National Avg. Salary

$47,190 More Salary Data →

Job Growth Rate

18.8% More Growth Data →

Recommended Degree

Master's Programs & Degrees →

Attributes

  • Problem Solving
  • Working With People

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Social workers can specialize in either clinical or non-clinical practice. Those who work as clinical or psychiatric social workers commonly take on roles and responsibilities more akin to counseling or therapy than non-clinical social workers. They take on individual clients to treat and prevent issues.

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Job Description

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in clinical or psychiatric social worker roles:

  • Meet with clients who are struggling with mental problems and disorders, and listen to patients’ thoughts and concerns
  • Create a safe environment where patients feel they can be open in discussion without feeling judged, guilted, or shamed
  • Provide patients with strategies for changing thought processes or behaviors to overcome negativity and other problems
  • Refer patients to psychiatrists or other services when counseling is unable to resolve issues
  • Refer families to services designed to improve quality of life, including job placement services and government assistance programs

A Day in the Life

In social work, there are two major areas of practice—clinical and non-clinical. Non-clinical social workers can practice with only a bachelor’s degree, and the services they can provide patients are limited. While non-clinical social workers can provide guidance to patients, they usually refer patients to clinical or psychiatric social workers for help overcoming deeper or larger mental problems or issues. Clinical and psychiatric social workers counsel patients using a variety of techniques and therapies.

Clinical and psychiatric social workers commonly treat patients who are suffering from either mild or severe mental disorders, substance abuse or addition, or anger management problems. They may work in a variety of settings, including schools, mental health institutions, substance abuse rehabilitation centers, private practices, or hospitals. They use both individual and group therapy, and employ the practices of behavior therapy, psychotherapy, counseling, and more to treat patients and prevent issues.

Often, clinical and psychiatric social workers move into the role after many years of working as non-clinical social workers. The many years of experience they gain in non-clinical roles enables them to provide advanced and knowledgeable care to patients, especially when it comes to familial problems, substance abuse, and physical abuse issues. They may work in private practices and take patients as a therapist or counselor would, or they may work in hospitals, treatment centers, or other clinical settings.

Typical Work Schedule

Most clinical and psychiatric social workers work full-time schedules, but working hours can vary wildly in this career. Those who operate private practices have the flexibility to choose their own schedules, and may choose to practice only during normal business hours. Those who work in institutions may need to be available during any shift to accommodate patient needs and emergencies.

Typical Employers

Some clinical social workers operate private practices—they’re either self-employed and operate their own practice, share a practice with other medical professionals, or work for a provider who owns a practice. Others work for institutions that have large populations of patients with diverse mental health needs, such as hospitals, substance abuse rehabilitation centers, non-profit organizations, or psychiatric institutions.

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Clinical or Psychiatric Social Worker Salary Data

We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Annual Salary

Low Range

$32,880

Average

$47,190

High Range

$73,330

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$16/hr

Average

$23/hr

High Range

$35/hr

How do Clinical or Psychiatric Social Worker salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Clinical or Psychiatric Social Worker's can make an average annual salary of $47,190, or $23 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $32,880 or $16 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #423 Nationally for All Careers

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How To Become

The first step in becoming a clinical or psychiatric social worker is earning a bachelor’s degree. While most aspiring clinical social workers pursue majors in social work, psychology or sociology degrees may also be sufficient. Next, you’ll need to become licensed by your state to practice as a social worker. All states have different licensure requirements, but most require a bachelor’s degree, a certain number of hours of supervised work experience, and passing a written exam.

Most aspiring clinical social workers work as non-clinical social workers for many years before pursuing additional education and licensure to work as psychiatric social workers. To become a clinical social worker, you’ll need to earn a master’s degree in social work. A master’s degree is required to earn licensure as a clinical social worker. Most clinical social workers first earn a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) license, which allows for both clinical and non-clinical practice, but not private practice.

To be able to run a private practice, you’ll need to first earn a LMSW license that allows you to practice clinical social work under the supervision of a licensed, professional clinical social worker. This supervised experience is usually a requirement for earning a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license that allows you to operate a private practice. However, licensure requirements vary by state for this license as well, and some states may require candidates to have a Ph.D. to become LCSWs.


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Quick Summary

  • Recommended Min. Degree

    Master's

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Clinical or Psychiatric Social Worker. a Master's is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Clinical or Psychiatric Social Worker

  • 2.1%   Doctorate
  • 35.6%   Masters
  • 40.8%   Bachelors
  • 5.7%   Associates
  • 9.1%   College
  • 5.6%   High School
  • 1.2%   Less than High School

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Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

117,800

2024 Est. Jobs

140,000

Job Growth Rate

18.8%

Est. New Jobs

22,200

How does Clinical or Psychiatric Social Worker job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 22,200 jobs for a total of 140,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 18.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #62 Nationally for All Careers

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What Companies Employ The Most Clinical or Psychiatric Social Workers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers 22,400 7,400 7%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 13,600 800 1%
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities 11,200 4,500 5%

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