Career transition from social work field

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Vickie01 in Brooklyn, New York

24 months ago

I actually had a decent job in publishing before taking a job as a Therapist. The pay was bad in publishing too and since I already had an MSW I thought clinical work would pay more. Three years later I realize what a mistake I have made. I have tried to apply to jobs in publishing for medical or psychology editor and I get calls but most employers feel that one day I will run off to another job because I have a masters. Strangely enough, I applied for a few Financial Advisor positions and was offered a position but I could not take the risk of living off commission only. I really had to hussle during the interviews and show how a social worker can transform into a person giving financial advice. If you want to do this you have to take a few exams to get licensed. It seems worth it if you can have some support especially with solid companies like MetLife and Merrill Lynch. Research Scientist is another option and/or Policy Analyst. I believe there is a list of alternative careers fir social workers on the NASW website. Also, Make sure you write an objective on your resume and put the MSW degree at the way bottom on your resume. I have applied to many places for administrative positions and they automatically send my resume to the Social Work department. For those of you with tuition reimbursement at your jobs, take advantage and study something else ASAP. I myself am returning to school to study Statistics and it was approved because it can be used in healthcare. Sometimes they will even pay for an MBA or an Accounting degree. Don't loose hope. Hussle it. We are experts at gab. Good luck.

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AshleyBlaire30 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

24 months ago

unemployed & frustrated in New City, New York said: I am in my late thirties and have been a clinical social worker for my entire adult working life. I have experience in a variety of mental health , addiction treatment, and non profit settings. My work experience includes outpatient therapy, inpatient psychiatric social work, psychiatric emergency program evaluation, domestic violence program management, mental health case management , and residential drug treatment. I was laid off by my last employer twice in the past year (they laid me off, rehired me for another department, and layed me off again 6 months later). The last layoff was a blessing because despite the fact that I was making a very good salary, the job was demoralizing, depressing, and worst of all, dangerous. Additionally, I have been extremely disenchanted with the social work field for many years and would love to exit the human service and healthcare field entirely. I HATE it. I search the employment ads, go on interviews, and feel stuck. So many of the social work jobs entail home visits, which I have found unsafe and stressful. I decline job offers that involve case management, hospitals, and home visits, because I just can't do it anymore. Private practice was my goal when I obtained my masters degree, but I have zero interest and no motivation for that anymore....]
---
I'm interested in finding out what you decided to do/what happened to you... I experienced a similar time in my life. I ended up quitting my counseling job and launching a local self-work-life development magazine for young professional women. Now, I miss counseling and hate publishing, so I'm working on a plan to merge the two forces that drive my evolving career. Another crossroad, but it's nice to know someone else has been in the same boat. ;) Good luck to you... Ashley

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pfishermsw in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

24 months ago

Wow Ashley, Thank you for sharing your post with us on this forum! It is unbelievable how so many experienced professional social workers are dissatisfied with the field. I'm pleased to know that I'm not the only one! I like the skills that this profession has taught me. However, I feel, like that my skills are not transferrable to other professions and it has been difficult for me to find even a part time position. I recently had conversation with one of my colleagues who just graduated from SW school with his MSW. He swears that he is the best because he is doing fee for service psychotherapy and works in HIV research making $65K a year according to him! I have shared with him that he may be making this salary now. However, that is no guarantee that he will continue to make this salary long term, especially in the field of social work! My colleague just looked at me and didn't believe me. He just went on with the conversation and mentioned that when he obtains his LCSW credential he will be making more money! I guess time will tell and he may know someone to get him into that position to make that salary. However, I am a realist and like I said before nothing is guaranteed anymore in this economy! I just wanted to say that I hope and pray that we find something that we are proud and passionate at doing! I believe social work is a good field in theory based what we have been taught in school. However, the concepts need to be enhanced and combined with another profession or skill set in order to enhance our social work skills and ourselves as professionals. For example, MSW and MBA, MSW and RN, or MSW and MPH, MSW and marketing, MSW and clinical research or something on those lines in order to make us more profitable! This is just my two cents! All I know is Nursing here I come!

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FaithAlways84 in Detroit, Michigan

24 months ago

I have a question....how do you guys deal with the job everyday?

I have my days where its going through the motions type of days, I feel like quitting and figuring it out later lol. Then other days I can barely get out of bed. I deal with anxiety all the time anyway, but working in the field that I dislike makes it worse. I've been doing some distress tolerance activities to help. I am trying to get out of this field by reaching out to different places where I can volunteer ( I want to do more administration, behind the scenes work). I still haven't met with the career counselor yet because I'm on the waiting list. :-/

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pfishermsw in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

24 months ago

Hi FaithAlways84, how I deal with my job is remembering to stay focused and use the opportunity for growth! At my other position working in community mental health, I truly hated it and I felt soooooo stressed out from it! However, while I was there I learned all that I could so that I could place skills I learned on my resume, which helped me, get this current position! I also joined the gym and started networking with other professionals about career options. Hence, why I am focused on entering the nursing profession! Now, I am working in research. However, it’s still social work because I am interventionist providing case management services! Again, not truly ideal but, I am no longer at my former position and I am now surrounded by nurses and doctors who have served as my mentors! I now feel more motivated and focused now and most importantly less stressed out! I hope this helps! Try to find daily exercises, meditations, and networking with positive folks to alleviate some of the stress you have been experiencing! Good luck with your endeavors!

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FaithAlways84 in Detroit, Michigan

24 months ago

pfishermsw in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania said: Hi FaithAlways84, how I deal with my job is remembering to stay focused and use the opportunity for growth! At my other position working in community mental health, I truly hated it and I felt soooooo stressed out from it! However, while I was there I learned all that I could so that I could place skills I learned on my resume, which helped me, get this current position! I also joined the gym and started networking with other professionals about career options. Hence, why I am focused on entering the nursing profession! Now, I am working in research. However, it’s still social work because I am interventionist providing case management services! Again, not truly ideal but, I am no longer at my former position and I am now surrounded by nurses and doctors who have served as my mentors! I now feel more motivated and focused now and most importantly less stressed out! I hope this helps! Try to find daily exercises, meditations, and networking with positive folks to alleviate some of the stress you have been experiencing! Good luck with your endeavors!

