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Desired Salary - MSW Job Applications


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Hi all, 

I am about to graduate with my MSW (soon to be LMSW) and I am preparing to apply for jobs. Looking at the applications, I see the dreaded question: "What is your desired salary?" 

This is a difficult question to answer. I am moving from a small-city in Missouri to Chicago and graduating from BSW to LMSW, so it's hard to know what a realistic salary range would be. I know what a medical social worker at my current job makes, and I am sure it is nowhere near what the equivalent salary would be for the same job in Chicago. I've also tried looking up average salaries for medical social workers in Chicago, but I find the results to be inconsistent and unreliable. It's also very uncommon for hospitals to post salary ranges online. I want to provide a salary amount that is both realistic and reflective of my worth and experience and won't give my application an automatic "no". 

Does anyone have any tips/suggestions for coming up with a good desired salary, or how to negotiate this during an interview? 

Also bonus points if someone knows what the average medical social worker salary is for Chicago. 


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@13radyallen I will be starting school in the fall but have job experience in a different field, so I'll be missing any nuance within the social work field, but you should always avoid giving a number. You can put it back on them and ask what the salary range is for this position. You don't want to be in a position where they lowball you.

And in terms of negotiation, you should always try to negotiate once you have an offer. If they won't budge on salary, then you can try asking for other benefits like more PTO.

Edited by blueberryxyz
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Social work jobs are notorious for labor exploitation and underpaying.  They will get as much for as little comparatively to other industries.  If they won't let the conversation go unanswered I would give a 10k range.  Quickly looking at a few jobs, it appears to be anywhere from 63,000-78,000 for Chicago in medical social work.

If during the interview I couldn't avoid I would say my range is 68-80k and see where they take it.  Sometimes they will respond with they are within the range, outside the range, or cannot make it happen.  

Things to consider: paid supervision, raise after 90 days, PTO (hospital settings this is hard, the newest salaried person normally has to work holidays), training, work from home/hybrid work, flex schedule...

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