Sunday, January 6, 2013

How much do child welfare social workers make? National sample of child welfare entry salaries: An infographic

My last post on social work salaries was based on NASW data and represented mid-level workers from all groups.  The map below offers some random salaries in the child welfare field gleaned from current job openings across the United States.  Some states have title protection, which means that people can only call themselves social workers if they hold a social work degree.  In states that do not exclusively hire degreed social workers in the child welfare positions, the child welfare job titles are often "Social Service Worker" or something similar.

Child welfare workers often get 1-3% annual increases for cost of living or "step" raises, and some jurisdictions offer several different levels of employment that workers can promote in to. Annual Salaries may range, over time from the low 30k to the high 70k depending on years of experience. Benefits also vary widely; child welfare workers may have to contribute several hundred dollars to family medical benefits per month, while others may have their benefits fully paid by their employer.

I am a big advocate of child welfare work as a career path, and also an advocate of the needs of child welfare workers.  I worked in the child welfare field for many years, and interfaced with the community at every level; I made good contacts, got good at assessment and engagement, and worked with people in their environments during some of the hardest moments of their lives.  It is very rewarding work, and the policies and supports of the employing agency make a very significant difference in retention and satisfaction of workers (and thus the quality of services for clients).  I believe that professionally trained social workers are uniquely prepared to do this kind of work, and that salaries will increase where the work is professionalized.  There is little agreement about entry requirements for the work across the nation, and many states do not differentiate work tasks between Bachelors and Masters level preparation; therefore, the rewards for continued education are low, and the enhanced skils of MSW-trained workers may not be recognized. 

I collected the data below from current job ads.  If you are a child welfare worker and inclined to share (and feel free to post anonymously), post your salary, years of experience, job title, employer, and degree in the comments below to give us a wider idea about child welfare worker salaries.  If you have any corrections for my infographic below, please send me an email.


  1. Hi Dr. Sage,

    I think your blog is amazing. It caters to social work and it is really helpful. So I think you are a teacher at UND, is that correct? The reason I ask is because I am senior at UND in the Social Work program and have heard about you from my fellow classmates who are taking a class with you. Pretty crazy how I found your blog. But keep up the good work!

  2. Hi Alice! Thanks for the visit and comment. Yes, I am at UND, if you haven't taken 424 yet our paths will probably cross then. (If you don't take it from me, I usually cover a class or two for Patti.) Best wishes!