Thanks so much pfishermsw, that was helpful! I just started mediatation and it does help, so I will definitely keep doing that!

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Socioqueen in Brooklyn, New York

24 months ago

Given that social work skills are both borrowed from other fields, sociology, psychology, anthropology
it is hard to transfer them to a precise field. At least, I find this to be true because it is such diffuse expertise that
it's as though (when adhering to social work principles and theory) we belong to everyone and no one all the time. Truth be told often we are the sales people of the helping profession, the power brokers for the powerless and marginalized and in turn this can disenfranchise us and feel demoralizing. To be honest I am so querky now having done this work for so long that it's hard to think about who else I could be/would be/want to be...and I am damn good at my job. I make over 80k a year and still have the same feelings of anxiety, malaise, disconcerting and misplaced anger. Sometimes I fear that I'm the ultimate dupe. That all of these feelings are NOT mine, but years of projection from managing clients and managing staff with clients. Like the joke is on me.

I hired a coach. Gwen Knowles an has a blog called Start Something. I think that social work school should be something provided gratis after the degree. Once you are in the field there should be life applying classe one can take as a social worker in order to see the forest for the trees. When you are in the trenches and can't get air, or take months off to self-actualize, motivation is hard to come by and the rewards produce diminishing returns over time. My therapy? Improv classes. Traveling to wine vineyards or volunteering at wine vineyards. Practicing spirituality and reading about topics like "aging as a spiritual practice" or "don't be a you-know-what" kinds of books. I also find the time to receive rather than give. Very hard!!! When all you do is pay it forward all day it is very hard to ask for help, receive gifts (gifts, what's that? Time. Dates buy dinner. Friend bakes a cake and you eat it. Gifts!). Find ways to balance the receiving and giving scales.

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Socioqueen in Brooklyn, New York

24 months ago

Given that social work skills are both borrowed from other fields, sociology, psychology, anthropology
it is hard to transfer them to a precise field. At least, I find this to be true because it is such diffuse expertise that
it's as though (when adhering to social work principles and theory) we belong to everyone and no one all the time. Truth be told often we are the sales people of the helping profession, the power brokers for the powerless and marginalized and in turn this can disenfranchise us and feel demoralizing. To be honest I am so querky now having done this work for so long that it's hard to think about who else I could be/would be/want to be...and I am damn good at my job. I make over 80k a year and still have the same feelings of anxiety, malaise, disconcerting and misplaced anger. Sometimes I fear that I'm the ultimate dupe. That all of these feelings are NOT mine, but years of projection from managing clients and managing staff with clients. Like the joke is on me.

I hired a coach. Gwen Knowles an has a blog called Start Something. I think that social work school should be something provided gratis after the degree. Once you are in the field there should be life applying classe one can take as a social worker in order to see the forest for the trees. When you are in the trenches and can't get air, or take months off to self-actualize, motivation is hard to come by and the rewards produce diminishing returns over time. My therapy? Improv classes. Traveling to wine vineyards or volunteering at wine vineyards. Practicing spirituality and reading about topics like "aging as a spiritual practice" or "don't be a you-know-what" kinds of books. I also find the time to receive rather than give. Very hard!!! When all you do is pay it forward all day it is very hard to ask for help, receive gifts (gifts, what's that? Time. Dates buy dinner. Friend bakes a cake and you eat it. Gifts!). Find ways to balance the receiving and giving scales.

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Socioqueen in Brooklyn, New York

24 months ago

Given that social work skills are both borrowed from other fields, sociology, psychology, anthropology
it is hard to transfer them to a precise field. At least, I find this to be true because it is such diffuse expertise that
it's as though (when adhering to social work principles and theory) we belong to everyone and no one all the time. Truth be told often we are the sales people of the helping profession, the power brokers for the powerless and marginalized and in turn this can disenfranchise us and feel demoralizing. To be honest I am so querky now having done this work for so long that it's hard to think about who else I could be/would be/want to be...and I am damn good at my job. I make over 80k a year and still have the same feelings of anxiety, malaise, disconcerting and misplaced anger. Sometimes I fear that I'm the ultimate dupe. That all of these feelings are NOT mine, but years of projection from managing clients and managing staff with clients. Like the joke is on me.

I hired a coach. Gwen Knowles an has a blog called Start Something. I think that social work school should be something provided gratis after the degree. Once you are in the field there should be life applying classe one can take as a social worker in order to see the forest for the trees. When you are in the trenches and can't get air, or take months off to self-actualize, motivation is hard to come by and the rewards produce diminishing returns over time. My therapy? Improv classes. Traveling to wine vineyards or volunteering at wine vineyards. Practicing spirituality and reading about topics like "aging as a spiritual practice" or "don't be a you-know-what" kinds of books. I also find the time to receive rather than give. Very hard!!! When all you do is pay it forward all day it is very hard to ask for help, receive gifts (gifts, what's that? Time. Dates buy dinner. Friend bakes a cake and you eat it. Gifts!). Find ways to balance the receiving and giving scales.

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Kate in Los Angeles, California

23 months ago

A former colleague of mine started a private practice, formed a social work corporation, took out a business loan and used the funds to pay off her student loans and then filed bankruptcy on her business. I used to think that was the most unethical thing I had ever heard, but lately... I'm starting to think she was a lot smarter than me.
I'm so glad this post is here. I wish that someone would post a SUCCESSFUL transition OUT of the field here. I think I've given all that I can in the 15 years of being an LCSW. It's time to move on.

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Hopeful in Plymouth, Massachusetts

23 months ago

I definitely know that we need to move on. The problem is TO WHAT? I think and research it every day to figure out something "outside the box" to utilize my skills, but I really haven't come up with anything. What did the career counselor say??

