wanting to call it quits

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Allison in Middle Island, New York

60 months ago

I can relate to the burnout feeling. What I have tried to do is figure out if there is any field of social work that I would like more than others. I tend to burn out easier from repeated contact with clients, so I try to aim for jobs where the contact is limited,like hospital social work where there is a high turnover. Also, the I hear the Veterans Administration (www4.va.gov/jobs/Career_Search.asp) has pretty good supervision and good jobs and salaries/benefits overall.

But since I have graduated with my MSW, I have worked in the field of research where some of the basic social work skills apply, but there is not a whole lot of client contact. NORC (norc.org/homepage.htm)at the University of Chicago is one of the top research organization and they are always hiring. I don't know if you are interested in research, but it is another less stressful field. Feel free to email me if I can be of any help. kay726@gmail.com

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confused in Schaumburg, Illinois

60 months ago

Allison in Middle Island, New York said: I can relate to the burnout feeling. What I have tried to do is figure out if there is any field of social work that I would like more than others. I tend to burn out easier from repeated contact with clients, so I try to aim for jobs where the contact is limited,like hospital social work where there is a high turnover. Also, the I hear the Veterans Administration ( www4.va.gov/jobs/Career_Search.asp ) has pretty good supervision and good jobs and salaries/benefits overall.

But since I have graduated with my MSW, I have worked in the field of research where some of the basic social work skills apply, but there is not a whole lot of client contact. NORC ( norc.org/homepage.htm )at the University of Chicago is one of the top research organization and they are always hiring. I don't know if you are interested in research, but it is another less stressful field. Feel free to email me if I can be of any help. kay726@gmail.com

THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. I WILL DEF. CHECK OUT THOSE WEBSITES.

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klott86 in Gaffney, South Carolina

60 months ago

if i know now, what i knew then, before becoming a social worker, i would have never become one, i have stress headaches all the time, no appreciation, i take my work home with me, which is now why i'm back in school pursuing what i wanted to pursue back in high school. social work, is good for some people, but for me, its not for me.......good luck to ev1 else is a social worker and has burned out yet....

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klott86 in Gaffney, South Carolina

60 months ago

i meant good luck to ev1 who is a sw and hasn't burned out yet

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Anna Crafford in Saint Marys, Georgia

59 months ago

confused in Schaumburg, Illinois said: THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH. I WILL DEF. CHECK OUT THOSE WEBSITES.

I am working towards my Bachelors in Psychology. I have not decided yet whether or not I will get my Masters in. Thanks for the information about Social Work. I really, really enjoy Psychology so far. As for working for the Veterans Administration, Don't! I worked for them for 8 years and was absolutely miserable. The management is awful and their casework is unending due to the backlog of appointments. I know this because I worked very closely with the Social Workers. Their computer systems (which I worked as an IT Specialist) are always malfunctioning. The VA is very political and heaven help you if your supervisor doesn't like you. Have you tried looking into the Department of Defense (army,navy,airforce,etc.) (www.usajobs.gov)? Good luck!

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davebo in phoenix, Arizona

58 months ago

confused in Schaumburg, Illinois said: Hello All,
I am a young professional and I seem to have lost my passion for social work, and possibly the helping profession all together. i know that i wont find all my answsers through this discussion, but i thought it may help to hear if others are having this difficulty.
Around the time i entered the MSW field from Psychology, i was feeling a bit anxios about the field, but more in an excited way. I grew concerned when i begain to realize half way through my MSW that i did not have the same thrill of learning like i did in Psychology. I chalked ii up to a bad graduate experience and moved on to my first post grad job in residential. ( which as really exicted about ) I thought this was a sure learning experience and way of looking an old job in a new way, as i had done residential work as an undergrad. it happened to be the WORST experience of my life with unorganization and VERY poor supervison. Neeedless to say, the excitement of developing as a professional was lost when i was discharged from the agency. I am SOOO very lost and have tried to make he best of the expeicence to learn from, however, with all the stress and problems i have encounted in the field (wayyyy too many to tell) i am simply left with a bad taste in my mouth and completely tired.I fear that i may be burntout, as fatigue and poor sleep have become a normal part of my non- working day. Due to the inability to see a doctor, (no insurance) i am left to attempt to remedy the problem on my own. Does anyone hve suggestions on the burnout, career search, etc... i would really appreciate it

With two years experience as an MSW you could apply to teach on-line at community colleges, University of Phoenix (Appollo Group) WIU, etc. The pay is great and you can work from home--go to work in your jammies! I do this kind of work in my spare time which has put me into a six figure income in addition to my VA Hospital job.

