Salary Outlook with Ph.D. in Social Work Degree

A Ph.D. in Social Work can be a good choice for improving your career prospects if you are interested in being a scholar, researcher or educator in social work. Earning this prestigious doctoral degree will prime you to hold higher-paying social work positions in the research, academic and clinical fields.

Completing your Ph.D. in Social Work is a serious commitment. You can expect to spend up to five or even six years earning your Ph.D. That is why it is wise to consider your potential salary with this advanced degree. On this page, you will learn more about what you can earn with a Ph.D. in Social Work, as well as details about a specific online doctoral program in social work.

Social Work Salary Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median salary for all social workers is $44,470, with the top 10% earning more than $81,400 per year. ( Also, median social worker wages in various parts of the profession are:

  • All other social workers: $63,100
  • Healthcare social workers: $56,200
  • Child, family and school social workers: $46,270
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $44,840 reports the average salary for a Ph.D. of Social Work graduate is $68,000, with a range of reported salaries between $78,000 and $119,000. (

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As many Ph.D. in Social Work professionals choose to work in academia, it also is important to review the possible salary as a college instructor and researcher. BLS states the median salary for all postsecondary instructors is $78,400, with the top 10% earning more than $175,000 per year. Social work instructors earn a median wage of $68,300. (

High Salary Growth in Ph.D. in Social Work Job

One of the best positions to hold with this Ph.D. is that of social work professor. A professor with several years of experience in social work can expect to earn a salary of $80,000 per year or more.

General Ph.D. Job Outlook

The social work profession will see a strong rise in employment by 2026, with a 16% increase in jobs. Increased need for healthcare and social services is driving the need for more social workers. Employment for healthcare social workers will rise by 20% through 2026, which is much faster than average. (

SEE ALSO: Get Your Psy.D. Degree After MSW Social Work

The profession of postsecondary teachers will see a 15% increase in growth through 2026, which is faster than average. More students will be going to college to gain advanced skills to improve their career prospects. (

Featured Online Ph.D. in Social Work Program

Walden University offers an online Ph.D. in Social Work that will help you to build new skills in modern social work theory and program evaluation with scholarly research that allows you to position yourself as an expert and leader of thought in social work.

This online Ph.D. in Social Work program allows students to design, implement and analyze their own research that is related to the social work field; choose from several specializations to focus your social work education on your passions, and to network with leading faculty and peers with face-to-face residencies. (

Specializations in this Ph.D. program at Walden University are:

  • Addictions and social work: Learn about the psychology of addiction and the interventions that are available for families and individuals that deal with addictive behavior.
  • Clinical expertise: Explore the major methods and practices as well as the legal and ethical issues that you could encounter as a social work supervisor as you work with staff from different backgrounds.
  • Criminal justice: Focus research and studies on things that can lead to criminal behavior. Also, you will explore modern forms of intervention and will pave the way for future advances in group and individual psychotherapy.
  • Disaster, crisis, and intervention: Learn to conduct research and contribute to the body of knowledge for effective crisis intervention, as well as learn how to analyze modern practices to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other challenges that trauma victims face.
  • Family studies and interventions: Work with children and families from diverse backgrounds and in different stages of life, while developing advanced skills to provide needed support to children and families.
  • Medical social work: Develop and assess strategies in practice interventions with families and individuals who face chronic or terminal illness, disability and issues related to aging.
  • Policy practice: Look at the fundamentals of successfully collaborating with lobbyists and legislators to devise public policies that create needed change. Also, analyze economic, governmental and legal issues that affect decision making on policies related to social welfare.
  • Organizational behavior: Gain a better understanding of organizational behavior so you can more effectively assess how effective community based social work organizations are.

Graduates of this four-year Ph.D. in Social Work program will be able to:

  • Use modern research, best practices, and theory to promote intervention and prevention strategies that address major social problems and the diverse needs of social groups.
  • Employ current research and statistical tools to obtain data that is used to address the dynamics and etiology of social problems and needs.
  • Evaluate the role of evaluation and research in social work to improve social interventions and advancing theory development.
  • Apply ethical practices and decision making in social work


Earning your Ph.D. in Social Work is a good path to a higher salary and position in a social work research, education and clinical work. Those with a doctoral degree and years of experience can make $70,000 or more, so it is a good decision for professionals who have a passion for the social work field.