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Socioqueen in Brooklyn, New York

23 months ago

Transferrable skills are training, managing social work and legal services or customer service types who face burnout. Lending social work ecological and strengths perspective works well in managing direct service staff who provide information and assistance. Health policy analysis, volunteer management, the field of Aging is only beginning to thrive: endless entrepreneurial opportunities to work with boomers aging in to every walk of life. One stepping stone in the for profit sector includes working for health plans who are about to insure not only boomers but a new consumer base in qualified health plans through implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In the nonprofit sector, entitlements and benefits are the place to grow, food, economic security and health access are all words to search. Get Indeed.com job updates on Health Insurance Exchange, Benefits and Entitlements, Aging Services and Aging In Place initiatives, Medicare, Medicaid, and also becoming a Program Officer for a foundation is a way to apply your skills and pay it forward but not do direct practice.

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

23 months ago

The same can be said for pretty much every social services field out there. I am in the same situation and have become somewhat frustrated with how the social services fields continue to tout degrees, etc that will more likely put the people who earn them in the hole for the rest of their life. I have been transitioning into business and have been flabbergasted at what I have learned. My business transitioning has been mostly by learning to start businesses. While they have not been really much of an income for me yet, but the businesses have been self sustaining. I do clinical work part time for a private agency that pays the bills and that's it and loans are on economic deferment because I do not have a full time job. This gives me time as I also look and network for full time options that could pan out for a transition. But believe me there are not many. Because many fields such as human resources and organizational development are pretty much just historical off shoots of psychology and other related social fields they borrow a lot from our fields and merge the info with business. Going back to school is a theory of an approach, but unless you can get an employer to help pay for it...quite frankly and honestly, one is not likely to make enough money at the back end to pay off the additional loans and have enough money to live on. I have been out of full time work for nearly 2 years now and here is some key points of what I have learned, for what it's worth:
We have been pretty much programmed to seek for schooling education as an answer for developing income; however, as far as income, statistically speaking, the majority of money in the world is actually made by individuals with NO degree. WE need to get out of the mindset that school is the only option...because it's flat not.
Also, much of the knowledge and skills necessary to transition out of social services pretty much results in 1 other area of life: business.

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

23 months ago

Ran out of space so here's more:
Our lives in many ways is just like a business, increased success comes in part by treating it as such.
I am not against schooling, I love learning, but schools are not the only place to gain an education. They do bring certificates, but that is another story. Schools are an outcome of the original US board of education which was actually and literally started by a group of business people and bankers in the beginnings of the industrial age. The Organizing papers literally say that they were organizing it to train incoming farming families in how to be employees to help grow industry. This includes business. In fact, I have learned that much of the information in how to build and develop a business is actually largely available for FREE through books, many of which are in public and other libraries. If you can't find a job a way to start SOMETHING is to do some research and start a business yourself part time. I started one more recently for literally $12 and I got that from someone else. Another way to get experience is to offer to do part time work for free. It is taking a while (2 years) but people are finally starting to look at my business experience that I created on my own as an asset they might be able to use. I also took on a few part time sales repping jobs because I realized that I stunk at sales. Remember ANY failure is only failure if you stop or don't learn and shift. Someone once said that when failure occurs it only means you haven't failed enough yet. If you change for the better each time you "fail" you will eventually weed all failures out and only be left with success. Some of my experience has also helped me gain opportunities to start doing business consulting work some free and some not)here and there using my social and business experience. I also needed to learn accounting and borrowed books from my bro (a CPA) and library.

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

23 months ago

One of the books I was recently reading was written by a previous Harvard MBA student wanting to give back when the author noted in the introduction a conversation had with the dean: Dean: "Make it seem hard..." MBA student: "Hard? Why?" Dean: "Why? Why? Did you really ask me why, you nincompoop?" Student: "Yes, I did." Dean: "Because it is. And besides, what would happen to OUR business if [people] thought business wasn't all that difficult? That any imbecile could do it? What would we do then? We sell business education, business books, business magazines, online business content, business videos, business case studies, lectures, degrees, research, class notes. The whole shebang. If people thought business was easy, we'd be wiped out. Finito, End of Story."
Then the author goes on to essentially that business, what you need to know is not really that hard. Competition can be hard but business and related skills are not actually that hard.
Education in this country IS a business and professors need to pay bills too, regardless of whether or not a field might be economically dying. So colleges will continue to pump out degrees in any major they can remotely legitimately come up with regardless of whether or not the student may make a living on it later. It's assembly line education and whenever anything looses a market there are always some residual left over parts (degrees) that were made that the market didn't actually end up taking.
Don't take it personally though. It just is. We have 3 options. 1) Stick with it. 2) Go back to school again and 3) Step left and move forward by getting non-formal education and experience some other way to somehow sell things we are or can be good at in just about whatever way we can by starting a business, volunteering or something. But WE MUST move! A big hint that has helped me for where to start: Get or borrow from the library the book "think and grow rich" and remember, rich does not necessarily mean just $

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

23 months ago

We can be rich in more ways than just money. Unfortunately while there is a definite need for social helping professions, economically these professions are the first to go when there is not enough money to go around for the other necessities of life. Maslow's hierarchy of needs itself says that love and self actualization/fulfillment come after tummies are filled and people have shelter. And a lot of people just want full tummies right now so change beyond that is rarely and hardly realistic. This is part of the reason social services, which are essentially and unfortunately careers just to help people feel better emotionally when they are emotionally constipated. I'm sorry to be so harsh, but that is in fact the reality of things, like it or agree with it or not, it just is. It affects us personally, but it is not personal. We will move on or not. It is up to us. Hopefully we can work together to get there. But we can not get stuck with others not giving us jobs when we also have the opportunity to make jobs. Hopefully this helps. I don't know how this forum works but if there is any way I can help anyone out there I would be glad to hear about it and I will do my best. Hopefully this post can be an effort to do so. Best wishes to all.

