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Social Work salary boost awaits graduates

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Social Work students certainly get to make a difference, but new data shows they are also among the highest paid graduates in the country.

The latest national Graduate Outcome Survey puts social workers behind only dentists and doctors when it comes to their salaries on graduation.

Graduate social workers earned a full-time median salary of $75,000 in 2022, up from $73,600 a year earlier.

More than 87 per cent of social work graduates were in employment, the survey results showed.

University of Tasmania Bachelor of Social Work student Ruben Sherriff said he was excited about the career possibilities that awaited him.

“There is an abundance of positive opportunities,” he said.

“You can be a career social worker but never tied to one agency or discipline or career pathway.”

University of Tasmania graduates in general topped the nation for earnings, with a median salary of $78,300, up $8,300 from 2021.

Student Katy Johnstone said she’d been attracted to the Bachelor of Social Work after studying sociology at college.

“Reading about social work on the University website, this course sounded right up my alley, more so than some interstate courses,” Ms Johnstone said.

“I’d be reading the descriptions of the units and thinking they just absolutely hit the spot on the issues I’m interested in.”

Community support service Baptcare takes on a large number of University of Tasmania Social Work student placements each year. Families’ and Children’s Services Operations Manager Chris Demeyer said some then go on to employment with the organisation.

“We find on the whole that the students and graduates that we later hire show a strong connection to their practice frameworks, which holds them in great stead in working with complexity at early stages of their careers,” Mr Demeyer said.

“The students we have had for placements have shown they are eager to learn, are willing to accept growth opportunities and explore flexible workplace environments while undertaking project-based tasks.”

Australian Association of Social Workers CEO Cindy Smith said Social Work was one of the fastest-growing professions in Australia.

“It is an incredibly rewarding career that makes a difference to people’s lives,” Ms Smith said.

“There are many paths people can take with Social Work, including a career in state, territory and Commonwealth public service, NGOs, business and private practice.

“We know that having a university degree, including social work, improves the prospects for better pay over the course of a person’s career. This is a great thing, and we encourage anyone with an aptitude for working with people, advocacy and social justice to seriously consider a career in social work.”

New head of discipline Professor Milena Heinsch said the Social Work program at the University of Tasmania was a transformative experience that prepared students to make a real difference in people's lives.

"Our program is grounded in principles of social justice, cultural responsiveness and ethical practice, and we're committed to equipping our graduates with the practical skills and knowledge they need to make a meaningful impact in their communities," Professor Heinsch said.

More information about studying the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work.