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Crushing the Myths About Social Workers

Updated on February 11, 2015
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Numerous Myths

Many people seem to bash the role of a social worker and there have been numerous myths created about social workers. Some of these myths include:

  • Social Workers hardly make any income
  • People with a social work degree have a difficult time finding jobs
  • Social workers work with poor people
  • You cannot go to a social worker for counselling
  • Social workers just want to take your children away from you

There are many lies that revolve around people with a degree in social work. Here I will be debunking these myths about social workers and explain what the true roles social workers have, because social workers have a wide range of different jobs they do in communities.


Myth Number 1: Social Workers Make No Income

The most well known myth about social workers seems to be the idea that social workers hardly make any income. It is true that starting out after graduation with a social work degree you may find yourself with a job only making roughly $20,000 a year, but keep in mind that there are not many jobs that you will start out making 6 digits right out of post-secondary school. Also, just because you have a degree in social work does not mean that you are prone to a life of only getting by with the little amount you make. This is not true! Having a social work degree opens you up to a very wide range of job opportunities. The income you make simply just depends on the job you have, your specific area of study in social work, and your level of schooling.

With a bachelors in social work the lowest annual income is $26,600 yearly and the highest is $45,000. These numbers are also for people working in the field only two years after completing their schooling. That is pretty good in my opinion, especially for just starting out (Based on data obtained from Social Work/Welfare [U890] and Social Services [C891], Job Futures National Edition, 2007. Service Canada. www.jobfutures.ca).

Now, imagine the income for a social worker with a masters degree. In case you are wondering, their income ranges from roughly $50,000-$80,000 yearly. For an extra two or so years of school, well that sounds pretty good.

So what does the social worker with a PHD make yearly? You would be looking at the 6 digits or more level.

All of these numbers seem high enough to make a great living to me. So why the myth that social workers struggle to live because they make next to nothing to live off of? Sure there are some social workers out there in the world that struggle to make ends meet but the average social worker is doing perfectly fine with their income, as shown above.

Let's move on and crush another myth now.

Myth 2, 3, and 4- All in One:

For some reason people have a belief that social workers do not have a wide selection of jobs resulting in it being difficult for a social worker to find a job. This is not true! In fact, Social workers have a very wide range of different roles which opens job opportunities of many kinds. Here I will explain the many different roles of a social worker which will prove that there are many different fields of a social worker in which they can decide on.

The different roles:

  • Enabler:

-Being a social worker means also being an enabler. This essentially means that the social worker teaches other people to learn to help themselves. Instead of helping someone directly, they would try to guide someone so that they can help themselves with whatever issue they are facing.

  • Broker:

-The role of a broker is guiding individuals to someone that can help them with their situation. The social worker would be guiding the person to a certain resource or service that can offer them help better than what you can offer as a social worker.

  • Advocate:

-When a client of a social workers does not feel comfortable speaking to someone about an issue the social worker would have to act as an advocate. An advocate is speaking on behalf of their client because the client feels as though they cannot.

  • Initiator:

-This type of role is a social worker that is working to create change, whether it is social, individual, or possibly even environmental. They are beginning a process of change.

  • Mediator:

-Mediators act a mutual player between two different people or parties. Mediator's are Switzerland, they act as a neutral person between the two different conflicts. They try to keep even with both sides and solve issues fairly between the two others in conflict.

  • Negotiator:

-This role attempts to make a deal on behalf of their client or service. This person acts on only one side of a dispute between people.

  • Activist:

-They strive to make a change. They do this through public speaking and different methods of raising awareness. They tend to focus on shifting power.

  • Educator:

-This role of a social worker is pretty self explanatory. Essentially social workers are able to educate people on a macro and micro level about various subjects they are educated about.

  • Coordinator:

-The coordinator's role is to bring all of the pieces together of different roles. They work to make everything else work out smoothly.

  • Researcher:

-The researcher has many different levels of research, for example there is practise research or even community research, or an academic researcher. They tend to look at what is working and what is not working in society.

  • Group Facilitators:

-This type of role does different helpful things such as group therapy. They plan outlines with a specific group of people but the social worker is the leader and makes the rules for the clients to follow.

  • Public Speaker:

-They speak to large populations about public and social issues such as poverty.

  • Case Manager:

-These social workers tend to work in hospitals or health care services. They are considered managers of a persons health care and make sure that their client is getting the proper kind of treatment they need. It is very focused on one person.

  • Manager:

-Through social work education they learn business skills, coordination, and speaking to large groups of people.

  • Counsellor:

-Therapy and mindful therapy. Strive to change the individual or social problem. Social workers offer the same type of counselling that a psychologist does, but social workers cannot diagnose people.

As you can see, social workers have a very wide range of roles that they have and can choose which ones they want to focus on. Having such a variety of roles also means that they have a wide variety of job opportunities because although some roles are related, they are not all the same.

This bashes the myths that Social Workers cannot find jobs, that they only work with poor people, and that they cannot be counsellors. Sure social workers spend time with poor people to help them with their income issues, but that does not mean they only work with these kinds of people. Social workers work with people of all sorts.

