For some people, there is nothing more important at their job than making a difference. Being able to influence people’s lives and have a positive impact in the community is a worthwhile goal for anyone.
But there’s no defeating our biology – we all have to eat.
Shelter, clothes, and enough to put back for savings matters, too.
That’s why if you’re looking for a career that helps people, you can still be justified in wondering about the financials.
Social workers are arguably the most people-focused employees in a given community. They work to help individuals and families deal with the problems of everyday life. But what is the average social worker salary?
Here we’ll explore the pay range for a social worker – but first let’s take a look at the type of credentials a social worker is expected to have, the coursework of certification/degree programs, and the responsibilities a social worker will have on the job.
What Credentials Should a Social Worker Have?
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In most jurisdictions, social workers are required to at least have a bachelor’s degree in their field. In many cases, they may be required to have a master’s degree in order to land higher paying jobs.
The degree program a social worker goes through will teach various skills which will be integral to success on the job. Being a social worker can be a difficult and stressful job – primarily because people are dealing with real humans who are going through complex situations.
This isn’t to say those who deal with machines, demographics of customers, and manual labor don’t have tough jobs. But the idea of trying to coach people through addiction recovery, family problems, mental health issues, and other personal problems can be especially tough in a unique way.
Skills a social worker needs can include:
Social workers will study a variety of disciplines from statistics to social sciences like psychology or sociology.
But now, onto the big question – what is a social worker salary? And counting other sources of income, how much total can a social worker expect to make?
What is a Social Worker Salary?
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The average household income of a household in the United States is $56,516 – how does the social worker’s earning potential stack up to this average?
The average social worker salary is $44,545 – or in terms of hourly wages, the average is $20.31. While lower than the average household income, some social workers can actually earn more than that amount.
According to PayScale, there is a range that sees a good percentage of social workers getting a much higher payday than others. The average salary range for a social worker is $30,887-$64,736, or in terms of hourly wages, the range is $13.50-$31.05.
But, as we know, sometimes there are opportunities for people to earn more money outside of their standard wage or salary.
For social workers, the opportunity for bonuses was reported in a range of $199-$5,034. As for profit sharing, social workers aren’t always able to achieve this type of earning. But, those who do have reported earning as high as $6,183. Some have even been able to earn hundreds in commission.
The final tally for income potential can range from the low $30,000s to upwards of $70,000. While not the highest paying occupation, many people who choose the field do so not just for the financial perks but also because they enjoy the type of work they do.
And in addition to having income mobility in this field, a social worker can also work in various disciplines and thus have more variety in their career.
Exploring Social Work Specializations: A Varied Field of Work
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For many people, entering into a field puts them on the path to a revolutionary homogenous work environment. Sure, they may have plenty of different responsibilities, but the type of work they do is often the same.
There’s a few different choices a person has when they enter into the social work field. While switching from one type to another may require some additional training, a lot of the core skills are the same. Here are a few of the man types of social work options.
Family and Child Social Work
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Family environments are crucial to a healthy life and healthy communities. But when problems develop in these areas, sometimes help is needed – this is where social workers come in.
Social workers in this type of specialization will work with families to help resolve a variety of issues. It could help them deal with things such as trauma, loss, injury, divorce, or any other matter that could drive a wedge in between families or strain their relationships.
Child social workers are also lumped in this category. They could do anything from helping children with behavioral issues to helping them learn to manage big life changes such as loss or illness.
Public Health Social Work
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For some people, a medical diagnosis can be life-changing. Whether the ailment is temporary or permanent, coping with it can be hard without help. And this help doesn’t always just come in the form of medicine or medical procedures.
Social workers who work in this specialization may be tasked with providing care in the form of assisted living, counseling, or even certain types of therapy. Helping people cope with illness and injury requires a full focus on the sufferers mental and physical health.
While some people associate this type of social work with the elderly, public health social workers work with people of all ages to provide care.
Addiction and Mental Health Social Work
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Battling addiction can be tough, and can require specialized counseling from trained professionals. The same can be said for dealing with mental health issues.
Those who have psychological conditions or substance issues may deal with depression, withdrawals, or trouble adjusting back to life as normal. Addiction and mental health social workers will perform a variety of tasks including education, counseling, and intervening during times of trouble.
These social workers could deal with anyone from a person suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to a person dealing with alcoholism.
Is Social Work a Good Field to Pursue?
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Social workers can earn some good money in terms of ranking about the national median household level. But for most of them, they’ll rank below that. And although their salary wouldn’t necessarily be considered on the low end, is it really worth it?
For many people, their reason for choosing this field is because they like the type of work they do. So if you’re someone who enjoys making a true difference in the lives of others and thrives in situations where you work with people, social work is definitely a field to consider.
There are also other aspects of a job to consider besides pay.
For example, benefits can be better in some positions in the public sector. Social workers employed by local or state governments could get government benefits including health, vision, and dental, as well as things like vacation time.
Taking all the perks of the job into account in terms of pay and benefits, these positions can be very lucrative in terms of the actual gains a person gets from them. Combine it with the fact it is a work environment most people enjoy, and the social worker salary can be worth it all things considered.
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