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gcolman in Chicago, Illinois

58 months ago

I'm so glad you wrote. I can really relate to the feeling of anxiety. For me, it's been the paperwork that gets in the way, concentration on symptoms, and medical necessity. I remember talking to a colleague, who said he concentrated on the relationship. I can remember when doing therapy was like falling off a log. I appreciated the referral to NORC. I'm going to check it out.

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gcolman in Chicago, Illinois

58 months ago

I'm so glad you wrote. I can really relate to the feeling of anxiety. For me, it's been the paperwork that gets in the way, concentration on symptoms, and medical necessity. I remember talking to a colleague, who said he concentrated on the relationship. I can remember when doing therapy was like falling off a log. I appreciated the referral to NORC. I'm going to check it out.

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CHAMPAGNE201 in Jersey City, New Jersey

57 months ago

SOMETIMES WHAT WORKS FOR ONE PERSON MAY NOT WORK FOR THE OTHER...SOME PEOPLE GET BURN OUT FOR VARIOUS REASONS SO BE CAREFUL SAYING SOICAL WORK IS NOT A GREAT OR GOOD JOB....SOME PEOPLE ARE BUILT FOR THIS TYPE OF WORK AND SOME WILL TRY IT OUT AND DECIDE THAT THEIR LIFE IS NOT BEING LIVED AND FULFILLED THE WAY THEY SEE LIFE SHOULD BE FOR THEM...IT'S A PERSONAL CHOICE JUST LIKE ANY OTHER CAREER...MAYBE IT'S JUST TIME FOR A BURNOUT PERSON TO MOVE ON...IT'S LIKE A DIVORCE...MOVE ON TO THE NEXT THING IN LIFE....BUT IT WILL ALWAYS BE SOME ONE WAITING IN LINE TO TAKE YOUR PLACE AND IT WILL ALWAYS BE SOMETHING ELSE FOR YOU TO DO AS YOUR INNER DESIRES CHANGES...WHAT EVER YOUR HEART IS YEARNING FOR DO YOUR RESEARCH AND GO FOR IT! YOU DESERVE TO ENJOY YOUR LIFE..WE ONLY GET ONE! SO PLEASE KEEP YOUR HEAD UP AND REMEMBER THESE ARE JUST GROWNING PAINS...YOU ARE GROWNING OUT OF ONE THING...SO YOU CAN MOVE ON TO THE NEXT LEVEL... GOOD LUCK AND GOOD LIVING...PEACE CHAMPAGNE JCNJ

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TP in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

56 months ago

Residential is always hard. Regarding a degree, if it isn't math or hard science it won't get you paid period.

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Jim in Duluth, Minnesota

56 months ago

You kids are going to learn the hard way like the rest of us did. Don't go out and drop $40,000 on school and only have a half-baked plan for employment. You are going to get hosed like a lot of us bitter college grads on www.thegreatcollegehoax.com . School is the biggest waste out there right now. We have way too many college grads chasing way too few jobs.

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davebo in phoenix, Arizona

56 months ago

Completing a degree improves our minds and builds character. In a depressed market "our attitude determine our altitude" so keep networking for a job and don't give up!

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klott86 in Inman, South Carolina

56 months ago

I've been looking around these forums for a while, and i just wanted to announce to everyone how on yesterday i received a job offer to be a social worker. I have a BSW degree, and i'm just so excited to finally be putting my degree to good use. i have excellent benefits, i'll be working in child day care, and i'll be earning 42k a year, not bad, huh lol, i just wanted to thank all for the positive responses i've read. The jobs are out there, you just have to be patient and give it time. Good JOurney......KLott Social Worker.....

