Socialworkersspeaks on FacebookFollow Us on TwitterRSS Feed

NASW Responds to Article on Worst Paying College Degrees

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post.

Social work was recently listed in this article on Huffington Post as one of the worst paying college degrees. That generated a healthy response from social workers who left dozens of comments on the Huffington Web site as well as the National Association of Social Workers’ Facebook page.

 The National Association of Social Workers is sending this response to Huffington Post:

 The National Association of Social Workers is concerned with salary information posted in the Huffington piece, which cited Payscale data. Payscale, which limited its data collection to social workers with bachelor’s degrees, listed the starting median salary for a social worker at $33,400 and $41,600 for a mid-career social worker.

However, those median salary levels are below those in a new National Association of Social Workers Compensation Study, which includes data from social workers with master’s degrees. That study puts the median annual salary for all social workers at $55,000 a year.

Social workers with less than five years experience earn a median annual salary of $43,700; those with 10- 19 years of experience earn a median annual salary of $52,000; and those with 20 -29 years of experience earn a median annual salary of $60,000, according to the NASW study.

To read a summary of the salary report click here.

You can find social workers in all areas of society. For instance, they help veterans who have risked their lives for our nation get the benefits they need, counsel families in crisis, and help keep children safe. Many social workers say the good they bring into the lives of others is far more important than getting rich.

However, there is no question social workers should be paid more for the invaluable work they do. That is why NASW supports Congressional passage of the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Social Worker Reinvestment Act, which would secure federal and state investment in the social work profession.

We would also like to point out that social work is one of the fastest growing fields in the United States, according to Labor Department data. And a May U.S. News and World Report article said medical and public health social work will be one of the 50 best careers in 2010 and beyond.

Judgments on the monetary value of certain careers are always subjective. Thank goodness many people continue to choose life-affirming careers such as social work despite the naysayers.

Sincerely,

Tracy Whitaker, DSW, ACSW
Director, Center for Workforce Studies and Social Work Practice
National Association of Social Workers

|   Leave A Comment
Tagged as: , , , , ,

Advertisement

112 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for responding to the article posted by HP. I was truly disappointed in their recent claims about the social work field being the worst in terms of compensation. I feel their portrayal was misleading and detrimental to the profession. Once again, thank you for speaking out for social workers.

  2. I am interested to find this, as I too had laughed at that article two days ago when I first saw it. Glad this was addressed. As a current MSW graduate student at Louisiana State Unviersity, I am glad to see that this information was provided :) maybe Huffington Post can update their list now!

  3. The article on Yahoo lists the salaries for a BSW, so it may be accurate. Earning potential is more for MSW and LCSW.

  4. Thank you for the speedy and well articulated response to the Huffington Post article. I too saw it first on Yahoo, so hopefully they will catch wind of this response as well. And although the “disappointing” salary figures may indeed deter some from the profession, I would say you’d be hard pressed to find a social worker who’s in it for the paycheck. The deeper and much more valuable reward of our profession comes from the services we provide to those most in need. A soon to be (BSW) graduate, the non-monitary rewards are what drew me, and keep me in the profession. As one of the fastest growing professions(despite the pay), its wonderful to see that we as social workers continue to resonate that message every day.

  5. I understand how the negativity from the article could deter future social workers from pursuing our profession, but how else is that article negative??? People need to know that we don’t make anything as to raise awareness of what we do, and so we can get help to lobby our legislators for more funding for our services. I laughed at the NASW figures, not the original ones. I don’t know more than 2-3 colleagues of mine that make $55,000 or more. I have a MSW and LCSW, as does almost everyone I know. I don’t expect to make more than $35,000 anytime soon. Am I missing something as to why people are saying this stuff???

  6. Even using the NASW’s numbers still the lowest paid Masters Degree… Yes?

  7. Compensation for social workers is disproportionate to the level of education required (a masters degree for licensure where I live in California)and the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to get licensed, particularly in the State of California. Social work is often a labor of love.

  8. Thanks for this response! What they also don’t account for is regional differences in pay scale. The wonderful people who go into social work see it as a calling to help others…I’m not sure I would want the profession to attract the same types that are only in a job for a pay check. That being said, social workers are undervalued, and I hope that does improve.

  9. I made 40k my first year out of my master’s program, and I know LCSW in my area make more. Some fields of social worker may pay lower than others, but I haven’t heard of LCSW’s making no more than 35k / year.

  10. Is NASW in denial or delusional that social work isn’t one of the worst paying degrees? A certificate RN (2-3 year education) often has a higher starting salary than a MSW with 6 years of education. I see ads for a LCSW with hourly pay of $12-$17 in an expensive part of the country no less. If I had a Master degree in any other field my salary would be at least $40,000 higher. I didn’t realize I was taking a vow of poverty when I became a social worker.

  11. I’m currently in college as a double psychology and social work major and when my mom read that article she called to convince me not to become a social worker but a psychologist instead and have biology as my second major. Beautiful way to wake up in the morning.

  12. I am questioning the scales quoted by the NASW for social worker salaries. Is this information relevant to all social workers or only the social workers that belong to the NASW. That piece of information would be necessary to draw informative conclusions about payscales. I have worked with many social workers that could not afford to join the NASW, so that says something in itself and the payscales. These salaries seem to be representative of federal employees, not non-profits, or even state employees. So I question the payscales and where the data was drawn from to reach these conclusions.

    I have been in the social work profession for 14 + years and am now working towards my DSW. I can truly say I went into social work to help others, however we all need money to survive on. Living in poverty is just not acceptable, especially in a profession where stress and burn out rates are high. The social work and the profession has got to start advocating for itself, improving our self image, payscales, benefits, and making licensure a national standard, as each states licensing regulations can significantly differ.

  13. I’m sorry to say that I agree with the premise of the article. After over 25 years of experience post-masters and working in Massachusetts, North Carolina and New Hampshire, my present salary is the same as my salary of 20 years ago. It’s so sad…but I have to add, I love what I do and have invested in my career with post-master fellowships and trainings and really feel I can make an impact in my field. While I am not compensated financially, the flexibility and versatility of the field is extraordinary. I also have made the choice to continue being a clinician rather than move into administration and teaching which offers higher salaries.

  14. Thank you for responding to them quickly. After raising four children and taking care of a sick mother, grand mother and grandfather (all are deceased) I decided it was time to pursue my degree in Human Services which is something I have wanted to do since I was young. I did not choose this profession to get rich. I chose this profession so I can be a voice for those who are not strong enough or able to speak for themselves. I chose this profession to help make a difference in someone’s life, my community and the world.

    To Social Workers everywhere, Money can’t buy happiness. We understand better than anyone the joy we feel when we know a difference has been made. For us that’s payment.

  15. When I began my journey to become a social worker, I was a single young woman with very few financial obligations. Upon completing my masters degree and becoming licensed, I was married. My salary was a comfortable supplement to our household income. Over the course of 10 yrs, 3 children, divorce and cost of living increases, what was once a comfortable supplement has become my only means of income. Through my eyes, social work salaries do not offer competitive pay, not even with the salaries cited in Dr. Whitaker’s response to the Huffington Post Article Re: Social Work Salaries. It isn’t about getting rich. It is about our livelihood and our responsibilities as parents while meeting the needs of others.

  16. David-I am an LCSW and make $33,000. Every one of my colleagues with my credentials earns the same. Now you’ve heard of it! :)

  17. Thank you, NASW, for your prompt response to this article. It is important NASW advocates for its members by educating the public about our education, ethics and experience.

    NASW also continues to promote higher, and more competitive salaries for professional social workers. NASW’s work toward research leading to evidence-based practices proving the efficacy and efficiency of our interventions. Just “knowing” we’re doing the right thing will no longer get us what we need salary-wise. Let’s prove how great we are!

    I do challenge NASW to include the “non-traditional” areas of social work in which our profession is branching out. One example: health care quality improvement is a great field for LCSWs–our clinical skills are perfect for facilitating improvements in heatlh care safety, satisfaction and efficiency.

    Rock on, NASW!!!

  18. This is not encouraging to know at all as I just applied to a university for my MSW. Yes you want to be the voice for those who cannot speak, yes you want to make a difference in your community , you want to go home knowing that you have help to make a difference in someone life to day. However, we live in a high price economy, and our salary will be next to nothing, what is the survival rate with an income like this?

  19. I agree with those social workers that feel we are underpaid for what we do. Our salaries have not kept up with the rising cost of living. Because we need continuing course work to keep our licenses and the cost of belonging to NASW and yearly licenses continues to rise, we are unlike many fields who have none of these expenses . I also know social workers who cannot afford to belong to NASW but beyond that I have friends that must purchase high deductible health insurance policies at high cost. We are definitely one of the lower paid master’s level professions. It is however, a labor of love and even though I was employed as an account executive in a previous life, I have never looked back or regretted my decision.

