Welcome to The New Social Worker's Blog

The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Are You Satisfied With Your Social Work Salary and Your Social Work Job?

According to this article released yesterday, social work is among the most underpaid jobs in the U.S. At the same time, social workers report high job satisfaction. To quote the article, "Despite the high stress, social workers report to Glassdoor that they like working with people, and get a thrill out of positively impacting the lives of others. Their tender hearts don't translate to loads of legal tender, though."

The amount of student loan debt (see http://www.socialworker.com/home/Feature_Articles/General/Loan_Forgiveness_Eases_Debt_Burden_for_New_Social_Workers/) combined with salaries that are lower than those of other professionals makes for some difficult decisions when it comes to accepting a social work job offer. How does one reconcile the desire to do good in his/her chosen profession with the need to make a livable wage?

What has your experience been? Have you found that you have had to turn down a dream job because of the salary?  Have you found effective ways to get the salary that you feel you deserve and need?  Have you found salaries to be acceptable in your area of practice and geographic region?


  1. I think it's sad how much we do for people, how we have to have malpractice insurance, how we have to be on-call, at times, but we don't get paid very much. Doctors save lives, but don't we to a certain degree? I mean how many of us have helped someone not commit suicide?

  2. I am a newly registered social worker here in Philippines and recently just got my first job at NGO particularly catering those abandoned children. To be a social worker is not an easy job and yes i am agree with the sentiments of other social workers. Social workers must receive above minimum salary each month. This profession is much challenging one, how can you turn a fool person into a wise one?

  3. Social worker salary is paltry given the years of schooling, amount of student loan debt, and situations we face on a daily basis. I know a number of individuals will less schooling and/or less stressful jobs who make significantly more money. It's insulting and demoralizing.

  4. I think that social work is no different than any other female dominated profession: education, nursing, etc. The pay generally pales in comparison to male dominated professions where earnings are high on average i.e. Engineering, computer science, etc. Another thing that I have noticed in talking with fellow social workers is the tendency to sale ones self short by low balling their own salary expectations or being afraid to negotiate. Many of us think its humble to say, I didn't get into it for the money but its actually downplaying reality because we are all in it for the money otherwise we'd all work for free. We need to move toward a standarized educational requirement and more stringent licensure requirements. Doctors can't practice medicine without a license, nurses can be nurses with passing their boards, & in order to practice law lawyers must pass the bar exam. Too many unlicensed holders of social work degrees and under qualified paraprofessionals without social work education are flooding the market which decreases our overall value.