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Noah in Casper, Wyoming

56 months ago

i can under stand ur fealing of Getting tired of doing the same thing in and out every day . But you must not lose hope yes iam just starting in this career But if you and others like you Quit then you have lost the Bigger Picture the Bigger Picture is the Small Business that Depend on you and your Company to secrure their Homes Buisness and Equipment . I owned my oun Company for 10 Plus years yes it was not Security Company but if i would have not stayed with for so long then the Clients i had would have not got any Landscape done to their yards and the would have never found such good deals .what ia saying is if you lose hope for your Company and get tired and Quit what hope do we have to go on and keep on going . No your Company does not makes us and break us but you are a Security officer or Business owner Keep strong and thing will improve soon
Please stay in touch

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marylouj in Kent, Ohio

55 months ago

I have a BSW and I have worked for a county agency in child welfare for 9 years now. I agree with you that there are many agencies that are very unorganized and poorly managed. I truly believe that in any social work position there will be burnout and it is to expected. I love my job the majority of the time and client contact is the most rewarding part for me (usually). My Supervisor is fantastic and my unit works as a team. She is always telling us self care is very important. Do I always take good care of myself? Of course not. The one thing I try to maintain is my sense of humor. I am 52 years old and I am the silliest person in my office. Laughter is the best medicine. Regarding the agency that discharged you, it is their loss. Social Work is not an easy field, but it can be tremendously rewarding. I saw a social work website that said "CRYING,THERE'S NO CRYING IN SOCIAL WORK" If I could do it all over again, I would do the same thing. I am exactly where God wants me to be. Now you have to find out where God wants you to be. Keep looking and he will direct your path. I have people around me that encourage me and I listen to Christian music or encouraging music. Is there somewhere in your area where you can get free medical services? Don't give up, you are going to get through this!!!

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the girl in Columbus, Ohio

55 months ago

if your burned out and your not really even deeply into the work yet, get out.
its a difficult job
and the pay is poo
and the people we serve need to have people that are committed, not burned out.
at a minimum look towards a new population to work with
another burned out social worker gives us all a bad image

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jpksw in Tempe, Arizona

50 months ago

davebo in phoenix, Arizona said: With two years experience as an MSW you could apply to teach on-line at community colleges, University of Phoenix (Appollo Group) WIU, etc. The pay is great and you can work from home--go to work in your jammies! I do this kind of work in my spare time which has put me into a six figure income in addition to my VA Hospital job.

hi dave, i am very interested in your online work. i live in tempe, have been an msw since '95, and lcsw for last 10 years or so. anyway, i am always trying to find a second or third job to supplement my full time job, since we social workers get paid crap for what we do. look forward to any info you can give

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laurenlee in West Chester, Pennsylvania

49 months ago

davebo in phoenix, Arizona said: With two years experience as an MSW you could apply to teach on-line at community colleges, University of Phoenix (Appollo Group) WIU, etc. The pay is great and you can work from home--go to work in your jammies! I do this kind of work in my spare time which has put me into a six figure income in addition to my VA Hospital job.

Hey...I just came across this forum...what kind of work do you do at the VA? I'm currently in my second year for my MSW and I am interning at a dialysis center...hoping to possibly work at the VA doing dialysis at some point after graduating.

How is working at the VA? I have heard mixed reviews about working there...also, I didnt know you could teach online/ community college courses with an MSW..that sounds interesting...are those positions competitive as well??

any information/feedback about your career/social work choices would be great!!

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Kelly in Seattle, Washington

44 months ago

I totally feel ya, but don't have any advice. I'm an MSW, and worked at a hospital for 3 years. Got bored discharge planning, didn't want to full therapy or counseling, and went back to school. Now I'm on my way to being a research scientist...go figure.

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laurenlee in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

44 months ago

Does anyone actually enjoy social work and have a pretty decent salary???

