I’ve recently joined a lot of social work groups on Facebook. One of the questions I’ve seen in almost all the groups is about how to earn good money without multiple job or without a license. Another common complaint is low wages. I am going to continue to shout from the rooftops that social work is one of the most diverse industries available and the social work education and training are extremely transferable. We don’t have to “leave the profession” to be paid well. I am so annoyed that we continue to push this narrow view of what “real” social work is.
I’ve begun to be more active in groups. Check out my response to one of those familiar posts. “Remember that entrepreneurship includes more than private practice therapy. Local, state, and federal governments, as well as nonprofit organizations, can offer macro positions in the six figures – Executive Directors, Program Directors, Analysts, Lobbyists, etc. – some with no licensing requirements.” Social work has three practice areas. Macro and mezzo social work are also social work.
I seriously considered doing a dual Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health program. I decided to only pursue social work because I didn’t want to be in school an additional year and a half. You know what? I don’t regret it at all. The coursework is very similar. I have been able to tackle the “public health” problems that are important to me from a social work perspective. My social work degree has allowed me to supervise MPHs and worked collaboratively with MPHs on interdisciplinary teams.
I recently discovered the framework to contain my interests in social justice, sustainability, disaster preparedness, food security, and self-care – eco-social work. Let me share a few definitions:
- Eco-social work is a sub-field of social work that focuses on the systemic, symbiotic relationship that exists between all living organisms and ecological systems on the planet Earth.
- Eco-social work – also referred to as ‘green social work’ or ‘environmental social work’ – is concerned with how environmental issues, such as extreme weather events and climate change, affect people and communities.
- Eco-social work emphasizes the need for social workers to promote social justice through vital attention to the symbiotic relationship between humans and the natural world.
How can I not love this profession?
Have you ever considered advancement in social work leadership to become a Chief Program Officer? Let me share a position description I found online, “The Chief Program Officer (CPO) will serve as a critical member of the executive management team. In collaboration with the CEO, the CPO will articulate and implement the strategic vision and leadership of the agency; oversee a significant portfolio of programs and related services; evaluate the effectiveness of programs to provide ongoing feedback; help to promote and diversify funding through effective resource stewardship at an agency with a healthy mix of government funding and private philanthropic support; raise the agency’s profile through external communications; provide mentoring, guidance, supervision, and professional development to all leadership staff; and enhance the structure of the organization by staying abreast of developments in youth workforce and education. Ideally, the CPO will serve as the functional successor to the CEO.” I know for a fact that macro social work has prepared us for this role.
It’s time to eliminate the narrow, traditional view of social work and expand our work as our world expands.
Where will your social work degree take you?
Better yet, where will you take your social work degree?
Nicki Sanders, MSW, ushers high-performing women of color in mid-level social work and human services leadership through promotion to senior leadership. 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. 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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