Have you ever done a Google search for social work? Well if you did you would likely see something like this:

social work google search

For a profession that spans a broad range of issues such as social justice, mental health, poverty, policy, and human rights, isn’t it strange that the second most searched for term related to social work is salary?

And why is that? Why is salary for social workers such a popular search?

PHONY MUCH?

If you were to do a similar search for allied fields like psychology, counseling or even human services salary is much further down on the search list. Could it be that all those social workers that say “We don’t do it for the money” are actually more concerned about money than they’d like to admit?

Truth be told, we (because I’m a social worker, too) have the ability to make as much money as we’d like without depending on an organization’s ascribed salary tier.

Historically we’ve been told that the work that we do as social workers – often on behalf of the most underserved in society – should be motivated by a sense of what’s right (justice) and fair (equality), not money. On the other hand, the same services that we provide cost money, as do the efforts and expertise of those of us that provide them.

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION (LITERALLY)

So how can social workers continue to do the work we love and build value for the humanitarian work that we do at the same time? The answer is this: we make our own damn salaries (expletive added for emphasis).

SHUT YO MOUTH!

Now, you would understand my belligerence towards the assumption that social work equals financial sacrifice when some of the most intelligent, influential, and well-compensated people are social workers themselves. Consider people like Dr. Steve Perry, Dr. Brene’ Brown, and U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee.  While I don’t claim to know what’s on their income tax returns, what I do know is that none of them started out “at the top.” These people have moved up the ranks in social work experience and position like many social workers around. But unlike most social workers, they’ve enlisted an additional step that puts them in demand and showcases their value, and that is because they’ve positioned themselves as experts.

brene brown ted

Brene Brown + TED = expert positioning gold!

In case this concept is unfamiliar to you or it’s the first time you’re hearing it, let me explain. Continue reading

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