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Become A Clinical Social Worker

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Working As A Clinical Social Worker

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $45,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Clinical Social Worker Do

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. One group of social workers—clinical social workers—also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.   

Duties

Social workers typically do the following:

  • Identify people and communities in need of help
  • Assess clients’ needs, situations, strengths, and support networks to determine their goals
  • Help clients adjust to changes and challenges in their lives, such as illness, divorce, or unemployment
  • Research, refer, and advocate for community resources, such as food stamps, childcare, and healthcare to assist and improve a client’s well-being
  • Respond to crisis situations such as child abuse and mental health emergencies
  • Follow up with clients to ensure that their situations have improved
  • Evaluate services provided to ensure that they are effective
  • Develop and evaluate programs and services to ensure that basic client needs are met
  • Provide psychotherapy services

Social workers help people cope with challenges in their lives. They help with a wide range of situations, such as adopting a child or being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Social workers may work with children, people with disabilities, and people with serious illnesses and addictions. Their work varies based on the type of client they are working with.

Some social workers work with groups, community organizations, and policymakers to develop or improve programs, services, policies, and social conditions. This focus of work is referred to as macro social work.

Advocacy is an important aspect of social work. Social workers advocate or raise awareness with and on behalf of their clients and the social work profession on local, state, and national levels.

The following are examples of types of social workers:

Child and family social workers protect vulnerable children and help families in need of assistance. They help families find housing or services, such as childcare, or apply for benefits, such as food stamps. They intervene when children are in danger of neglect or abuse. Some help arrange adoptions, locate foster families, or work to reunite families.

Clinical social workers—also called licensed clinical social workers—diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders, including anxiety and depression. They provide individual, group, family, and couples therapy; they work with clients to develop strategies to change behavior or cope with difficult situations; and they refer clients to other resources or services, such as support groups or other mental health professionals. Clinical social workers can develop treatment plans with the client, doctors, and other healthcare professionals and may adjust the treatment plan if necessary based on their client’s progress. They may also provide mental healthcare to help children and families cope with changes in their lives, such as divorce or other family problems.

Many clinical social workers work in private practice. In these settings, clinical social workers also perform administrative and recordkeeping tasks, such as working with insurance companies in order to receive payment for their services. Some work in a group practice with other social workers or mental health professionals.

School social workers work with teachers, parents, and school administrators to develop plans and strategies to improve students’ academic performance and social development. Students and their families are often referred to social workers to deal with problems such as aggressive behavior, bullying, or frequent absences from school.

Healthcare social workers help patients understand their diagnosis and make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, housing, or healthcare. For example, they may help people make the transition from the hospital back to their homes and communities. In addition, they may provide information on services, such as home healthcare or support groups, to help patients manage their illness or disease. Social workers help doctors and other healthcare professionals understand the effects that diseases and illnesses have on patients’ mental and emotional health.

Some healthcare social workers specialize in geriatric social work, hospice and palliative care, or medical social work:

  • Geriatric social workers help senior citizens and their families. They help clients find services, such as programs that provide older adults with meals or with home healthcare. They may provide information about assisted living facilities or nursing homes, or work with older adults in those settings. They help clients and their families make plans for possible health complications or for where clients will live if they can no longer care for themselves.
  • Hospice and palliative care social workers help patients adjust to serious, chronic, or terminal illnesses. Palliative care focuses on relieving or preventing pain and other symptoms associated with serious illness. Hospice is a type of palliative care for people who are dying. Social workers in this setting provide and find services, such as support groups or grief counselors, to help patients and their families cope with the illness or disease.
  • Medical social workers in hospitals help patients and their families by linking patients with resources in the hospital and in their own community. They may work with medical staff to create discharge plans, make referrals to community agencies, facilitate support groups, or conduct followup visits with patients once they have been discharged.

Mental health and substance abuse social workers help clients with mental illnesses or addictions. They provide information on services, such as support groups and 12-step programs, to help clients cope with their illness. Many clinical social workers function in these roles as well.

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How To Become A Clinical Social Worker

Although most social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work, clinical social workers must have a master’s degree and 2 years of post-master’s experience in a supervised clinical setting. Clinical social workers must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is the most common requirement for entry-level positions. However, some employers may hire workers who have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as psychology or sociology.

A BSW prepares students for direct-service positions such as caseworker or mental health assistant. These programs teach students about diverse populations, human behavior, social welfare policy, and ethics in social work. All programs require students to complete supervised fieldwork or an internship.

Some positions require a master’s degree in social work (MSW), which generally takes 2 years to complete. Master’s degree programs in social work prepare students for work in their chosen specialty by developing clinical assessment and management skills. All programs require students to complete a supervised practicum or an internship.

A bachelor’s degree in social work is not required in order to enter a master’s degree program in social work. Although a degree in almost any major is acceptable, courses in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science are recommended. Some programs allow graduates with a bachelor’s degree in social work to earn their master’s degree in 1 year.

