Something that is likely on your mind when pursuing or choosing to pursue a Master of Social Work degree is, how much money will I make in my career? Social Work careers often have the reputation of being low paid and over-worked, similar to teachers. Is that true? What is the typical MSW salary ?
According to payscale.com the median salary in 2009 for an MSW was between $31,000 and $45,000. This is compared to the salary for someone with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW) which ranges from $28,000 to $38,000. Once you are fully licensed and considered a Licensed Clinical Social Worker or a Licensed Social Worker the median salary is $36,000 to $49,000. When you have obtained five to nine years of experience you can expect to make $49,000 to $56,000.
The amount of money you earn as a Social Worker also depends on the type of job you obtain. If you are employed by a hospital the median salary is $56,400. Psychiatric and substance abuse employees typically earn $54,000. Working in children welfare and family reunification pays considerably less, with many Social Workers’ making between $28,000 to $32,000. An area of Social Work that you may not have considered is research. Universities and the government are often looking for individuals with Master of Social Work degrees to complete research on mental illness and the treatment of psychiatric problems. In research positions you can expect to earn between $40,000 and $50,000 per year when you begin. The average social work salary is not cut and dry, but depends on setting and experience.
Private practice may become an option for you once you have accumulated work experience. In private practice you have the ability to make a six figure income. If you are able to market yourself well and gain positive referrals from clients, your practice will likely flourish. Social work pay can be high for an ambitious person who is good at marketing. Giving workshops or continuing education workshops for lcsw renewal is another option. The MSW salary at an agency can be significantly improved by giving weekend seminars or workshops using your specialization.
The average starting salary after an MSW also depends on your geographical location. If you are living in a large city such as New York City or Chicago, you will likely make considerably more than you would living in a small town in Nebraska. But you have to remember that the cost of living is likely higher in a large city.
The employment outlook for Master of Social Work careers is expected to increase faster than average through 2016. With a large number of baby boomers retiring, there will be an influx of Social Work positions available.
Looking at the MSW salary can make you feel defeated, but remember that you chose or are choosing this field because you are passionate about the work. Enjoying what you do day in and day out will likely make you happier than a few extra numbers on a paycheck would.
Also, by supplementing your job with private practice you can do quite well.