The average social worker pay in the United States is $57,590 per year. In Canada, the pay range is C$31,336 ($23,321 USD) to C$75,839 ($56,442 USD) per year, while salaries in the United Kingdom run from £19,500 ($22,244 USD) to at least £40,000 ($49,693 USD). Social workers in Australia earn from AU$52,389 ($38,908 USD) to AU$82,410 ($61,215 USD) on an annual basis. The average pay is CHF70,800 ($70,015) in Switzerland and NOK447,600 ($52,520 USD) in Norway. Read below how the types of employers, location of practice, experience and other factors shape the social worker salary.
Social Worker Salary Influencers
The pay of social workers depends on the type of employers of social workers, experience and location. Those who become clinicians and licensed can generally expect higher compensation, especially by commanding fees for their services in private practice.
Social workers occupy various settings, such as schools, court or juvenile services, adult care homes, treatment facilities and private practices. While employment prospects are strong due to the diversity of employers, many employers are in the governmental or nonprofit sectors. For many social workers, the budgetary limitations of these entities may suppress pay to some extent. Higher salaries are likely for those in private practice and private sector employers.
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Social Worker Salary in the US
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for social workers in general stood, as of May 2015, at $57,590. The top ten percent earners made more than $83,400 per year. Child, Family and School Social Workers earned on average $46,610 per year as of May 2015.
Social Worker Salary in Canada
PayScale reports that Canadian social workers earn on average C$49,664 per year. Total pay spans from C$31,336 to C$75,839 per year.
Social Worker Salary in the UK
In the United Kingdom, starting social workers earn between £19,500 and £25,000. For experienced social workers, pay runs from £25,000 to £35,000. Social workers in the “Highly Experienced” category make £40,000 or more per year. Starting salaries in the National Health Service fall in “Band 6,” which means a range of £26,302 to £35,255. With experience, social workers can apply for advanced and senior positions in “Band 7.” Salaries in that category run from £31,383 to £41,373.
Social Worker Salary in Australia
According to PayScale, social workers in Australia average earnings of AU$58,988 per year. Social workers make between AU$42,389 and AU$82,410 annually.
Social Worker Salary in Switzerland
In Switzerland, social workers earned an average yearly salary of CHF70,800, or CHF5,900 per month. The minimum pay is reported as CHF 67,200, while the highest earnings reached CHF74,400 per year.
Social Worker Salary in Norway
According to Statistics Norway, the average monthly pay for social workers comes to NOK37,300, which translates to a yearly figure of NOK447,600.
Depending on location, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient to enter social work. However, those who practice in a clinical setting must normally have a master’s degree and a license. In the United States, clinical social workers must log two years of post-master’s experience. Social workers in Australia enter paid apprenticeships or training programs with registered trainers. In Switzerland, qualified social workers oversee students who undertake “practice placement days” during their course of study.
In the United Kingdom, social workers must obtain a social work degree, which takes three to four years to earn. Social workers who have a degree in another field gain experience through a two-year “Frontline” program of classroom and supervised work in child protection, a 14-month “Step Up to Social Work” program or diploma or master’s classes in social work.
Most social workers log full-time hours, though actual averages vary by country. For example, in Australia, these professionals work on average 35.5 hours per week. Work weeks in the United Kingdom run between 35 and 40 hours per week for social workers. Those in the country’s National Health Service have work weeks lasting 37.5 hours.
Generally, social workers keep normal, weekday office hours. In some settings such as hospitals, treatment clinics, nursing homes or other 24-hour facilities, social workers may have evenings, nights and weekends for shifts. Travel constitutes a considerable part of the social worker job. Many must travel to homes for site visits and court to offer testimony or reports in cases such as adoptions, abuse, neglect, delinquency and truancy.
Bonuses & Benefit Packages
The prospect of bonuses may be limited as governmental or nonprofit agencies tend to constitute significant employers for social workers. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 29 percent of social workers are employed by state and local government entities. Another 18 percent work for individual and family services organizations. Those employed by nursing homes and other for-profit facilities have the best prospects for performance bonuses.
Pension and retirement is generally available for social workers, especially as many are in the employ of government entities. For example, the Frasier Institute reports that defined benefit pension plans covered 94.2 percent of government workers against 47.5 percent of private sector employees. Social workers employed in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service can access pension benefits at age 55.
Australia affords superannuation up to 9.5 percent of salaries. Norway, Australia and Switzerland entitle employees to paid vacation or holidays. In Norway, employees can obtain occupational pension and insurance. Switzerland runs a three-pillar retirement system, in which contributions by employees and employers under the first two-pillars provide up to 60 percent of salaries during retirement.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an overall employment growth of 12 percent, or 74,800 additional jobs, among social workers from 2014 to 2024. Within the health care and mental health and substance abuse categories, the job increase is estimated to be 19 percent.
The Canadian Association of Social Workers reports that 93 percent of Canadian social workers are employed either by health and social services or government entities. While doubled from 1991 to 1996, private practice social workers constitute a small portion of the occupation sector. According to the Australian government, Australia had 35,800 social workers through November 2015. The social workers sector in Australia should see very strong employment growth through November 2019. By November 2020, between 25,001 and 50,000 job openings should become available for social workers.
Factors such as court-ordered treatment of substance abuse and anger management will help spur demand for social workers. These professionals are also needed to work on cases involving truancy, discord among families and elderly populations.
To conclude, the pay of social workers turns on work experience and settings. Those in clinical practice and private sectors can earn more than those who work in governmental and nonprofit agencies. Prospects for finding work should be strong, as children, parents, elderly and other populations face challenges requiring counseling, treatment and other assistance.
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