  20. There are no jobs in NY, let alone that pay well. The article is absolutely true and until NASW starts better promotion of the field, it is an absolutely useless degree. Sorry – but it is the truth! I make more now with a paralegal certificate than I did being licensed and holding an MSW. The universities are the only ones making money on this degree or, maybe, if you have a private practice in addition to an agency job. Social work is a dead-end profession.

  21. It is not always about the money when we become social workers but our passion for helping right wrongs, working with the disenfranchised, developing rapport with the mentally ill and advocating the acceptance of diversity and culture. We choose our paths but we must be assertive and firm in demanding equitable pay. Social workers, in what ever they do and however they define themselves, will continue to break barriers of social injustice–we are not about rebellion but are about advocating for others…we will always be needed!

  22. This is very disheartening. I did not see the article, but to hear all of your comments, I am reconsidering my decision to pursue a degree in social work. I am 33 with 2 kids, a mortgage, and a husband about to retire from the Navy in 3 (which means he’ll be starting over professionally). I, like many others, want to be a social worker and am not looking for an enormous paycheck, but I have to survive and help my family. I wanted to practice social work in the criminal justice field and eventually work towards an LCSW. That is a long journey to undertake if the financial benefit is so small. I truly want to help others and society but not at the expense of my family. I think now it is time to do some serious soul searching.

  23. I am a LSW in Pennsylvania where nurse case managers with a 2 year degree or diploma make an average of $10 an hour more to start than a a LSW (required where I work). Not fair, but then again we don’t go into social work for the money but a decent wage would be nice!!!!

  24. It all depends, right now the veterans affairs is paying $58,000 and some MSW’s are walking in with a license getting $72,000. If you are the head of a non-profit organization you can make about $100,000 easily. It all depends on who you are and who you work for.

  25. I have both a masters level social worker license and a masters level addictions certification and working for the state of maryland i only get $40,000. it IS hard to get more than that for an entry level masters level position in maryland.

  26. I am planning to begin a part time MSW program this fall. I have a mixture of excitement and fear regarding the degree. I am 32 and I have a good paying job, but I have been wanting to get into a career helping others for years now. For the past 3 years I have been trying to decide between Social Work and Nursing. Fortunately, my wife is very supportive whichever way I go, but I am afraid of being able to provide for my family. It is nice to know that I can always find work as a Social Worker, but it’s disheartening to look at a career like nursing, which is more valued in society and more lucrative. It’s disheartening to see nursing job ads that will pay starting bonuses and help pay back student loans. When I researched Social Work salaries in my area, I found out that therapists start at around $30,000 per year. I think it makes aspiring Social Workers devalue themselves, their field and their degree when they aren’t paid equal to other lateral professions. It makes little sense in today’s world where there is such a need for Social Workers, that they are not more valued.

  27. I agree with Mary that social work is a dead-end profession. I have been unemployed 12 months since April 2009 with an MSW and LCSW. What social work schools WONT tell you is that the market is oversaturated with MSW’s, especially in the big cities. So the more MSW’s there are to choose from , the less these agencies can pay you. The highest paying social work jobs are the hardest to get and involve a lot of “dirty work” (politics in the workplace)- that are mostly in the hospitals and government- where I have both worked at. I even called my local NASW chapter for career advice and you know what they told me? that now is not a good time to be in the social work field- all the agencies are paying fee for service (no salary, no benefits) and no one will give you the supervision you need for independent licensure. If you want to help people, go volunteer in your free time, help your friends, families, neighbors, etc. but dont make it a profession. I wish I went for an MBA which my friends all have and are making good money at huge firms.

    For those thinking about going for an MSW- talk to people who are in the field. not only the recruiters from the colleges but to practitioners at all levels and at different agencies. All of the jobs are in rural areas and in the elderly/hospice speciality. That is why the next big NASW conference is on end of life and not children/families- a very popular and oversaturated concentration.

    i would love to talk to those who responded who are still in the field and what planet are they working on. Every agency/institution i have worked for allows clients to treat social workers like (expletive) and for management to treat social workers like (expletive).

  28. Greetings Colleagues,

    Is it possible for us to spend a minute rereading our posts before we click submit? Respectfully, if we want to be taken seriously, we have to present as professionals: this means writing a paragraph that people can understand and respond to.

    Regards,
    AP

  29. I didn’t go into social work to become a millionare, however I refuse to starve. I am going to graduate this spring with my MSW and I am planning on getting a job at the VA. I’ve seen starting pay at the VA between $55k-65K. I also have an MBA. I think it is time for social workers to stop being satisfied with low wages. If you don’t like the job you are in and can afford to leave, then do it. A word to Jamie above, having your MBA doesn’t gurantee ANYTHING in this job market. I’m not playing dirty, I am interning at the VA and there are plenty of jobs within the VA system. Also, I am concentrating on Gerontology – go where the work is ;)

  30. The article itself was helpful to me as it substantiated my experience in the field. Social workers have a tendency to advocate for others and not for themselves, leaving us now as the worst paying profession for the education and experience required to do the job. Generally, social workers refuse to unionize because it would create conflict, social workers like to resolve conflict not create it. However, if social workers were to address the more political aspects of their work, to stand up to their increasingly militaristic boards, to become more vocal about the intrusion of insurance companies into their clinical work, to organize around issues including the importance of social engineering, to interject into political debate and use media to address the cause of inhumanitarian policies, perhaps we would be more satisfied with our position in the world. Unfortunately, we appear to be unable to do what is necessary to change our position because we are all focused on being “nice” and “professional” rather than the radicals that the founders of this profession proved to be.

  31. Thanks for taking time from what is most likely a busy schedule to articulate our social work approach. I agree that many, if not all, social workers are often putting their clients’ and communities’ interests and needs ahead of themselves, leading to lack of time and energy for advocating for self and profession.

  32. Whenever I tell people that I’m a social worker, the first comment is, “I hope you marry someone rich!” While we don’t go into this profession for the money, by not fighting for better wages, we are acquiescing to the idea that we deserve lower wages. Since social worker is dominated by women, the fact that we aren’t fighting for better wages also implies that we’re okay with women being paid less than men.

    Society already looks down on us because they perceive social workers as child snatchers with fluffy graduate degrees. I have engineering acquaintances with bachelors degrees who laugh at my less than stellar wages, stating that they worked harder and took harder classes in college. Apparently, my salary is evidence of this. We as a profession need to 1) create a more rigorous curriculum for future students, 2) educate the public of the importance of social work, and 3) build respect for the profession. By becoming more respectable, we garner the authority to ask for those wages that are comparable to health professions with masters level degrees. Until we do so, our profession is okay with being mediocre, and that’s no good for us and our clients.

  33. Sorry, but I don’t think we should rely on the government to pass some act in hopes it’ll get us better wages. We need to take it upon ourselves. Teachers have done it. Nurses have done it, and look how much they’re making these days. This is what we can do:

    -Require universal title protection on a NATIONAL level. A friend of mine was recently hired for a Child Protective Service job with the title “social worker”. She does not have an MSW. Her undergraduate degree was not even in social work. This is not okay. I see people complaining on this site all the time about how caseworkers are misidentified as social workers. Maybe if we did something about getting national title protection, this wouldn’t happen. I mean, no one goes around confusing another profession for a nurse.

    -Make social work school more difficult. Suze Orman picked social work as her major because she was told it was easy. Many social workers I know have vocalized that social work school is really watered down. How are we supposed to have the clout to fight for better wages when social work is viewed as a “mickey mouse” major in a “fluffy” social science field? I don’t see anyone bashing nurses, doctors, and engineers for having “easy degrees”. In fact, some of my social work friends tell me that they think nursing school would have been too hard for them. How does that give us leverage when we’re asking for salaries comparable to nurses with masters, or even associate degrees? Also, doctors have high wages because medical schools limit admissions to keep demand high. Med schools also have ridiculously difficult pre-reqs to screen out those not cut out for medicine. Perhaps social work schools should do the same, ensuring that the best, brightest, and most passionate social workers are out there providing the best services possible.

    -Unionize. Nurses have done it and look at where they are now. Perhaps social workers should do the same. Preferably before nurses drive us out of hospital jobs completely.

    This list is just to start. NASW really needs to step it up. Until these issues are solved, then social workers will continue to get underpaid. They’ll continue to get disrespected and misidentified. They’ll continue to burn out.

  34. O.k. why is NASW so upset over the huffington post article? It seems pretty accurate, and they aren’t trying to slam social worker as a profession. “But hey, a job’s a job. And to our nation’s public servants: we salute you.” Sounds like they are saying at least you are working as a productive member of society and thank you for what you do.

    They didn’t say the average MSW makes an average of $33k. They said the average social worker. If you take ALL the social workers and average their salaries, would it be higher or lower than 33k? I don’t know. That would have been a helpful statistic to have in the response above to prove otherwise if it was indeed inaccurate.