Source: Hick, S. (2010). Social work in Canada: An introduction (3rd ed.). Toronto: Thompson Educational Pub.

Are you a Social Worker?

Keep Calm I'm A Social Worker Coffee Mug Great Office Novelty by Go Banners
Keep Calm I'm A Social Worker Coffee Mug Great Office Novelty by Go Banners

If you are a social worker why not show off your career and pride for your work with this cute mug? Amazon has various artistic mugs with word art specifically for social workers that are bound to catch the eye. I am the type of person that enjoys these types of things because they are equivalent to my life personally, therefore I love to have and use them!

 

Myth 5: Social Workers Just Take Your Kids

For some reason people have this stigma in their minds that social workers are some evil human beings that only do horrible things like take children away from their families. Although this is sometimes the case, it is not what social workers strive to do in their day-to-day work.

Social workers strive for change, they strive to better peoples lives. The last thing a social worker wants to do is destroy a persons life by taking away their children. A social worker only takes away someone child if it is absolutely needed. If they are in a house where they are barely surviving, they are being neglected, or are being abused in some sort of away, obviously the child will be taken away. This does not mean social workers are horrible people that purposely try to do this. Social workers try to help families through counselling and other sources to try to better the lives of everyone in the family. They only take away children if it is beyond the point of helping a family.

The Grand Conclusion:

Hopefully these bashed myths about social workers in Canada has proven to you readers that there is a lot more social work and that the practise deserves more respect from society. Of course not everyone can blamed for bashing on the average social worker, but myths get spread around and people begin to believe them as facts. As a social science student myself, I felt the need to stand up to these myths and prove to everyone that there is a lot more to social work than people make it out to be. Hopefully now people will read this article and view the practise of social work with a different perception.

I hope you enjoyed this read,

-Christy


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Learn about Social Work

Social Work in Canada: An Introduction
Social Work in Canada: An Introduction

There are a lot of facts that I have spoken about in this article that this text book also speaks about. A lot of Universities in Canada use this text book in their classes as well. It is a good beginning guide for people interested in learning about social work, what it is, and the skills social workers use. Steven Hick does a great job at making the text an easy read and interesting.

 

© 2015 Christy Maria

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    • Christy Maria profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Maria 

      3 years ago

      Thank you very much Marilyn! It is important to have someone who works in the field with a significant amount of experience be able to back me up on my article and agree with it. Thank you very much for that.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 

      3 years ago from Georgia

      Good evening, Christy; nicely presented. Informative and correct as far as my 20+ years experience goes. Working as an addiction counselor and running a women's recovery home, there were joint efforts with social workers to reunite the family upon completion of treatment.

      Most social workers I know value what they do. Are they underpaid? Are they paid what a state, county or agency budget will bear? It is no different in many respects to the physician in a rural area versus one in a metropolitan city.

      Most importantly, you did a good job on this article of reporting the facts; our opinions are solely our own. The topic of social anything can bring out the soapboxes. She smiles. ~Marilyn

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      3 years ago from Norfolk

      There has been a lot of bad press lately in the UK about social workers. It is a shame as I imagine it is extremely stressful working in this field.

    • Christy Maria profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Maria 

      3 years ago

      Thank you Joyeshm, I hope you found this piece useful.

    • joyeshm profile image

      JOYESH MAZUMDAR 

      3 years ago from INDIA

      Informative.

    • Christy Maria profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Maria 

      3 years ago

      Thank you Ezzly,

      Social workers are very busy people and their work requires a lot of hours every day. Before I studied social work I fully admit I had my negative thoughts about them. After taking some classes in University about social work and learning what they really do, I have taken a complete 180 degree turn on my views about social workers.

    • ezzly profile image

      ezzly 

      3 years ago

      Fantastic read, my good friends sister is a social worker, believe me she says her head is full of so many things trying to sort out issues for people etc, working with limited means , limited time, I have such admiration for social workers.

    • Christy Maria profile imageAUTHOR

      Christy Maria 

      3 years ago

      Hello Kschimmel,

      Thank you for your insight. I cannot speak on behalf of social workers in the United States because the study, rules, ethics, and job itself is most likely very different compared to social work in any other country. I just know specifically in Canada Social Workers do not strive to just take away peoples children and that the job has a lot more range to it than just being that person to take away children.

      Rajshahi,

      Thank you for your comment! I am really hoping to let people understand that there is a lot more to the practice of social work than people make it out to be. It is a great area of study and very broad which makes it so interesting!

    • MD Muniruzzaman profile image

      MD Muniruzzaman 

      3 years ago from Rajshahi, Bangladesh

      I liked the way you described this whole scenario and discussed about the myths about the social worker. All I have seen that they really put some effort to change the wrong around the world, whether it is in Canada or in progressive country like Bangladesh. Nice Hub!

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 

      3 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      As a homeschooler in the United States, I can tell you that in my country there has been very real danger from social workers who seek to enforce conformity to a certain political standard. Now that homeschoolers are more organized and there are so many of us, it is harder for rogues to get away with it, but government can and does use social workers as "weapons" against people of faith--when they should be focused on children in real danger instead.

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