Best States for Social Worker Pay
Determining social worker pay can be difficult, as there are many different facets to this vocation. For example, social workers can specialize in healthcare, family, trauma, substance abuse, and mental health. Of the above subjects, the Vallejo-Fairfield area in California pays healthcare social workers the most. Overall, California remains in the number one position for all types of social work in terms of pay. This is large because most healthcare institutions and workers live and conduct business within the state of California. There are hundreds of thousands of healthcare and social workers, which usually means that in terms of size and volume, California beats out up to 5-10 spots that are next on the list. Even in terms of median, California stays ahead at $68,910 annual pay.
This can sometimes be skewed, as the concentration in this state on this particular field can cause more experience and licensing requirements for those who have already participated in the industry. This means that, as a new social worker, it may not matter too much which state, county, or city you begin your career in. Next on the list are mostly traditionally metropolitan areas in the northeast, including New Jersey, Connecticut, DC, Nevada, New Hampshire, Maryland, Maine, New York, and Hawaii.
Worst States for Social Worker Pay
The worst states for social worker pay are South Dakota, Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This is not exactly surprising and does not have a clear indicator of whether the industry as a whole suffers. South Dakota, Alabama, and Mississippi are amongst the lowest cost of living states in the country, have extremely low minimum wages, and are generally experiencing a reduction in immigration. While certain cities do not echo this sentiment, it is not unlikely to see these states on the list.
The pay does also reflect the values of these states. For example, Tennesee is notoriously infamous for providing extremely limited social support to the population. This does not mean that people have fewer mental health, substance abuse, or traumatic issues, but more so that the state does not get involved with funding these initiatives. It is generally accepted that most southern states have a completely different view on certain issues, such as healthcare, social programs, and weapons liberty. In contrast, they usually have a robust agricultural sector that cannot be matched by certain regions such as New England.
Social Worker Requirements
Of course, many different states will have differing and contrasting guidance on obtaining a degree in social work. For states that specialize in this industry, or have many funds and grants allocated to the education of the practitioners, the requirements will be much higher. In general, all states require at least a bachelor's in social work, with few of them needing further graduate studies for entry-level work. You must also pass an exam, have experience in the field (sometimes supervised), and must pass a standard background check.