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k_lott86 in Gaffney, South Carolina

44 months ago

I actually love my job in sc and i make a pretty decent salary, but i think that one of the reasons that I love this job is that I didn't go into social work blind as a bat, i knew what the salary was, i knew what the culture was like, since I did an internship, so i think that contributes to some of the reasons that I love my job, and also i don't live in a high col state so its pretty easy for me to live comfortably on and also pay on student loans and other things that I may have, just my little two cents:)

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Rise Today and Change Yourself in Alpharetta, Georgia

44 months ago

This is in response to Confused in Illinois. I can totally see your view from the field of SW. When I first started, I had this urge to help the community and its residents. I figured I have the heart, will, and determination so I just need the resources. However, each organization I worked for and I mean each one turned out to be just a "business" focus on "numbers" not the people. Sure, the numbers is what keeps the organization running but if one only follow the numbers than it only becomes a process not a journey to help. Now I hope that there are some agencies that are against this "business" process but in my opinion they are few and I mean few. Social Work will and can disappoint you in the end because with all of your energy you possess you will come across bitter co-workers who envy your energy level and work against you. They have lost that passion and energy long time ago because they discovered the "business end" of SW. SW isnt a career to make a great salary but to assist the community. One would have to move up the chain in order to make effect change but still encounter supervisors and management clueless on many ends but possess degrees to justify their existence. One can encounter stress within this environment because of the long hours, paperwork, and mindless management (in some cases). The important thing to remember is to know thyself and understand who and what you are as a person and how you...YOU can make a difference. Rediscover that passion which is your internal flame and allow it to show. Damn the others and push pass them for they have lost their way and forgot their true selves in the process. The system can change one into something dark but if you know and understand yourself than it can not. Find your passion, trust within yourself, and put those negative influences aside and you can do well. Select good agencies that are geared to your spirit and passion and you will make it work. Good luck and remember yourself in the process.

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socialwkr in Missouri

44 months ago

I have no regrets on obtaining my BSW and MSW because the social work degree is versatile. I think the misconception of the public about "social work" is that anyone can do "social work". I also think that some feel that if you become a social worker, that means you should not expect a decent salary. I am of the opposite view. I believe strongly in the education my BSW and MSW provided me. I think the problem is that some believe that anyone can do social work.......and that social work is a non-skilled job that does not require much thought. It is the same concept of how secretaries were viewed.......make coffee and pick up the dry cleaning for the boss. Some believe that a social worker is a just a helper.....a bleeding heart. No skills needed.

When I ask myself what a social worker is......I would say a person with a social work degree is more than just a "helper". Anyone can help someone. However, a degreed social worker is equipped to understand human development, how we relate in our environment, different "theories" to work with individuals, groups, families and/or the community, how to do research, public policy, how to bring change, etc......the list goes on. The licensure requirements and protection of the "social work" name has been a positive in many ways. Many people called themselves "social workers" and never even had a degree.......they figured "well I am helping people".

What is a social worker? Some are administrative social workers, some are licensed therapists, others are managers, administrators of agencies, some work in the child protective service field, some work in nursing homes, hospitals, home health, etc..and the list goes on. We can choose to work in various settings with the social work degree. Salaries will vary depending on areas of interest.

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schnarf5 in Pompano Beach, Florida

34 months ago

mary in Tampa, Florida said: I was surprised you misspelled anxious. You are not dealing with anything the result of us unemployed people are dealing with - and your feelings are very normal. I have three college degrees, expected by age 50 to be making $40,000 a year at least and to have a great life. I am now 52 and living on $300 a week.

Unfortunately, when you go to college, we're all told how we're securing our futures with the benefits of education - and they don't teach us to expect doom and how to deal with it.

You're not the only one- I too am 52 and I'm making even less than that! - working as a substitute teacher- received no call backs on any social work jobs I applied for- I think they almost all want master's degrees and bi or trilingual and seem to want younger people with more years of experience. Also I am the caregiver for a disabled family member so that limits me too. Ouch- it hurts, but I put my trust and faith in God and so far miracles from God keep happening in my life to help me get by just when I think the bottom's going to fall out- something always happens to save me.

