Exterminate The Extremes in Social Work



I will forever shout from the rooftops that “social workers do not take a vow of poverty”!

I will forever challenge the notion that accepting financial struggles somehow makes a social worker more morally superior.

I adamantly refuse to accept the notion that social workers should leave the profession if they want to make a living wage.

I am on a mission to eliminate the outdated, narrow view of social work, and believe wholeheartedly that social work skills are highly transferable, high-income skills. Social workers deserve to be paid well for our education, expertise, and experience.

I LOVE that the pendulum is now swinging in the opposite direction and social workers are saying no to a lifetime of money worries and financial strain.

I LOVE that social workers are recognizing just how valuable the social work profession is and that they are the engine.

I LOVE that social workers are demanding appropriate compensation for their contributions.

But it seems something else may be trying to creep in. I hope I’m misreading the signs that the profession is headed toward the opposite extreme. Too much of a good thing may not be a good thing.

I hope that social workers do not begin to take jobs solely based on pay.

If a majority of social workers only accept jobs for a paycheck and don’t have a commitment or passion for the population or the work, we will create a new problem. Clients suffer, social workers suffer, and the social work profession suffers – in the same, new ways. (Yes, I meant to write the same, new.) There are some social work jobs that I would never do no matter how much the agency is willing to pay me.

I believe in balance. I believe in a happy medium. I believe that I can have my cupcake and eat it too!

I believe in both/and. I don’t support either/or.

Let’s eliminate the extremes on both sides of the social work salary table.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, “social workers deserve to do work that feeds their hearts, minds, and wallets”!

I love social work. I am committed to being a social work thought leader. I am committed to standing for what I believe and opposing what I don’t. I am committed to offering insight and information to help other social workers at every stage of their careers build a long-term, successful career that they love and on their own terms. Set up a 20-minute consultation and let’s chat about how I can support you on your social work career journey.




Nicki Sanders, MSW, supports high-performing women of color in social work leadership in developing careers that feed their hearts, minds, and wallets. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams, volunteer recruitment and retention, and social impact programming. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.

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