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pfishermsw in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

23 months ago

Hi Asgllc,

Thank you for providing great insight into business and looking at our skills differently! I have been thinking the same as well by marketing myself more and becoming a entrepreneur. Even though I plan on leaving social work and becoming a nurse it is stil important to go into business for yourself! I have read "Think and Grow Rich" by Neopolean Hill and it is GREAT!!! It teaches you things that are practical and logical that will make you grow not only as a professional but also as a person! I plan on taking some business classes either during or after I complete my nursing degree(s). I want to be in demand for my skills and I want to be versatile in my skill set as well! I enjoy hearing people taking a positive approach in order to make their lives better! Best wishes to you and others on this forum!!

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bruno10 in New Jersey

23 months ago

birdie710 said: Why don't we all write a book on our experiences with being social workers??!! Or we can write a "Chicken Soup" for the social workers soul, although not even chicken soup could ease the social workers soul!

Haha birdie!! Chicken soup for the social workers soul?? They should have that!! It will be filled with our sad stories.

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FaithAlways84 in Westland, Michigan

23 months ago

Asgllc-- your comments were very insightful!

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Dan2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

22 months ago

In the spirit of the original posting from the social worker from New York and many others after him, I can relate wholeheartedly. I also left and came back to the field various times and nothing has changed. It didnt change until I removed the brainwashing that was done to me on the part of the university and left leaning leaders available to me at the time.
The majority of North Americans today expect to be taken care of by the government. They care little about where the government will get the resources to satisfy all the needs that might arise. This is why although it sounds tempting to take the same kind of job with the federal government for more money, I bet we will still feel burned out and demoralized because the system is the same. When something is not for you, there is no amount of money that can change that. I mean if I am making ten thousand dollars more, will that make it okay for me to continue to put up with people crying like babies saying gimme gimme gimme, putting forth no effort of their own? So lets see, being demoralized but making more money, well perhaps it would be a good short term solution, but the time it takes to apply and get called in to be offered a federal job, you would have probably resolved the problem and made a job change if not a career change by then. I have applied to government jobs before and the application is ridiculously lengthy if you can find one in your immediate area. I want to get out what human services as soon as possible and applying for another job doing the same thing for more money just doesnt motivate me. So its not the waiting or the lengthy application per se but the fact that I am doing all that just to go back to do the same thing regardless of the money. I want to get out of this field! period!

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Dan2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

22 months ago

I have more to add. Clients and consumers in this field express little concern about the morality of a welfare state associated with massive economic intervention. Those who are on the receiving end of the government transfer system, whether its the wealthy, the poor, or the middle class, dont want to be bothered with the question of whether or not the whole system is based on a moral principle. It would never occur to them that theft and violence are used to carry out these policies.
So now that I am aware of what this social welfare system really is and what it means and what government is and is not, I want out and I believe if others here understand it as I have come to understand you wont feel so mystified as to why you feel demoralized. The nonsense about being a rewarding job is a PR snow job. Its not a rewarding job, its a demoralizing system to see capable people live off the government and treat you like a two bit waitress at Bennigans or something.
If anybody can assist me in transferring over to finance, economics, goverment or politics or anything else that pays at least in the late 30s I am open. Also, I dont take something for nothing so I would like to offer that you can work for the goverment without it having to be in social work capacity or human services. I am willing to explore that with others more privately as I am working on a few plans to get the hell out of this field. Best wishes to all.

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FaithAlways84 in Westland, Michigan

22 months ago

Hey guys, I had my first session with my career counselor. Its a start, but she already mention human resources as something I could transition into with the skills I have now. I've seen a couple posts from others on here mentioning hr, but I didn't really think about it!

We'll see how it goes, hopefully I can figure out what I wanna do!

I think a career counselor is a good place to get some help in transitioning...I'm seeing the one at my Alma mater.

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Makeda in Bronx, New York

22 months ago

How do you like the program so far? I'm strongly considering an MPH degree too! I'm scared about the loans too but if I go to a city college it'll be significantly cheaper. I'm going to attend an open house this month.

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Makeda in Bronx, New York

22 months ago

LCSW girl in Homewood, Illinois said: I have to say...it is refreshing(and scary) to happen upon thsi website and see ALL of these frustrated sociak workers who are feeling the exact same way that I feel!! I agree with the other posters that Social Work is frustrating. I thought I was alone when I found myself experiencing a great deal of difficulty making a career change. It's seems ot be hard to take the skills I have and show employers that they can be applied to other professions (many other professions). I have been looking for a career change on/off for 1.5 years and I;ve at least put in 80+ applications (many in careers outside of Social Work) and I'm just not getting any bites.

In my frustration (and because I enjoy learning), I made the decision to return to school for a 2nd masters. And what's funny, is that the degree will be in a subject that I considered getting my undergraduate degree in, but I felt my job options would be limited so, I didn't pursue it at the time. I have returne to school to obtain a 2nd masters in Public Health and for the first time is a few year...I'm excited! I have no clue what I'm going to do with the degree AND I shutter to think about the amount of student loans I'll have when this is all over. But, my peace of mind if worth it!! It's amazing how doing something that interests you can reinvigorate you! One good thing is that the loan payments are suspended while I'm in school.

How do you like the program so far? I'm strongly considering an MPH degree too! I'm scared about the loans too but if I go to a city college it'll be significantly cheaper. I'm going to attend an open house this month.