  35. NASW, you do not speak for me.This is a prime example of how NASW does not work for social workers. This is an insult to the intelligence of any social worker out there, most of whom do not make a living wage. Please NASW, tell the truth. We need a living wage, especialy now when our responsibilities have quadrupled and we end up doing the job of three people with one meager salary. Lobby for a UNION, UNION, UNION. What about the Social Work boards? What have they done for us lately?

  36. I just got hired to work in Hospice Care in the South. Provisional LCSW with six years experience: $31,500. No use in denying it – the pay is awful. NASW and individual social workers do very little to advocate for higher salaries. I know we “don’t do it for the money” – but we do need to be advocating for better pay.

  37. I know many LCSW’s who are in private practice that make over 100k a year. They can bill most insurance companies for their services. You can also make 60k plus in administrative positions. Someone with a BSW will make a good bit less than an MSW or LCSW but there are plenty of areas you can be a social worker and make a good living too. The LCSW also holds more credibility and weight than an LPC or LMFT.

  38. Also keep in mind there are some people who use the title social worker or claim to be a social worker and are in no way licensed.

  39. I absolutely agree with the article that social work is a low paying degree. I was shocked after I graduated to see the low salaries for a Master’s level social worker who is licensed. I am a LMSW and one of the first jobs I interviewed for paid $21,000 and had no health insurance. I was able to eventually find a job that paid in the low $40’s, but this is about the average from what I have seen. Now, almost 10 years into my social work career, the highest I have ever made was $45,000 as a social worker. I am now employed as a different title at a hospital and make over $60000, but no where in my job description am I identified as a social worker. This is truly sad for a profession that requires a master’s degree and state licensure that we are paid so low. I have friends who did not even get college degrees who make more money than LMSW’s. Something definitely needs to change. For a profession who advocates so stongly for our patients and clients, it’s time we advocated for ourselves too! It’s an insult and we should demand better pay and more respect.

  40. I have met only a few social workers that advocate for themselves. Those that remain silent do so to keep their job. It’s a sad commentary when those that are charged to advocate for others don’t have the courage advocate for themselves.

  41. I dont know where you’re getting your stats from but Im a social worker with a Masters Degree and 8 years in the field. I currently earn $28,000 a year. I honestly earned more money prior to earning my degree. I agree with Dee and J Andrews. Our professional culture has provided a climate in which we as helping professionals are made to feel selfish if we advocate for ourselves. But all change must start with one’s self. We should not be expected to advocate for others while we ignore our own needs. I didn’t sign up for that.

  42. Its also important to keep in mind that the article refers to median salaries for social workers. This means that social worker salaries can be lower or higher than the salaries posted in the article. In my case my salary of $ 28,000 is much lower than the so called median salary . If I werent married , I would probably be 40 years old sharing an apartment with a roommate. There is no way I could live alone and in a decent neighborhood on my salary.

  43. I completely agree with this article and feel that the NASW is only insulted when forced to face the obvious plight of todays social worker. I mean lets be realistic. Social workers pay for their educations like any other discipline; however are told that their salaries are quickly capped & they have hit their ceiling. Social workers see twenty cent raises while other disciplines receive thousand dollar raises. They find themselves needing to job hop to maxamize their degree; which in todays environment can be risky and impractical. If it was not for my parents before i got married I could not afford to exist & if it was not for my husband i could not afford to have a family. I am sure any social worker out there would discourage their own children from going into this field. I know i will. While we are concerned about others it will be us that will need someone to be concerned for our own futures. I work with the old and have seen so many retired LSWs with out a dime to retire & it is sad because i am sure at one point in time they paid for that masters like any of us did. I know the NASW is made up of people that care however they are limited to what influence they have over how social workers are treated and compensated.

  44. I am a LCSW. My current salary is $82,000. I do not know where these outrageous figures are coming from. My degree is very valuable. I have a great amount of knowledge and feel my skill set is quite advanced. I feel when society thinks of a social worker, they imagine a local department of social services “caseworker” who holds only a Bachelors degree and lacks the graduate training required to understand this very complex profession. MSW’s are very well trained not only in psychotherapy, but also in policy, advocacy, research, development, environment, and diagnosis. We are not underpaid “caseworkers”

  45. Rebecca,

    Do you have your own private practice or work for a hospital/VA system? Do you live in California or New York? Do you have years and years of experience? Location and what sector you work in might be contributing factors to your higher than average salary (among social workers). It seems like many of the commenters on here work for non-profit organizations or underfunded state agencies that utilize bachelor level “caseworkers”. Sadly, while these places have strong need for qualified social workers, it’s also where it pays the least…

  46. Rebecca,
    I am a MSW and have been very well trained in the areas you discussed; however still do not see great financial compensation. Everytime i seak another job the salary offered becomes less & this is after ten years of experience. Also, i am usually told we are only looking for a BSW and this is all we will pay. I will consider any suggestions you might have. This is very discouraging and at this point i do not encourage others to go into this field. Also i have a certificate in Gerontology so maybe that attributes to the lesser pay. I have looked at obtaining my license but have been told i would not make any more money doing so. I am just trying to support my family. Thank you.

  47. I have to say I agree with this article. I graduated 5 years ago and have not had many good offers. there have been only a small handful of jobs that were offering low 40’s to start when I was first looking, and now especially in NYC the social work field seems to be flooded, too many social workers and now enough jobs. Many people are taking advantage of this and only hiring fee for service which means they don’t have to provide health care. I haven’t had health insurance for over a year, and had to move in with family. Starting to look at other options if things don’t get better soon, and I hear the same from all of my former classmates.

  48. So, how can we go about starting a union? Nurses have done it and look at their salaries!

    The other option is to wait for the NASW to help us, but based on their response to this article they are probably going to continue denying that we are the most OVERWORKED and UNDERPAID masters degrees out there.

  49. The NASW is not going to help us out. I at times question their purpose. They are limited to what they can do for us. Promoting an increase in pay means that they have to admit that we are the most overworked and underpaid master level profession out there. After spending a fortune on this education when i was looking for child care i saw child care workers with no education making what i make an hour. I at this point discourage anyone from going in to social work. If you want to help others have a future i highly recommend we discourage entry into this profession. I am all for a union; i mean at 30+ years of age, no financial resources to obtain additional education and limited options what else is there.

  50. Jose,
    I just noticed your message and probably would have commented earlier. I truely sympathize with you. About two years ago i changed jobs due to burn out. During this time i had my husband under my insurance because of the same reasons. Sadly, the insurance was so expensive & my pay was soo low that i couldnt afford my mortgage (incidentally, my family was helping me financially). I was with this company for a little over a year & took the first job that came along. My Quick change to another job was because of the following; After the health insurance came out of my pay i was barely making $70 a day. I am sure that my education cost more than $70 a day to obtain. VERY PATHETIC! Sadly, i have a lot of resentment towards the profession and wish i never went into it. At this point in time i dont work more than 1 job anymore and just do the minimum & i never stress out when it regards anything work related. I dont feel it is worth it because we will never be compensated for our efforts or see nice benefits or raises. Now, i take the advocacy skills i obtained during 5 years of education and advocate against going into this field because of the issues i have encountered. I wish you well.

  51. I am a LCSW in a large metro area in the northeast. I make 60,000 per year at a health insurance company. My title is not social worker but case manager. Although I utilize many social work “skills” when I work with my patients, my work is heavy medical and case management rather than clinical. I am only slightly satisfied with my salary because my work is not high stress, I am not running around in the streets nor am I going into people’s homes. What sucks and is unfair is that the nurses at my job do the SAME EXACT thing I do and make more money. Simply, they are more valued as a profession. Additionally, I am sure HR looks at the average salary for the state and in attempt to be competitive, offers RN’s and SW’s what the stats say we make despite the fact we have same exact duties.

    Since I graduated some 15 years ago , I have NEVER worked one job only. Because I live in a very expensive state, it has always been necessary for me to “piece” jobs together (per diem, part time, etc) in order to pay my bills and if Im lucky, have some left for savings and an occasional vacation. The most I have ever made in one year was $130,000. Guess how I did that? I worked TWO FULL TIME jobs as well as a per diem job. I worked as a home care social worker from 7am-3pm and then worked at a hospital as a discharge planner from 3:30-11:30PM. On the weekends, I saw patients as a per diem social worker. Damn near killed myself in the process. Never again.

    As someone pointed out previously, I too went into social work because I thought out of all the choices, it was “easy”. I hated and was very poor at math and literally looked for an academic track where I could avoid math. I have met many other social workers who have admitted the same thing. I tell people who are thinking about going into social work to consider other options if they are just dying to “help people”. I tell them to apply to social work school if they dont mind having huge school repayment loans, experiencing lack of professional and community respect, and if they think they can live with being only half a step above those they serve in terms of socio economic attainment.

