Is social work a bad idea?

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Comments (9)

reneegavin in Pittston, Pennsylvania

19 months ago

I applied to a social work program earlier this week and was SO excited. However, since then, it seems tons of people have been telling me it's a bad idea.....no jobs, horribly depressing work, awful pay... My ultimate goal is to get my master's and go into counseling. Even then is the job outlook and pay horrible? I'm not doing this to get rich, but at 38, I will be spending a large chunk of my savings, and will have to pay back even more in student loans. I will also be giving up 4-5 years of my family and work life in order to do this. If the outlook, even for LCSWs is bad, I may have to look into other options. Thanks in advance for any advice or opinions.

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Jacky in Everett, Washington

19 months ago

Most people do not understand what social workers do. And, I'm sure their take on "depressing" work has a lot to do with their personal views/bias of certain populations.....homeless people are not worth helping, etc. The field is very broad and dynamic. The pay is always relative to educational attainment, physical location, and agency. Where I live the average salary for MSW is 50,000 a year.
I would have to say that lots of people go into social work because they feel its their calling. If you feel this way, don't let others discourage you...follow what feels right to you.
For me, I cannot imagine doing anything else.

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reneegavin in Freeland, Pennsylvania

19 months ago

Jacky in Everett, Washington said: Most people do not understand what social workers do. And, I'm sure their take on "depressing" work has a lot to do with their personal views/bias of certain populations.....homeless people are not worth helping, etc. The field is very broad and dynamic. The pay is always relative to educational attainment, physical location, and agency. Where I live the average salary for MSW is 50,000 a year.
I would have to say that lots of people go into social work because they feel its their calling. If you feel this way, don't let others discourage you...follow what feels right to you.
For me, I cannot imagine doing anything else.

I love helping people that really need help. Like I said, what I really want to do is counsel, and I know getting a master's in social work is the quickest way to do that. However, I know I would need a few years of experience in the field after getting my master's before getting into counseling. I wouldn't want to do anything with home visitations. I've heard too many scary stories in this area. I love the elderly, so something in that field would be of interest to me.

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Ntheory in Arizona

11 months ago

Do not do it! Social work is a high burnout field for a reason. I have an msw and have been in the field for 6 years. I am now starting over and pursuing a degree in engineering. I chose engineering because this seemed like the farthest from social work as I could get. I am actually well paid in my social work job, but I just cannot stand working in the field any longer. Reason 1: Agencies, hopsitals, clinics ,etc are not setup to actually help the people seeking/requiring services. They are simply throwing benefits, services, etc at the patient as opposed to actually helping them maximize their potential and becoming contributing members of society. 2: I have learned that the clients we set out to help are not interested in truly helping themselves. Most social workers perpetuate this by allowing them to blame their problems on somebody else and not owning their own mistakes in life. The ungratefulness of the entitled knows no bounds, and you will certainly find this out the hard way if you choose social work as a profession.

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Lola in Dallas, Texas

11 months ago

Like everyone else said - If it isn't your calling you won't like it. It was my calling and I can't imagine doing anything else. You have to be willing to put in your dues, know that you wont' open a private practice right out of grad school. You have to be willing to take the time to build a career in your chosen field but it is a very rewarding one. You will always have patients/clients/consumers who are challenging but if you come to see them as Ntheory does - get out! There are plenty of opportunities to be of service to others who both need it and will appreciate it. Geriatric social work is a very promising field. Just be ready to WORK

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Social Worker 2013 in Jefferson City, Missouri

11 months ago

Ntheory in Arizona said: Do not do it! Social work is a high burnout field for a reason. I have an msw and have been in the field for 6 years. I am now starting over and pursuing a degree in engineering . I chose engineering because this seemed like the farthest from social work as I could get. I am actually well paid in my social work job, but I just cannot stand working in the field any longer. Reason 1: Agencies, hopsitals, clinics ,etc are not setup to actually help the people seeking/requiring services. They are simply throwing benefits, services, etc at the patient as opposed to actually helping them maximize their potential and becoming contributing members of society. 2: I have learned that the clients we set out to help are not interested in truly helping themselves. Most social workers perpetuate this by allowing them to blame their problems on somebody else and not owning their own mistakes in life. The ungratefulness of the entitled knows no bounds, and you will certainly find this out the hard way if you choose social work as a profession.

It all depends on the setting. There are very high stress jobs different types of engineers may have too that will be high burn out. Thinking about the amount of pressure some engineers face when reviewing plans and if one bolt is out of place, that highway structure collapses or that building collapses.

I have never went through high burn out because I have not held jobs in high burn out settings.

Best wishes in your new career field. I have no regrets on getting my social work degree and have found the versatility of what I can has worked for me. To each his/her own though!

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findjob in North Carolina

11 months ago

Social work is what you make of it. I am a recent social work graduate. I currently work with youth that have behavior and mental health issues. I do a lot of home visits. As a social worker, you have to make time for yourself and do something you love to do. Otherwise, it is easy to get burnt out. Learn to separate work life and home life. My new job starting pay is very good. It's the most money I ever made per hour!!! I am still learning my new job and once I get everything down pat, I will be good to go!!! If social work is in your heart, then by all means JUST DO IT!!!

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Marlon Bourque in Lafayette, Louisiana

10 months ago

After 5 years working with special needs populations I have recognized those individuals across a broad spectrum of areas; HIV/AIDS, mental health, troubled youth/teens, & grieving parents. Yes, the lack of motivation and mindset of entitlement are great obstacles to redirect; however keep in mind my motto "I can only help as much as the client allows me and should not place my high level of expectations toward my clients goals. As a liver disease survivor since 1986, life threatening decision of chemotherapy has programmed me as a grateful healthcare provider wanting to give back to my community the gift of helping others achieve their life goals. If just one child presents with progress then I must hold on to that small accomplishment to carry me when the 99% are works in progress. Social workers need a built in mechanism of self reinforcement and self-gratification in their accomplished efforts or they face signs of burnout. Ask yourself am I willing to sacrifice long hours at improving my art or do I require instant gratification from each client? Deep introspection of self motive toward helping others should be assessed before entering into social work. Best of luck in your final decision...for me I am looking forward to finding an area niche from which I can secure a LCSW. Will challenge LMSW this Spring.

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iamasocialworker in Harrison, New Jersey

10 months ago

Marlon I really liked your Motto!

As many other profession social work also has its own difficulties!
But believe me you won't regret! It's hard but the work that you will do is priceless.
Of course you are not working for charities! But I don't know if you are aware but the social work profession is a growing and popular profession!
According to BLS SW profession expect a 20% growth until 2020: www.bls.gov/ooh/Community-and-Social-Service/Social-workers.htm

You can also take a look to the following infographic which gives an overview on the Social Work profession :
www.gradschools.com/search-programs/social-work-msw/infographic-careers

Good luck!

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