You have the opportunity to be almost anything. If you apply yourself, you could be an astronaut, a brain surgeon or the president of the United States. However, what you should really, truly be, is a social worker.
Like the other careers I mentioned, social work is not easy. It is exhausting, requiring copious amounts of time and energy as well as education to care for clients properly. Yet, despite the social services bad reputation, there are dozens of good reasons to join the field ― but you probably only need one.
The Other Reasons to Be a Social Worker
Before I get to the only reason you should want to be a social worker, I want to cover a few minor positives of the career.
- Reliable pay. In America, the average social worker’s salary is about $45,900 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and though this is not an astonishing figure, it is higher than the average personal income for all of the United States, which was about $30,240 when last measured in 2008. For many Americans, a social worker’s salary is envious if only because it represents consistent pay, which many jobs do not provide. Still, plenty of young Americans decide against doing social work because they are dissatisfied with the seemingly low-income potential. However, social workers can become quite wealthy as evidenced by a number of unquestionably rich social workers. Famous financial guru Suze Orman is a trained social worker, and Oprah Winfrey’s independently wealthy beau Stedman Graham devoted his life to social services long before meeting Lady O. The key is to make wise financial decisions, apply your knowledge and experience to profitable endeavours, and always put people first. When social workers are financially stable, they can accomplish great things for their communities.
- Fast education. Unlike other do-good careers, such as those in medicine or lawmaking, you don’t have to devote decades of your life to become a social worker. Entry level positions in social services require little more than a Bachelor’s in Social Work ― which you can achieve through online school or night courses at a local university ― and state licensure. In just a few years, you can earn a reliable salary and make a positive impact on the world. To move up the social work career ladder, you may need to seek advanced degrees and certifications. Fortunately, these also are available through accredited online programs, so you can continue to work while improving your career prospects.
- Job growth. The world needs social workers. Especially in this time of social and political turmoil, millions of Americans desperately rely on social services to establish and maintain a stable lifestyle. Unlike jobs that are being outsourced to foreign countries (or worse, to robots) social services must be performed in American communities by empathetic American workers. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth in social work to be faster than the economic average; by 2024, there should be nearly 75,000 more social work positions around the country for you to choose from.
The True Reason to Be a Social Worker
If you ask a social worker why he has devoted his life to this type of service, he probably won’t strive to explain the benefits of the dependable salary or the opportunities to advance in his career. Rather, he will say something like this: It’s good for the soul.
Social workers endeavour tirelessly to provide better outcomes for underserved communities. The poor, the disabled, and the otherwise disadvantaged can rely on social workers to provide light during the dark times.
Social workers have countless stories of families who turned their luck around thanks to the help of social services, which gives them a unique perspective on the value of health, love, and support. Despite the seemingly low pay, long hours, and thankless nature of the job, many social workers can’t help but smile after a good day’s work.
The Bottom Line:
When considering starting a career, most people consider the hard numbers: The salary and benefits, the required hours, the potential for advancement. However, every year, more and more Americans are unhappy with the work they do. According to a 2013 survey by Monster.com and research company GfK, only about half of Americans actively enjoy going into work, but what is more notable is that over 15 percent of us actively detest our jobs.
So, maybe the hard numbers aren’t really what we should be focusing on during our job searches. Maybe, we should think of better reasons to work ― reasons like purpose and pride that just might lead more of us straight to social services.
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