How to Become a

Hospital Social Worker

The complete career guide to be a Hospital Social Worker: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $54,020
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 19.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Dependable Daily Workload
    Career Attribute

A hospital social worker, also known as a healthcare social worker, is an individual that assists patients and families by understanding diagnosis, conditions and treatment options.  They help patients and families with coping skills and strategies, assists in the development of treatment plans and provide doctors and nurses with patient emotional and mental assessments.

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What is a Hospital Social Worker?

The following responsibilities are common for Hospital Social Workers:

  • Provides grief counseling, psychotherapy, and supportive help for patients
  • Organizes and in-home healthcare the patient may need upon discharge
  • Operates as the patients advocate in and out of the hospital
  • Intervenes during any emergency medical crises like trauma or abuse
  • Assesses a patients needs and assists that patient with a detailed evaluation reports

A Day In The Life

A hospital social worker works in a hospital or healthcare facility with patients and their relatives by giving support to them when assistance is needed.

They offer support and resources to patients recovering from a medical illness.  After preforming a comprehensive assessment of the patients supportive needs after being discharged from the hospital, they will then work with the patient’s family and/or support system and healthcare providers to coordinate an individualized discharge plan.  This discharge plan should include in-home support care like transportation-rides to and from appointments, any necessary medical equipment, meal plans, counseling, and any other follow-up care needed.  They arrange and ensure patients have the best optimal care at home as well as in the hospital.

Typical Work Schedule

This is typically a full-time position but because the work environment is located within a medical setting the hours may vary and often be shift work or on-call hours.

Projected Job Growth

With the increasing aging population and the state requirements becoming stricter for the mandatory, lawful and proper care of patients by healthcare providers and their families while dealing with an illness, this position will continue to increase and be in high demand.

Typical Employers

The majority of healthcare social workers are employed in a hospital facility.  While others are often employed in assisted living facilities, retirement communities, hospices, and for the government.



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How To Become a Hospital Social Worker

In order to be a successful healthcare social worker, it is vital that these individuals posses solid interpersonal skills to foster efficient and productive relationships with patients and their families.  They must be able to fully understand and assess a patients needs and have excellent problem-solving skills for challenging issues with unique solutions.

A Master’s degree in social work or psychology is required for this position. In addition to the required coursework in the graduate program, the individual is also required to complete a certain amount of supervised hours, required by your state, completed with a qualified hospital social worker in a hospital setting.  They then must obtain licensing by passing a state medical exam.

Hospital 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 Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Hospital Social Worker salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Hospital Social Worker's can make an average annual salary of $54,020, or $26 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $40,690 or $20 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #343 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

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

Highest Education Among Hospital Social Workers

  • 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

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Hospital Social Worker job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 30,900 jobs for a total of 191,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 19.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #57 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Hospital Social Workers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 35,100 2,500 3%
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 17,700 3,300 3%
Home healthcare services 17,300 10,500 11%

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