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Campaign for Equitable Salaries
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Campaign for Equitable Salaries

Survey of What Employers Pay Social Workers
Reveals Significant Disparities



In anticipation of launching the NASW-NYC’s Equitable
Salaries Campaign in January, a simple survey was conducted in the fall of 2013 to get a snapshot of what organizations that employ social workers pay them. Although the results were not surprising, given prior knowledge of what social workers earn, wide disparities between different sectors were confirmed.

Salaries In The Not-For-Profit Human Services Sector

NASW-NYC Campaign
Having an Impact

Agency moves to increase salaries of its social workers

The president and CEO of Visions-Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Nancy Miller, announced recently that she was increasing the salaries of social workers and others on staff to be more on par with the NASW-NYC guidelines for salaries.

In a similar fashion, the Board of Directors of NASW-NYC has taken the first step in a multi-year strategy to raise the salaries of its beginning MSW staff to $50,000/year.  
If you know of any employer that is raising salaries, please let us know at
In the not-for-profit sector that includes an array of service programs, including behavioral health, addictions, aging, families and children’s services, disabilities and homeless services, starting salaries for social workers with a masters degree were consistently $41,000 to $43,000 a year. 

This information was gathered via interviews with staff with knowledge of what their agencies paid, and in most cases salary information was gathered in two agencies in each service sector. What was striking was how consistent this information was regardless of the service being provided.

One domestic violence agency in the not-for-profit sector was found to be paying social workers considerably more than other agencies in the sector, $50,000 a year, as much as $7,000 to 9,000 more than other agencies. A follow up interview to understand what accounted for this difference showed that the agency had made it a
priority to bring social workers up to a level equivalent to the attorneys on staff. (NASW-NYC has invited the consulting organization that advised this agency to write an article for the newsletter in the near future).

Other Sectors Pay Social Workers Considerably More

In both the municipal and voluntary hospitals, beginning social workers are being paid between $49,500 and $55,000. This is similar to what the Office of Mental Health offers to social workers seeking employment in the state run mental health system.
The New York City school system, which pays masters level social workers on par with teachers with similar experience and education, was paying school social workers $56,000 start. This was prior to the new contract between the City and the United Federation of Teachers, which includes both
retroactive and future raises, totaling 18% over the next 9 years.

Salaries of Allied Professionals Considerably Higher

Although many social workers are being paid significantly higher than in the not-for-profit sector, disparities still exist.  For example, registered nurses (RNs) with less education than master level social workers appear to be paid consistently higher salaries in hospitals, including doing care coordination, a vital role of social workers.  In one voluntary hospital, RNs were reported to being paid over $100,000, approximately double what the social workers are paid.  Other hospitals may be paying less than this, but over $70,000 to start.  

NASW-NYC is currently collaborating with the leadership of the Society of Social Workers in Health Care to draw out the unique contribution social workers make in health care, translating this into the economic opportunities and risks that health care institutions face when the psychosocial aspects of health are considered.  The resulting paper is intended to be used to make the case for equitable salaries in health care, along with more extensive social work utilization.

   Beginning Salaries
Social work salaries in the Not-for-Profit
Human Services
   $41,000 to $43,000/year
Social Work Salaries in hospitals, state
run mental health system and public
   $49,000 to $56,000/year

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