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Scoots in West Union, Ohio

33 months ago

I've been doing social work as an MSW since 1989. I've had horrible jobs and a few really cool ones (home health care in the 1990s, dialysis, therapist in community mental health) but what made those jobs tolerable was the management, co-workers, and overall environment of the agency or clinics I worked in.

I always tried to stay "eclectic" and do a little in mental health, a little in the medical arena so that I could stay "marketable". Longest I stayed one place was 10 years (home health) and then the agency closed once the nature of home health care changed due to changes in Medicare late 1990s.

I have been unemployed these last 3 years due to two lay-offs due to budget cuts. The openings in health care are almost non-existent as LPNs or RNs are often doing what our role used to be in hospitals, clinics, and even home health care. Where Medicare "mandates" the presence of an MSW (home health care, dialysis) the agencies either ignore the rule or hire MSWs on a contract "as needed" (prn) basis. After 100s of resumes I finally got a job and start it next week, working for a non-profit doing education and community outreach. The job was advertised for an RN or MSW and I got lucky and am elated. Had I not gotten this job I was ready to throw in the towel and start applying at Target, Kroger, ANYWHERE for wages.

The social work field does a poor job of promoting and advocating for itself. Funding has cut many opportunities. Agencies are over-burdened and under-staffed in many cases. Private practice as a therapist is a carrot dangling out there (yes, I tried that too), but it is hard to get client referrals when starting up. Urban areas seem to be saturated with therapists and in rural areas many people shun mental health services all together.

My advice would be to identify a few things you'd like to do and then try to do a few part-time gigs. Teaching, counseling, case management, administration. Mix it up. You might find satisfaction that way.

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marisole in Memphis, Tennessee

33 months ago

Awwww, dont give up

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Stevo in Waltham, Massachusetts

27 months ago

I went into SW after spending a great deal thinking which type of counseling I wanted, and which type of degree I wanted to pursue given my interests coming from an anthro background. My desire to help people given little to no opportunity to succeed in life drove me to pursue both fields.

I asked for the most challenging and complex environment field ed could give me for my first and second year placements in my MSW program, and by the end I had experience in hospital/medical SW, outpatient counseling, substance abuse counseling, and had been a research fellow for 1.5 years.

I was laid off after four months of very hard work because I stood up for SW ethics at my first agency and was mysteriously "let go without reason" (the assistant PD obviously didn't like me from the beginning-- she was much more business oriented than I, and saw my care for the clients as a threat to the business model that had her and the other employees raking in incentive pay). I was unemployed for five months. Then I got a job as a substance abuse counselor working with a couple of people who had lesser degrees and were highly threatened by me. There was nothing I could do, they threw me under the bus and refused to show me the ropes of the work and insisted that their way (different from what the boss wanted) was the only way to treat the clients. I was contracted, paid hourly, without benefits and subject to self-employment tax. I had to buy my own liability ins. and pay for supervision. I am again unemployed, have applied to 143 jobs so far, continuously get no where in calling them, asking for informational interviews, etc.. I have been used and abused in jobs my whole life, and I thought SW would be different. It appears, in my region anyway, that unless you are promised the job by someone you know, there are almost no jobs for SWs. With all my hard work, I never thought this would happen. I'm applying for my phd to get out of this field. Living off 220/wk. in Boston.

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Anna in Austin, Texas

27 months ago

I am a recent graduate from an MSW program, and I can relate to a lot of what you're saying. I do want to offer you some support and encouragement, though! I went to a continuing education training recently, and one of the topics we discussed was burnout. From that presentation, I learned that the research on burnout shows that it has everything to do with the goodness of fit between you and your organization. You said that your first work environment was poorly organized and you had bad supervision - I would venture to guess that a lot of your dissatisfaction had to do with that rather than with disliking the social work field.

Personally, my work environment is far from perfect, but I love working with my clients and helping them change their lives for the better. It gives me hope to know that the things that I don't like about my job boil down to a less-than-perfect fit between myself & my organization. Once I get some more experience, I'm going to search diligently for a work environment that better suits my needs.

