Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Salary Guide 2024

What is the average LCSW salary?

The average salary for a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is around $58,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Entry-level LCSWs can expect to earn an average salary of around $44,000 per year, while experienced LCSWs with ten or more years of experience can earn over $100,000 per year.

The salary of an LCSW can differ depending on the place, company, and skill level. Generally speaking, LCSWs in larger metropolitan areas tend to have higher salaries than those in more rural or suburban areas. Additionally, salaries may be impacted by additional certifications the social worker holds and their years of experience.

Which US cities are paying LCSWs the most?

The highest-paying cities for LCSWs are typically metropolitan areas with high living costs. Here are some of the top-paying cities for LCSWs in the United States, based on BLS data:

  1. San Francisco, California: $100,830
  2. Vallejo, California: $95,650
  3. Santa Rosa, California: $94,790
  4. Napa, California: $92,440
  5. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California: $89,590
  6. Salinas, California: $88,600
  7. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California: $87,760
  8. Fairbanks, Alaska: $87,680
  9. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington: $86,850
  10. Anchorage, Alaska: $86,700

It’s important to note that these figures represent median salaries and that individual salaries can vary depending on various factors, such as education, experience, and type of employer.

Which US states are paying LCSWs the most?

The highest-paying states for LCSWs tend to be states with a higher cost of living, higher demand for mental health services, and more stringent licensure requirements. According to the BLS, as of May 2020, the top 5 US states paying LCSWs the most are:

  1. California – $82,660
  2. District of Columbia – $80,090
  3. Connecticut – $78,410
  4. Oregon – $76,530
  5. Hawaii – $76,470

How does the salary of LCSW compare to other social work subfields?

LCSW jobs are a specialized subfield within the broader field of social work. The salary of LCSWs is higher than other social work subfields, such as child, family, and school psychology who earn an average salary of $51,760 per year, according to the BLS. However, the salary of LCSWs is lower than other mental health professionals, such as psychologists and psychiatrists.

Here’s a comparison of the median annual salaries for LCSWs and other social work subfields, according to the BLS data as of May 2020:

  • Healthcare social workers: $58,760
  • Child, family, and school social workers: $49,790
  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers: $47,660
  • Social workers, all other: $61,230
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs): $58,030

As you can see, the median annual salary for LCSWs is in line with the overall median salary for all social workers. Still, it is lower than the median salary for social workers in some specialized subfields, such as healthcare social work. However, it’s important to note that LCSWs can provide clinical services that other social work subfields may not be qualified to provide, which can also impact salary levels.

How do I advance my career as an LCSW and earn more?

As an LCSW, there are several steps you can take to advance your career and increase your earning potential. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to do so:

Pursue further education and training

One way to advance your career as an LCSW is to pursue further education and training. This can include obtaining a Master’s or Doctoral degree in Social Work, obtaining additional certifications or licenses, or attending workshops and continuing education courses. This can not only enhance your knowledge and skills but can also increase your marketability and earning potential.

Specialize in a specific area

Another way to advance your career and increase your earning potential is to specialize in a specific area of social work. This can include child welfare, mental health, substance abuse, or medical social work. By developing expertise in a particular area, you can become a sought-after specialist and potentially earn higher salaries.


Building relationships with other professionals in your field can help you learn about new job opportunities and gain insights into the job market. Attend conferences, join professional organizations, and seek out mentors to expand your network.

Gain experience

Experience is critical in advancing your career as an LCSW. Doing an internship, volunteering, or working part-time are great opportunities to get experience. As you gain experience, you can take on more challenging roles and increase your earning potential.

Seek out leadership roles

As you gain experience, seek out opportunities to take on leadership roles. This can include serving on committees, taking on supervisory positions, or serving as a program director. Leadership roles not only increase your earning potential but also provide opportunities to significantly impact your organization and the field.

Consider private practice

Starting a private practice can increase your earning potential as an LCSW. However, it is important to note that this requires a significant investment of time and resources, and you will need to be comfortable with marketing and managing your own business.

In summary, advancing your career as an LCSW and earning more requires a combination of education, training, specialization, networking, experience, leadership, and strategic decision-making. By taking these steps, you can build a rewarding and financially secure career as an LCSW.