In 2015, there were more than 500 bachelor’s degree programs and more than 200 master’s degree programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

Some universities offer doctoral programs in social work, where students can earn a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) or a Ph.D. Most doctoral programs in social work require students to have a master’s in social work and experience in the field. Many doctor’s students go on to work as postsecondary teachers.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states have licensure or certification requirements for nonclinical social workers. Requirements vary by state.

All states require clinical social workers to be licensed. However, some states provide exemptions for clinical social workers who work in government agencies. Becoming a licensed clinical social worker requires a master’s degree in social work and a minimum of 2 years of supervised clinical experience after graduation. After completing their supervised experience, clinical social workers must pass a clinical exam to be licensed.

Because licensing requirements vary by state, those interested should contact their state board. For more information about regulatory licensure boards by state, contact the Association of Social Work Boards.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Clients talk to social workers about challenges in their lives. To effectively help, social workers must be able to listen to and understand their clients’ needs.

Empathy. Social workers often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations. To develop strong relationships, they must have compassion and empathy for their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different groups of people is essential for social workers. They need strong people skills to foster healthy and productive relationships with their clients and colleagues.

Organizational skills. Social workers must help and manage multiple clients, often assisting with their paperwork or documenting their treatment.

Problem-solving skills. Social workers need to develop practical and innovative solutions to their clients’ problems.

Time-management skills. Social workers often have many clients and administrative responsibilities. They must effectively manage their time to provide adequate service to all of their clients.

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Clinical Social Worker Career Paths

Clinical Social Worker
Clinical Supervisor Program Director Registered Nurse
Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Faculty Education Director Case Manager
Case Manager/Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Behavioral Health Specialist Substance Abuse Counselor Child Protective Investigator
Children's Service Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Nurse Practitioner Staff Nurse
Clinical Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Social Work Case Manager Therapist Clinical Manager
Clinical Operations Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Director Of Social Services Therapist
Clinical Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Director Clinical Services Director
Community Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Social Work Case Manager Director Of Social Services Admissions Coordinator
Director Of Admissions And Marketing
7 Yearsyrs
Director Of Social Services Program Director Medical Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Patient Care Manager Family Support Worker Child Protective Investigator
Family Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Assistant Director Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Respiratory Therapist Health Care Specialist
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Patient Care Manager Senior Technician Specialist Direct Support Professional
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Program Director Adjunct Faculty Assistant Professor
Medical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Program Director Registered Nurse Staff Nurse
Nurse Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Case Manager Social Worker Investigator
Parole Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director Case Manager
Senior Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Behavioral Health Specialist Family Support Worker Human Service Specialist
Service Coordinator/Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Clinical Social Worker?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Social Worker 3.5 years
Clinical Therapist 2.9 years
Social Worker Lead 2.8 years
Clinician 2.6 years
Top Careers Before Clinical Social Worker
Internship 7.9%
Therapist 7.4%
Clinician 4.5%
Counselor 3.9%
Volunteer 2.2%
Top Careers After Clinical Social Worker
Therapist 9.2%
Clinician 7.5%
Counselor 3.4%
Consultant 2.6%
Supervisor 2.2%

Do you work as a Clinical Social Worker?

Clinical Social Worker Demographics

Gender

Female

77.0%

Male

21.1%

Unknown

1.9%
Ethnicity

White

61.4%

Hispanic or Latino

15.6%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

7.7%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.2%

French

8.8%

Italian

3.7%

Portuguese

2.7%

Hindi

2.0%

German

2.0%

Romanian

1.4%

Mandarin

1.4%

Russian

1.4%

Chinese

1.4%

Urdu

1.4%

Korean

1.0%

Hebrew

1.0%

Japanese

1.0%

Cantonese

1.0%

Arabic

1.0%

Swahili

0.7%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Dutch

0.7%

Khmer

0.7%
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Clinical Social Worker Education

