A few days ago I shared an article on social media about the ways the social work is failing. While it was very thought provoking, the author also talked about ways to remedy the problem. As someone who has worked in the field for almost 7 years, the looks on people’s faces when I tell them that I’m a social worker can be quite comical. Unfortunately there’s still a prevalent belief that all social workers do is take kids away from their parents. Social work is one of the only professions I know where you can have a masters degree, two years of supervised experience, a clinical license AND make $17 an hour. That number isn’t arbitrary. It’s actually what I made when I first relocated to my original state of residence. The fact is that we are often overworked and not fairly compensated for our services. Burnout rates are at an all time high because we can’t even afford to take time off and it’s sometimes a struggle to pay bills and make student loan payments out of the pittance we’re given. Don’t get me wrong, you can make a decent living as a social worker but it will probably entail working more than one job, working in an administrative capacity, or being an entrepreneur of sorts. With mental illness continuing to be a growing concern, I wish that the growing demand for mental health providers like social workers translated into an increase in compensation—like it has for nurses. Something definitely needs to change and maybe the change that is needed is that of a union. While I don’t have all the answers, I believe that this topic deserves more discussion and also subsequent advocacy.
This post echos my sentiments so much!!! We as social workers are SO underpaid and under appreciated, but we touch so many areas of life. My husband is always so confused when I tell him about the day to day work and how it’s not compensated. At the school where I work, the psychologist and I will sit in a meeting with others and offer the same insights and feedback, but guess who is being paid more? Even with a master’s and a license I don’t even break $40,000. And yes, it’s not all about money…and it’s the passion that counts…and it’s rewarding BLAH BLAH BLAH. But we still have to be able to feed our families and live comfortably. What’s the point of doing all this if I’m still going to end up in the line for government assistance right along with my clients (who by the way eat and live like Kong’s compared to me). It’s really disheartening. At the point, I’ve talked to my husband about me transitioning to being a stay at home mom and doing some social work stuff part time or per diem. At least as a stay at home mom I will know that I’m directly benefitting my family and that I will be appreciated. Now all the hard work I do goes towards making the company I work look good and the families I work with all the while I’m struggling and unfulfilled. Something’s got to change…