With health care becoming more and more complex, the need for health care social workers has grown. Healthcare social workers are professionals who provide a range of services that support patients' medical needs in their psychosocial environment, from advising caregivers to coordinating medical services.
If you're interested in becoming a health care social worker, or planning to relocate, ValuePenguin has gathered and researched data on the best cities for you. Using a combination of factors from salaries, the employment concentration of the profession, and cost of living, we've culled from 300+ cities a list of the Top Best Cities for Healthcare Social Workers.
Before we begin diving into the top ten cities, here are some salary and employment facts for healthcare social workers. Our methodology and sources for determining the best cities is after the table. The median salary for a health care social worker, which ValuePenguin uses as the basis for the rankings, is $47,770 in the United States as of May 2012. The median salary can range widely, starting at $19,910 in the San Juan / Caguas / Guaynabo, metropolitan area in Puerto Rico to $124,600 in Monroe, MI. There are 89,420 professionals employed in the United States as of May 2012, from 30 in various cities to 4,130 in the New York / White Plains / Wayne metropolitan area. The job outlook is bright: jobs are projected to grow 26% from 2010 - 2020, which is twelve percentage points above the national job growth of 14%.
Related: Salary Comparison Tool
Top Five Best Cities for Healthcare Social Workers
1. Carson City, NV
Carson City, NV tops our best cities for healthcare social workers. The city scored well across our criteria with a high median salary at $63,420 out of our surveyed cities, and an affordable cost of living. With its history and scenery, this American frontier city would be an excellent foundation for health care social workers. After tending to the population of 55,000, healthcare social workers can rewind by hiking along the numerous trails in the area, visiting historic museums, or taking in the view at Lake Tahoe.
2. Waterbury, CT
Ranked #2 on our list is Waterbury, CT, the fifth largest city in Connecticut with a population of 110,000. Formerly known as the "Brass Capital of the World", Waterbury exported brass products as far as South America, and was the birthplace of photographer Annie Leibovitz and actor Dylan McDermott. While its cost of living is slightly above the national average, healthcare social workers earn a median salary of $65,250, which is 37% above the median average.
Related: ACA Exchange for Connecticut
3. Cumberland, MD
A gateway to the west through the Allegheny Mountains, Cumberland, MD is the third best city in the United States for health care social workers. Healthcare social workers in Cumberland earn a median salary of $58,800, and practice in the company of 70 other peers. After a hard day's work in the office, professionals here can take in some outdoor activity while biking along the Great Allegheny Passage, or festivals and events in downtown Cumberland.
4. Taunton / Norton / Raynham, MA
The metropolitan area of Taunton, Norton, and Raynham in Massachusetts comes in at #4 on our Best Cities list. Healthcare social workers earn a median salary of $58,900 in this New England area and have a cost of living index of 129. There are 150 healthcare social workers, about three times more than the national average, who administer to the area's 88,000 residents. The ponds, lakes, and state parks in Taunton are great for the outdoorsy health care social worker. Raynham has the distinction of being the first town in America to be founded by a female, Elizabeth Pole.
Related: Read more facts about Driving in Massachusetts
5. New Haven, CT
Rounding out our top five best cities for healthcare social workers is New Haven, CT. Home to beaches and the internationally renowned Yale University, and birthplace of Eli Whitney and Nathan Hale, New Haven has history and attractions to offer to the prospective health care social worker. In this city, professionals pull in a median salary of $61,950, about 30% higher than the national median.
Best Cities for Healthcare Social Workers
|Rank||City||Median Salary||Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living||Score|
|1||Carson City, NV||$63,420||70||2.35||99||93%|
|5||New Haven, CT||61,950||510||1.75||116||89|
|7||Yuba City, CA||63,430||60||1.59||107||88|
|13||El Paso, TX||58,890||400||1.34||86||84|
|14||New Bedford, MA||53,400||310||4.54||116||84|
|18||Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA||55,980||990||1.72||118||83|
|20||Barnstable Town, MA||54,810||280||2.73||161||82|
We ranked U.S. cities based on three key questions:
1. How much money do professionals make in the city?
We ranked cities based on the median annual pay as a substantial factor in the decision process for people looking for work. Of course, a high salary for a health care social workers in an expensive city may not outweigh a lower salary in an affordable town. That's why we posed our second question...
2. How expensive is it to live there?
In conjunction with the median annual salary for healthcare social workers in a city, cost of living helps determine how far your dollar will go. For this particular variable, cities with lower cost of living ranked highly in our study.
3. What is the location quotient of this profession in the city?
A town with a high average salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our study factors in cities with high healthcare social worker location quotient. Location quotient measures the concentration of a particular occupation in the city as a proportion of all occupations relative to the national average. We infer a higher location quotient to mean a relatively higher demand for a profession's services.
1. Median Salary: cities with the highest median annual salary for healthcare social workers, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data as of May 2012
2. Cost of Living: cities with the lowest cost of living, with data sourced from Sperling's Best Places COL Calculator. Data as of July 2013
3. Employment: cities with the highest location quotient metrics, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data as of May 2012
Photo Courtesy: Flickr / randa