  52. Here is something to think about when your pursuing your MSW and planning to empower others. When i applied for a government job in social work with a MSW not only was i told i had to sit on a lists/wait to hear but i was also told when i received a call the starting salary was $18,000/yr. Needless to say when they called and said 18 I thought they meant $18/hr. I bypassed this big opportunity. Sadly, i have friends with masters in other fields that are making 3-4x that yearly figure for the government. Now i will do you a better one. The pay today for a government job with a MSW is still $18,000/yr; however now the government is discussing the increase of minimum wage to $9/hr. Well if you do the math the starting salary of a government social worker pays 30 cents more than a minimum wage employee, nice. However, if you have student loans also & your making payments between $600-$800/mo then your making between $700-$900/mo; now this figure does not include taxes either. With the cost of living renting is even out of the question. Might as well have the poorest paid worker helping the most needy. Keep in mind to I live in the state of PA; maybe your state is different. This is how the NASW recognizes us here. If there is a MSW in PA that wants to form a union Im with you. Sadly, when i was obtaining this MSW i was told that i would make $30/hr; sure looks more like $9/hr if your lucky. I guess my NASW dues will be a real priority then. Of course no one tells you this when your going to school; why would they professor want paid like anyone else.

  53. Hello to all! I am set for graduation this May from Stephen F. Austin State University located in Nacogdoches, TX with a MSW. I also graduated from SFASU with my BSW. I am not licensed and have no other experience in the field other then my required internships.

    I first began seriously job searching this past March and was astounded at the requirements these agencies wanted. Most wanted experience, a year or more, that particular field. How is that even possible? I came to SFASU in August 2009, graduated with my BSW in December 2011 and went straight into the Masters program, advanced standing, to now graduate in May 2013.

    I am astounded and quite disgusted at the salaries being offered to our profession. I have had a job offer with a local agency and the pay would have been 13 dollars an hour. After doing the math, that was just over 27,000 a year. Now this job would have provided me with a paid internship but I declined the offer because I knew this agency was not where I wanted to be. I then began to look at other agencies and the pay was not much more than this offer. Even if I was licensed at the bachelors level I would not be paid more, even with a MSW or as a licensed master level social worker, I would not be paid more.

    I have 40,000 dollars in loan debt and I it seems I am not even able to make that much or near that much a year. At 13 dollars an hour, I cannot live independently, but would need a roommate or to live with family.

    I am certain my professors have told me throughout my BSW and MSW career that as a MSW I could START with at least 40,000 a year. I have yet to see an offer like that.

    There is definitely a lack in pay for Social Workers, whether licensed or unlicensed. And definitely in our Rural areas, like Nacogdoches.

    If I had known what I know now, I would have likely taken a year off after my BSW and got a job, then pursed my MSW. Or a Masters in a different degree. I am certainly disappointed and do hope that our future looks brighter!

    LaKendra W.

  54. Lakendra-
    I have been disappointed with the field for over a decade. I have asked friends with BSWs/MSWs how did they get out of social work & their response is easy i never got into it. My advise & i wish i would have done this myself is to not take a job in social work. Acknowledge you have a masters & avoid anything in this field. If i was to go back 10-12yrs ago i would apply for a job at a bank/ phone/mortgage company, etc and work my way up. Anything else but social work. I mean lets be realistic how much worse can the pay be. I have found once you take a job in this field it is like saying i will work for nothing. After 10yrs of social work jobs that did not pay I was getting offers for less & less; like $13/hr and that is with 10yrs of experience. The other problem is not only do they not want to pay anything then a lot of these positions/companies expect you to work for free on weekends. Very pathetic. So after i am barely clearing $700-$800 every 2 weeks then i am expected to work for nothing all weekend and not increase my salary. Good luck to those paying back student loans. Sadly, one can take a job at Sheetz, make $8.75/hr & not have to pay back thousands in students loans. No loans & an hourly position means your paid an hourly rate and can get paid to work overtime or obtain a 2nd job. I also want to know why does a job in social work always apply a cap on pay raises. After 5 yrs at a company i was told i reached my ceiling. What ceiling i am still being paid nothing. I sympathize with you and have been in your situation. In fact, i am still in your situation and it is a decade later. I am still trying to figure out the purpose of the NASW; to me they can not really do anything for us other than watch us make marginal pay & struggle to pay our loans back. Good luck.

  55. While the NASW fights whatever fight it is fighting, social workers in the nation struggle to achieve a middle class lifestyle. I am angry because the NASW had the opportunity to show some backbone and put our cause in the forefront by telling the truth, which is that the 50 thousand dollar bracket is nothing more than a dream for most social workers, and they cowardly decided to throw our cause under the bus. Well, it is funny because they had a national forum to speak and advocate on our behalf. Instead, they decided to take that membership check you sent them and give it to that useless lobbyist in DC. I guess the days of advocacy directly to the people are dead and gone. Hail to the king…dollar!

  56. Finally, after over 20 years in the field, I am making a decent wage as an LSW in Dayton, OH. I love my job, I love my past positions, I love this field! There is no shame in wanting a wage equivalent to our worth. So please, don’t be embarrassed to admit it. We are more than worth it. What we do….most will never understand. Wages for the field here in Ohio are abysmal. It is really sad because we all deserve to be paid for our service.

  57. I have read all the comments on this thread with interest. I am a Licensed (Bachelor) Social Worker, with a Masters in Gerontology, yet my daughter who has no collegiate degree at all is earning the SAME pay that I am. What is wrong with this picture?? I have been employed by a hospice agency in Arkansas now for three and a half years, but there will be no raises as this position is a fixed salary. The cost of living is anything but fixed.

    I am not able to save for retirement. I will not have my student loans cleared until I am 80 years old, as I have had to place them onto the income level payments last month. At the same time, I have to deal with staff members who believe my only job responsibility is to assist patients with Living Wills and Power of Attorney, and if this has been completed then my presence is unwarranted. It is frustrating and discouraging.

    There has to be a better way of advocating for ourselves. If the NASW is not going to do it, then we have to join together and do it for ourselves – or we are going to do as the Dodo bird, and cease to exist.

  58. Melinda,
    After I had my son I left the profession. I now hold a job that requires an associates degree & pays the same. However, is less demanding. I think I was burned out& disgusted by the profession. I worked for a hospice & can completely relate to what you are saying. People pay a fortune for these degree with minimal return.
    Ana,
    It is a real shame the NASW did not stick up for us as a profession. I will say I am not surprised. It doesn’t really set a good example for the profession as a whole. I am also sure that example will discourage entry into the field. I am positive that a lot of others feel this way. I find myself wishing that I had just got a general degree or something that didn’t relate to helping others. Maybe a degree in communications or something. If only I knew what I knew now.

  59. To whom it may concern at NASW:

    I understand the public relations stunt as an attempt to keep up attendance in academic programs; however, it backfired. We, as social workers, do not need you to provide numbers that do not represent the majority. In social work we learn to advocate for the marganalized and the oppressed. It seems that the NASW is not advocating on our behalf; rather, they are trying to protect themselves by providing numbers that represent the few and not the majority. NASW, you should have used this as a chance to articulate the value of social work, as well as the diverse populations and causes that we serve in order to promote legislation to provide middle class pay with increases to keep up with or close to inflation. Instead you provided the public with unrealistic numbers that will mislead students to obtain a BSW or MSW without comparing the cost and return on investment. I would be fine with the salary you provided, as would many others; however, this is not a salary most BSWs or MSWs will obtain by mid career or ever. I know people in their 40s making $35,000 a year as a social worker, while my Uncle and Aunt makes $65,000 and $80,000 a year respectively with only a high school diploma. Thus, they are making twice the salary with no student loans ever being replayed. Anyone in business would cringe at the return on investment (ROI) of a BSW or MSW. Empowering individuals in marganalized and oppressed populations is very rewarding; although, one should not have to live in poverty to do so.

    Respectfully,

    Devon Jones, MSW, LSW

  60. All I can say to the NASW for not recognizing
    Us as a profession is people need to drop out
    Of this organization. I for one am glad I am not
    A member. When you pay for your car, phone,
    Apartment, etc you at least see a return. From
    The looks of it you see NOTHING!!! I just wonder
    If these NASW dues are going to give these NASW
    Presidents, officers, etc nice cushy pay checks while
    We get NOTHING. Trade your paycheck for
    There’s and then will talk. Now this is called advocating!!!

  61. I have been a CSW in Wisconsin for 7 years now, my salary is still under $30,000. I am one of the many who can not even afford to be a member of the NASW. I enjoy my work and know I am good at what I do but when I am unable to provide for myself and my daughter it makes it very frustrating. Not only is the compensation for the work we do minimal but I often see that the job is unvalued by management. I have seriously been thinking about switching professions but I do not want to add to the student debt that I feel I will never get paid off. I feel discouraged by the profession and society’s value of the work we do.