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maile in San Diego, California

22 months ago

Reading these notes I felt relieved, supported, less isolated. Got my MSW @ 29 years old and headed for a career in medical settings, directing behavioral science program in a medical school, the last 20 years in hospice. After 40 years, I was beyond stuck, like there was no way out of the field..., frustrated, exhausted and tired of being "supervised" by nursing . A big clue was was letting my LCSW expire x2, recently renewed "in case I could find nothing else." Just saw an MSW ad stating, "must be willing to work AT LEAST 8 HOURS a day." From age 60 to 64, was laid off twice. In that time I started water exercise.... classes like tai chi in the water, "poolates," were stress relievers for unemployment, $ stressors, and years of social work stress build up! The gym director said "you should be teaching this." No pun intended I took the plunge, got a scholarship to prepare for Aquatic Exercise Assoc. certification ( working on it), got certified as an instructor for Arthritis Foundation water exercise, and was hired to teach 3 classes a week! $ 20/hour. Last hospice job was $25/hr.! Then was hired as a per diem in hospice again, kept teaching water exercise. Was laid off from hospice in July, still teaching H2O exercise. Gritting my teeth, standing firm, and trembling at times, I applied to the YMCA as a water exercise instructor, and have an interview next week....told I was an outstanding candidate, so we shall see. With SS, small rental income and 20 or so hours teaching weekly, I can make it! In the water, I lost 80 pounds! Debt haunts me, but self-confidence, regular exercise, more sleep and HOPE FOR A FUTURE life in jeans and tanks suits, I am ALMOST THERE. Took TIME, but take heart. I also thank Susan Crandell who wrote Thinking About Tomorrow: Reinventing Yourself at Midlife, the earliest whisper of inspiration. There may just be "Life After Social Work!"

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maile in San Diego, California

22 months ago

P.S. I was pleased to find how helpful social work skills are in teaching water exercise, with many older, or disabled young individuals. Understanding the issues, at times a little education on the impact of exercise on depressions, pain or isolation because of pain, ongoing positive feedback for them getting up, getting out and being in the water. And the occasional after class question from someone with a spouse with dementia, or depression. I make the referral, I do not provide the counseling! So sitting down to think about how to show an employer the value of your hard earned skills in their setting is a must.

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gnote in Los Angeles, California

22 months ago

Its not exactly a career change, but in my job in case management, I am getting into utilization management, that has to do with looking at requests for services and deciding if they are appropriate. Sit down computer work and need good computer skills.

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breakingfree in New York, New York

22 months ago

I have been following this forum for the past several months while I have been in the midst of a career change.

I have been in the social work profession for the past 7 years and while I have learned so much about myself and other people, I know regret ever having made the decision to go into this field.

I know one should not live life with regret and I know that my journey and story drew me to this field, but now that I have become enlighted, I finally recognize many things I wish I had known before entering this field:

1. I entered this field because I was a martyr, sacrificing myself because I thought I deserved to prolong the great amount of trauma and suffering I had endured as a child, adolescent and early adult. I thought that I somehow had to atone for traumatic events in my life that I finally recognized where never my fault to begin with. Once I finally realized this while working in the field (perhaps this was part of my spiritual journey to recognize this) it still took me 7 long years of life to be able to leave and I'm not quite in the woods yet (more on that in a moment).

2. One should never have to help others by way of sacrificing ones own needs, especially for $35,000 a year. Even police officers, military personal and firefighters have built in pay raises that I never once saw at the organizations I worked for. It was such an insult when one year for Christmas, the organization where I was working with autistic children gave us used pocket calendars with an exterminator logo on the front. They couldn't even give us calendars with the organization's logo. I was appalled by the disrespect and lack of acknowledgement for our efforts.

3. One should NEVER have to go into a substantial amount of debt that they will never be able to pay off in their lifetime in order to serve others. If anything, it should be the other way around and I am disgusted by a society, educational programs and lenders who allow this to happen.

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breakingfree in New York, New York

22 months ago

4. One should choose a career where after 7 years of work, they have something to show for themselves besides a pile of student loan debt, credit card bills, no home, no car, a teeny tiny apartment they can barely afford.

5. Finally, when given the chance, run away from this profession as fast as you can. It is not worth it. While we help people and maybe make people's day a little brigher, I often wonder how we are really benefitting the world. Maybe we keep people off the streets which eliminates crime and keeps people safe, or helps ease people's pain, but there are by far better paying jobs where when can achieve these same types of goals.

As far as my career change, I'm not in the absolute clear yet, but I have been able to find my way out of direct-care work by getting a job as a trainer of clinicians in a non-profit setting.

My hope is that after a few years at this type of job, I'll be able to leverage the skills I gain to compete in the corporate sector where I hopefully will finally be fairly compensated for my skills and efforts.

I'm tired of feeling bitter, angry and ashamed by what I do. I want to join the masses and not live on the fridges of society with the clients we serve. It is quite exhausting to be in the drenches for so long and I can't wait for this next chapter to begin.

I'm sorry to be so negative as so many of the posts on this forum are.

It appears we've all fallen into this deep, dark snake pit that drains us of our positive energy and positive spirit and we all need to get out while we're still alive.

So run as fast as you can in any other direction. YOU CAN DO IT!

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Socioqueen in Brooklyn, New York

22 months ago

I think it is important as a professionally trained MSW to join or start if you don't have one, professional networks. We started one in NYC and DC for people in the field of Aging to connect with each other. I also think it is important to testify and submit written testimony to anyone in Congress - be they your Congressional delegate or elsewhere - about the wage issues and professional needs for these special populations. Those of us trained know you cannot be an agent of change helping one person at a time, while noble, eventually we must change the system from the policies that create funding streams to the schools that broker field placements to the agencies that hire us and expect to pay more. This is what unions try to accomplish, also not a bad idea. But getting connected to each other and leveraging our collective expertise is the only way to move forward. It's like dating: the first one breaks him in and then the second one reaps the benefits. We need to strategize collectively and stop working alone. Form stakeholder groups, testify about what we see, join community boards, make the time on the front end and improvements occur.

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

22 months ago

Socioqueen in Brooklyn, New York said: I think it is important as a professionally trained MSW to join or start if you don't have one, professional networks. We started one in NYC and DC for people in the field of Aging to connect with each other. I also think it is important to testify and submit written testimony to anyone in Congress - be they your Congressional delegate or elsewhere - about the wage issues and professional needs for these special populations. Those of us trained know you cannot be an agent of change helping one person at a time, while noble, eventually we must change the system from the policies that create funding streams to the schools that broker field placements to the agencies that hire us and expect to pay more. This is what unions try to accomplish, also not a bad idea. But getting connected to each other and leveraging our collective expertise is the only way to move forward. It's like dating: the first one breaks him in and then the second one reaps the benefits. We need to strategize collectively and stop working alone. Form stakeholder groups, testify about what we see, join community boards, make the time on the front end and improvements occur.

