T Nation

Thoughts On Social Work


#1

I was thinking about getting into social work. I was just curious if anyone on these boards has a job in that field and if so what are their thoughts about it? perhaps what adivce could you give someone thinking about that career field. thanks.


#2

You need to REALLY love helping people. My brother ran a home for wayward children for years, then switched to social work for inner city folks with drug problems. It almost drove him crazy.. And he's a priest of the Buddhist order.
Bottom line: It's tough, thankless, poor paying work.

Of course it's also very important work and my hat's off to you if you choose to dedicate yourself to making life better for others.


#3

Hoping to find some more freaks in that profession?


#4

Do you mean becoming a degreed social worker, or "social work," as in being an unskilled worker at a welfare-type office?

My thoughts on the profession are numerous, and given my tendency to wordiness would probably bore us both half to death. But I might be able to answer questions, depending upon what your goals are.

I've worked or interned in schools and a battered women's shelter. I've been exposed to emergency children's shelters, social work in a prison context, and drug and alcohol stuff, but haven't worked in those areas (and probably won't ever). I have an academic interest in abuse issues.


#5

If you want to also make a decent living in social work, get no less than a masters degree. A bach will limit your field possibilities and pay.


#6

I went and got my MSW a couple of years ago and have been working for a mentoring agency for the last 18 months or so. LIke mentioned earlier, it's not the greatest profession to go into for the money, as I make jack. But they keep me around with the paid time off and benefits. They are second to none.

It's tough work, but rewarding all the same. Knowing you really do make a difference in people's lives is pretty powerful. It's nice to see great outcomes come out of awful situations. Burnout and fatigue are pretty high, as is the turnover. So stick around long enough and you'll move up fast.

Within 2 years of graduation from a social work program, you will be in a supervisory role, it's that simple. I say go for it, we need more guys in the field. I'm awash in a sea of estrogen homey.


#7

Eh. Even then the pay sucks. But as altimus says, there are other rewards. And men do get shot straight up the ladder. I don't know what the actual numbers are, but off the top of my head I'd say women outnumber men 10-1 in social work.


#8

If you really like helping people and making a difference in their lives, then go for it. But as mentioned before, it's long hours for not a lot of money, but as long as you're happy, that's what matters.

I worked with a girl who was graduating with a bachelors in women's studies/social work, and worked at a women's shelter for 50+ hours a week and made $24,000/yr.

She said she liked working there, and really liked all the people she came in contact with and didn't mind the long hours, but the little pay is what caused her to leave.


#9

Chris Shugart wrote an awesome post about social work. He talked about a friend that did it and quit. I can't remember what he said exactly. It was something to the like "I wanted to help people, then I meet the people I was expected to help. I hated them."

Only being Chris Shugart, it was a lot better written. Anybody know the name/link of that Shugart's Hammer?


#10

The money isn't great but isn't horrible. I work at a mental hospital for adolescents and adults. There are 150 or so high-school students and there is a high school inside of the hospital. This is where I teach. I will be making 60K after I finish my masters.


#11

thanks for all of your input...

my university offers 2, 3, and 4 year programs in social work. if i decide to change majors, then i will go with the 4 year program and then get a masters if i can make enough money to pay for all of it.

ultimately, i would like to work with veterans in the VA system, but i know that landing a job like that is relatively slim. but i have a deep desire to help people in any context and im not worried about the money because i don't really have any right now and i wasn't planning on having any later in life.

so many people in my family are fucked up, be it with drugs or alcohol, PTSD from Nam and Iraq, ect. ect. i want to work with the people in our society that are stepped on and overlooked. i know that sounds naive but its really how i feel.


#12

Hey man, who are we to judge anybody's goals. You're right about the VA though. In my area, it's the gold mind of the helping professions. It takes an act of Buddha to get fired, and the pay is top notch. I know in time, I'll make more, but I get by.

My bills are always paid, and i have $ left over to feed a mountain biking addiction. I say go for it, and continue on with your schooling while you're young and still in the student mindset. It's tough to go back after working for a few years and your list of responsibilities has grown.