I wish you the best of luck, and please don't get discouraged by a few bad experiences!

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Anna in Austin, Texas

27 months ago

laurenlee in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania said: Does anyone actually enjoy social work and have a pretty decent salary???

Yes! I love social work and I make decent money. I am fresh out of my Master's program and I make about 34k per year - I'm certainly not rolling around in piles of money, but it's enough to meet my needs and I am confident I can make more once I gain some experience/obtain my clinical license.

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Barbaraegd in Waycross, Georgia

26 months ago

I know this was posted a long time ago, but I am an "old" professional and qualify and then some for burnout. I cope with extra curricular activities and volunteering for new projects at work (which sometimes drive me crazy, but the challenge is still a good thing). I don't think there's a job anywhere that doesn't get old after a period of time.

confused in Schaumburg, Illinois said: Hello All,
I am a young professional and I seem to have lost my passion for social work, and possibly the helping profession all together. i know that i wont find all my answsers through this discussion, but i thought it may help to hear if others are having this difficulty.
Around the time i entered the MSW field from Psychology, i was feeling a bit anxios about the field, but more in an excited way. I grew concerned when i begain to realize half way through my MSW that i did not have the same thrill of learning like i did in Psychology. I chalked ii up to a bad graduate experience and moved on to my first post grad job in residential. ( which as really exicted about ) I thought this was a sure learning experience and way of looking an old job in a new way, as i had done residential work as an undergrad. it happened to be the WORST experience of my life with unorganization and VERY poor supervison. Neeedless to say, the excitement of developing as a professional was lost when i was discharged from the agency. I am SOOO very lost and have tried to make he best of the expeicence to learn from, however, with all the stress and problems i have encounted in the field (wayyyy too many to tell) i am simply left with a bad taste in my mouth and completely tired.I fear that i may be burntout, as fatigue and poor sleep have become a normal part of my non- working day. Due to the inability to see a doctor, (no insurance ) i am left to attempt to remedy the problem on my own. Does anyone hve suggestions on the burnout, career search, etc... i would really appreciate it

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Barbaraegd in Waycross, Georgia

26 months ago

I also have bad days, and many days I wish I could afford to not work at all, or just find volunteer activites. But still, there are ways not to let the profession wear you out--In spite of everything, I know there are many positive things I have done for people over the years.

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Maybe Discouraged..maybe not in Fort Myers, Florida

14 months ago

Career changer here! I am currently a Paralegal with a Paralegal Studies degree (AS) and Legal Studies (BS). I wanted to be a lawyer but I am already burned out after eight years. Sitting behind a desk being a paper-pusher/secretary is extremely tormenting for me. So, I am in search of another career and since my passion is to advocate for others, I've been leaning towards Social Work (MSW). I also work PT as a domestic violence advocate and love every minute of it, except the pay. It’s not horrible, it’s just not something I can help support a family with. At this point, I am 27 at a standstill on what career I should pursue. I'm looking for a happy medium, a career I can enjoy and a decent salary. Am I being unrealistic? The last two years I have been researching every masters program you could think of and reading all of the social work forums, hoping to find some positive feedback but only to find negative burnouts. I am nervous to enter the field from all that I hear. I make a decent salary now and I’m not sure what type of salary I will make as an MSW. Also, the cost of tuition is extremely high for an MSW degree and I am not sure if in the end it will be worth it. I could really use some good advice from LCSW’s. Is it true that with an MSW, you can start out making $40K to $50K? This is what two college directors at two different Social Work programs advised me. So, questions for MSW's who enjoy their career choice, was it worth the hard work and large student loans? Is there a need for new MSW's? I would like to enter the VA clinic as a LCSW, how competitive is it and do you have any suggestions I can do now to ensure that I can get a decent paying job once I complete the MSW and get licensed after two years? Thank you in advance for your advice!

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Duck! in Brooklyn, New York

14 months ago

Maybe Discouraged..maybe not in Fort Myers, Florida said: I could really use some good advice from LCSW’s.

