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Salary Outlook for Military Social Workers

Military social workers assist members of the armed forces in reintegrating into professional or civilian life after they are deployed, injured, or endure a personal crisis. These social work professionals offer social service support to active-duty and retired military personnel and their families.

They also provide counseling services and case management as they advocate for their clients in the Veteran Affairs system. These professionals also connect their clients with services and resources in their state and local communities.

Military social workers often help veterans who need psychological and emotional support. Military deployments and exposure to violence can lead to serious mental health problems, including PTSD, depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Social workers working with military personnel receive specialized training to help their clients get their lives back and under control.

Military social workers are often employed by the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the biggest employer of social workers with advanced degrees in the US.

So how much do military social workers make? If you are interested in being a military social worker, it is critical to understand the field’s salary outlook. Below is detailed salary information for military social workers.

Salary Outlook For Military Social Workers

There are several authoritative websites with salary information for social workers, including those who work with military personnel:

National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

The NASW does not provide specific salary information for military social workers. However, the association does provide the following salary information for people with a bachelor’s degree in social work:

  • 1% earn less than $20,000
  • 82% earn between $20,000 and $39,000
  • 12% earn between $40,000 and $59,000
  • 3% earn between $60,000 and $79,000

For people who have a master’s degree in social work:

  • 1% earn less than $20,000
  • 48% earn between $20,000 and $39,000
  • 45% earn between $40,000 and $59,000
  • 5% earn between $60,000 and $79,000

The website also states that social workers with their master’s degree earn a median salary of $48,000 as of 2015. Additionally, MSW holders who work in individual and family services, including the military, earn $45,000 per year.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median wage for all social workers, including military social workers, is $50,470 as of May 2019. The lowest 10% of social workers earned less than $31,790. Also, the top 10% earned $82,540. Social workers who hold a master’s degree tend to earn more than those with only bachelor’s degrees.

Median annual wages are as follows for these specific types of social workers.

  • All other social workers: $61,230
  • Healthcare social workers: $56,750
  • Child, family, and school social workers: $47,390
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $46,650

BLS also notes that social workers make different salaries depending on the industries in which they work. The top-paying industry is government, which may include social workers who work with military members:

  • Local government: $55,500
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $51,290
  • State government: $49,100
  • Individual and family services: $43,000

Payscale.com

Payscale.com reports that social workers employed by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs earn an average salary of $69,129. The salary range is between $49,000 and $100,000.

Payscale.com also reports that social workers at the VA earn the following salaries based on experience:

  • One to four years of experience: $62,700
  • Five to nine years of experience: $73,500
  • 10-19 years of experience: $70,033

Additionally, the website reports that the average salary for all social workers is $47,352, with a range between $33,000 and $68,000. Social worker salaries based on experience are:

  • Less than one year: $40,677
  • One to four years of experience: $44,200
  • Five to nine years of experience: $49,400
  • 10 to 19 years of experience: $53,800
  • More than 20 years of experience: $57,470

Salaries for all social workers vary based on geographic location, as well:

  • Seattle: +22%
  • Los Angeles: +12%
  • New York City: 11%
  • Boston: +6%
  • Philadelphia: -3%
  • Atlanta: -5%
  • Chicago: -6%

Glassdoor.com

Glassdoor.com reports the average salary for a social worker with a master’s degree is $49,450, with a range of $34,100 to $65,227. The site does not provide salary information for military social workers.

Salary.com

This website states the average social worker with a bachelor’s degree earns $58,600 with a range between $51,800 and $65,700.

Ziprecruiter.com

Ziprrecruiter.com reports the average salary for all social workers is $54,262, with a range between $23,500 and $89,500. The range is between $41,500 and $61,000.

Military Social Work Job Outlook

Social worker employment, including for military social workers, is expected to increase by 11% through 2028. This is much faster than average when compared to other occupations.

Also, healthcare social workers will see an increase of 17% by 2028, which is also much faster than average. Today, these professionals are needed as the elderly population needs treatment as they get older and live longer than in the past.

It is expected that clinical social workers will see a 10-15% rise in employment as well, with some of them working in the VA. Clinical social workers are the most often-used provider of mental health services in the country. More people are using mental health services to deal with personal and mental health issues as they live longer.

What The Experts Say

To learn what the experts have to say about being a military social worker, we checked Quora.com. We found some interesting answers to this question: “Are there military social workers working on base?”

  • ‘[If you mean] people that can help with at-home situations or mental health, yes they do. The military has a specific goal, and if its members are distracted, the mission’s goal can’t be achieved. So it is in the military’s best interest to provide all the necessary support programs possible.” – Tyler Hoffman, Social Worker.  
  • “Yes, they have social workers on base. Bases tend to have as many services available as possible, and while the choices are more limited than off base, availability is greater. There are daycares, family services to help create and follow budgets, and there are chaplains as well.” – Jake Colvin, Social Worker.
  • “Yes, the Army has social workers on base. In the Army, social workers are a part of the Medical Service Corps. They are commissioned officers, and the MOS is 73A.” – Richard Cooper, Retired, US Army.

Summary

Working as a military social worker lets you make a substantial salary and transform the lives of people who have served our country. Job demand for social workers is rising, so becoming a military social worker is an excellent career choice.

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