3 answers

Is a career as a social worker worth it?

Updated Granger, Indiana

Helping people is my passion and what I want to do as a career, but my parents tell me that I won't make enough money doing it. Do the #benefits of being able to #help people outweigh the drawbacks of a small salary? #social-work

3 answers

Alyssa’s Answer

Updated Indianapolis, Indiana
I think that Kim gave you some very good insight. I have worked as a case manager which is a very similar field to social work in Lafayette, Indiana(Hey we're from the same state!) The pay scale for social workers/case managers starts at less in our state than it is in the San Antonio area. As Kim said you have to be comfortable living a modest lifestyle. I now have a Master's in School Counseling and a majority of my friends with Bachelor's degrees are making more money than me. Additionally, as Kim said what people don't prepare you for is the making quotas part of the job. I think most of us that go into a helping profession are mentally prepared for the stress of the job in general. What we don't learn to deal with is that if your paper work isn't done in a certain amount of time and if you don't see your clients a certain amount of hours you will be quickly let go from your job. I've found that for most young people we are pretty capable of doing the paper work quickly because we have flexibility and can go the extra mile to complete our paper work after we are off the clock, but if you lose that flexibility it becomes much more of a struggle. I'd recommend talking to a social worker or DCS case manager in your area. I'm not saying any of this information to scare you, but these are the realities of social work and I think you should understand what you are walking into. I am still in a helping profession even though many people tried to deter me from working with people and work as a school counselor now. Very few of the people I began working with as case managers and the social workers remain in the field though. Many of us have transitioned to school social workers, teachers, speech pathologists, and school counselors(one of my former classmates went to law school and is a lawyer now too.) If you're still not sure check out the Indiana Career Explorer if you haven't completed it yet at your school. It's a free resource for every student in Indiana. https://indiana.kuder.com/landing-page I wish you the best as you look into careers!

Daphne’s Answer

Updated Moultrie, Georgia

Kami, I believe that if you are passionate about being a social worker, then the pay shouldn't be a concern. When choosing a career path it's important to do something you love. Being a social worker I'm sure would be a very rewarding career. You could make a difference in someone's life.

Kim’s Answer

Updated San Antonio, Texas
Kami, That is a very difficult question! First of all, I want to say that "helping people" is extremely rewarding, and each and every day that you are able to help somebody, you go home feeling as if you made a difference in someone's life that day. It is an AWESOME feeling! Secondly, there are MANY ways to "help people." You can be a teacher, a doctor, a corporate trainer, a police officer. The list is endless. Customer Service, a very broad career field, also entails helping. I always wanted to be the manager of a gift shop - helping people to pick out that perfect gift for that special someone. But, since you are asking about social work, I will try to look at that field. I don't know what you envision that job to entail. It could be something like Child Protective Services, Unemployment or Food Stamp case manager, adoption counselor, director of a non-profit agency, etc. Yes, it feels great to help someone get a job, or to get a family the support services they need without taking a child from the home. But. . . Before we get to the pay, I want you to understand there is a part of social work that is not widely known. That has to do with all the record-keeping, and even having to meet quotas (for example, making a certain number of job referrals per month.) Sometimes, it does not make sense. Why is giving job referrals more important than helping someone to create a good resume? These aspects of the job are frustrating. Some jobs have high turnover rate, such as those that involve removing children from their parents. You have to be emotionally strong to handle the stress. If the end results are good, then, yes, it is "worth it." Money: This sort of depends on the lifestyle you want to have. If you live modestly, go out maybe once a month, make home-cooked meals occasionally, iron your own clothes, etc. it is possible to get by on the salary of a social worker. In San Antonio, most pay $13-$17/hr. That will let you live paycheck to paycheck, and, when the car breaks down or you need an MRI and have to worry about co-pays or rx pills, it will be a little tight. Things to consider: Head towards teaching or non-profit management if you want to be helping people. If that does not satisfy your desire to help, volunteer. Get a career that pays well, whatever that might be, but go into something you enjoy doing. If possible, shadow a social worker or get a position as an intern. Try to see the inner workings. I don't want to sound negative, as there are many decent paying jobs where you will be helping others. Social Services historically does not pay well. Please continue to explore other options, and think about what field may satisfy your desire to help while paying a decent wage. Please let me know if you have further questions. Kim