“Work is valued by the social value of the worker.”
Gloria Steinem, Activist
Advantages & Disadvantages of Being a Social Worker
You consider becoming a social worker? Great! However, before you decide for it, make sure to read this article since I show you all the pros and cons of being a social worker. After reading this article, you will be better able to decide whether social work is for you or not.
Advantages of Being a Social Worker
- Social workers can work in many different fields
- You experience new things every day
- Social work can let you grow in character
- You will value your own life much more
- Being a social worker can be quite interesting
- You can take on a lot of responsibility
- You can also make a nice career out of social work
- You can do something for others
- Being a social worker can give you meaning in life
- Social work hardly gets boring
- Strong job satisfaction on average
- Social work as secure job opportunity
Social workers can work in many different fields
One important advantage of being a social worker is that you can work in many different fields. You don’t have to work on the streets as many people would imagine, you can also just work in hospitals or childcare facilities.
Opportunities are almost endless and if you don’t like the first stop of your social working career, you still have many other places you could work.
Therefore, you keep a high level of flexibility regarding what you want to do with your professional life and will not be trapped in a too specific niche.
You experience new things every day
If you are a social worker, you can experience many new things every day. In fact, every day is different since you will always work with new people, work in different locations, have different family situations and so on. There are so many variables in social work that it is simply impossible to forecast how your day will look like in detail.
Thus, especially if you are a rather curious person who likes to see new things every day, social work might be an interesting job option for you.
Social work can let you grow in character
Since you will experience many difficult situations and have to deal with plenty of pain during your career, this will really let you grow in character. It is not easy at all to see serious conflicts between family members or former friends and you should be prepared that things could get out of control on a regular basis.
While this can be difficult to digest from an emotional perspective, it can help you to grow up and to mature in character. In turn, you will be able to deal with your own problems much better since you know that other people have it much worse than you.
You will value your own life much more
In general, social work can also help you to value your own life much more. In fact, many people are currently unsatisfied with their jobs or their private life and complain all day long. However, there are always people who have it worse than you and being a social worker really shows you this since you get in touch with the worst sides of humanity.
Since you will see under which poor conditions some people have to live or hear their heartbreaking stories, you will soon realize that your own life is not that bad at all compared to that and this can just give you a more objective perspective and more happiness in your own life.
Being a social worker can be quite interesting
Another benefit of being a social worker is that it can simply be quite interesting to talk to many different people with several different backgrounds. You will soon realize the relativity of life and that how you see the world greatly depends on the circumstances with which you have grown up and on the people you hang out with.
In general, by working as social worker, you will just have more opportunities to hang out in a quite diverse environment than most people and therefore, you can really learn about how life really works.
You can take on a lot of responsibility
Social workers also get a lot of responsibility. If you deal with difficult family situations and make a mistake in communication, the whole project may go in a completely wrong way.
You should always be aware of the fact that you as social worker have to operate in difficult environments and one mistake could lead to potentially catastrophic outcomes.
However, learning to be responsible is also a quite important thing since only if you learn to take on responsibility, you can really grow and mature in character in the long run.
You can also make a nice career out of social work
Many people think that career opportunities as a social worker are rather limited. While it is true that you will probably not get rich from social work, you can still make a nice career out of it and there are many promotions you could get if you really work hard and have passion for what you are doing.
In fact, if social work is your passion, you should just go for it since following your passion often also implies getting promotions since you will just love what you are doing and will work hard every day. Consequently, money will follow sooner or later in a completely natural manner.
You can do something for others
Another important upside of being a social worker is that you can do good for others. In fact, we as humans have a natural tendency that we are happy when everybody else around us is happy as well. This is also referred to as altruism and I am personally a strong believer in this concept.
I just feel much better if I see happy people around me and it also gives me much more power compared to hanging out with negative and pessimistic people. Consequently, I also love doing good for others to improve their lives as long as they show me that they deserve it.
If you are a similar character type like me and want to help other people, chances are that becoming a social worker will be a pretty good career path for you.
Being a social worker can give you meaning in life
Being a social worker can not only make you happy since you can help others, it can also give you real meaning in life. In fact, many social workers are so passionate about what they are doing that they just live for their jobs and to make their clients happy.