Nice traditional idea; however, the problem with this is that it perpetuates one of the primary economic problems and delimas that exists with ours and related fields: it is largely too dependent on government handouts to be sustainable in the long term unless we step further and further towards socialism. Many countries, including Europe have essentially eliminated the funding of social programs all together because if the "regular" more corporate related jobs that pay the taxes to fund our fields do not exist, there is simply no cash available to pay for services provided by fields like ours. Until our countries economic problems are addressed and resolved funding for fields such as ours are simply a last line item.

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

22 months ago

Do you think that congressional funding is just an endless pit that can be drawn from? It sure sounds like it from your comment, but I hope I am mistaken. Funding comes from personal paycheck and corporate taxes and there just is not that much of that right now. That is why the government has had to borrow more. They are borrowing more in hopes to pass the tide and return to normal spending. The problem is that the tide is not passing this time and a lot of people are not getting it...we are running into basic economics and that tide is not going to turn until we as a country change some habits. All other distractions aside, basic economic principles across the board say that there are only 2 ways out of where this country is in: convert to socialism or clean things up. Stop looking at congress, etc as the answer for solving the problems and do something to change YOU. Congress will never have enough money to pay to solve these problems, nor should we want congress to determine our pay. Literally, when government determines pay, that by definition IS socialism and communism. WE have got to stop using that tool or it will eat us up more than it already is and more than any real help provided.

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

22 months ago

By the way, while unions can temporarily help protect one's pay and benefits, in the long run though they and pension plans are corporate killers and bankruptcy drivers. Note that most corporate bailouts are also tied to unions and pension plans: ie all the auto makers that needed bailouts (Chryslers 2nd, the first being in the late 70's) to pay for the pension plans they were obligated to pay but did not have the cash flow to pay for. They had enough money to pay existing paychecks, etc but not the prior pension plans. I agree that sometimes "corporate greed" can get out of hand. But guess who owns corporate greed and they don't even know it..stock holders. Unless a company is private, guess who are the stock holders...401K holders. When your retirement buys stocks and bonds they are buying ownership and debt in the company that the CEO and board of directors have to answer to. You want your stock to grow so you can retire. It grows when there is profit. So their profit in turn pays for your retirement. It's one while big economic circle. Occupy wall street cry's corporate greed but they also want good benefits which mean 401K. So really, occupy wall street and anyone else who cries corporate greed are actually the greed feeders if they have a 401K and want a retirement. Pension plan managers from the 40's -50's knew pension plans wouldn't financially work. That's why they talked congress and the IRS into creating the 401K plans in the 60's and 70's and got out of doing pension plans. Hence why about the only places that have unions and pension plans anymore are airlines, auto manufactures and government. Hummm...they also are the ones having the biggest problems right now. Coincidence? I think not. Learn economics. It's not rally that complicated. Mental health is MUCH more complicated than economics and understanding economics will help you no matter what you do for your career. Understanding economics can also help you get a better job or make one

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CWilliams38 in Norfolk, Virginia

22 months ago

So then what is your solution asgllc? Is it to privatize social institutions? I sure hope not because we see how well that has worked with corporate run group homes and prisons. To start your own business? Isn't the market over saturated with small business owners already, and how does that help improve pay equity for social workers? Like nurses and teachers have been doing for years, we have to continue to advocate for better compensation, because for some of us, it does make a difference. It is hard to reconcile working two jobs to make ends meet, when you know folks with less education, and less job stress making double your salary. It doesn't mean that we have to unionize, but we do have to work as a collective. And we have to do a better job at stressing what makes our "skill set" worthy of better compensation. Some social workers pay their dues to NASW, but are too busy to get involved in the association, or advocate for things such as title protection in their state. And to be honest, even fewer social workers are aware of the Dorothy Heights Reivestment Act, that NASW has been working on with congressional members which is advocating for higher pay and more financial assistance for social work education. NASW can't do it alone, we need to make our voices heard louder.

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TSSWorker in Lebanon, Pennsylvania

22 months ago

I am turning 24 this month, graduated last December with a Bachelor's in Psych, and for the past 7 months have been working in Wraparound Services as a TSS (Therapeutic Staff Support). This is a common position for Bachelor's-level human services workers in PA, but some others may not have heard of it. Basically, my job is to help kids with severe behavioral and emotional problems change their behaviors. Most of it is pure BS; we are known to be "glorified babysitters" without the glory-- most parents have no respect for us, we have no say in our clients' treatment plans, and whenever a client isn't at a session I don't get paid. When I work in the schools I am always an outsider, and I resent the teachers who get to sit in their lounges during lunch; while I have no breaks, and have to sit with the kids in the cafeteria, lucky if I even have a 10-minute time span to eat. I switched to a new ("better") company with the same position about a month ago, but it's still the same sh&*. I'm technically not even supposed to use the bathroom during billing hours.

Needless to say, I am already burned out and ANGRY. I worked pretty low jobs when I was young, but nothing was as demoralizing as this. At any point in time, even if I'm far away from work, I am 10 seconds from a panic attack or nearly violent outburst. I have no working memory. I have lost almost all compassion I have for other people-- I used to be something of an empath, now I'm anything but.

As others have said, the integrity of this field is skinned raw by government red tape, cronyism, and bureaucracy which has its claws around our necks on a constant basis. Many if not most of the clients in our respective jobs are not there voluntarily. I find myself enraged by trying to "help" people who have no appreciation for the help, or even worse-- don't NEED it. It turns my stomach to see 3 year old kids put on stimulants and every outburst or comment having to be cross-examined.

