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Problem--career & values

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I have not been able to resolve the disparity between my values and career interests and my desire for financial stability. I have a bachelor's degree but haven't found a real "career" since graduating almost a decade ago. I have always felt that my calling was to do something in the field of social work or counseling. So I am starting an MSW program.

The problem is that MSWs are notoriously underpaid for their level of education. In fact, when I come out of school I don't expect to make much more than I do now, which isn't good as I don't make enough to buy even a small apartment in the city where I live and I live basically paycheck to paycheck. On top of this, I'll have student loans to pay off.

While I truly believe that money isn't everything, I grew up poor and I know that stability and comfort are important to me. I constantly feel angry and frustrated when I see that so many of my friends have much more comfortable lives than I do. I also feel left out when they get to travel and have pursue hobbies that I can't afford.

Knowing how scary and frustrating it is for me to make a low salary, I have serious reservations about entering the field. However, the alternative is equally unappealing. If I *don't* go back to school I probably will continue to flounder at low-paying jobs and not have a real "career." At least with social work there's a good chance that I will really enjoy the work.

I have considered other careers, but I have never found anything that felt like a good match for me. The only one that feels like a "natural fit" is social work.

Do you have any suggestions? What are your thoughts. Any social workers out there? What do you think about the profession?

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Do what makes you happy. Cold logic does not make for happiness.

If you are studying what interests you, you will do better and be happier.

If you enjoy your work is will show in the other parts of your life and others will notice.

Other doors or paths may open for you. Nothing says that social work will be the only thing you do for the rest of your life.


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I agree with A.M. and would add the following...

It has been, in my experience, a happier and less stressful existence (and considering how the last couple yars have been...) without that security, although sometimes with good pay, than otherwise--by which I mean, in the 8 years since I got my B.A., I've had ONE job that not only would have been secure but practically bulletproof. (state gov, uniona and all that)

I hated it. It was killing my soul. And, was making me want to kill. I've never regretted losing that job.

I know what it's like to see others get the "good" stuff--new cars, vacations, top-shelf liqour--but I prefer NOT dreading going to sleep, cuz that meant I'd have to wake up and go to a job I loathed beyond my ability to express.

Here's what *I'd* do--take a good hard look at my life as-is. Look at the possible benefits and, yes, costs of the proposed new life.

Then decide which one would make you happier, and try to ignore any extra financial burden. Oh, and besides--A: you may get a higher-paying job than you thought you could and B: what counts as a "low paying field", as compared to others, may pay quite well for *you*. After all, what one may see as a "Honda" lifestyle I may well see as a "Ferrari" way of living.

It's your view that counts.

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Well, getting the degree could be fun, interesting. Salaried jobs have benefits. Managed care has really kept salaries low, so no help there, from my point of view. But, you may like it a lot, get some grants and stuff and do a Phd maybe even. Although the tekkies and the nurses I know make way more money.... I agree with what was posted above...


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