  62. WOW. WOW WOW. I have a bsw. Graduated in 2008 and I hold no licenses. I have worked three jobs in social services. I started making 31,500 and now make 38,000 Plus I can make up to 1200 A month in bonuses plus mileage and I am just a case manager not to mention I work in OKLAHOMA one of the lowest paying states and I have benefits and the whole nine yards. I am happy with my degree. Federal jobs here start at 38000 Plus and an Lcsw start out at 80,000, So I guess its all about location meaning rural obvIously needs more help and following the money which is our baby boomers. I knew I wasn’t going to be a big baller! Lol, but I am raising three kids comfortably.

  63. Ironically, I live & worked in the #2 populated county for the geriatric population; Allegheny County, PA & the pay was just lousy. No bonuses, no 401k , terrible benefits & no mileage reimbursement either. Also I’ve had to work weekends & evenings for free. Federal jobs in this state start at $18,000/yr. I would of thought with all the aged we have here the pay would be reasonable. I’ve gained the impression that because we have so many aged that social workers crowd here & employers have there pick of workers to pay nothing. I was told if you put your time in your salary would increase. However, after 15 years in this field I discovered this to be completely untrue; actually being offered less than when I first got out of college. Experience didn’t seem to matter. I changed careers completely & am glad I did.

  64. After reading this page, I am surprised at the experiences of others and am wondering whether my experience was an anomaly. I originally entered the field of Social Work after being encouraged to do so by a psychologist when I was attending a community college on account of not needing to obtain a PsyD or PhD. Upon taking classes for a while I enjoyed it and found myself graduating with my BSW. I’m not sure where people are getting some of these job offers, but I recall starting out working in Therapeutic Day Treatment in a school setting making 33,000 a year with salary, a nice schedule in terms of time off, and set hours. After a few years of having done that, I returned to school to get my MSW. Nearing graduation, I applied to a number of jobs and ultimately had to decide between working in a substance abuse position or working for a community mental health agency (a CSB here in Virginia). I’m not sure of the starting pay for the community mental health government agency, but it would have been over 41,000. With the job I have now in substance abuse while working on the process of obtaining my LCSW, I can comfortably rely on making in the upper 40’s range with travel reimbursement. I have also found that this field is rewarding in the range of settings we can work in as well as the opportunity for attaining jobs on the side fairly easily so I am tremendously grateful for the opportunities afforded to me. I think what has helped me most is being flexible in terms of where I was willing to work both in terms of scope of practice and geographic location; I cannot imagine how disheartening it would be to be offered a pittance for years of education, but I was willing to move to another state if required and have no qualms about doing so in the future so as to pursue my passion. I hope that for those who are struggling, that you find a place where you feel you are rewarded for your hard efforts.

  65. All I can say is I was frustrated by the terrible pay & minimal respect and gave up. I really did not want to continue to work 3 jobs to live comfortable while my peers with other degrees only had to work 1 job. The working for free on evenings/ weekends also was just insulting. I am glad I left the field. It feels like a weight been lifted. It nice to have a good wage & work only 1 job for it. Also it’s nice to not have people pulling at you around the clock. Not only were you constantly being bothered during off work hours but you weren’t getting paid a dime while you were. Everyone expected something. Now I have time for myself & my son. Your time away from work needs to be invested in you & your family not just on people & companies that are using you. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish that I never went into social work. I’m just glad I left. People want something for nothing & that doesn’t exist and they want everything done for them. No motivation. I went in dedicated and came out frustrated, bitter, resentful and burned out. Sadly, by the time I left the field I was getting sick several times a month & in/out of the ER. Trying to work multiple jobs to make it will do it. Working multiple jobs is a twenty something game. By the age of 30 your done with that lifestyle both physically & mentally. Maybe if minimum wage continues to increase the pay in social service will increase. That is the only way I see that happening. I learned people don’t care about compassion. They care about when there getting the rent, heat etc paid. It is a you want something pay for it kind of world. In terms of pay this was a good profession in the 1930s/ 40s but not now.

  66. I got my MSW in 1988 and LCSW in 1996 because i needed that to get a job in a nursing home that paid very little, like all social work jobs, and like all social work jobs was abusive and time consuming and draining. I have never been in a social work job where i hv not been underpaid overworked and mistreated. I always used to lobby for national union status for social workers but union was a dirty word. I hace long been after NASW to provide group health insurance (even National Association of Science Writers NASW have it, as do cosmetologists who don’t even WORK as long as they belong to their organization whatever it is called) …. I have gone into private practice but even that is a joke because i won’t accept insurance. Too much work for very little money IF the insurance companies pay at all (u have to chase them.) And clients can’t won’t pay if they can get therapy from someone who will accept insurance. How i wish i had been smart and gone into business or teaching. I would be looking at a comfortable retirement soon. Now, i could be looking at a cardboard box to call home.

  67. NJ LCSW I can completely relate. I was working 3 jobs to make it & was physically, financially, mentally & emotionally drained. After multiple trips to the ER & infections from running myself into the ground I was desperate to get out. I married my husband & jumped ship from this once loved career. The demand became too great. There is not a day that I don’t wish that I went into something else. It was too much. I’m left wondering if people in other careers endure such. I can say I am left bitter & resentful. For a career that supposed to be of compassion they certainly didn’t have any compassion for this social worker.

  68. I just started my MSW program in January 2015. It is disheartening to read some of the previous posts. However, everyone I know with a MSW and LCSW, currently makes a very good salary, with benefits.
    I will continue with my program, with the hope that I will eventually have a postion I love and a salary I will be able to provide a living for myself.
    Thank you for all the encouragement.

    Sincerely,
    Lucy Tate

  69. I’m sorry but I am a experienced social worker for 5 yrs employed now in the state of Maryland. I have a masters degree and am licensed and I don’t even make $50,000. Its so sad that my fellow coworkers and myself continue to struggle to meet our bills when we went to school so that we could at least live comfortably.

  70. I can’t speak to the average salary of social workers, but I do know that we are overworked, underpaid, and under-protected. NASW actively advocates for us as a profession, but at least here in Massachusetts they are very timid when it comes to fighting for our wages out of fear of violating federal anti-trust laws, according to which insurance companies are the poor “consumers,” and we social workers are the monopolistic “cartel.” That is why interdisciplinary clinicians in Massachusetts have formed Clinicians United, an affiliate of SEIU 509. We are working to have our legislators create a state-wide immunity from these anti-trust laws so that clinicians will be free to advocate for higher wages with the same protection other workers have. Without that immunity more and more clinicians will refuse to accept insurance, making vital mental health services less and less accessible for consumers.

    Please see http://www.cliniciansunited.org for more information, and if you live in MA, please join us!

  71. My first job after my MSW was at an AIDS clinic for 26,500 a year. I made more money delivering pizzas for Dominos. My second job was for 30k. Two years later, I moved to NC, and made only 36k as a provisional LCSW. I then went to work for a psychiatrist making 30 dollars an hour. I started my private practice, and marketed my tail off. Three years later, I am making 100k. I now only work three days a week. Granted it is three 12 hour days, but three days nonetheless. To get there, I feel as if I sold my soul. I never cheated anyone, and helped other therapists out along the way, but the pain to get there was a lot.

  72. Currently have a BSW, this degree is not respected, in the field. How can you provide effective services, when you can’t even afford to your basic needs. Forget this degree, get a RN degree, and be able to put food on your table. If not maybe you will eat a decent meal on payday. This degree is only making colleges money get rid of it and all social degrees

  73. Linda,
    I feel the same way. I went & got a Masters
    In this field & to be honest nothing changed.
    In fact, it got worse. Companies either told you
    They did not pay a master’s level or told you
    they wanted a license. Regardless, either way
    I was still making nothing & at a greater expense.
    I was working 2 jobs to make it. After 15 years
    of lousy pay I married my husband after dating
    just 5 months. Now I work for him as a bookkeeper.
    The funny thing is this bookkeeper position required an associates
    degree & paid the same as my MSW or 5 years of
    education. Also this position is not as demanding
    As a position in social work. I remember my first
    job in social work & people asking if I would get burned
    out & bitter. I would laugh not realizing. Now I
    understand. I mean, let’s face it you can only go
    On with lousy pay for so long.

  74. It is disheartening to hear so many frustrated people complaining about a 40,000 salary. The plight of the social worker mirrors the plight of the entire middle class, as it slowly gets dismantled. It is not only social work. In the recession there were a many unemployed engineers, nursing is also over saturated, and teachers are being sold off to corporate interests. Try to be thankful that you make over 40,000, go without a car, and help advocate for the middle class.