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

22 months ago

CWilliams38: My solution. Let me begin by stating that I don’t think there is a single solution that can remedy the problem with low pay in the helping social science related fields. Find the answer/solution to that question and you find the answer to perhaps one of the most, if not the most, plaguing problems for humanity that has existed for about as long as world history. Economics, and world history largely proves this out, that there are largely only a few overall approaches to handle economics and in turn issues related to jobs/employment and the needs of people. Free enterprise, communism/socialism or some type of dictatorship/kingship. Unless I am missing something, pretty much all other theories of economics can be categorized in some way or another into these basic areas. Pay as dictated by government is a form, although in some cases more mildly than others, of socialism. The problem with the social sciences or at least the helping professions is that in reality, it is the bottom of the totem pole. There is simply a lot of other things above it in people’s needs.
More...

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

22 months ago

In all honesty, people can also only be helped to the degree that they desire enough change to do something about their situation. Even many of those being helped by helping professions such as ours do not like what their life is like but apparently not bad enough to actually make any real change, hence in part an explanation of so many burned out therapists/counselors and so many recipients who stay in the system so long even to the point of establishing multigenerational problems. There are plenty of people and their stories out there to prove that one of the biggest factors in helping one to rise from their background/history is their own resilience and desire to overcome. We have all had numerous client’s that come to see us or seek services for difficulties they claim to not like but rarely actually do the assignments and things necessary to bring about any real lasting change.
more...

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

22 months ago

As far as some options that I have seen for better pay in our field. You have to go to where the money is to get more of it. Quite frankly the government does not have any more money to hand out/relay to people in our field. Some examples of what I have seen to be more successful and likely more sustainable long term and remaining in the field. One key can be non profit with a sustainable case flow. I understand that most non profits are not built this way. I did a private study years ago for a non profit in the sustainability of cash flow for non profit organizations. The results: for a variety of reasons, non profits can no longer rely on grants for long term sustainability of their organizations. Ways that I have seen work include where someone has developed a for profit organization to establish more sustainable cash flow followed by establishing a non profit organization which is funded by the first for profit. The for profit funds their non profit providing enough income for employees to live relatively well on. All the donations the for profit gives to their non profit is a write off. I know of one organization that largely functions as a for profit and then at the end of the year gives out large bonuses to administration and employees which zero’s out their profit to maintain qualification for non profit status. It is totally legal because it is an independent company serving societies social needs reducing the burden from the government to provide the services. Another example is many employees of private residential treatment centers for youth which charge large fees as part of enrolment so that they can pay their employees well. But there is still burn out for these and it’s not for everyone. I obviously don’t have all the answers. I doubt anyone has and society will continue to wrestle with this for long into the future.
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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

22 months ago

As for teachers and nurses and unions. Well the public education field is drying up for teachers as more private schools develop proving that free enterprise schools can manage education better than many public schools. Many teachers are fleeing their unions and government funded schools to better paying better managed private schools at all levels of education. Many nurses do the same. You can fight like some of them still do but in the long run, if you get anything it will be because they grow tired of hearing from you and are only pacifying you with miniscule pay. Also in the end, those who have the power to decide will mostly end up viewing view you as grouchy and in the long run, grouchy people are the most avoided and among the first to go in a labor force when it comes time for someone to go. Overall, for those desiring to stay in the field and seek better pay, we need to get past the reliance on government to fund our field and find ways to become more self-sufficient or we will contribute to driving our country into bankruptcy. Otherwise we need to move on out of our field.
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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

22 months ago

I was rather surprised by the comment suggesting that there is plenty of small businesses in America, particularly given our countries current and economic circumstances that have existed for the past 4-5 years. One needs only look at the numerous vacant commercial buildings in 99% of America to see that is not true, let alone the fact that at least 75% of America is in normal circumstances typically employed by small businesses and is also statistically where the majority of employment loss in America has occurred. I’m not sure how to even respond to that further except for to say that you need to take another look at where you are getting your information from because it is sadly misguided. Small businesses are still continuing to close in many areas around our country at concerning rates.
more...

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

22 months ago

Lastly, I totally appreciate the struggle to provide for a family let alone oneself in these circumstances in this profession. I have a family with 5 kids and trying to provide on my own for them. I have typically worked up to 70 hours per week with as many as 4 jobs at one time at the low rates we deal with in order to scrape a living out. I have some friends right now who with only a high school education but skills in technology that are making twice what I make with a masters. We can belly ache all we want about the apparent injustices of the matter but that will not change any facts as they actually exist. I believe it was on the old cartoon HeMan where it was often said that “knowing is half the battle”. Often coming to a realization of things as they exist and getting past our personal emotions about them is often a person’s biggest battle and hurdle to our being able to then step left and move forward. The faster we come to terms with that initial battle and hurdle and figure out what to do next, the sooner we are able to move on to a more productive and fulfilling life.
My .02

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nikki in Bronx, New York

21 months ago

geat idea good luck

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asgllc in Salt Lake City, Utah

21 months ago

Bearing in mind that "luck" can be achieved in 2 ways: One: rubbing a genie bottle or the equivalent statistical randomness as found through winning a lottery. Or second, that which is secured or created through recognizing and creating or seizing opportunities that arise and making the best of them. The first is often the most sought after by a society; however it delivers the shortest solution as evidenced by for example lottery winners, who typically not only loose all their winnings within the first year after receiving them, but also just as typically and within the same time period also go into debt the equivalent of their winnings. The reason for such losses of those who secure "luck" the first way and loose it is that the very individuals who buy lottery tickets commonly lack the skills to maintain long term what they have achieved. This is also often the reason they buy the lottery tickets in the first place as well. Those who secure "luck" the second way typically learn the skills in the process that also help then to produce more of the same. Thus why it is often more enduring. The question posed to all of us is which form of "luck" we decide incorporate into our lives. Our lives bear out the answers according to our history of choices. Another good thing is that we can always make changes in our pattern of choices as we move forward when we desire to alter our course.

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TSSWorker in Lebanon, Pennsylvania

21 months ago

Hi again everyone, rather than complaining I'm going to tell you all my new hopeful plan.

