Myths about Social Work
“Social workers do not earn much money.”
Professionally trained social workers have good income potential. There are a number of variables that affect our compensation level. These variables include your field of practice, the geographic region of the country in which you live, the auspice (public sector, private non-profit) of your practice, and your years of practice experience. In a survey conducted by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the social work professional organization, the median income for members in 2001 was $49,500. The data show that 11 percent of NASW members earn more than $80,000; 18 percent, $60,000 to $79,999; 20 percent, $50,000 to $59,999; 21 percent, $40,000 to $49,000; 23 percent, $30,000 to $39,000; and 6 percent, under $30,000. Our students report beginning salaries from $28,000 to $38,000.
“Social Work is depressing because you are involved with other peoples’ problems. ”
Social workers work with individuals, families, and communities to address significant needs. Compassion is an important resource. If you are to be an effective in your work with clients, however, you cannot become entangled in their struggles. Through your professional training you learn to manage your feelings and to merge your compassion with knowledge and skills, enabling you to help clients mobilize constructive solutions.
“ To provide mental health services you need a degree in psychology.”
Over 60 percent of mental health services and psychotherapy is provided by master’s level social workers. Social workers are the clinicians of choice because they view clients within their environment, taking into account personal and significant relationships, economic and social conditions, and physical health. Social workers build on strengths and assist clients in working on constraints that impinge on their well being.
“Social Workers work primarily with the poor.”
Social Work has a strong commitment to work with the poor and the vulnerable and to advancing social and economic justice. Social workers also work with people from various socioeconomic groups in a diverse range of settings including school settings, child and family service agencies, early intervention programs, mental health agencies, prevention programs, community-based health agencies and hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation settings, advocacy agencies, community development organizations, and private practice groups.
“Most social workers work in government agencies.”
Although many people believe that most social workers are employed at local, state, or federal government agencies, NASW survey data show otherwise. Almost three-quarters of all social workers work in private organizations.