    I agree that the profession needs to weed more people out. I can say that far too many of my MSW colleagues at a respected university were ignorant to current events, public policy, globalization, land use issues, and concepts of the law and how to use your position as a social worker to advocate for change. I took several electives outside the social work department and found the students to be far more engaged and with a deeper understanding of the way the world works. I also believe that the profession will push itself into irrelevancy by its focus on clinical work and the medical model. Social workers should be trained to work a community development agencies, law firms, and in public policy. Don’t expect a job, keep educating yourself on real issues (not “mindfulness” and “self-care” and don’t expect that because you have a degree you deserve anything.

  75. I have a hard time settling for 40k a year. 6 years of schooling, the license hours, and the constant CEU’s. 40k is a joke. For that matter, so is 50k. If that is all I made, I would seek another profession.

  76. There are many jobs working with military families. The jobs are asking for LCSW and those who don’t have a license located all over the US and overseas.

  77. Hello, dont despair there is hope. After grad school I got a job in South LA starting at 45,000 a year. After five years I earned 50,000 a year. After getting my LCSW I got a job in another community clinic earning 85,000 a year with benefits. So there is hope of earning decent money. Mind you im not supervising yet either.

  78. If I could of obtained a job that involved working with community change/organization, public policy or a law firm I would of been thrilled. I use to apply for & pray for a job of that nature. However, with a MSW this never happened. In fact, once I could only obtain a job directly dealing with patients that was it. Looking in other areas when you only have experience with working with patients limits your options. It is easy for someone to say go do this but sometimes you have to face reality. One can say hire me for this but it doesn’t mean it will happen. It is also not about deserving a job. Student loans don’t go away & the cost of living does not decrease. One has to recognize education is very expensive & to get out making $10/ hr makes a degree worthless. The other thing to keep in mind not everyone in social work is making 40k a year. I’ve heard that some areas of social work pay 18-19k a year. One has to keep in mind some of these jobs expect one to pay for gas mileage & parking and tolls. I even had an employer tell me I had to pay to have my pants hemmed. The look on their faces when I said I can’t afford $15-20 for a pair of pants to be hemmed. I had one tell me I had to pay them to use their car. At some point with demands like that one can’t afford to even rent. I can educate myself on all the issues I want but it doesn’t mean a company will hire me for more. The social work degree is not valued. If it was valued obtaining a job in a law firm or with public policy would be a reality.

  79. Either I’ve lived in some really bad states or I got really unlucky based on the numbers I’m seeing in these comments. When I graduated in Arizona with my MSW in 2011, I started at 35k. No one at that agency had received a raise in about half a decade and none were expected for the foreseeable future. I moved to Virginia, where it took me 9 months and over 200 applications to get a job. That job paid 30k/yr for my masters plus 1.5 years experience (and about 8 years related experience prior to completing my MSW). After I got licensed, I moved to another agency where I got a “huge” 40k/yr salary. My salary, licensed, 5 years post degree remained 40k. I quit the field and moved to academic research in a non-profit in a field completely unrelated to either of my degrees and started at 55k. Don’t even get me started on the 60% of my income that was going straight to the government in loan repayment and taxes, the fact that I was gaining principle every month, or the fact that with my 80hour work I was bringing in about $4 an hour- up to 5 at the end of my social work career.

    I completely agree with Huffington Post’s assessment of this field and have vocally expressed my recommendation to anyone considering an MSW to consider psychiatric nursing instead of their goal is direct patient interaction. It’s not a perfect job, but it’s certainly better.

  80. I can definitely say that every job I had in social work was considered salary & by that we pay you for 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week and expect you to work 60 hours a week. The best was when I worked in acute care & a nurse said to me on a Friday ‘what time will you be in tomorrow to get this person out?’. I immediately said you get paid hourly & for weekends & I don’t and will be at my 2nd job. What was worse was the frequent calls crying & questioning when I’d be in (when I clearly said no the day before) & me saying pound salt or money talks and walks. I finally said your interfering with my job the one that pays me on weekends. All I can say is if other professions pay for their time this one should. Maybe the social worker would be treated as a profession & with respect if it did. Just ridiculous. Keep in mind even Sheetz pays hourly probably paying better when you calculate what you really make working 60 hours & being paid for 40 hours.

  81. I’ve been a Social Worker in DC for 10+ years, in the government, MSW, with clinical licensure. Currently, licensed Social Workers’ salaries can range from mid-50’s to low-100,000’s. Also, there are an abundance of full-time and part-time opportunities.

    I believe it all depends on your region, its cost of living, and it’s value of the profession. Honestly, if you are not happy with your salary–don’t complain. Do something about it. Be a change agent for yourself.

  82. Hello ! i am getting ready to graduate with my BSW in May 2016 and will be starting my MSW program in the summer. When it comes to making a decent salary in the Social Work field,it depends on what you do with your degree. With a MSW degree, you can work under many different titles and your pay scale will vary . Bottom line, if you want to work “in the trenches” so to speak, you are going to make the least amount of money. If you want be a case manager or actual social worker, your salary won’t be that great. If you plan on going into therapy ,management , or supervisory positions,you WILL make more money.I’m talking 50-70k a year . If you open up your own practice (which I will one day), you WILL make even MORE money meaning 75k or more. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about because I know MSW’s that are doing these things and they are making a decent wage. If you get your MSW and you plan to be just a case manager or be just a social worker at a broke non-profit, you can’t get mad at your pay. Social work is field where if you reach higher, you will earn higher.

  83. I’ve been in the profession over 15 years and since graduate school, this frustration with title protection, salaries and self-advocacy as a profession has raged with no steps taken by our professional association to rectify it.

    If I were to meet a prospective MSW today I would say, don’t do it. The Universities are saturating the field, this is true. They are run on business models . Social Work Schools look good within the University to have high enrollment. They lower their admittance standards- as long as tuition is paid. this fares badly for all professional social workers.

    I love my profession, but tiday, I would figure out a way to help people without the title. Many do- they call themselves social entrepreneurs and they are doing innovative work.

  84. If not for a friend that just graduated with her MSW telling me she just landed a job making $28 an hour starting out, I would have really been upset. I am currently half way through the MSW program and my time spent and student loans feel like I’ll never have a decent life if I don’t come out making at least $60k to start. My current supervisor is making $90k and he’s got a MHS. I’m keeping my fingers crossed because while I love the field, I did not go to graduate school to make under $60k per year

  85. Im sorry but I have my LGSW and am working for the state of Maryland for 5 years now and I don’t make $50,000. I love my job but often struggle financially while working with intensive cases and late nights. Of course I didn’t go into this field to get rich but it’s sad that I am considered the working poor with my MSW and professional license.

  86. I just read the comments after staying off the site for several months. They seem right on with regard to income, respect, working conditions and I agree wholeheartedly with the comment about universities “milling” social workers.
    When I got my MSW (which is a second career for me), it was surprising to see many of the other students (who sadly would not have made it through another program) and their abilities. This is not a judgement statement but an observation. I made strategic moves to train hard, get skilled in therapy and obtain my LCSW. As we watch the world around us, it is apparent that the need for skilled social workers to provide services at the primary level would be beneficial for all. However, when it comes to budgets these services and people are expendable. And, I too, would recommend someone entering the university system to get an RN – which can be done with an associate’s degree! More respect and fair compensation. And I don’t find that the national or local branch of the NASW does much in the way of addressing the above concerns.

  87. I believe the region you live in plays a big role in what you will make
    With an MSW. Anyone can say that hasn’t even spent a
    day working in the field to do this or that or your just a
    case manager. Before one can say they know they need
    to recognize the region & at least have a career or job to
    see reality. I stepped out believing I was going to work my
    way into acute care & hospice and what followed me were
    the masses of others who over saturated the field. When I
    entered the field in early 2000 the compensation was by far
    better in terms of cost of living & region but then everyone flooded
    the profession. So before you say someone is just a case manager
    recognize many will graduate with this degree & might opt to be
    that case manager. By the way, the region I live in doesn’t appear
    to pay that great in those specializing in mental health. One
    doesn’t know until they have actually done & experienced. It’s
    easy to say you have to make a change yourself however after
    investing years into paying a home off your not going to uproot
    to find a region that respects this profession & compensates
    better. Some one just graduating should comment in 5 years
    after they see what the profession is all about.

  88. What is the salary of NASW President?

  89. Mr. Hoerr:

    The President of NASW is Darrell Wheeler, PhD, MSW, MPH, dean of the School of Social Welfare at SUNY University at Albany. The president is a volunteer position.

    Greg Wright
    NASW Public Relations Manager

  90. Amazing that this article and the comments have been around for 5 years and nothing has changed, not even the salaries. When I was accepted to Columbia University’s MSW program I rejected their offer with a note attached: ” While honored to have been chosen to attend an “Ivy League” University, I respectfully must refuse given the extreme tuition costs. Please explain why an MSW costs the same as a MBA. The future earning potential of an MSW as compared to a MBA is like comparing apples and race cars.”