Look on indeed.com, monster.com... there are TONS of positions for Management Trainees in all kinds of organizations. Has anyone ever done this? Most require only a Bachelor's Degree and little to no experience. Starting wage after training is pretty generous (one said around $40K). The first place I'm applying to is Sherwin Williams. There's a lot of rental car companies looking for people too.

This may not be the best job ever, but it will get your foot in the door if you're interested in business, including HR (which I am). My hope is to leave the medical/health field ENTIRELY (I'm starting to question the validity of most "mental illness" as it is, look up Thomas Szasz if you're interested) and make my money not off of exploiting people, but PRODUCTS within private corporations, NOT businesses funded off bureaucrats! I would like to transition into HR or maybe become a store manager, and eventually start my own business(es).

I think this is really the right choice for me, and maybe it is for some of you too. I *feel* good about it. People have told me all my life I'd make a great businesswoman, and now I think I know why!

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Girl in Delmar, New York

21 months ago

I have been following this forum for months now. I'm also interested in changing fields but I wondered how much money you guys make? It sounds like you are making very little (well we all are). However, I make enough in the sense that changing jobs to an entry level position in a different field would not be more unless I got more education. I currently make 50K, which is less than what I made when I worked for the state (got laid off).

I'm thinking of getting a certificate in public health (which my employer might be willing to pay for) and then switching fields only slightly by aiming for a job in administration for a health program or organization.

Another job that is readily available to social workers with experience in mental health is doing either utilization management or managed care for insurance companies. I got a job like this 3 years ago and was offered 60K to start with excellent benefits (and I do not have a clinical license). However, I will say that job was soul sucking and extremely boring and I ended up quitting for my current job (outpatient occupational health). Those health insurance jobs are plenty in my area of NY state. So if you need money, look into that.

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maile in San Diego, California

21 months ago

Hi there - since I started in social in 1970, my first salary was $ 600/month with a B.A. After an MSW, it climbed consistently; the LCSW really made no difference at all, except may jobs here in San Diego require it. The most I ever made was as a consultant to nursing (not seeing any patients) in one of the earliest nusing management by phone - in the private sector. Base salary was low @ 48 K but with 5-6K a year in performance bonuses and stock shares. WOuld have cashed int for 150K but was laid off just prior to being vested and the immedaitely following sale of the company. Guess that is corporate. The highest I made in the public sector was in a hospice and made about 60K with benefits. Per diem at my level is about $ 34 an hour, has declined slightly with the economy. Last worked for a private hospice as a per diem who paid $ 25/hour no benefits, shameful for bringing 22 years of hospice experience with me. BUt need the work. Then the lay -offs. If I get the water instructor job it is even less. Keep in mind, California, and San Diego especially, is one of the lowest paying cities.

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FaithAlways84 in Westland, Michigan

21 months ago

Girl in Delmar, New York said: I have been following this forum for months now. I'm also interested in changing fields but I wondered how much money you guys make? It sounds like you are making very little (well we all are). However, I make enough in the sense that changing jobs to an entry level position in a different field would not be more unless I got more education. I currently make 50K, which is less than what I made when I worked for the state (got laid off).

Well I started making the most I've ever made which is 33,000 a year. So this is with a bachelors, but its not in social work. I work in community health right now. When I started helping people as a job I started out as a behavior health tech, $8.00 an hour, promoted to $10 an hour (woo hoo!) When I worked in child welfare I was making 25,500 a year at a private agency. Terrible. Everybody around me was trying to get a state job which started 37,000. I'm not pursueing a masters in social work. I love children and I like to see families become self sufficient but I can't do it anymore. I don't care if I made more I'm ready to clock the f*@# out.

I'm seeking career counseling now and its been helpful. I'm seeing what type of worker I am.

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wantsomethingmore in Maine

21 months ago

Im obviously reading this thread because I too, am not feeling satisfied in the Social Work Field. Im licensed as a clinical supervisor in an in home family therapy program (with children who are at risk for out of home placement due to their own safety and behaviors). It is stressful, Im on call 24/7, and frankly some of my new supervisees are difficult to tame out there all on their own. I do feel that I am helpful in my position as supervisor, but I dont believe that these families really change...and if they do, another one comes along just as challenging, if not more challenging. I have great supervisors and would feel guilty leaving but I really want out of this field all together. Im young, in my early 30s and feel guilty because ive only been in this field for probably 8 years and I want out. It pays so poorly, $41,000, are you kidding? For a master's degree and two licenses beyond? Sickening really. With more cuts in the medicare field, I just dont see any bright side in the future.

I mostly feel guilty (for all that I do have, and what our client's dont have), defeated, exhausted and without spirit in this field. It's breaking my confidence and making me break out with pimples. Worse than when I was younger!

So Im going to downsize my life, life simply, cut unnecessary costs, but will still have my mortgage and school loans, but wont be taking on anymore for any reason, if I can help it. I read somewhere to make an unedited long list of all the activities, passions you have and brainstorm new career interests, several days later after making this list. I love working with children, seeing them learn and grow, but I got out of the teaching degree because of all the new requirments being placed on teachers.
You are not alone. Im so thankful for this thread and post. I think if you know in your heart that this isnt the field for you, start planning your way out now.

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Sam in Worcester, Massachusetts

21 months ago

I was just accepted into a social work program and now I've been having serious doubts...as I've been reading, most people have not enjoyed it. Should I pursue another path?

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Patricia Anne Shea, MSW in Santee, California

21 months ago

I entered Social Work later in life (40) and had I to do it over again, would have pursued an MFCC license instead. After an injury and disability, I "missed" the window of opportunity to take the licensure exam and then faced re-completing my 2 years of supervised practice plus other restrictions in order to take the exams and become licensed. Now I find myself with a fairly useless MSW and no license at age 61. No longer disabled, I am vastly underemployed and financially broken. Social Work doesn't want me after all the school, time and effort. Very discouraging indeed.

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