Thus, especially if you currently feel lost in life and feel that you just don’t have any purpose, you might consider becoming a social worker since helping others is often a higher motivation in life compared to just getting a good salary.
Social work hardly gets boring
Being a social worker also never gets boring. In fact, you will often have to change plans since something unexpected happens and you will never exactly know how your day will look like.
While this might be annoying for some people, it can also be nice if you are a rather spontaneous person who wants to be challenged every day.
Strong job satisfaction on average
Social workers also have relatively strong job satisfaction compared to other professions. As I mentioned before, this is often due to the fact that people follow their passion instead of money and this gives social workers the inner motivation to work hard and to be there for their clients.
Thus, even though they might not earn as much money as in other professions, social workers might still be happier on average since they found a true purpose in their lives.
Social work as secure job opportunity
You will also not have to fear becoming obsolete as social worker in the near future. There are so many social professions and social conflicts out there that social workers will be urgently needed to keep our society intact.
Consequently, you also don’t have to worry about losing your job as a social worker or in case you really lose it, chances are that you will find a new job pretty soon.
Disadvantages of Being a Social Worker
- Social work can be stressful
- Emotional burden
- Many social workers cannot unplug from their work
- You see the worst of people
- Social work is not always safe
- You often have to walk into unknown situations
- Some people can’t deal with the high level of responsibility
- You will not make a fortune
- Some people will be difficult to deal with
- You will often expect the worst while hoping for the best
- You may get sued
- Social workers can’t help everyone
- Bureaucracy can be a problem
- Being a social worker often means having a flexible schedule
- Social workers often work long hours
- Can be hard in case people just don’t want your help
- You may need a license for being a social worker
- Feeling of helplessness
- You will worry about your clients
- Social workers often have too many clients
Social work can be stressful
Apart from the numerous advantages of being a social worker, there are also some issues related to it. For instance, one problem with being a social worker is that it can simply be quite stressful.
You will have to deal with many difficult situations and especially if you are a rather sensitive person, you may not be able to deal with what you see.
In fact, many social workers are not able to deal with stress in a proper manner and may even develop mental issues due to that.
In general, the emotional burden social workers have is significant and depending on where you will work, you may have a hard time processing all the experiences you will make. Life can be hard and experiencing those issues can really break people.
Hence, before deciding for a career in social work, make sure that you really have the stomach to see the hardest sides life has to offer for us.
Many social workers cannot unplug from their work
Another disadvantage of being a social worker is that many social workers simply cannot unplug from their work. In fact, it is quite hard to unplug from your work if you always have to think about the tragic destinies of your clients.
Consequently, before becoming a social worker, make sure that you have the mental strength to just forget about difficult situations for a while.
Otherwise, chances are that you will experience serious sleeping problems since you will think about the problems of your clients all night long.
You see the worst of people
Especially if you still have a rather naïve view of the world, social work can really shock you since you will just see the worst characteristics of people sooner or later.
In fact, you will probably be shocked by what people are really capable of in certain situations and seeing all of this in person can really push you to your boundaries.
Therefore, by being a social worker, you will also lose your illusions and will see the world in its rawest form.
Social work is not always safe
Depending on where you work as a social worker, you may also not be safe. For instance, if you work on the streets and help homeless people or drug addicts, your chances of getting robbed or attacked will be significantly higher compared to just working in a normal hospital.
Thus, be prepared that you might have to work under relatively unsafe conditions before you decide to become a social worker.
You often have to walk into unknown situations
Social workers never exactly know how their day will look like. While some people love this high level of insecurity and find it quite interesting, others don’t like uncertainty at all and rather want to know exactly what they walk into.
If you belong to the second category who rather wants to have a fixed plan instead of changing plans quite frequently, social work may also not be the way to go for you.
Some people can’t deal with the high level of responsibility
While some people love to have high levels of responsibility and really want to make an impact on the lives of other people, others just don’t want to have this burden. In fact, it can be emotionally difficult to know that the well-being of whole families might depend on your decisions.
Consequently, if you are the type of person who doesn’t want to take on high levels of responsibility, becoming a social worker may not be the right way to go.
You will not make a fortune
Another downside of being a social worker is that you will also not become rich. Sure, you could earn pretty good money from your job. However, compared to working in consulting or banking, your salary will be rather limited in social professions.
