Salary Outlook for Clinical Social Worker

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The field of clinical social work is growing in popularity as more Americans are relying on social workers to assist them with their mental health care needs. This is leading to gradually higher salaries in the field as demand rises.

To become a clinical social worker, it is required to earn your master’s degree in social work (MSW degree) or your doctorate in social work (DSW degree). Before making such significant financial and time commitments, it is critical to understand what your salary potential is. Below is salary information to help you make your educational decision.

Clinical Social Worker Salary Information

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median salary for all social workers was $49,470 in May 2018. The lowest 10% earned under $30,700, and the top 10% earned more than $81,400. Professionals with a master’s degree or DSW generally work as advanced practitioners or educators in social work and earn the highest salaries. (

SEE ALSO: DSW Salary Outlook

Median wages for specific social worker specializations were:

  • All other social workers: $63,100
  • Healthcare social workers: $56,200
  • Child, family and school social workers: $46,200
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $44,800

Social worker salaries in the top industries were:

  • State, local, and private hospitals: $60,100
  • Local government, excluding hospitals and education: $54,400
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $49,800
  • State government: $48,500 reports the average salary for a licensed clinical social worker is $56,898, with a range between $42,000 and $78,000. ( Payscale also reports the following specific salaries from various organizations:

  • DaVita, Inc.: $63,000
  • Kaiser Permanente: $75,000
  • Fresenius Medical Care North America: $62,000
  • Self-employed: $65,000
  • Dignity Health: $84,000
  • The Veterans Administration (VA): $72,000
  • S. Air Force: $77,000

The website notes that pay for licensed clinical social workers varies by city:

  • Los Angeles: +24%
  • San Diego: +20%
  • New York City: +14%
  • Chicago: +1%
  • Denver: 0%
  • Boston: -7%
  • Indianapolis: -8%

Licensed clinical social workers also will earn a higher income as they gain experience. The website states that clinical social workers will earn:

  • $46,760 with less than one year
  • $50,800 with one to four years
  • $57,277 with five to nine years
  • $61,190 with 10-19 years of experience
  • $63,700 with 20 or more years of experience

US News & World Report

According to US News, the median salary of clinical social workers was $54,870 in 2017. The top-paid 25% earned $67,850 that year, and the lowest-paid earned $42,500. (

Clinical social workers tend to earn the highest salaries in the social work field because they are relied upon by millions of people to provide mental healthcare services. In fact, clinical social workers provide more mental health services each year in the US than practicing psychologists.

The publication also reported that healthcare social workers have the #11 best social services job based on salary, quality of life, and personal fulfillment. reports the average salary for clinical social workers is $54,577, with a range between $40,000 and $72,000. ( It also reports these related job title salaries:

  • Licensed clinical social worker: $55,000
  • Medical social worker: $48,000
  • MSW clinical social worker: $55,000
  • Social worker BSW: $54,000

This website reports the average licensed clinical social worker earns $69,484 per year as of September 2019. The range is between $64,000 and $75,100. The salary range will depend on variables such as education, certifications, years of experience, and additional skills you have learned. (

It also reports average total cash compensation that includes base and annual incentives of $71,092 with a range between $64,904 and $76,897.

Pay difference by city:

  • San Francisco: +25%
  • Washington DC: +11%
  • Chicago: +6%
  • Boston: +13%
  • New York City: +21%
  • Dallas: -1%
  • Miami: -3%

This job information website reports the average salary for clinical social workers is $71,300 per year, with a range between $31,500 and $103,000 per year. (

The website also reports most clinical social workers make between $57,000 and $81,000 per year.

How Much Clinical Social Workers Make by State

The following list shows the best paying states for social workers.

StateHourly WageAnnual Salary
New York$35.69$74,241
New Hampshire$34.41$71,571
North Dakota$32.54$67,685
Rhode Island$32.49$67,578
South Dakota$31.13$64,759
New Jersey$31.07$64,619
West Virginia$31.03$64,540
South Carolina$30.72$63,896
New Mexico$28.77$59,842
North Carolina$26.18$54,449 June, 2020

Job Outlook for Clinical Social Workers

Social worker employment prospects are looking bright in the coming years. It is reported that job opportunities for social workers will increase by 11% through 2028, which is faster than average. ( Higher demand for social services and healthcare will increase the need for social workers.

BLS also finds a much higher need for clinical social workers through 2028, with a 17% increase in jobs. Healthcare and clinical social workers will be needed to help the aging US population and their families grow accustomed to new medications, lifestyles, and treatments.


The growing need for healthcare and clinical social workers in the United States will lead to growing salaries in the next decade. Earning a master’s or doctoral degree in social work offers you the ability to earn a salary above $70,000 or $80,000 per year in some cases, with sufficient experience.