Social work is a highly regulated profession, with employees working in everything from world wars, bushfires, floods and droughts to economic recessions and global pandemics. Workers in this field are employed in a wide range of government, non-government and private-practice settings that provide social, emotional and practical supports.
Think you’ve got what it takes? In addition to having emotional maturity and a commitment to social justice, to be an effective social worker you’ll need great analytical, organisational and communication skills, have the ability to be objective in their other view of people's problems, and work well independently or as part of a team.
Major fields of practice include aged care; crisis recovery and response services; child protection and abuse; disability; drug and alcohol; family violence and support; health and mental health; housing and homelessness; refugees and people seeking asylum; and social support services.
Degrees in Social work currently require an average ATAR of 71, which is one of the lowest cut-off scores of any field of study. But ease of entry doesn’t always equate to better prospects at graduation — can you believe that social workers are better paid than graduates from law, accounting or IT? Not only are these fields typically associated with a high salary, but they also require a higher ATAR to get in.
How much do social work graduates get paid in Australia?
In 2021, Social Work graduates have a median starting salary of $65,400, which ranks them third behind two of the toughest fields to get into (medicine and dentistry). These salary figures reflect the experience of social work graduates employed full-time approximately four months post-graduation.
The figures vary by university, too: social work graduates from Edith Cowan University are among the best paid of their cohort with a median starting salary of $70,000 — well above average, and close to the average for medicine grads, who earn a median starting salary of $72,0000.
Graduates in other fields, such as law, may enjoy greater salary growth over time than social workers. However, in addition to a strong starting salary, The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business predicts ‘very strong growth’ for social work in the next five years.
Salary and employment data have been sourced from pooled results of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Graduate Outcomes Survey.