institutions.

​Different Specializations

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One of the key aspects which define the social worker salary you can expect to receive is the area of specialty you choose within the field. There are many types of specializations within the field of social work. All of them require individuals with compassion, perseverance, and flexibility. No matter which you choose, you must be ready and able to counsel and assist individuals dealing with traumatic situations, disabilities, family problems, abuse issues, poor mental and emotional health, substance abuse difficulties, and ongoing illnesses.

Many social workers specialize in family, child, or school social work. Individuals earning a social worker salary in these areas can expect to be aiding, counseling, and advocating for the well-being of children and families alike. This might require you to work with parents, find foster homes, help facilitate adoptions, and step into action with abusive household situations.

When working in a school, a social worker must often deal with problems like behavioral issues, truancy, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and bad grades. At schools, social workers advocate for and counsel teachers, serving as an intermediary between the children, their homes, the courts, schools, and any other institutions that come into play.

Public health social workers usually aid clients who are dealing with ongoing, deadly, or life changing diseases or conditions. Social workers in this specialty offer counsel, create plans of action, and provide resources to help clients deal with these issues effectively and healthfully. Whether it requires recommending care centers, offering educational resources and counseling, providing referrals to other institutions, coordinating hospital discharges, or facilitating support gatherings, public health social workers wear many hats.

Finally, the third most common area of specialty within social work is addictions and mental health. Individuals earning a social worker salary as addiction and mental health professionals must work with clients to help them learn healthy behaviors, enroll in the appropriate facilities, and get their lives to a healthier place. As patients in this area are typically dealing with mental issues and substance abuse disorders, these types of social workers offer counseling, crisis intervention, advocacy, educational resources, and case management.

Educational Requirements

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To earn an acceptable social worker salary and succeed within the field, you must at minimum possess a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Occasionally, individuals interested in the field who have earned sociology, education, and psychology degrees may secure an entry-level position as a social worker.

If you wish to earn a higher social worker salary and have opportunities for growth within the profession, the more applicable your education is, the better. If you would like to provide counseling and therapy to patients, you will be required to get a Master’s degree in Social Work. If, down the road you decide you would like to author and direct research or teach at a university, you will be required to earn your Doctoral degree in Social Work.

Additional education requirements vary based on your state, so check your local regulations to see what other training and certifications may be required. Most states mandate that social workers be certified, licensed, or registered professionals. For instance, if you were interested in becoming a licensed clinical social worker, you would typically need to pass an exam and undergo a two-year supervised practicum besides earning your initial degree.

Necessary Skills

Besides the education and training requirements as mandated by the institution you wish to work for and the state you live in, there are necessary skills you must possess to work with this field. Many of these skills can be developed and grown as you complete your education and training, so do not despair if you are not fully adept in all these areas at once.

To be an excellent social worker, you need to be a good listener, maintain acute social awareness, and be able to communicate well with others. You must have solid critical thinking skills to assess situations and determine the best course of action, and strong coordination abilities. You should have top notch reading and writing skills to compile documentation and review client records.

Social workers must have a compassionate heart for others, looking to serve and aid those in need. As the field of social work requires the ability to identify issues, examine the relevant situation, and find a solution, you must be an expert problem solver and have the ability to make wise decisions.

Social Worker Salary and Job Outlook

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Average Salary

The average social worker salary varies according to your education and training credentials, the area of specialization, and location. The size of the institution you work at and the city you live in are important factors. If you are brand new to the field and have recently earned your Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, you can expect to earn approximately $30,000 per year.

If you have experience and have already earned your Master’s degree in Social Work, you can expect to make much more, at around $40,000 to $50,000 per year. There is some definite divergence regarding the typical social worker salary based on your specialization. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Child, Family, and School Social Workers earn around $37,000 each year, while Mental Health and Substance Abuse Professionals bring home around $35,000. Alternatively, the Medical and Public Health Social Worker salary hits at about $43,000 per year.  

Job Environment

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Approximately half of all social workers work in the healthcare and social assistance sphere, with many being employed by private clinics, mental health institutions, and hospitals. Many government agencies employ social workers, both at the state level and locally.

Career Potential 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of social work is projected to skyrocket far ahead of the average over the following decade. Based on the situational nature of social work, professionals in this field are always in high demand. There is more competition for positions in cities as opposed to more rural areas, but there is and will continue to be plenty of opportunities in both sectors for social workers.

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Social workers play an integral role in helping vulnerable individuals in their communities connect with the knowledge, information, and resources required to alter their lives for the better and reap effective, healthy changes. If you are interested in entering this field and wish to earn a higher social worker salary, consider the specialty you choose in this light. Be sure you meet all education and licensure requirements and check your local and state regulations for any additional training required before you embark on this career path.

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