Social Work: Low ATAR requirement and a higher graduate salary


Who'd have thought that graduates from courses in one of the most accessible fields of study are also among the best paid? 

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. Social workers are employed in a wide range of government, non-government and private practice settings providing social, emotional and practical supports. 

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. 

For school-leavers looking to study at university, Social Work requires an average ATAR of 71, one of the lowest of any field of study. But at graduation, 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. 

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. This is 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. 

Click here to access our analysis of ATARs for all fields of study, Social Work included, and be sure to check out The Good Universities Guide’s graduate employment ratings. 

Salary and employment data have been sourced from pooled results of the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Graduate Outcomes Survey. 


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