    I do believe Universities need to start charging tuition for their degrees based on their future value; not on the value of the University.

    As someone above points out, an RN with two years of college education is paid as least as much as a starting social worker with 6 years of education, if not more. Teachers generally make more. Police and firefighters make more. I do not believe the public nor co-workers know what the work is we do and I believe that is the fault of the NASW as it is the only “trade organization” we have and to whom we pay a high rate of dues. The NASW seems to focus its concerns, not on improving the life of social workers but improving the life of those they already serve. If as much time were spent “marketing” our profession and discussing poor wages, perhaps we’d all be in a better position. There are many organizations and plenty of individual social workers who already commit time and attention to their client’s plight. But who is committing time and attention on us? You can’t help others if you don’t help yourself. Because we won’t be here 20 years from now when the nursing profession continues to take our jobs for more pay with less education. This needs to stop. If I wasn’t working two jobs to help support my family, I might have time to “man the barricades.” But I don’t. Oh, and one of those jobs is with a government agency.

  91. Deirdre:

    Thanks for your comments. Actually NASW and its chapters are working on legislative and regulatory initiatives to boost social worker salary.

    We are working with lawmakers now to pass the Improving Access to Mental Health Act. This legislation was introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the Senate and Rep. Barbara Lee in the House.

    This bill would raise the reimbursement rate clinical social workers receive, increasing their pay.

    On a local level some NASW chapters are pushing to have state agencies only hire licensed social workers. One of these states is New York. This effort will ensure social workers get these jobs — not people who are not qualified.

    Please visit http://www.socialworkers.org/advocacy to learn more about what we are doing. And please feel free to give us suggestions on what we can do to improve social work salaries. You can email me directly at gwright@naswdc.org.

    As regards dues NASW recently raised them to $225 from $199. We had not raised dues in a decade, recognizing that concerns about expenses from some social workers. However, we had to do so in order to increase the products and services we offer and provide more advocacy on issues important to social workers, including pay.

    Take care and we hear your concerns!

    Greg Wright
    NASW Public Relations Manager

  92. I don’t know where you’re getting your numbers from. I have been in this field for almost 8 years and I haven’t been paid over $40,000 and I have the worst dental insurance. I live on Long Island and taking home $2,000.00 a month is disgusting. Considering in order to be employable you have to obtain your Masters’ degree which overall will cost approximately $40,000.00 making $40,000 doesn’t make any sense. If you need to have your Masters and license then the tuition needs to be reasonable.

  93. I love how enthused that young lady is that only just got her BSW, good for you! I work for a non for profit and private practice. Private practice is difficult because you have to chase after insurance companies after submitting claims and lets not forget getting yourself on an insurance panel. And if you haven’t noticed most agencies as well as hospitals are non for profit. Oh yeah and to become management etc you have to start out on the lower end to gain the experience. Good luck to you!

  94. Social workers are tireless advocates for the vulnerable and underserved. What always amazes me is that social workers are not willing to advocate for themselves. Social workers are also a vulnerable population in many ways. For one thing it’s a profession that demands sacrifice of a person’s emotional investment. To say that someone does social work because it’s a Labor of love equates to exploitation. Social workers are required to have extensive education that puts us into debt. We are then overworked and overextended while living paycheck to paycheck and in many situations just as vulnerable as some of the populations we serve.
    I think it’s extremely important to be voicing this in order to effect change just as we would for our clients. Many good social workers leave the field because of the high frustration and low pay. Social workers in my area with an MSW are capped out at around 50,000. There are some opportunities to make more money but they are rare. This causes instability for our clients and in a roundabout way makes them even more vulnerable. A woman started at my agency just out of college and a year later has decided the low pay is not worth in social work and is leaving the profession entirely. I don’t blame her and I am daily considering leaving myself. The only thing that stops me is the dedication to my clients in social work. Therefore I feel that it’s important for us to quit leaving the profession instead effecting change to end the exploitation. If I had to do it over again I would not have chosen to be poor the rest of my life but I’m here now and I would like to find a way to do what I love but also be able to survive and retire. That is in no way an indication of how much I love my job. It is not wrong to want to advocate for people for a living after having earned a degree to do so. Anyone who expects anything more of a social worker is using shame to justify paying social workers less than they’re worth.

  95. Greg Wright,
    You say that the NASW is advocating for social workers pay. The pay has not risen and tuition has. As the years go by this situation gets worse. I have considered paying the dues however I’m not sure why I would. Can you tell me what the NASW is currently doing to advocate for higher pay for social workers?

  96. I apologize, it seems that you already have and I will check out the resources you provided.

  97. I’m really confused by all this low income talk. The hospital in NYC where I work starts LCSWs at $67,000 per year. My friend’s daughter who is now an LCSW working here, says she when she got her MSW she worked somewhere else in the mid-to-late 50s. So what gives???

    I’m finishing up an AA in Human Services this semester and transferring to a BSW program in the fall and this talk of being underpaid is really discouraging. I feel passionate about the work and the subject matter involved but I have a family that I’m raising. If I can come out making at least $55,000 with an MSW, I’m happy. Right now I’m making $44,000 as a phlebotomist/EKG tech.

    I could go for speech pathology instead. I hear they pay good and flex schedule. But I honestly don’t think I’m passionate about it.

    Not to sound sexist or anything but do you think me being a male social worker would increase my chances of a reasonable salary? I’ve heard that males are offered more because most SWs are women. I don’t know.

  98. I have heard that males are paid better in this field. I think it depends on the region
    I live in Pa and the pay for a social worker is ridiculous. I was in the field 15 years & they wanted to pay me $14/hr. I tell everyone I know not to waste their time. In fact, I got married & got out. I myself regret going into it because of how horrible the pay is. I didn’t see an increase with experience, time or inflation. I see other people I went to school with whom went into business, marketing, nursing & human resources making amazing yearly income & I find myself wishing that they never made social work a profession. I find myself wondering what I will do if I get stuck back looking for a job in this lousy paying profession. I don’t think I could support myself or my son working in this field. I just feel I wasted a lot of time.

  99. I got my masters in Social work. It past more than a year I have not been able to find a job to pay off my student loan. I am getting paid $20:00 an hour if people show up. Many people on welfare they do not want our help anyway. we get treated very badly by supervises which they are already burned out being in this field.
    there is no job for you if you do not speak Spanish.
    many supervises are in favor to hire who knows Spanish since most people on welfare are Spanish speaking individuals. Most of these people asking for you to say they are depressed and need to be on disability.
    Hell NO.

    No fair hiring
    low pay
    indeed stupid field to spend time and your energy.

  100. I have been a Social Worker for 12 years and I am so disappointed with my chosen career as there are no jobs anymore for Social Workers with Bachelor Degrees. All jobs anymore require a Master degree and or LCSW. Not all of us want to go on for the Master’s or can afford too. There need to be more options available..
    Thank You,
    Laura

  101. I started as a child protection case worker in 2003 at $28,000 a year with my LSW.
    As I promoted up the ladder, by the time I left the state in 2015, I was earning $54,000 with my LMSW as a supervisor.

    My current job is school social work. I work similar days/hours as administration (off during school breaks and most of the summer) for $58,000 a year. It took me 13 years to get to that number, which in my area is a decent living wage.

    Both of my siblings are electricians and both make more than double what I do with no student loans.

  102. I am stunned at the some of the wages people are posting. I am curious as to where some of you are currently employed that you are making approximately $30 – $35,000 as an LCSW with ten years of experience. If you google the highest paid careers in social work, you will see which areas you can earn the most. Maybe considering another branch of social work? I reside in Northeast Pennsylvania, and if you search LCSW jobs on http://www.indeed.com, you will see a decent pay being offered. Also, consider searching governmental jobs. Keep in mind you can practice therapy anywhere! You will also qualify for jobs that may not necessarlity hold the title of a social worker. Be smart and utilize your degree and skills to the max! If you are unhappy with where you are at it does not make sense to stay there!

  103. While I feel Social Workers should be paid more, I also think the article is degrading to the Profession. I earned 59k at my first job right after grad school doing hospice work. I currently work in a ER and get Paid $33 per hour. Health Setting pays more. ( Hospital, Hospice, Home Health etc).

  104. I would like to add my comments about this subject too.

    I am older, divorced and now re-married with a large blended family. For the next several years I am geographically confined to a large metro area because of my wife’s custody arrangement, so moving is not an option for now.

    I recently earned my MSW from the USC online degree program. Tuition 100K. That isn’t a typo.

    I am a veteran and wanted to work with veterans or military, preferably in the VA (I have over 15 years of federal service and I understand the importance of retirement).

