14 Pros and Cons of Being a Social Worker

Do you like helping others and want to make a difference in the community?

Are you searching for an exciting career that allows you to collaborate with various individuals across multiple age groups?

Becoming a social worker might be the ideal fit to meet your employment goals.

The social work profession is notable, and while it can be challenging, it’s incredibly gratifying and rewarding.

Social workers are committed professionals who help improve the lives of others with substance abuse problems, mental health issues, and various other life challenges.

Before entering the field, you must fully understand the profession’s pros and cons.

Keep reading to learn more!

Pros of Being a Social Worker

There are countless advantages to entering the social work field, including the following:

1. Can Earn an Online Degree

One excellent but often overlooked benefit is you can earn an education online.

This means more flexibility in your personal life, no commuting, the ability to work while in school, and the potential to earn your degree faster.

Online programs provide a much better work-life balance than traditional or hybrid schooling.

However, you must be disciplined to work more independently with less instructor involvement.

2. Can Work Anywhere in the U.S.

One of the best advantages of becoming a social worker is the ability to work anywhere in the U.S. and can work overseas in certain countries.

Every state has a social services agency or department with plenty of employment.

Social workers will always have job opportunities regardless of the economy.

95% of social workers are employed in mental health centers, government organizations, healthcare facilities, or educational institutions.

Therefore, if one job does work out, plenty of other organizations require social workers.

3. High Demand for the Profession

Unlike many professions where growth is shrinking or remaining stagnant, social work is a high-demand career that will always need professionals.

The employment demand is expected to grow faster than the typical occupation, and it’s considered one of the most flexible careers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the job outlook is expected to increase by 12% for social workers between 2020 and 2030, which is significantly faster than average and one of the top benefits of entering this field.

4. Make a Difference in Others’ Lives

Most social workers enter the field to make a difference in other people’s lives and their local community.

The most important aspect of becoming a social worker is that you help clients find the resources they need for improvement.

For instance, if an individual is experiencing financial challenges, you must help them find a way to make a livable wage.

If your client is a rape victim, you help them get the necessary resources and support.

You get to assist others when their lives are at their worst, which is noble and excellent.

5. Opportunity to Grow in the Field

Social workers have countless growth opportunities, especially in local, state, and national leadership roles.

Also, you can grow your career, beginning as a co-worker, working up to a manager, and climbing the chain to an executive level.

Each path has different requirements and special skills.

However, each includes room for growth through additional education and training, which helps improve your skills.

6. Salary is Livable

While you are unlikely to become rich with a social worker career, you will have access to a salary and benefits higher than the national average.

Funding and geographic location are the two drivers for social worker wages.

In the U.S., social workers who work for schools earn around $62,000 annually.

Those working in individual or family Services earn about $42,000.

State employees enjoy additional benefits such as retirement, pension, and job security.

Privatized workers have strong 401k matching programs.

7. Work in Various Settings

One excellent perk of becoming a social worker is you can work in various places since the career is exceptionally versatile.

The following settings are a great starting point depending on your personality, interests, and experience.

You can work with youth or children: in schools or with child therapists, with child protective services to stop abuse or neglect, or with foster parents who need assistance raising their children.

Other locations that need social workers include prisons, rehabilitation programs, and hospitals.

Therefore, if one employment location isn’t a good fit, others are immediately available.

Cons of Being a Social Worker

Like in all professions, there are some drawbacks you must be aware of before signing up, which include:

1. Could Have a Heavy Workload at Times

Since social workers are in demand, those already in the position have hefty workloads because so many unique situations occur simultaneously.

Unfortunately, there is no end to a heavy workload because cases continue to pile up and constantly change with different requirements.

Although you may be working long hours, new cases or situations always come your way, so you can never dig out.

This can be intimidating for those looking to enter the field and must be a significant consideration when deciding to become a social worker.

2. Dangerous Situations are Possible

One of the main disadvantages of becoming a social worker is that you are sometimes subjected to dangerous situations.

In addition to being exposed to some of the most vulnerable members of society, you will deal with difficult people with different agendas and personalities.

Many clients become so upset with government processes that they can turn violent and threaten your life if you don’t follow their rules.

This is a real danger in social work, even if you attempt to help them by finding the right resources.

3. Likely Require a License to Practice

To become a social worker, you likely need a state license, depending on the location.

While not all states have a licensure requirement, it’s always advisable by experts since it shows you have the proper education, degree, and training to perform the job.

The process of acquiring licensure can be lengthy, and most states require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a social work-related field.

Therefore, you need time to complete college and get clinical experience before applying for a license.

States that require approval have two tests: Licensed Master Social Worker Exam and a specialty area examination.

4. Long Hours are Usually a Requirement

When entering this field, expect long hours due to a high caseload.

Finding resources for different people is not the end, as a slew of administration tasks must be performed to ensure all details are documented.

This means busy days with few breaks and long nights at times.

Extended days are spent completing reports and forms, researching community issues, attending meetings, and meeting with clients.

Dedicating to the job means spending less time with friends and family and missing major events to work.

5. May Come Out of School with Debt

Since you are required to have a degree from an accredited institution, many social worker graduates leave school with massive amounts of debt.

Unfortunately, the social worker starting salary will not cover the cost of school for decades so you will be paying off student loans for a lengthy period.

Furthermore, if you want an advanced degree to differentiate from other candidates, this will pile up more debt with higher monthly repayments.

6. Can be On Call

In addition to regular shifts, social workers must be on call, which means they are available day or night.

Being on call is not every day of the year and does not occur with scheduled vacation time.

This requirement is viewed within the field as just part of the job without extra pay, regardless of the time of night.

Many find that this detracts from their personal life when they could enjoy time with friends and family.

This means you will miss notable events because you cannot leave your house or may need to go to work on a moment’s notice.

Planning family events or hanging out with friends is incredibly challenging when on-call.

7. Requires a Formal Education

Becoming a social worker requires a bachelor’s degree in social work, child development, public administration, sociology, or psychology.

This is a long time to earn a degree, while others may enter trades and start making money immediately following high school.

If you choose to further your education with a master’s degree, then that adds another two years of time and more money toward tuition, not including other expenses.

Pros and Cons of Being a Social Worker – Summary Table

Pros of Being a Social WorkerCons of Being a Social Worker
1. Can Earn an Online Degree1. Could Have a Heavy Workload at Times
2. Can Work Anywhere in the U.S.2. Dangerous Situations are Possible
3. High Demand for the Profession3. Likely Require a License to Practice
4. Make a Difference in Others' Lives4. Long Hours are Usually a Requirement
5. Opportunity to Grow in the Field5. May Come Out of School with Debt
6. Salary is Livable6. Can be On Call
7. Work in Various Settings7. Requires a Formal Education

Should You Become a Social Worker?

Becoming a social worker takes work, as the field has many positives and negatives.

Many love their job because of the reward of helping others find the help they need during challenging times.

Others become frustrated by the many obstacles they encounter throughout the day.

Some find solace in dealing with children and avoiding adults.

These top pros and cons give you something to consider when entering social work.

Only you can determine if this is the right career path for your employment goals

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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