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Become A Medical Social Worker

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Working As A Medical Social Worker

  • Getting Information
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Stressful

  • $68,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Medical 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.   


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 Medical 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.


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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Medical Social Worker Jobs


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Medical Social Worker Career Paths

Medical Social Worker
Therapist Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinician Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Therapist Case Manager Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Social Work Case Manager Director Of Social Services
Director Of Admissions And Marketing
7 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Clinical Supervisor Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Supervisor Program Director
Director Community Programs
7 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Coordinator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Social Worker Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Ambulatory Care Coordinator Patient Care Manager Director Of Social Services
Resident Services Director
6 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Unit Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Program Manager Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Coordinator Clinical Research Coordinator Clinical Project Manager
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Unit Manager Nurse Manager
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Ambulatory Care Coordinator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Consultant Office Manager House Manager
Housing Program Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Community Liaison Communications Manager Communications Project Manager
Communications Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Professional Service Provider Integrator
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Assistant Director Center Director
Director Of Family Service Center
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Social Worker Social Work Supervisor Social Work Case Manager
Geriatric Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Medical Social Worker?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Social Worker 3.6 years
Top Careers Before Medical Social Worker
Case Manager 10.1%
Internship 8.7%
Therapist 5.6%
Counselor 3.2%
Clinician 2.3%
Volunteer 2.0%
Supervisor 1.4%
Top Careers After Medical Social Worker
Therapist 6.5%
Clinician 3.8%
Counselor 2.4%
Consultant 1.9%

Do you work as a Medical Social Worker?

Average Yearly Salary
View Detailed Salary Report
Min 10%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Median 50%
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Bayada Home Health Care
Highest Paying City
Anchorage, AK
Highest Paying State
Avg Experience Level
3.9 years
How much does a Medical Social Worker make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Medical Social Worker in the United States is $68,751 per year or $33 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $47,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $98,000.

Real Medical Social Worker Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Bilingual Medical Social Worker Atlantis Operating LLC New York, NY Aug 22, 2016 $59,035
Medical Social Worker Charles B. Wang Community Health Center New York, NY Dec 15, 2016 $59,000
Medical Social Worker Self-Help for The Elderly San Francisco, CA Sep 17, 2009 $58,350
Medical Social Worker Sunnyday Health Service Corp. San Gabriel, CA Sep 21, 2013 $58,240
Medical Social Worker Access Home Health Care, Inc. Walnut, CA Oct 01, 2010 $57,518 -
Medical Social Worker Xincon Home Health Care Services, Inc. New York, NY Sep 15, 2013 $49,400
Medical Social Worker Sunnyday Health Service Corp. San Gabriel, CA Sep 04, 2014 $48,001
Medical Social Worker Grace Elderly Care Home LLC Spring, TX Jul 01, 2015 $45,705
Medical Social Worker Albany Medical Center Hospital Albany, NY Mar 01, 2013 $44,720
Medical Social Worker Heiwa Corporation Hayward, CA Oct 01, 2010 $41,954
Medical Social Worker Desert Valley Hospital Victorville, CA Dec 01, 2011 $41,844
Medical Social Worker Well and Fit Adult Day Health Care, Inc. Diamond Bar, CA Sep 21, 2013 $41,517 -
Medical Social Worker Intromed, Inc. IFC San Francisco, CA Dec 21, 2007 $40,884
Medical Social Worker All Care Hospice Glendale, CA Sep 02, 2015 $39,528
Medical Social Worker Arcadia Adult Day Health Care Inc. Arcadia, CA Mar 01, 2011 $39,500
Medical Social Worker Arcadia ADHC Inc. Arcadia, CA Mar 01, 2011 $39,500

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Top Skills for A Medical Social Worker

  1. Intake Assessments
  2. Treatment Plans
  3. Patient Care
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Completed intake assessments, Coordinated and participated in interdisciplinary care conferences, and discharge planning process.
  • Developed and facilitated treatment plans to ensure goals for Medicaid patient case management.
  • Participate in multidisciplinary rounds to discuss patient and obtain medical information relevant to patient care needs.
  • Provide counseling, bereavement work, community resource referrals and connections to patients/families in relation to hospice involvement.
  • Provide disease specific education to home health, nursing homes, and hospice agencies in Indiana.


Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Medical Social Workers

  1. Nevada
  2. Alaska
  3. California
  4. Connecticut
  5. Michigan
  6. Idaho
  7. Hawaii
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Minnesota
  10. Rhode Island
  • (83 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (1,315 jobs)
  • (92 jobs)
  • (424 jobs)
  • (69 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)
  • (40 jobs)
  • (232 jobs)
  • (39 jobs)

Medical Social Worker Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 10,938 Medical Social Worker resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Medical Social Worker Resume

View Resume Examples

Medical Social Worker Demographics










Hispanic or Latino


Black or African American





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Foreign Languages Spoken








































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Medical Social Worker Education


Fordham University


University of Southern California


Wayne State University


New York University


San Diego State University


Arizona State University


University of Texas at Arlington


Adelphi University


University of Alabama


Florida State University


University of South Carolina - Columbia


Ohio State University


University of Michigan - Ann Arbor


Barry University


Grand Valley State University


University of Kansas


Michigan State University


Virginia Commonwealth University


Temple University


University of Georgia

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Social Work


Mental Health Counseling




Clinical Psychology






School Counseling




Human Services


Counseling Psychology


Health Care Administration






Public Health


Criminal Justice


Health And Wellness


Family Therapy




Human Development


Nursing Assistants

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