5 Ways to Make More Money As a Social Worker

Feb 28, 2024

By Tashara Robinson, LICSW
Travel Social Worker

I’ve been a social worker for the past 8 years, and let me tell you, it’s been a wild ride. I’ve navigated through various social work roles such as working within an Employee Assistance Program, to working with foster children and families within CPS. Now, I am a travel medical social worker. It’s safe to say I’ve seen it all, and I can personally attest to how many opportunities there are within the social work field!

Now, if you’re in the social work industry, or you are planning to join it soon, then you know that social workers are traditionally some of the lowest-earning professionals. But, it does not have to be that way! Below are 5 Ways to Make More Money as a Social Worker:

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX WITH YOUR CAREER CHOICES

What jobs come to mind when you think of a social worker? I’m sure CPS is the first job that pops up (and that is one of the most in-demand social work roles out there). However, social workers often find themselves in roles that are non-traditional. I know social workers who work for non-profits, research institutions and tech companies. I know social workers who became HR professionals or transitioned into project/program management. The sky’s the limit! Our skills are extremely sought after and highly transferable.

Social work is generally seen as a clinical field, so if you do choose to pursue roles outside of “traditional” social work, it might take some time to learn how you can sell yourself in the application and interview phase and prove that your skills are transferable. A career coach and/or career sites like The Muse can help learn how to do this.

PRACTICE CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK

Some of the highest paying social work roles are clinical. Many of the clinical social work roles are within hospitals, insurance companies, and mental health agencies. You can also find clinical social work roles within the federal or local government. Also, over the last few years, there has been an increase in online mental health agencies that recruit a lot of clinical social workers. This is great because there is a possibility to earn more (because some of these online mental health agencies are corporations instead of nonprofits) AND offer the opportunity to work from home!

Tashara Robinson LICSW

Tashara Robinson LICSW

GET YOUR CLINICAL SOCIAL WORK LICENSE

You should prioritize licensure if you want to practice clinical social work. However, even if you don’t want to be a therapist or work in clinical settings, obtaining your clinical social work license will open doors for you (employment-wise), as many government jobs and leadership roles require you to have your clinical social work license. Additionally, getting your clinical social work license will allow you to provide clinical supervision to social workers (though many states require a few additional steps to become a clinical supervisor, the first step is having your clinical social work license). Once you become a board approved social work supervisor, you can provide supervision on the side (and earn more money) or you can provide supervision as part of your leadership role at work.

NETWORK WITH OTHER SOCIAL WORKERS

Guess how I learned about my most lucrative social work opportunity? If you guessed by applying for jobs I found on Indeed or Linkedin, you’re wrong. I learned about my most lucrative social work opportunity, which is travel social work, by networking with another social worker!

Networking does not have to look like going to an event and talking to a bunch of strangers for hours. Networking can simply be adding people on LinkedIn whose career path interests you, or talking to your fellow coworkers and asking them questions about their career journey and goals.

Networking can be intimidating for some, especially if you have an introverted personality (like myself). However, networking via social media can alleviate some of the social pressure you may feel from networking in person. Also, networking is a skill some of us have to practice. I suggest starting with something more comfortable, such as sending requests via LinkedIn or joining career focused Facebook groups, before you branch off into more daunting tasks such as attending a networking event

ALWAYS NEGOTIATE YOUR SALARY

This is unfortunately another thing that can be intimidating for a lot of us, likely because we’re scared we will lose an opportunity. However, the worst possible result is hearing “no” to your salary request. The best possible outcome is actually getting your requested salary! Here are some tips to help you prepare for negotiating your salary:

  1. Before entering into salary negotiations, research the average salary range for the role you are applying for. I typically use Glassdoor to do this research, so I can filter the results by company/agency and location. Websites like Payscale and Salary.com can also provide valuable insights.
  2. Understand the skills and experience you bring to the table, so that when it is time to negotiate, you are prepared to express the reasons why you deserve a higher salary.
  3. Make sure you approach salary negotiations at the right time. Negotiating during the interview phase may not be the best, however once you have the job offer, the ball is in your court and it is your time to shine.

Social workers are an integral part of our communities, even though we are traditionally underpaid. But who says you can’t be a change agent and earn a great salary at the same time? Whether you decide to explore more lucrative opportunities within the social work field, or negotiate your salary, you are taking the necessary steps to improve your financial livelihood while making a difference in the world.

If you want to learn more about my career as a social worker, and how you can amplify your social work career, you can find me on Instagram, TikTok and Youtube at @theprototype_

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