Hi, just saw your post. I’m an LCSW, I graduated with an MSW in 2000 and have been in clinical social work since that time; I’ve worked at a city hospital, a small settlement house, and currently, as a supervisor at a large mental health clinic. I also have a small private psychotherapy practice. As per your request, here is my take on the field. Keep in mind, though, that I’m living in New York City, so what I say here might not be entirely accurate for your neck of the woods.

Lots of people turn to social work after they’ve burned out in another field, and social work is very accepting of career changers; I actually entered social work school in my late twenties after trying various corporate gigs and disliking all of them. All-in-all, I have no regrets about my career path: I’ve saved lives, I’ve helped people to transform their lives and to heal from all manner of wounds and traumas, and I’ve mentored graduate students who are now becoming fine clinicians. In the process I’ve gained a huge amount of personal growth, emotional depth, intellectual excitement, and deep contentment. Helping others is a simple and generous way to live.

That being said, it’s also true that the field of social work is in a bad place right now. Various changes to reimbursement rates and other regulations have put huge financial burdens on social service agencies; at the same time, at least in New York City, there has been a growth in the number of social work programs, and the market is flooded with new MSWs each year. What this means is that agencies are being stingier with salaries (because they have less money), more demanding with regards to qualifications (because there are so many MSWs), and more stringent about measuring outcomes (because funders want more accountability); at the same time, caseloads are increasing (to offset the reduction in insuranc

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Duck! in Brooklyn, New York

14 months ago

[continued from above]

What this means is that agencies are being stingier with salaries (because they have less money), more demanding with regards to qualifications (because there are so many MSWs), and more stringent about measuring outcomes (because funders want more accountability); at the same time, caseloads are increasing (to offset the reduction in insurance rates by increasing volume) and the paperwork is getting more onerous (to comply with new regulations). I’m noticing for sure that newer clinicians have less time to reflect on their cases, to do outside reading and training, and to integrate theory and practice, all of which are crucial for their clinical development; they are simply too overwhelmed with their caseloads and paperwork.

With regards to finances, I’m what you’d call a mid-level administrator and I currently make mid-sixties; I could probably be making more, but I’ve made career choices around my clinical interests than around money. Fortunately I went to a city college for my MSW so I didn’t have to take out any loans since tuition was so low. A growing and disturbing trend is the use of fee-for-service (FFS) workers; instead of hiring clinicians at salary, clinics are hiring them as FFS which means you get paid per session: if a client doesn’t show, you don’t get paid; if the insurance doesn’t reimburse for a session, you don’t get paid; and, since you’re not salaried, no benefits, no vacation, no sick days. This is a terrible trend but every clinic in New York is doing it in order to stay afloat; not sure about other places.

To answer your questions: Do not spend large amounts of money or take out big loans to get an MSW, as you will likely not be making enough to justify that until you move up in the ranks; see if you can get into a state or city school instead. Do some research on various job search sites about starting salaries in your area and remember what I said about FFS positions; in general, the non-clinical social wor

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Duck! in Brooklyn, New York

14 months ago

[and finishing]

To answer your questions: Do not spend large amounts of money or take out big loans to get an MSW, as you will likely not be making enough to justify that until you move up in the ranks; see if you can get into a state or city school instead. Do some research on various job search sites about starting salaries in your area and remember what I said about FFS positions; in general, the non-clinical social work areas tend to offer salaries while the clinics tend to use FFS, though over time clinicians who advance tend to make more and can also do private practice work. With regards to the VA, they get lots of applications and they offer preference to veterans. In general, your first job will be heavily dependent on your internships; for example, if we’re hiring a school social worker, we will only consider new graduates who interned at a school, and we get enough resumes that we can be picky. Often you have no say about your first year internship, but be sure to advocate like crazy for your second year so you’ll be placed in an area you want to work in.

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Jayhawk61 in Lowell, Massachusetts

14 months ago

Not sure if this is the place to post this ... But I interviewed for a Fee for Service counseling position in a school based program. I was wondering how people who have done fee for service work feel about fee for service work. What are some of the pros and cons I should consider before deciding to accept or turn down the postion. I welcome and look forward to reading feedback. Thanks in advance.

