Social work is a relatively new addition to the Navy's Medical Corps. It added its first social worker in 1980 and, according to the "Handbook for Public Health Social Work," grew its internal practice to 24 active-duty officers with four additional reserve officers as of 2009. For comparison, the military had 31 social work officers as of 1998. While the Navy trains social workers as enlisted personnel, once a social worker enters practice, he serves as an officer with a rank between O-2 and O-6.
Entry-Level Social Workers
As of January 1, 2013, an entry level social worker at the O-2 grade makes $3,314.10 per month for his first two years of service. The O-2 level receives raises after two years, three years, four years, and then every two years after that until reaching maximum pay of $4,586.40 per month, after completing six years of service. An O-3 social worker starts at $3,835.50 and receives pay increases on the same schedule to a maximum of $6,240 per month after completing 14 years of service. O-4s start at $4,362.30 and top out at $7,283.70 after 18 years.
Commanders and Captains
Social workers serving as commanders and captains -- O-5 and O-6 ranks -- enjoy even higher compensation. An O-5 starts at $5,055.90 and hits her peak at $8,589.90 after 22 years of service. Captains start at $6,064.80 and don't reach their $10,736.70 peak until 30 years of service.
Navy social workers receive additional compensation, too. They are eligible for a housing allowance if they don't live in military provided housingm and for a subsistence allowance for both themselves and their families. The military also pays them additional money when they are separated from their families, and they get extra pay when they serve at sea. Social workers in hazardous areas receive more compensation while those in combat zones receive some or all of their pay tax-free.
Social Work Clinical Study
The Navy also has opportunities for soon-to-be social workers. If a student has completed his master's in the field with a 3.0 or higher grade-point average, he could be eligible to sign up for the health services collegiate program. It offers four different clinical sites and the opportunity to enter the Navy as an E-6 or E-7 during training. The 2013 starting wage for an E-6 is $2,357.10 and $2,725.20 for an E-7. Students undergoing their clinical training in the program are eligible to receive the Navy's full compensation package, including a housing allowance, food allowance and medical insurance.