Social Worker Salary Guide and Career Outlook

A social worker career has a responsibility all over the world for helping people in their time of need and potentially working with them in a time of crisis. For the importance of their job, their salary is relatively low. The pay in the United States is $43,209. In Canada and New Zealand, these professionals make C$49,664 and NZ$36,725, respectively. In India, they earn a lower wage of R254,138 ($3,747) while in South Africa the pay equivalence is $12,205.

Use this article to learn all about the social worker salary in seven different countries. This article will examine the impact of experience, industry, and job outlook on the social worker career pay and expectations.

How Much Does a Social Worker Make per Year by Country?

Social Worker Salary US Canada UK Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Hourly Pay $20.00 C$24.00 ($18.31) E15.00 ($16.04) AU$30.00 ($22.69) NZ$23.00 ($16.76) R 122.18* ($1.80) R98.00 ($7.25)
Annual Pay $43,209 C$49,664 ($37,892) E27,104 ($28,983) AU$58,987 ($44,609) NZ$46,725 ($34,053) R 254,138 ($3,747) R168,933 ($12,505)

* These hourly rates are estimated from the annual salary.

making a social worker salary

Social Worker Salary Influencing Factors

Searching for salary information is likely to lead to different results depending on the data analyzed. The income ranges detailed below all come from Payscale.

1. Location

How Much Does a Social Worker Make in the US?

Social workers in the United States will see an hourly rate from $13.25 to $30.44. If they work overtime, the pay can increase to $42.84 an hour. Therefore, from an annual perspective, their salary is $30,511 to $62,451. Extra income beyond the base salary is not commonplace for these professionals. The highest bonus reported was $5,617. Thus, total salary is $29,932 to $62,922.

How Much Does a Social Worker Make in Canada?

A social worker salary in Canada ranges from C$33,001 to C$70,776. This pay can be increased with a bonus of C$19,392. The hourly rate for the 10th percentile of earners is C$14.67 and for the 90th percentile it is C$38.98. However, individuals who earn overtime can see a pay of C$54.96 an hour. The cumulative salary is C$31,366 to C$75,839 dollars.

How Much Does a Social Worker Make in the UK?

The 10th percentile of social workers in the United Kingdom earn E7.85 an hour and E19,801 annually. In the meantime, the 90th percentile of earners make E29.75 an hour and E34,995 annually. An additional source of income at the hourly level is overtime pay at E52.71, and at the annual level, the bonus is E3,020. The overall pay is E19,613 to E36,317.

How Much Does a Social Worker Make in Australia?

The social worker salary in Australia is between AU$41,216 and AU$79,616. In addition, the bonus is AU$2,400. From an hourly perspective, they earn AU$21.67 to AU$40.90 and overtime of AU$4.44 to AU$98.99. The total self-reported salary to Payscale is AU$42,389 to AU$82,410.

How Much Does a Social Worker Make in New Zealand?

Social workers in New Zealand average between NZ$17.17 and NZ$29.26 an hour with overtime of NZ$20.50. The base annual salary is NZ$35,841 to NZ$63,398. Therefore, the total pay is very similar to the base salary and it is NZ$35,938 to NZ$62,182.

How Much Does a Social Worker Make in India?

The salary range for social workers in India starts at Rs 127,985 and climbs to Rs 623,015. Additionally, a small bonus of Rs 3,523 can be earned but the top earners see a bonus of Rs 101,367. The estimated hourly rate is Rs 61.53 to Rs 299.52. Their full salary is Rs 128,423 to Rs 673,074.

How Much Does a Social Worker Make in South Africa?

The hourly rate for social workers in South Africa ranges significantly from R15.21 to R789. Interestingly, the overtime rate is lower than the upper hourly pay and it maxes out at R303.04. Annually, they make R94,507 to R262,342 with an additional bonus from R3,000 to R34,000 and a comprehensive pay of R94,380 to R273,804.

2. Experience

Experience has a modest effect on social worker salary in Australia. The pay increases for the first 20 years of employment and then sees no additional growth. New Zealand, United States, and Canadian social workers see a consistent increase in pay related to experience from entry-level to late-career. However, the peak income for social workers in the United Kingdom is seen at around 20 years of experience. After this time, the pay decreases to similar levels as those with 10 years of experience.

There is a huge impact of pay on experienced social workers in India, as they make 128 percent above the national average. In South Africa, the pay increases consistently for the first five years of employment, plateaus for the middle 15 years, and then sees a sharp increase in pay for those with more than 20 years of experience.

3. Industry

There are certain skills that are rewarded and others that do not have a positive impact on pay. In all of the countries that reported skill relation to pay, child advocacy has a negative impact on pay. This ranges from 3 percent below the average in Australia to 14 percent below the average in New Zealand.

However, South Africa was the only country that emphasized project management, while the United States values those who are bilingual or have clinical supervision responsibilities. They see pay 28 and 24 percent above the average, respectively.

In the United States, the vast majority of social workers will work in state or local government, individual or family services, ambulatory health care services, or hospitals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics separates social worker data by child, family or school social workers, healthcare social workers, mental health social workers, and then all other social workers.

 Schedule & Working Hours

The vast majority of professionals have to work full time to make a social worker salary. Depending on the industry they work in, they may have to work evenings, weekends or holidays. For example, social workers in a hospital or health care setting will need to work night shifts or overnight hours. Meanwhile, those in government offices will have regular office hours that includes evenings and weekends off. That being said, even those professionals may have to complete paperwork in the evening.

Bonuses & Benefits

Unfortunately, social workers may have to handle a large amount of stress and can feel stereotyped into a certain role. Regardless, they see many positive benefits as well. One of the biggest positive benefits is that they help people who desperately need assistance. Another perk of being a social worker is that every day is different and they can work in a lot of different industries with the same title.

Health care for social workers varies widely by country. For example, social workers in Canada and the United States see a generally good proportion of health care coverage. On the other hand, those in Australia and New Zealand rarely receive benefits. The table below details healthcare by country in more detail.

Country United States Canada United Kingdom Australia New Zealand India South Africa
Medical 80 76 14 9 11 56 51
Dental 68 69 5 3 1 13 7
Vision 55 61 11 2 4 9 6
None 17 21 75 90 89 44 49

Career Outlook

In the United States, the social work career is expected to grow 12 percent through the year 2024. There are variations by industry. School social workers should see about a 6 percent growth while healthcare or mental health social workers will experience a 19 percent growth. These numbers represent a shift in demographics where there are more elderly parents living with their children and figuring out how to be successful in that living situation.

A typical career growth in Canada shows the social worker progressing to a program coordinator and then to the executive director of a nonprofit, an office administrator, or an operations manager. This is similar to other countries.

Male social workers are in the minority. India and the United Kingdom see the highest percentage of male social workers at 23 and 21 percent, respectively. In Australia and the United States, the profession is 86 percent female while in New Zealand that number reaches 96 percent.


Social workers have a meaningful job where they get to make a difference in the lives of people who are at-risk, marginalized, or simply going through a difficult life situation. For the amount of education they need to practice as a social worker, the pay is not extremely high. If you enjoy helping others and managing cases, then this could be a great profession for you. However, you can also check out the LPN salary for a similar occupation that matches the pay but differs in education.