How much does a social worker earn in Australia?

A social worker at work
A social worker at work

The world of social work in Australia is as diverse as it is rewarding, providing a range of career paths and earning potential for those driven to make a transformative impact in the lives of others. 

If you’re considering a career change or looking to upskill in this field, you may be wondering about the average salary of a social worker - and there are a number of aspects that influence this. The type of position, location you work in and level of experience are some of the factors that influence the average social worker salary. 

One thing that isn’t varying any time soon is the demand for social workers. According to Labour Market Insights, positions in the industry are projected to grow ‘very strongly’, by 23.2 per cent until 2026. 

Wondering which area of social work you should specialise in, and where? Below, we break down the earning potential of social workers by seniority, role, location and education level.

Social worker salaries by seniority

Perhaps the most obvious factor influencing the average social worker salary is that of seniority in the field. From entry-level to the highest responsibility, we unpack them below.

Entry-level social worker salary

If you’re starting your career in social work, you can expect an entry-level position to offer a solid foundation in both experience and financial reward. 

The specifics will vary within specific roles and locations, but tend to range between $60,000 - $85,000+.

Mid-tier social worker salary

Professionals who have been in the social work (or a similar) field for a number of years typically earn between $85,000 -$100,000+, depending on the position and area you’re working in. lists the average social worker salary as $95,000.

Senior social worker salary

Senior social worker positions - such as department heads, senior managers, policy advisors, and more - have an average salary in Australia of $110,000. Salaries for all social worker positions are likely to increase in line with growing demand over the next few years. 

Currently, records indicate senior social workers are earning $135,000 and beyond.

Social worker salaries by role

Social work is a diverse sector with many roles to offer. From government case management roles to community engagement officers, policy advisors and a number of positions in between, there is a wide range of social work specialisations to choose from, with earning potentials to match. 

We explore some of them below.

Social worker

Perhaps the position in the industry that you’re most familiar with, social workers are the backbone of the social services sector. They provide crucial support to individuals, families and communities in a number of settings - including hospitals, schools, community centres, specialised organisations such as addiction or youth protection - and more. 

According to, the average social worker salary ranges from $85,000 - $100,000 each year. 

Case manager

Case managers play a vital role in coordinating care and services for clients. Typically, this involves helping individuals navigate and advocate for themselves within the social service system by providing support, information and resources, and connecting clients with services they may need such as health and/or financial. According to, the average salary for case manager jobs ranges from $75,000 - $90,000.

Family support worker

As the title implies, this social work specialisation focuses on assisting families through challenges by providing guidance, resources and support to foster a safe and nurturing environment. Like social workers, they can work across a number of settings including hospitals, schools and community centres in a clinical capacity. 

In Australia, the average family support worker’s salary ranges from $68,000 - $99,000 according to

Community worker

Much like family support workers, community workers specialise in engaging with local communities to facilitate programs and initiatives that improve quality of life for the area’s residents. Community service workers can also further specialise in areas like disability support, addiction and aged care. They’re most often employed by community centres or organisations that cater to the above. 

In Australia, the average community worker’s salary ranges from $60,000 - $99,000 according to

Engagement officer

Engagement officers play an integral role in developing and maintaining relationships between organisations - such as community groups, financial services, health and government organisations, and more - as well as the relevant stakeholders. Their core responsibility is typically to ensure effective communication and collaboration. 

In Australia, engagement officers typically earn between $80,000 - $95,000 according to

Policy advisor

Policy advisors can play a very influential and critical role in the field of social work. Their role involves analysing, developing and implementing policies that impact social services. Policy advisors can work across a number of settings, including government agencies, offices, hospitals and more. Typically a more senior social work position, salaries for this role can range from $99,000 - $135,000.

Youth worker

Often working in schools and community centres, youth workers dedicate their efforts to supporting young people through various challenges by offering guidance, support and sometimes mentorship programs. According to, the average youth worker’s salary can range from $68,000 - $96,000.

Social worker salaries by location

Due to varying costs of living in each city and state, the average remuneration for many professions tends to fluctuate depending on location. Social work is one of them. The difference in earnings can also be influenced by the level of demand in each area. 

Here’s how the average social worker salary compares across Australia.

Social worker salary: Sydney

With higher housing and general living costs, Sydney is the most expensive city to live in Australia and salaries tend to reflect this. 

According to, the average social worker salary in Sydney ranges from $80,000 - $110,000 per year, with higher salaries exceeding $120,000. 

Social worker salary: Melbourne

Melbourne also has one of the highest costs of living in Australia. According to, the average social worker jobs in Melbourne pay $85,000 - $100,000 per year, with higher salaries reaching $115,000 and beyond.

Social worker salary: Brisbane

Brisbane has just overtaken Melbourne as Australia’s third most expensive city (after Sydney and Canberra) when it comes to property, a key determinant of cost of living. Currently, says the average social worker salaries range from $85,000 - $100,000, with higher-paying positions reaching $115,000 and higher.

Social worker salary: Perth

According to, the average social worker salary in Perth ranges from $85,000 - $105,000, with higher salaries reaching $110,000 and beyond.

Social worker salary: Adelaide

Adelaide has a notably lower cost of living than Sydney. The average social worker salary in this city can range between $80,000 - $100,000, according to

Social worker salary: Hobart

Hobart has an average social worker salary range of $80,000 - $100,000, with top salaries hitting $110,000+, according to

Social worker salary: Canberra reports that Canberra’s annual average salary for social workers ranges from $85,000 - $105,000. Higher-earning social workers can be paid $115,000 and beyond.

Social worker salary: Darwin

Similar to Adelaide, Darwin’s average social worker salary range is $80,000 - $100,000, with higher salaries hitting $110,000 and beyond.

Social worker salaries by education level

Higher education and qualifications can increase your earning potential in the field of social work, regardless of your location or position.  Besides providing better entry into higher-paying roles, it also makes you more valuable to employers.

The impact of postgraduate study on a social worker salary

If you are looking to move into social work practice but have not studied social work before, a postgraduate degree, such as a Master of Social Work (Qualifying), can give you the knowledge and skills to kickstart your new career path. 

Postgraduate study can also have a significant impact on your career trajectory and earning potential. According to the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), social workers with a master’s degree can expect higher salaries for being better positioned for roles that demand higher levels of expertise.

Become an advocate in the social work field

Choosing a career in social work is choosing a path of meaningful impact and well-compensated societal contribution. The University of Canberra’s online Master of Social Work (Qualifying) is designed to empower professionals who are passionate about driving positive change. 

Provisionally accredited by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), the course is accessible, flexible and accelerated to provide students with the expertise needed to meet the complex and evolving needs of people and communities.

Empower your passion to drive change and transform lives. Learn more about the Master of Social Work (Qualifying) by visiting our website and downloading a brochure. You can also get in touch with one of our Student Enrolment Advisers on 1300 471 770.