Social Worker vs. Psychologist: What’s The Difference?

There is a lot of confusion when it comes the social worker vs. Psychologist question. This is mostly because there is a lot of overlap. However, if you’re considering a job in this particular field, you will need to know the difference between the two. Here’s a brief look at what makes being a social worker unique from being a psychologist.

Different Training

It all begins with the training. A social worker usually gets their license when they a Master’s in Social Work. This Master’s Degree provides people with the skills that they need to become a social worker. This includes practice in the field and develops their ability to evaluate and talk to clients. After that, they will need to get certification and a license from the local government. They will also need two years of supervised field work to qualify for this.

To be a psychologist though requires a bit more in-depth training. At the very least, you will need a doctorate. You can either get a PhD in psychology or a Doctorate in Psychology. A PhD is actually more of a research-based role and will often require a full dissertation to fully get. You will learn more about statistics and performing experiments. A Doctorate in Psychology is more practical and requires field work and passing an exam. You will most likely need to pass an internship and then get your license from the state government to operate.

Different Responsibilities

The next difference is in the exact responsibilities that each has. A social worker is focused on helping people and families improve their quality of life. This usually involves helping them overcome personal difficulties and to develop skills that will be useful in life. They work to make sure that these people become better members of the community. They also assist in getting them government help. This can mean financial or medical assistance.

A psychologist also helps people. However, they focus on only mental problems. While social workers are able to work with families, their focus is on the individual. When a person goes to a psychologist, their primary reason is for psychological evaluation and counseling. Psychologist can then identify their mental health problems and try to resolve them.

Different Environments

These two jobs have differing environments in which they operate. Social workers often work as part of a government institution. Though they are present in a lot of medical clinics and hospitals, they are also seen in a variety of places. Social workers are also seen in rehab centers, prisons, nursing homes, and more. Their average annual wage is around $45,500 and experts are expecting this to go up in the future with larger demand.

Psychologists are a bit more specialized. You will often find them operating their own private clinics. If not, they are usually part of a hospital’s staff. They have a higher average yearly salary of $70,700 per year.

Your Choice

Though there are similarities, the differences between psychologists and social workers should now be obvious. Make your choice in which career you think best fits your future plans.

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What’s the difference between a social worker and a psychologist? Find out at so you can make an informed decision.

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