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Hopeful in Phoenix, Arizona

11 months ago

I was recently laid off from a medical social work position. I found the work atmosphere hostile & tempermental.I have an MSW & have been a social worker for approx 20 years. This profession turned out to be a big disappointment; mostly because of the caliber of people I've worked with. The "caring" only seems to apply to clients/patients ... not each other. This is from administration/management down. The thing is, I really love being a social worker! I'm contemplating getting licensed even though I prefer non-clinical, direct social service work. I have yet to meet a licensed social worker (LBSW, LCSW, LISW, LMSW, ACSW, CSW etc...) that I admire or look up to. The truly authentic "social worker-at heart people" I've met are not in the field anymore. Any suggestions for a career change? Anyone having similar thoughts/experiences? In retrospect, I think I should've chosen a STEM career.

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Barbaraegd in Waycross, Georgia

11 months ago

Hopeful, your comments disturb me, especially "I have yet to meet a licensed social worker that I admire or look up to". My first reaction is you haven't met me yet. I am in a medical field as well, and while it is tough being one working with nurses, etc., I also supervise others who are good people and doing a great job. I find varying degrees of caring and commitment within the people I work with, both for each other and the patients. I suggest that your experience is limited and narrow; I have worked in several small towns and find differences in each clinic. I have also experienced SWs who are only interested in clinical "diagnostic" types of SW and don't like the "hands-on" kind of work that I have been trained to do and believe SW is. Most fields now demand licensing, so if you do continue in this field, that is essential. I have also worked with several SWs who do the medical work part-time and also maintain private practices. If you obtain a clinical license, that may be more to your liking. Another suggestion is to attend conferences in your field and network with other SWs to obtain a broader view.

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Lola in Dallas, Texas

11 months ago

I'll chime in as a LCSW of over 20 years. Number one: don't even consider social work as a profession unless you really want to be a social worker - it is not a "hum...maybe it will be interesting and maybe I can make decent money in this field so I will be a social worker". You will be miserable - as it looks like some in this forum are finding out. You really have to have a higher purpose in this profession and really have to be ok making some personal sacrifices in order to get the other satisfaction of doing something you really love with your life. Of course the same can be said about any profession but it is particularly true with social work. Social work is too hard and will be flat out soul sucking if you don't love it. It's like being a Chaplain or a teacher - these types of job that are based on service to and of others will be a horrible match if that is not something that is very important to you. I am not saying there is anything whatsoever wrong with wanting to have a good job and make decent money - to make a good life for yourself and for your family. I am just saying that it is almost like a calling and you have to have it to be satisfied because otherwise it is too hard and too frustrating and you will absolutely get burned out. That is a lot of wasted time and money put into something you don't have a passion for.

I happen to love it and would not change my choice if given the opportunity. I could and could have made more money but after a carefully planned career I am doing comparatively ok. It took time to get to where I am though, I had to pay my dues as the intern, the newbie who got the crappy shifts, the one who got stuck with on call, etc. That is part of it and we all had to do it. Any new social worker will have to know that is part of building a career as well.

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Lola in Dallas, Texas

11 months ago

I have some advice to consider that my be contrary to those who advocate getting a broad experience - just another view to consider - I recently went through a job change and move to another state and found that I was able to find decent job offers easier than friends and colleagues who were looking for one reason only as they were all really good social workers: I chose one highly specialized sub-specialty in social work and pretty much stuck with it, gaining experience and education in a pretty narrow field of expertise. Although there were less jobs available at any given time in the field, when they did come up, I was a highly competitive candidate because of my specific expertise in a very specific sub specialty. For those entering the field, maybe this is something to think about - just a point for discussion.

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EmilyALewis in Birmingham, Alabama

6 months ago

I am working on my MSW. I have worked in mental health for 4 years. AND I AM BURNT OUT!!! I want little contact with clients and would love to work from home. I saw where you can teach online with an MSW. What are some other jobs in Alabama that have benefits, minimum client contact, and can work from home?

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