Is Social Work a Job or a Calling?



Dear Social Workers,

Social work is a job. A profession. A career.

I do not go to work to volunteer. I am not a missionary. I am not a nun.

Just because I will no longer accept poverty wages doesn’t mean social work is any less of a calling, passion, or purpose for me.

Social workers do NOT take a vow of poverty!

I repeat, social workers do NOT take a vow of poverty!

No matter how big your heart is or how great your social work skills are, you are not greater than others because you have the privilege of accepting low wages.

Social workers deserve to be paid WELL for our expertise – just like other professionals.

Surely with our focus on anti-oppression and nonjudgment, we can see that it is a privilege to joyfully and proudly accept low wages.

It is a privilege to have the audacity to shame other social workers who have paid for two degrees, professional development, and in many instances licensing because they expect and require to live well.

Living wages and healthy workplaces aren’t negotiable.

Who decided that if you’re a social worker you’re mandated to a life of poverty?

Who decided that if you’re a social worker that self-sacrifice is a part of the job?

I want to have a conversation with the social work gatekeepers who decided that you aren’t a good social worker if you reject a life of personal financial struggle.

The expectation that I can and should give my best to anyone at my own expense is outrageous. Even NASW added self-care to the Code of Ethics. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Boundaries sound familiar?

I can’t social work at my best if I’m exhausted from having to work 3 jobs, or can’t afford decent transportation to get to work every day, or my lights have been turned off, or I can’t pay my mortgage.

Why would the expectation be that I advocate for my clients and not myself?

Why am I undeserving of a life void of struggle because I chose to help others improve their quality of life?

We’re in 2023, we can stop glorifying poverty now!

If you are struggling with adopting a more abundant outlook on the social work profession, agree that you deserve more than a life of financial challenge, and are ready to take your social work career to the next level in multiple ways, I GOT YOU.

APPLY to my On My Terms private coaching package to move beyond the limits of oppressive social work norms.

NOTE: There are only 6 private coaching slots available

You deserve to do work that feeds your heart, mind, and wallet.



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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