Training and Education
- Most medical social workers have a master’s degree in social work known as an MSW.
- Students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) may be able to gain entry-level jobs or internships in larger medical facilities.
What you study:
As a social work student you are likely to study all of the following:
- Social Work Praxis
- Medical and Social Work Ethics
- Public Health Policy
- Human Behavior
- The Law and Social Work
What courses you’ll take
Below are examples of courses that you’ll likely take as a student pursuing a medical social worker career.
|Methods of Clinical Social Work||History theory and modern structure of social work in medical settings; goals and approaches of social-work interventions; tools and techniques for monitoring cases and moving them forward; current research in the field; professional standards ethics and legal considerations specific to clinically oriented social work.||Introduce concepts and approaches in clinically related social work.|
|Health and Mental Health Policies||Government political and economic policies that impact the health care system; tactics for navigating programs such as social security medicare medical insurance hospice care and health care management organizations (HMOs); methods for helping social-work clients gain and retain access to medical resources.||Prepare students to help clients utilize the benefits of the health care system.|
|Clinical Social Work With Individuals Couples and Families||Psychology and behavior of individuals on their own as well as within couples immediate families extended families and larger social groups; problems that can emerge through social interaction; social injustices such as discrimination and wealth disparities and their impact on the availability and quality of medical care.||Get students ready to address social issues in medical care.|
|Pediatric Clinical Social Work||Physical and psychological child development; health and safety concerns specific to children and infants; identifying assessing and advocating on behalf of at-risk children; working with families teachers and community organizations to ensure proper medical care for a child.||Familiarize students with practical concerns involved in social work with children.|
|Bereavement Grief and Loss||Financial and social issues that can arise around death and dying; psychological processes such as acute grief chronic sorrow and ambiguous loss; cultural awareness and sensitivity during periods of grief; immediate interventions in clinical settings as well as long-term social work with bereaved individuals.||Enable students to work effectively with dying and bereaved clients.|
Briefly overviews the medical social worker career. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.
Certifications and Licensing
Licensing requirements for social workers vary from state to state. Most states require that social workers complete a supervised internship and pass a background check in order to become licensed in the field.
As a medical social worker you will likely work in a medical facility. If you work in a rural community or for a public health program you may travel to different job sites to serve your clients.
You don’t need to be bilingual to be a social worker but individuals who can speak other languages fluently are in demand in many urban areas.
Here are a few websites that we have found to be excellent resources for researching careers in medical social work:
- The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: This website provides information about career prospects training and salary ranges for social workers practicing in all areas of the field. Because the information is generalized to all social workers and tends to be data oriented it is important to explore sites that offer a balanced look at life as a medical social worker.
- Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care: The SSWLHC website provides information for both new and experienced social workers who are employed in health care settings. It offers a comprehensive reference library that is ideal for social workers who are working to complete continuing education units (CEUs). This site is a great reference point for students who are ready to make the transition from school to employment.
- The American Clinical Social Work Association: The ACSWA provides a wealth of information for patients social work students and licensed social workers. While the site is designed primarily for clinical social workers it offers good information for medical and public health care social workers who want to continue their training and enter the clinical field.
- National Association of Social Workers: The NASW website provides up-to-date information about jobs in all areas of social work. The website offers information about medical social work and other specific practice areas within this discipline. Students who are just beginning to explore careers in social work will find useful career information on the NASW site.
Salaries by City
See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.
|State||City / Region||Typical Salary||Salary Range||Job Count||% of All Jobs|
|AL||Anniston – Oxford||$40430||50||0.11%|
|AL||Auburn – Opelika||$39690||50||0.11%|
|AL||Birmingham – Hoover||$41450||570||0.12%|
|AL||Florence – Muscle Shoals||$46430||40||0.07%|
|AR||Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers||$29430||140||0.07%|
|AR||Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway||$52810||570||0.17%|
|AZ||Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale||$50210||1870||0.11%|
|CA||Bakersfield – Delano||$67560||170||0.06%|
|CA||Hanford – Corcoran||$79900||50||0.14%|
|CA||Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)||$61550||3220||0.08%|
|CA||Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)||$66070||850||0.09%|
|CA||Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura||$65180||360||0.12%|
|CA||Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario||$61220||1460||0.13%|
|CA||Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville||$56880||760||0.09%|
|CA||San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos||$59500||1150||0.09%|
|CA||San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)||$74370||910||0.09%|
|CA||San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara||$61700||840||0.09%|
|CA||San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles||$53470||N/A||N/A|
|CA||Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)||$64980||950||0.07%|
|CA||Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta||$63180||90||0.06%|
|CA||Santa Cruz – Watsonville||$42170||100||0.12%|
|CA||Santa Rosa – Petaluma||$72200||160||0.09%|
|CA||Vallejo – Fairfield||$77990||130||0.11%|
|CA||Visalia – Porterville||$70420||N/A||N/A|
|CO||Denver – Aurora – Broomfield||$51190||950||0.08%|
|CO||Fort Collins – Loveland||$38890||100||0.08%|
|CT||Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk||$58230||420||0.10%|
|CT||Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford||$55120||950||0.17%|
|CT||Norwich – New London||$55190||150||0.11%|
|DC||Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)||$60430||1360||0.06%|
|DE||Wilmington (Metro Area)||$50530||360||0.11%|
|FL||Cape Coral – Fort Myers||$43370||310||0.15%|
|FL||Deltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach||$38830||110||0.07%|
|FL||Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)||$52870||570||0.08%|
|FL||Lakeland – Winter Haven||$48950||300||0.16%|
|FL||Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)||$40470||990||0.10%|
|FL||Naples – Marco Island||$51970||70||0.06%|
|FL||North Port – Bradenton – Sarasota||$46120||240||0.10%|
|FL||Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford||$41010||680||0.07%|
|FL||Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville||$49190||130||0.07%|
|FL||Panama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach||$45030||30||0.05%|
|FL||Pensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent||$45920||90||0.06%|
|FL||Port St. Lucie||$50470||90||0.08%|
|FL||Sebastian – Vero Beach||$43490||40||0.09%|
|FL||Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater||$39570||1190||0.11%|
|FL||West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)||$44010||380||0.07%|
|GA||Athens – Clarke County||$44600||120||0.15%|
|GA||Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta||$48120||1930||0.09%|
|GA||Augusta – Richmond County||$45050||220||0.11%|
|IA||Davenport – Moline – Rock Island||$39330||220||0.12%|
|IA||Des Moines – West Des Moines||$50070||300||0.09%|
|IA||Waterloo – Cedar Falls||$48500||190||0.07%|
|ID||Coeur d’Alene ID||$46990||90||0.17%|
|IL||Bloomington – Normal||$45820||50||0.06%|
|IL||Champaign – Urbana||$39330||N/A||N/A|
|IL||Chicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)||$51970||2600||0.07%|
|IL||Lake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area)||$48350||220||0.06%|
|IN||Elkhart – Goshen||$46050||60||0.06%|
|IN||Gary (Metro Area)||$46740||200||0.08%|
|IN||Indianapolis – Carmel||$47250||920||0.10%|