There are some misconceived notions surrounding just how lucrative a social work career can be. One myth includes the idea that social workers simply aren't paid much. But in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the pay for social workers is more than the national average income.
Further, once you have completed your Master of Social Work degree, there are several social work careers that pay well, while still offering you the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and communities.
Whatever area or specialization within social work you feel passionate about, you should pursue — regardless of the average annual salary. However, if you are undecided about which area to specialize in, consider these five lucrative social work positions available to graduates of a master's in social work.
1. Nonprofit Program Coordinator
A social work program coordinator works with nonprofit (or other agencies) to create, develop, and arrange programs that meet the organization’s goals and accomplish their mission. Because of limited staff and small budgets, program coordinators are typically responsible for overseeing these projects from start to finish. Examples of projects that these professionals might coordinate include: job training, career development, food subsidy programs, educational programs, health outreach initiatives, substance abuse support groups, and more.
The average annual salary for a program coordinator for a nonprofit organization is $62,113.
What do nonprofit program coordinators do? Typical responsibilities in this position may include:
- Program development and implementation
- Program logistics
- Event organization and advertisement
- Community outreach
2. Veteran’s Affairs Social Worker
When soldiers return from war, they are susceptible to a variety of challenges as they reintegrate into normal civilian life. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) assists those who have chosen to serve their country via the military. Services provided by social workers who work in this Department include: disability compensation, education and training, career placement, housing-related assistance, and mental health counseling to name a few. In addition to a competitive salary and excellent benefits, you can choose to work anywhere as the VA is one of the largest health systems in the United States, with offices or branches in every state and US territory.
The average entry-level salary for a VA social worker is $49,765-$59,760 depending on where you live.
What do veteran’s affairs social workers do? Typical responsibilities in this position may include:
- Patient advocacy
- Evaluation and referrals
- Outreach to homeless veterans
- Case management
- Assessment and treatment of substance abuse issues
3. International Social Worker
The international social work profession exists to combat injustice across the globe, and particularly in third-world countries. Most international social work professionals can find work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other nonprofit organizations. The specific type of work these social workers engage in depends on the mission of the organization. Well known organizations who employ social workers include: the United Nations, the World Health Organization, International Rescue Committee, International Justice Mission, HelpAge International, and Food for the Hungry International. Whatever your particular area of interest, there is most likely an international organization looking for social workers to join their team.
The annual salary for an international social worker ranges on average from $53,000-$56,000 with opportunities for increased entry-level salaries in some positions.
What do international social workers do? Typical responsibilities in this position may include:
- Providing humanitarian aid
- Meet the basic needs of individuals
- Offering education through programs and initiatives
- Advocacy on behalf of vulnerable populations
- Ease economic burdens
- Assisting refugees
- Providing disaster-relief
4. Medical Social Worker
Typically requiring a master of social work degree, medical social workers provide social work services to hospital patients and their families. These niche social workers provide counseling and crisis intervention for hospital patients, including assessing, analyzing, researching, and treating behavioral and mental problems related to a person’s hospitalization.
According to salary.com, the average annual salary for a medical social worker is $62,479.
What do medical social workers do? Typical responsibilities in this position may include:
- Address the issues of hospital patients both during and after hospitalization
- Help patients and family members navigate the health care system
- Assess and treat patients’ behavior and emotional issues
- Make recommendations for care post-hospitalization
5. Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Licensed clinical social workers are mental health professionals who are able to work in a variety of areas of social work practice (child, family and school, healthcare, mental health, and substance abuse). These licensed social workers are instrumental in solving problems such as the growing number of adults in prison and the large volume of cases being handled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relating to child abuse and neglect.
The average annual salary for a licensed clinical social worker is $56,724, although salary ranges may vary based on region and specific area of social work practice.
What do licensed clinical social workers do? Typical responsibilities in this position may include:
- Assess, research, and treat various mental conditions of clients
- Help place patients in jobs and housing
- Aid individuals in finding living arrangements
- Work to ensure that basic needs are being met
Transform your future with an MSW!
At the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, we believe that social work is about service and justice, healing and restoration, and the dignity of each individual. We have built an evidence-based, research-centered program that encourages students to dive into social work practice, through field placement experiences and classes led by expert faculty with years of experience in the field.If you have questions, we invite you to contact us or come visit us and let us help you jump start your career in this noble profession!