    The USC program billed itself as a military social work program (and at the time claimed it was the only one in existence). It was implied that internship would be working with that population. But that never happened as USC has zero relationships with the VA or other organizations that service veterans. I am not your traditional social worker; I was infantry and just watched as friends and co-workers returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and struggled with injuries, TBI, PTSD etc. I am a white male. I have not had much in the way of personal experience with other mental health issues or struggles like poverty, CD, etc. I simply wanted to work with the military/veteran population.

    I took and passed the state exam prior to graduation (LGSW).

    I have had one interview with the VA despite applying for many, many jobs with them. I did not get it as I was not experienced enough. Cannot get another interview with them. I cannot get interviews with other agencies, as I lack the experience as a social worker (most want a year or more and/or licensure at the clinical level). The only thing that is available that I really seem to be qualified for is an hourly wage worker with no benefits. $18-20 per hour. I can only bill when I get time with a client. I also have to pay for supervision hours, CE and other fees associated with obtaining licensure. Over the course of the 2-3 years it would take to get an LICSW, I would shell out an additional $6000-10000, to get the requirements for it (which is really what I need to get on with the VA). This is like a kick to the nether regions to add insult to the 100K injury that the school inflicted.

    We live incredibly frugally, but raising four kids costs $$$. We have one car, a tiny house (2 bedrooms), never go anywhere, etc etc. I burned through ALL of my savings to get through the MSW program With a 20+ hour per week internship, and a three hour commute to get to/from said internship, there was no way a full time job was going to keep me on. Yes I worked part time.

    This whole thing would be funny if it where not so pathetic. I cannot afford to do this for three years. I would spend more than I would make. And in all likelihood all that would do for me is allow me to work as a SW in an agency for several more years for 33-40k as I gained the experience necessary to land a job with the VA.

    The cost of this degree is criminal, the salary is not commensurate with the level of stress that one endures while doing it, and I really was not impressed with what the profession actually does…At least in the degree program, we learned very little that was actually applicable to clinical work and the social workers I did interact with seemed jaded and burned out.

    This profession needs an overhaul. I was handed more responsibility as a junior officer, than the profession thinks I can handle until I pay my dues for several years. Someone commented above that a new nurse does better salary wise and can potentially kill someone if he/she does something wrong. The same things goes for physicians. The licensure process needs to be streamlined and one needs to earn a living wage DURING that licensure process. New MWSs should be able to get a position without years of social work. If a social worker is applying for food stamps or other aid something is very very wrong.

    I can hear the comments about well you should have done your homework or you should have pursued a different degree if all you want is money. I have served and I want to continue to serve. I understand the military experience and I see what the needs are with veterans. There were misrepresentations all throughout my program about what I could do with this degree. Right now I really can’t do much. This thread has been going on for years with the same theme, yet not much seems to have been done. Who is going to step up?

  105. I’m Thomas Lisa by name. I live in , i want to use this medium to alert all loan seekers to be very careful because there are scammers everywhere.Few months ago I was financially strained, and due to my desperation I was scammed by several online lenders. I had almost lost hope until a friend of mine referred me to a very reliable lender called Mrs Mary Clark who lend me an unsecured loan of € 95,000 under 2hours without any stress. If you are in need of any kind of loan just contact him now via:maryclarkservice1@yandex.com I‘m using this medium to alert all loan seekers because of the hell I passed through in the hands of those fraudulent lenders. And I don’t wish even my enemy to pass through such hell that I passed through in the hands of those fraudulent online lenders,i will also want you to help me pass this information to others who are also in need of a loan once you have also receive your loan from Mrs.Mary Clark , i pray that God should give her long life.

    God bless him forever.

    Thomas Lisa

    Testimony on how i got my loan

  106. Worst decision i ever made. i should have been a teacher: summers off, 180 work days per year with lots of holidays professional development days sick days and personal days, awesome salary and benefits package, pension, lifetime free medical care upon retirement. if not a teacher, ANY public emloyee. social workers are undercompensated and overworked with no union to back us up and no retirement.

  107. NASW Administrators are in denial. I am no longer a member of NASW for this reason. It looks good on your resume, but other than that — don’t waste your money on the membership dues. I love my profession, which is why I’m deeply disappointed and concerned by NASWs response to Huffington Post. Yes, we are underpaid and overworked– sweeping this issue under the rug further proves that NASW does not advocate for us. I attended a reputable 2-year graduate program in NYC, where tuition is $20,000 a semester. As a LMSW, I have no problem finding a social work position. Unfortunately, the offers come from low paying non-profit orgs, that do not offer clinical supervision. For the past 3 months, I’ve been interviewed at various hospitals only to be denied the position, because I don’t have enough experience in a health care setting. If you have a LCSW, I’m sure you’re paid over $50,000 — but the path to obtaining it is a long, hellish one. Most hospitals are now seeking part-time/per diem workers, so getting that clinical experience may take well up to 6 years. NASW, STEP UP AND FIGHT WITH US! Isn’t that what you’re here for?!

  108. I receive a daily notification from NASWs Social Work Smartbrief; this article was featured; “Social Workers Who Aid the Homeless Often Need Help Themselves.” Social Workers in agreement with the article featured in the Huffington Post are not exaggerating about their low salaries– this is a national issue. NASW, STEP UP AND FIGHT WITH US!

    http://www.civilbeat.org/2017/12/social-workers-who-aid-the-homeless-often-need-help-themselves/

  109. Tracy,

    You made some legitimate points and I enjoyed your article. I’m not sure where you are getting those numbers however I’m a 9 year BSW that has scratched and clawed my way to 40,000 while being a single mother to three.
    I shouldn’t have to starve my family to help another family to eat. But many days I have. I was into the article until this…

    “Judgments on the monetary value of certain careers are always subjective. Thank goodness many people continue to choose life-affirming careers such as social work despite the naysayers”.

    You see Tracy, it always seems to come back to social workers supposedly being ok with being paid a fraction of what they have earned because they are “in it for the outcome not the income”. Well, I call bullshit.

    No surprise women are the driving force behind social work. No other population in the western world would endure being devalued in this way. I don’t have any answers to these rhetorical thoughts. The one thing I’m sure of is this; you cannot be a part of the solution if you remain a part of the problem”.

  110. Let’s see, a social work promoting professional board is disgruntled at a publication highlighting the low pay and tough working conditions in social work–complaints among social workers since my PARENTS’ days. And we’re supposed to believe the rhetoric and political (intended) polish of NASW? No one is that gullible.

    If we actually valued the work social workers do, we’d pay them more. It’s that simple. This is why athletes, entertainment stars, and corporate CEO’s (including top lawyers who own their own firms) make so much money while nurses, teachers, and social workers don’t. Oh, and since a willing supply of new social work students volunteer to assume the astronomical costs to get a low-value degree (in terms of earning potential), why should agencies pay more? Of course, agencies want to pay as little as possible. You can thank other social workers that agencies succeed in doing just that.

  111. WOW, I have read all comments; I am a LCSW with over 20 yrs. experience. I agree with the majority of opinions about low salaries. This slavery has gone on long enough! What is the purpose of NASW? I’d like to see their pay scales for what they do? I hear my colleagues cry and I validate what you’re saying and I hear the frustrations being verbalized. This is not a new cry and I don’t believe our cries are being heard and if they
    are there’s a believability that since were getting things off our chest we can go back to work and assume the status quo. (NASW) part of your job is to advocate for us! I haven’t seen a lot that you’ve done for us. I see we’re paying more money to you and having to take more classes and test in order to have advanced classifications in the work place. Please tell us what you’ve done for us in the last 15 to 20 years that have advanced our salaries? Now, please tell what you’ve done even if there was a fee associated with it that has advanced our salaries? How come we don’t have a union colleagues? We are advocates are we not! Remember what insanity is: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different out come! What do we want? We want salary increases, we want masters level people as social workers, not BSW degrees, we want to be respected, professionalism, & loyalty. What standards have WE upheld by NASW? Who’s the majority here? Do we vote for NASW’s boards? and how do people remain in their jobs when we aren’t satisfied? We tell people to vote for President of the U.S. There is nothing we can’t do if we’re willing to take risks. Some colleagues may say they disagree with me and that’s ok. I don’t want to live close to the poverty line and have to pay high fees for this and that with a sub standard salary which effects my bottom line. My commitment to clients hasn’t changed and the growling in my stomach gets louder as I get older. Sometimes there is a apathy that permeates within organizations when they don’t have a voice, WE HAVE VOICES! WE ARE CHANGE AGENTS! We’re not the first to advocate for higher salaries: Look at nurses, teachers, sanitation workers, aides etc. What would happen if everyone walked off their jobs for a day or two? Maybe we take this action state by state because of salary or lack thereof. I live in Calif. Please don’t say you can’t afford it because You’ve been accepting it by your behavior.

Leave a Comment