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NASW’s New Study Provides Better Information on Social Work Salaries

Data Released by Payscale Too Limited

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers is concerned with social work salary information from Payscale that is being quoted by Huffington Post and other news organizations.  NASW has released a Social Workers Compensation Study that offers a fuller and fairer depiction of what social workers earn.

“Payscale limited its reporting to social workers with bachelor’s degrees,” said Tracy Whitaker, DSW, ACSW, director of NASW’s Center for Workforce Studies and Social Work Practice. “And, while a bachelor’s is a professional degree, social workers often get additional certifications, master’s degrees and doctorates. In fact, social workers are some of the best-educated professionals in the nation.”

The NASW study included data from social workers with master’s degrees.  According to the NASW study, the median annual salary for social workers with less than five years experience is $43,700; those with 10-19 years experience earn a median salary of $52,000; and those with 20-29 years experience earn a median annual salary of $60,000.

Payscale, which only included social workers with bachelor’s degrees, listed the starting median salary for a social worker at $33,400 and $41,600 for a mid-career social worker.

You can find social workers in all areas of society. For instance, they help veterans secure benefits, counsel families in crisis, and help protect children. Many social workers say the good they bring to the lives of others is more important than getting rich.

However, NASW is pushing for higher salaries for social workers to compensate them for the wide range of services they provide and the education they must earn to do their jobs. NASW supports Congressional passage of the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Social Worker Reinvestment Act, which would secure federal and state investment in the social work profession.

Social work is one of the fast growing fields in the United States, according to Labor Department data. And a May U.S. News and World Report article said medical and public health social work will be one of the 50 best careers in 2010 and beyond.

“Judgments on the monetary value of certain careers are always subjective,” Whitaker said. “Thank goodness many people continue to choose life-affirming careers such as social work despite the naysayers.”

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The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 132,000 members. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.