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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.

Salary Overview

The 10th-90th percentile salary range for LCSWs was $42,000-$78,000, according to Payscale.com in June 2019. The median wage at that time was $56,724. 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

June 2019 salary data from PayScale.com showed the following LCSW salary ranges according to experience:

  • Entry Level: $38,000-$64,000
  • Early Career: $39,000-$67,000
  • Mid Career: $43,000-$75,000
  • Experienced: $46,000-$82,000
  • Late Career: $48,000-$85,000

Salaries by Specialty

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that social workers can expect to see employment grow by up to 16% over the 2016-2026 decade (www.bls.gov). Overall, growth in the social work field is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations with percentages varying by specialty.

The BLS stated in May 2018 that the median annual earnings for various social worker specialties were:

  • Mental health and substance abuse social worker: $44,840
  • Child, family, and school social worker: $46,270
  • Healthcare social worker: $56,200
  • All other social workers: $63,140

Salaries by Employer Type

Mean salaries in social work also vary by the type of employer. In May 2018, 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; junior colleges; technical and trade schools; colleges, universities, and professional schools; and local government (excluding schools and hospitals), with mean annual salaries of $55,860 to $63,000.

In the field of healthcare social work, the top-paying industries were junior colleges; religious organizations; other professional, scientific, and technical services; management, scientific, and technical consulting services; and general medical and surgical hospitals. Salaries in these industries ranged from $64,910 to $70,810.

If you work in mental health and substance abuse, the top-paying industry in 2018 was insurance carriers, which offered a mean annual wage of $65,830. The second top-paying industry was colleges, universities, and professional schools, which paid employees a mean wage of $59,670. Specialty (except psychiatric and substance abuse) hospitals were $59,500, and general medical and surgical hospitals were $58,390. Professionals working for offices of other health practitioners made mean wages of $56,990.

Social workers not falling into these categories had the top-paying industries listed as the federal government; agencies, brokerages, and other insurance related activities; other ambulatory health care services; insurance carriers; and scientific research and development services. The mean annual salaries for these industries were $77,610, $73,950, $73,090, $70,000 and $69,290, respectively.

Mean Salaries by State

In May 2018, the BLS reported that the states with the highest mean wages for child, family, and school social workers included District of Columbia ($70,270), Connecticut ($69,520), New Jersey ($67,700), Rhode Island ($61,440), and California ($59,500). States with high mean wages for healthcare social workers included Nevada ($82,820), California ($76,450), Connecticut ($72,640), the District of Columbia ($72,090), and Oregon ($70,830).

Some states that had the highest mean earnings for mental health and substance abuse social workers included New Jersey ($79,130), District of Columbia ($69,690), Hawaii ($67,930), Connecticut ($63,290) and new York ($62,130).