What Is the Salary of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?

A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) works in social and human services, providing aid in the fields of medicine, public health, substance abuse, mental health and family services. Your salary in this career is determined by years of experience, location and type of employer. Schools offering Clinical Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Salary Overview

The 10th-90th percentile salary range for LCSWs was $38,690-$72,944, according to Payscale.com in September 2015. The median wage at that time was $51,965. Salaries varied based on the number of years of experience, location, social work specialty and employer type.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required Education Clinical social workers are required to earn a master's degree in social work
Key Skills Organizational and listening skills; ability to work well with people, manage time efficiently, and solve problems
Work Environment Office setting, schools, domestic environments
Similar Occupations Health educator, community health worker, psychologist, school and career counselor

Salaries Based on Experience

September 2015 salary data from PayScale.com showed the following LCSW salary ranges according to experience:

  • 0-5 years: $35,846-$63,585
  • 5-10 years: $39,073-$70,520
  • 10-20 years: $40,912-$77,031
  • 20 or more years: $43,515-$85,882

Salaries by Specialty

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that social workers can expect to see employment grow by up to 19% over the 2012-2022 decade (www.bls.gov). Overall, growth in the social work field is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations with percentages varying by specialty.

The BLS stated in May 2014 that the median annual earnings for various social worker specialties were:

  • Mental health and substance abuse social worker: $41,380
  • Healthcare social worker: $51,930
  • Child, family and school social worker: $42,120
  • All other social workers : $59,100

Salaries by Employer Type

Mean salaries in social work also vary by the type of employer. In May 2014, the BLS reported social worker mean annual wages by employer for each specialty area. The top-paying industries for child, family and school social workers were elementary and secondary schools, other schools, educational support services, consulting services, and psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, with mean annual salaries of $53,060 to $60,700.

In the field of healthcare social work, the top-paying industries were health and personal care stores, specialty hospitals, employment services, insurance agencies and brokerages, and general medical and surgical hospitals. Salaries in these industries ranged from $59,440 to $73,740.

If you work in mental health and substance abuse, the top-paying industry in 2014 was offices of other health practitioners, which offered a mean annual wage of $64,440. The second top-paying industry was management, scientific, and technical consulting services, which paid employees a mean wage of $59,130. Mean wages for the elementary and secondary schools were $55,870, and mean wages for home healthcare services were $55,590. Professionals working for psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals made mean wages of $52,070.

Social workers not falling into these categories had the top-paying industries listed as the federal government; insurance carriers; general medical and surgical hospitals; management, scientific, and technical consulting services; and offices of physicians. The mean annual salaries for these industries were $72,020, $68,270, $64,970, $63,710 and $62,800, respectively.

Mean Salaries by State

In May 2014, the BLS reported that the states with the highest mean wages for child, family and school social workers included Connecticut ($63,020), New Jersey ($60,780), Minnesota ($59,620), District of Columbia ($59,110) and Rhode Island ($58,250). States with high mean wages for healthcare social workers included California ($67,860), Connecticut ($64,540), the District of Columbia ($64,390), Nevada ($62,300) and Oregon ($61,500).

Some states that had the highest mean earnings for mental health and substance abuse social workers included New Jersey ($59,900), Connecticut ($59,300), California ($57,900), New Hampshire ($56,020) and Maine ($55,790).

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