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Why are social workers willing to work for low pay?


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Wiki User
2010-07-29 12:16:03
2010-07-29 12:16:03

There are many problems in the world around us. Rape, domestic violence, child abuse, and drug and alcohol abuse....... If someone does not step up to change it, no one will.

---(Response) OK, but did you know that social workers must have graduate degrees plus 3 years of clinical experience to receive licensure? That's about as much training as a medical doctor.... and 5 years more than your average public school teacher, and yet we get paid an average of $15,000/yr less than teachers. Weird, huh?


Another view: I am a social worker, and certainly people in my profession are interested in "stepping up", as the above contributor explains. In my own experience, I have found that while social workers are usually good at advocating for the rights of others, we tend not to be as good at advocating for ourselves as a profession.


Ok, so everyone agrees that social workers have perhaps been too willing to accept low pay over the years, but how can we change that? We need to do something about this and we need to do it as a group....

I am a social worker w/ a Master's and Bachelor's from an Ivy League. I was just offered my first graduate-level position for a salary higher than the going rate for social workers in my city, yet $15,000 less than my husband's entry level salary as a Bachelor's level teacher in a public school. On top of that, I just found out that one of my clients is getting a higher salary than me in his "supported employment" position as a newspaper delivery person.

It completely defies logic that graduate level professionals would get paid so little, and I don't think any other profession would stand for this.... so why do we? I would have tried to negotiate up my salary, but I was afraid that they would just move on to the dozens of other social workers willing to work for virtually nothing. If we don't take action as a group, we have no chance of changing anything.

I am just entering the field as an LLMSW and I am very concerned about why we have accepted this for so long. I am also concerned about being taken advantage of as an LLMSW, even in the profession where people are supposed to be concious and mindful of these power dynamics and are suppesd to not take advantage of those who are more vulnerable. We are supposed to be able to advocate for others and we also know that we need to take care of our needs in order to be good social workers. We also know that this is one of the reasons for high burnout. Why have our leaders not stepped up? I am asking that we challenge NASW to do more. If the NASW (2010), "works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies," then why are they not advocating for our needs so that we may continue working in our chosen field without as much fear and shame of our salaries!


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