Social Worker Salary Overview

social workerIf you like to help individuals and families, social work might be a great fit for you. Social workers clarify and manage public/private programs to help meet a client's social or emotional needs.

Starting salary range

Starting social worker salaries range from $25,919 (Florida) to $32,896 (California)*.

Average salary

A social worker's median salary is $46,253 and maximum social worker salaries top out at over $60,000**. Larger employers tend to pay more than smaller ones, according to Payscale's Median Salary by Company Size Charts

Opportunities for advancement

Social workers can advance by gaining on the job experience and tenure. Social workers can typically increase earning potential by moving to a larger employer. Social workers can also advance their careers by earning a master's degree and by becoming licensed. Social workers with advanced degrees may advance into supervisory and management roles. Earning advanced degrees can also open university teaching opportunities for social workers.

Benefits and perks

Health care, paid time off, pension, education reimbursement, sick days, insurance, bonus, and taxes increase the total compensation package by an average 31.1%**, bringing the median total social worker compensation to $66,175.

Salary negotiation tips

Negotiating salary can be tricky. Larger institutions typically set up a salary range (or salary band), so the organization will have a little room to move on salaries (about 5-10%). Smaller organizations are less likely to have quite as much wiggle room on salary. Either way, don't expect an employer to give you a higher salary just because you ask. Instead, prepare a well documented justification and stay within the organization's salary range for the specific position so you'll have a good chance at getting the salary increase you're targeting.

Your greatest ability to negotiate salary is when you have options. Interview with a number of institutions, hospitals, and government agencies. In addition, do your homework – get salary information online with AOL Jobs Salary Center or from staffing and recruiting firms in your industry. Sometimes just having research on average salaries for your local market may provide rationale for a higher salary.

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