Schools

Fordham University

10.8%

University of Southern California

7.8%

Wayne State University

7.7%

New York University

7.0%

Smith College

6.9%

Virginia Commonwealth University

5.9%

Florida State University

5.3%

Boston University

4.9%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

4.6%

Adelphi University

4.5%

Columbia University

4.0%

Boston College

3.9%

University of Utah

3.7%

Barry University

3.6%

Howard University

3.5%

University of Kansas

3.4%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

3.3%

Simmons College

3.2%

Syracuse University

3.1%

University of Denver

3.0%
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Majors

Social Work

67.6%

Mental Health Counseling

10.9%

Psychology

4.3%

Clinical Psychology

3.4%

Business

1.8%

Counseling Psychology

1.5%

Nursing

1.4%

School Counseling

1.3%

Sociology

1.1%

Family Therapy

1.0%

Education

0.8%

Health Care Administration

0.8%

Criminal Justice

0.7%

Human Services

0.6%

Law

0.6%

Public Health

0.5%

Theatre

0.5%

Theology

0.5%

Management

0.4%

Elementary Education

0.4%
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Degrees

Masters

79.3%

Other

6.3%

Bachelors

5.0%

Doctorate

4.7%

Certificate

3.0%

License

0.8%

Associate

0.7%

Diploma

0.2%
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Real Clinical Social Worker Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Regional Manager, Advanced Lcsw Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa Santa Rosa, CA Nov 07, 2016 $113,500
Clinical Social Worker Patton State Hospital Patton Village, CA Nov 23, 2011 $82,668
Clinical Social Worker Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center New York, NY Apr 19, 2014 $73,363
Clinical Social Worker (Health/Correctional Facili California Department of Corrections & Rehabil CA Sep 27, 2013 $71,652 -
$91,140
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Herald Christian Health Center Rosemead, CA Oct 15, 2016 $67,000
Clinical Social Worker Patton State Hospital Patton Village, CA Jun 02, 2011 $66,705
Clinical Social Worker Bilingual-Spanish Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services New Haven, CT Jul 01, 2015 $66,411
Clinical Social Worker General Hospital Corporation Chelsea, MA Feb 17, 2011 $66,083
Clinical Social Worker II University of California, San Diego San Diego, CA Jun 10, 2014 $66,000
Clinical Social Worker California Department of Corrections and Rehabilit Sacramento, CA Sep 27, 2010 $63,269
Clinical Social Worker The Riverdale Mental Health Association, Inc. New York, NY Sep 12, 2013 $62,610
Clinical Social Worker Ct Dept. of Mental Health and Addiction Services New Haven, CT Jul 01, 2012 $58,413
Licensed Clinical Social Workers Ct Department of Mental Health and Addiction Servi New Haven, CT Jul 01, 2012 $58,413
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker South Cove Community Health Center Boston, MA Nov 14, 2012 $58,240
Clinical Social Worker University Settlement Society of New York New York, NY Sep 07, 2010 $57,000
Clinical Social Worker University Settlement Society of New York Inc. New York, NY Nov 05, 2011 $57,000
Clinical Social Worker Robert Reiner New York, NY Jun 21, 2016 $55,000
Clinical Social Worker Bay Cove Human Services, Inc. Brookline, MA Sep 04, 2014 $53,643
Associate Clinical Social Worker Clinicas Del Camino Real, Inc. CA May 01, 2012 $52,000
Clinical Social Worker Bay Cove Human Services, Inc. Brookline, MA Jun 21, 2016 $51,064
Clinical Social Worker North Suffolk Mental Health Association, Inc. Boston, MA Sep 26, 2015 $46,963
Clinical Social Worker City of Hope National Medical Center Duarte, CA Jul 01, 2013 $46,862 -
$62,920
Clinical Social Worker I Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health Carson City, NV Jul 20, 2014 $45,560
Clinical Coordinator/Social Worker Contemporary Family Services Inc. Hyattsville, MD Mar 15, 2012 $45,000
Clinical Social Worker Julia Dyckman Andrus Memorial Yonkers, NY Sep 19, 2010 $44,500
Clinical Social Worker University Settlement Society of New York New York, NY Jul 12, 2010 $44,000
Clinical Social Worker Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, In New York, NY Jun 07, 2011 $43,867
Clinical Social Worker Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, In New York, NY Sep 23, 2011 $43,867

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Clinical Social Worker

Average Yearly Salary
$45,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$30,000
Min 10%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
GENTIVA HEALTH SERV
Highest Paying City
Seattle, WA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
4.8 years
How much does a Clinical Social Worker make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Clinical Social Worker in the United States is $45,433 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $30,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $66,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Clinical Social Worker?

Have you worked as a Clinical Social Worker? Help other job seekers by rating your experience as a Clinical Social Worker.

Top Skills for A Clinical Social Worker

  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Intake Assessments
  3. Mental Health
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Participated in multidisciplinary treatment teams to contribute to diagnostic and treatment plans developed for patient and family care.
  • Conducted multiple intake assessments per week and actively participated in weekly intern seminars and group supervision.
  • Function of role included providing services in a Partial day-program facility where individuals received an intermediate level of mental health care.
  • Assisted clients with obtaining community-based services and performed crisis intervention, including hospitalization.
  • Completed bio psycho-social and substance abuse assessments for acute hospitalization and detoxification.

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Top 10 Best States for Clinical Social Workers

  1. Connecticut
  2. Nevada
  3. Maine
  4. New Jersey
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Michigan
  7. District of Columbia
  8. California
  9. Minnesota
  10. Hawaii
  • (305 jobs)
  • (140 jobs)
  • (149 jobs)
  • (424 jobs)
  • (89 jobs)
  • (565 jobs)
  • (100 jobs)
  • (1,908 jobs)
  • (348 jobs)
  • (57 jobs)

Top Clinical Social Worker Employers

Jobs From Top Clinical Social Worker Employers

Clinical Social Worker Videos

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Career Video from drkit.org

Pros And Cons Of Being A Social Worker

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