Career Salary Overview

Child & Family Social Worker $50K
Healthcare Social Worker $50K
Mental Health Social Worker $40K
Mental Health Counselor $50K
Community Services Managers $60K
10K30K50K70K90K

What skills will I develop when pursuing a master's in social work?

Whether you concentrate your studies on helping individuals or community organizations, children or adults, upon completing your Master’s of Social Work program, you’ll be able to:

  • Communicate with people and groups at every developmental stage and in any situation.
  • Analyze the needs of individuals, families, small groups and entire communities and create plans and policies.
  • Counsel your clients and help them find healthy coping mechanisms for life stressors.
  • Understand how to empathize with circumstances different from your own and how to use that empathy to improve the lives of your clients.
  • Move between diverse settings and continue to provide quality services and aid.

Child, Family and School Social Worker

The main goal of these professionals is to ensure the welfare and protection of children. They work with families and educators to create safe environments for children to grow and learn. Though these social workers are sometimes called upon to remove a child from an unsafe situation, many counsel families and help them find support services that will allow them to stay together.


$41,530 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Assist parents in finding affordable childcare and applying for state-funded benefits such as food stamps
  • Work with at-risk children and remove them from unsafe environments
  • Find foster families and work with children in the foster system to ensure their needs are being met and they fit with their foster home
  • Assess behavioral and learning issues in the classroom and determine solutions to problems within the educational setting
  • Help children and families work through big changes such as divorce, death or the aftermath of a crisis

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. Connecticut$63,020
  2. New Jersey$60,780
  3. Minnesota$59,620
  4. Washington D.C.$59,110
  5. Rhode Island$58,250

Job Numbers by State

  1. California28,540
  2. New York22,690
  3. Pennsylvania16,340
  4. Texas16,020
  5. Illinois14,200

Work Environment

  • Schools State and city governments
  • Child welfare agencies
  • Private practices
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Juvenile corrections

Education Required

School social workers are often required to have a master's degree, though there may be entry-level positions available to those with a bachelor's degree in social work.

Specializations and Certifications

Earning professional credentials is proof to potential employers and clients that you have the education and work experience necessary to do your job well. Master's of Social Work graduates, with 20 hours of postgraduate, professional education and at least two years of work experience in the field, may pursue the Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW) or the Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS) distinctions.

Career Path

After completing the MSW program and fulfilling the requirements for licensure or credentialing, social workers in this field can pursue jobs in settings that provide services to children and their families. In order to maintain licensure and credentials, you may be required to take continuing education courses in your field.


Healthcare Social Worker

Social workers in healthcare settings are there to help patients and their families understand the medical jargon surrounding their diagnoses and their options for treatment. These professionals also prepare their clients for the transition back into their homes after a hospital stay, and they counsel patients on ways to cope with an illness or injury. Many function in the clinical social work capacity; they assess, diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders as they relate to health concerns.


$49,830 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Provide patients with information on support groups, in-home care and counselors to help them get through their time of illness and injury
  • Ensure that healthcare providers understand how disease and illness may affect mental and emotional health
  • Organize living arrangements in nursing homes
  • Make follow-up visits to patients once they return home to assess how they’re adjusting
  • Intervene if any crises should arise as a result of illness, disease or injury

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. California$67,860
  2. Connecticut$64,540
  3. Washington D.C.$64,390
  4. Nevada$62,300
  5. Oregon$61,500

Job Numbers by State

  1. California13,570
  2. New York11,540
  3. Massachusetts11,090
  4. Texas8,600
  5. Pennsylvania7,970

Work Environment

  • Retirement and nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Private practices
  • Clinics
  • City and state governments

Education Required

Employers prefer healthcare social workers to have at least a master's degree.

Specializations and Certifications

Five certifications are available to healthcare social workers offered by the National Association of Social Workers: Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW), Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology (CSW-G), Advanced Social Worker in Gerontology (ASW-G), Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker (ACHP-SW), Certified Social Worker in Health Care (C-SWHC).

Career Path

Degree and certificate concentrations determine the type of healthcare setting these professionals will work in. After earning a master's degree and fulfilling the requirements to become certified, these social workers are prepared for employment in hospitals, private practices and care facilities.


Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker

These professionals often take on the roles of counselors and work closely with patients and their families or caregivers to get to the root of an addiction or mental health concern. They are often in charge of assessing patients to determine what sort of treatment would be best for them and whether the program has worked. They may be asked to decide if a patient should be discharged from a care facility based on how well the social worker thinks the individual will thrive at home.


$39,980 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Perform psychological assessments to determine the depth of a mental or emotional disorder or addiction
  • Head one-on-one or group therapy sessions
  • Provide resources to prepare patients for discharge from a treatment facility, help them find an aftercare routine and make follow-up visits
  • Work with caregivers and patients to create treatment plans that everyone can follow
  • Assess individuals for recovery and testify whether they will be able to cope with returning to their homes or communities

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. New Jersey$59,900
  2. Connecticut$59,300
  3. California$57,900
  4. New Hampshire$56,020
  5. Maine$55,790

Job Numbers by State

  1. California11,990
  2. New York10,770
  3. Pennsylvania10,110
  4. Ohio5,320
  5. Massachusetts5,170

Work Environment

  • Rehabilitation center
  • Psychiatric hospital
  • Correctional facilities
  • Mental health clinics
  • State and city governments

Education Required

For some positions.

Specializations and Certifications

These social workers can pursue any of the clinical certifications and the Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW).

Career Path

Mental health and substance abuse social workers need a foundation in psychological studies to better understand how their patients and clients function. After earning their MSW and fulfilling the requirements for certification and licensure in their states, these professionals can join the ranks of mental health hospitals, rehabilitation centers or open their own private practice.


Mental Health Counselor

Counselors encourage their patients to talk about what triggers their emotional disorders. They work with individuals and groups to determine the causes of and treatments for mental health concerns.


$41,500 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Work with patients to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral or emotional disorders
  • Give clients the tools they need to overcome or manage their mental health concerns
  • Correspond with other healthcare providers to keep them apprised of patient’s concerns
  • Tailor therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to fit the patient’s needs

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. Alaska$58,800
  2. Oregon$53,330
  3. Wyoming$52,840
  4. Hawaii$50,630
  5. New Jersey$49,670

Job Numbers by State

  1. Pennsylvania11,160
  2. California11,100
  3. Virginia8,060
  4. Massachusetts7,900
  5. New York5,690

Work Environment

  • Private practices
  • Hospitals
  • Psychiatric hospitals
  • Residential care facilities

Education Required

Mental health counselors are required to hold a master's degree for entry-level work.

Specializations and Certifications

Becoming a certified counselor instills an understanding with your clients that you have the education and experience necessary to help them with their concerns. Certification requirements for counselors vary by state.

Career Path

Though these professionals are not required to have minimum work experience for entry-level positions, becoming licensed or certified often requires experience working under the supervision of an approved mental health counselor. After earning the degree and certification, mental health counselors are eligible to apply for positions in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. They may also pursue work as a private practice counselor.


Social and Community Services Managers

Social and community services managers run organizations that create programs that improve the lives of a group of people. Some create employment opportunities for the homeless, while others start after school day care programs for children with working parents. Whether they work for the city or nonprofit groups, these professionals focus on benefiting the people.


$59,970 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Create and balance budgets for community programs
  • Talk with the community to determine its needs and raise funds to meet them
  • Assess the effectiveness of the programs and use the data to improve how they’re run
  • Liaise between the organization and the trustees to share successes and ensure continued funding
  • Field new applicants to the organization to determine if they are a good fit

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. Washington D.C.$88,080
  2. New York$82,510
  3. Rhode Island$81,850
  4. New Jersey$80,280
  5. California$76,110

Job Numbers by State

  1. California13,800
  2. New York10,640
  3. Massachusetts6,500
  4. Pennsylvania5,840
  5. Illinois4,360

Work Environment

  • State and local governments
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Community centers
  • Nursing homes

Education Required

Entry-level work requires a bachelor's degree in social work, urban studies or a related field.

Career Path

Aspiring social and community services managers must have at least a bachelor's degree and five or more years of experience working in fields that benefit society. Many positions accept applicants who have a background as a social worker. As you gain more experience in this position, you will have opportunities to advance in your career.