Thus, if you want to get wealthy or even want to become a millionaire for some reason, becoming a social worker will likely not bring you closer to this goal and you might want to search for other professions instead.
Some people will be difficult to deal with
While many people will be quite thankful for what you do for them, other people may be rather difficult to deal with. Some people who experience difficult times in their lives are just quite frustrated and will not value your help that much.
Therefore, you will experience times where you put in plenty of work for a client without getting any reward from this client at all.
You will often expect the worst while hoping for the best
Due to the high level of insecurity related to being a social worker, you will often just have to hope for the best. In fact, you will often only have limited control over what people are doing and you will often expect pretty bad things to happen while you know you could not save those people at the same time.
This limited power and the high level of insecurity can really eat you up if you don’t have the stomach for it.
You may get sued
You may even get sued due to your career as social worker. Especially if you have to deal with mentally sick persons who often have a completely flawed picture of reality, chances are that those people might accuse you of several things sooner or later. In turn, you may even lose your job, even though you did nothing wrong at all.
Social workers can’t help everyone
Before you become a social worker, you should also realize that you will not be able to help everyone. In fact, there will be clients who just have so many different problems that they simply will not get out of their mess.
Thus, don’t expect that you will help everyone around you. In some cases, you will just have to accept that some situations are simply too difficult and overwhelming.
Bureaucracy can be a problem
Another issue of being a social working is that you will also have to deal with significant levels of bureaucracy. In fact, many people underestimate how much paperwork social workers have to do every day and if you don’t like paperwork at all, chances are that you should watch out for a different occupation.
Being a social worker often means having a flexible schedule
You will also often not have a fixed schedule in social work. Quite often, your schedule will change and therefore, you will have to be quite flexible in this regard. Especially if you have children, this may be quite hard since you will have to pick up your kids from work at a certain time and if your schedule from social work conflicts with those times, you have to organize someone who picks up your kids for you.
Social workers often work long hours
Depending on the respective field you work as a social worker, you may also have to work quite long hours. In fact, one workday could be 12 hours + and in case of a certain emergency, it might be even longer. Hence, don’t think social work is easy. It requires a high level of dedication and commitment.
Can be hard in case people just don’t want your help
Some people also just don’t want your help. This can be emotionally hard, especially if you know you could help those people but they are simply not willing to take your help. Thus, be prepared that you will simply not be able to help everyone.
You may need a license for being a social worker
In some states, you will also need a license to become a social worker. There are often also some minimum educational requirements that you have to meet for becoming a social worker.
This could mean that you have to go back to school for a while to fulfill those requirements before you can become a social worker.
Feeling of helplessness
As a social worker, you will also experience really difficult situations from time to time and if you don’t have the emotional stability to deal with those problems, chances are that you will feel quite helpless. In turn, this may also make you quite sad in case you just don’t know how to help people out of their misery.
You will worry about your clients
Social work is also mentally demanding since you will often have to worry about your clients. This may lead to a state where you worry all day long, not only during your workday but also later at home. In turn, this can also adversely affect your mood and your overall quality of life.
Social workers often have too many clients
Another problem with social work is that social workers often simply have too many clients. In turn, they will not be able to spend enough time with each person and some clients will just be left behind.
Top 10 Being a Social Worker Pros & Cons – Summary List
|Being a Social Worker Pros||Being a Social Worker Cons|
|Social workers can work in many different fields||Being a social worker can be stressful|
|Being a social worker lets you grow in character||You will have to deal with emotional pain|
|You will learn a lot||You have to be flexible|
|Social work never gets boring||Schedule can change pretty soon|
|You can learn how to deal with stress||Social workers often work long hours|
|You will value your own life much more||Some people just don’t want your help|
|Secure job prospects in the future||You will see the worst of humanity|
|Decent salaries||Some clients are difficult to deal with|
|You can do good for others||You may feel helpless from time to time|
|You may find meaning in your life||Social work can be mentally exhausting|
Should You Be A Social Worker?
As we can see, there are many important advantages and disadvantages of being a social worker. In my opinion, you really need a real passion to help other people to deal with all the emotional stress that comes along with social work.
However, if you really want to help people and you feel this is your purpose in life, becoming a social worker might make you happier than everything else.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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