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Career profile Healthcare Social Worker

Also known as Clinical Social Worker, Dialysis Social Worker, Hospice Social Worker, Medical Social Worker, Nephrology Social Worker, Oncology Social Worker, Renal Social Worker, Social Work Case Manager, Social Worker

Healthcare Social Worker

Also known as Clinical Social Worker, Dialysis Social Worker, Hospice Social Worker

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$36,110 - $87,150 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Speaking
  • Service Orientation
Knowledge Areas
  • Psychology
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Sociology and Anthropology
Core tasks
  • Advocate for clients or patients to resolve crises.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to evaluate patients' medical or physical condition and to assess client needs.
  • Educate clients about end-of-life symptoms and options to assist them in making informed decisions.
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What does a Healthcare Social Worker do?

Healthcare Social Workers provide individuals, families, and groups with the psychosocial support needed to cope with chronic, acute, or terminal illnesses.

In addition, Healthcare Social Workers

  • services include advising family caregivers,
  • provide patients with information and counseling, and make referrals for other services,
  • may also provide case and care management or interventions designed to promote health, prevent disease, and address barriers to access to healthcare.

What kind of tasks does a Healthcare Social Worker perform regularly?

Healthcare Social Workers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Advocate for clients or patients to resolve crises.
  • Collaborate with other professionals to evaluate patients' medical or physical condition and to assess client needs.
  • Educate clients about end-of-life symptoms and options to assist them in making informed decisions.
  • Refer patient, client, or family to community resources for housing or treatment to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  • Utilize consultation data and social work experience to plan and coordinate client or patient care and rehabilitation, following through to ensure service efficacy.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress according to measurable goals described in treatment and care plan.
  • Identify environmental impediments to client or patient progress through interviews and review of patient records.
  • Counsel clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome dependencies, recover from illness, and adjust to life.
  • Plan discharge from care facility to home or other care facility.
  • Organize support groups or counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting the client or patient.
  • Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in clients' status.
  • Supervise and direct other workers providing services to clients or patients.
  • Plan and conduct programs to combat social problems, prevent substance abuse, or improve community health and counseling services.
  • Develop or advise on social policy and assist in community development.
  • Conduct social research to advance knowledge in the social work field.

The above responsibilities are specific to Healthcare Social Workers. More generally, Healthcare Social Workers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

What is a Healthcare Social Worker salary?

The median salary for a Healthcare Social Worker is $57,630, and the average salary is $60,470. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Healthcare Social Worker salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Healthcare Social Workers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Healthcare Social Workers earn less than $36,110 per year, 25% earn less than $45,280, 75% earn less than $72,120, and 90% earn less than $87,150.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Healthcare Social Workers is expected to change by 13.2%, and there should be roughly 20,400 open positions for Healthcare Social Workers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$36,110 - $87,150
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Healthcare Social Workers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Healthcare Social Worker are usually higher in their Social and Investigative interests.

Healthcare Social Workers typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Healthcare Social Workers typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Healthcare Social Worker tend to value Relationships, Achievement, and Independence.

Most importantly, Healthcare Social Workers very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Healthcare Social Workers strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Healthcare Social Workers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Healthcare Social Workers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as concern for others, integrity, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Healthcare Social Workers, ranked by importance:

Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

What education and training do Healthcare Social Workers need?

Many Healthcare Social Workers have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Healthcare Social Workers may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Healthcare Social Workers

  • 3.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 12.3% completed high school or secondary school
  • 16.0% completed some college coursework
  • 8.8% earned a Associate's degree
  • 27.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 30.5% earned a Master's degree
  • 2.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Healthcare Social Workers

Healthcare Social Workers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as psychology, therapy and counseling, or sociology and anthropology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Healthcare Social Workers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Sociology and Anthropology
Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Healthcare Social Workers

Healthcare Social Workers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Healthcare Social Workers need abilities such as oral expression, oral comprehension, and written comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Healthcare Social Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Healthcare Social Workers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Healthcare Social Workers frequently use skills like social perceptiveness, speaking, and service orientation to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Healthcare Social Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.