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Time for a possible career change

Saturday, July 23, 2016

As some of you may know, I am a social worker. emoticon When I first graduated college I was able to do a ton with my degree. Sadly, things have greatly changed in the last 17 years. I am now not able to do as much. emoticon In a nutshell,l I will be stuck in my current position and won't be able to advance. I run groups that teach the mentally ill coping skills. Pretty much the skills that we take for granted. My department is always over looked. emoticon This is especially true these last couple of months when my department was over looked for a rather nice bonus. emoticon This has angered me. emoticon I am now faced with a decision. I can 1. continue in my current position and just deal with it, 2. return to school for my Masters in Social work, 3. look for another job in the same field or 4. look for another career path.

Here is my thinking:
1. I can stay in this position for awhile but there will be changes in Medicaid billing and my agency will be paid a lower rate when I run groups. Depending on how much lower, I'm not sure the company will be happy with this and worry they will decide to lay me off. This is speculation at this point.
2. If I return for my Masters I will add on at least $25,000 in debt for only the possibility on a minor increase in salary. I haven't even paid off Michigan State for my BA yet.
3. I know that if I get another job I might be in the same boat just a little ways down the road.
4. I am looking in to changing careers. I am tired of living pay check to pay check with little hopes of having more income. I am looking into becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer. I researched this and the median salary was $68,000! I will never see that in Social work. I can get an Associates and then work on my Bachelor's degree. This degree would enable me to run my own department after a couple of years. I believe the local community college has this program and I am going to look into if they have the Bachelor's degree since there is a partnership with the local colleges.

So any advice or pearls of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

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  • ELSIEO62
    I never had contact with social workers until I worked at hospice as an RN. SWs are wonderful! Later I went to work for a 4 person non-profit and worked closely with another SW. They should receive halos!Thank you for working with the mentally ill. Their resources are terrible, needs overwhelming, and their families desperate.
    I see your financial concerns. However getting a masters may not help much and just increase your debt. Those with Maters in SW don't make much better wages here than BS/BA. Check out the Debt Free blog by Mary Hunt. She shares tons of practical advice weekly in her daily blog.
    May God make your path clear to you. He has a place for you to serve and His path always brings peace.
    1633 days ago
    I understand a lot of what you are going through. I have been in many deadend jobs over the years. I think you should pay off your first student loan debt, if at all possible, before going back to school. I do like the medical sonographer path because it is far better paying with the possiblity of advancement. If you could do the bulk of your work at a community college first, that would save you a lot of money. Also, you should look into changing how you repay your current student loans through the Dept. of Ed. They have devised many different systems of paying back your loans in the last 10 years. I am currently on an income-based repayment plan. This means that for 25 years, I submit my taxes each year and how much I pay is based on that. For the past 7 years I have paid nothing or close to nothing because I have made so little money. I will be paying more come September because I did make good money during the 2015 tax year, but I have the option of protesting this since I have been out of work for over a year. The good part about this is whatever I have paid off by the time I am 55 (25 years total) is what I pay and the rest is canceled. They have many different repayment options besides this, so maybe you could find one that works with your current income a little bit better. And use community colleges as much as possible to save money. Good luck! I'll be praying for you.
    1807 days ago
  • no profile photo CD15936081
    Sounds good about looking into the medical sonographer (I don't know what that is, sonograms are like pictures of babies in the womb?)

    I feel sad, though. The mentally ill are under served. Whether the services you do provide are cut or not, that group will lose you either way.
    1831 days ago
    Lots of good comments here. My sister started out as a social worker with a BA. She loved it, but they burned her out with low pay and mountains of paper work. Then she moved to another area of interest for her: working in a nature center where she was a naturalist and took care of all the animals and led educational presentations for visitors. She loved that, but, again, low pay. And they always kept her just below full-time, so they did not have to pay a reasonable salary or benefits. Now she is working in a factory so she can get a reasonable paycheck and benefits. This because her husband became disabled and could no longer work and receive benefits.

    I agree that if you have the option to stay with something you love, you should try to do so. But sometimes that is no longer possible. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Do you have a close friend or family member you can talk this out with? This is not a decision to make quickly. Also, if you have a higher-paying job, perhaps you can get another degree more slowly by taking a class or two each semester without piling up a lot of student debt. I think you are quite a bit younger than my sister, so that might be an option.

    I pray for you and your husband every day. God bless you!

    emoticon emoticon
    1831 days ago
    As a retired social worker, I understand. You are in it to help people not for the money. It can be a very exhausting job, especially when it depends upon government. Higher ups don't always understand the work demands, either.
    1831 days ago
  • KAREN608
    Try to do what you love if possible since you have to do it for years. One way i coped with money was budgeting carefully. More time to enjoy things in life is important. But having some money saved up gives us a feeling of security which is pretty wonderful, too. Sounds like you have a plan as to what you want to do, go for it.
    1831 days ago
    As far as I've heard, social work rarely pays a high salary; but when you chose to study it, was that your main focus? I doubt it. The small successes those with whom you work can be monumental to them, and that is a reward in itself. Research the up-and-coming lines of work that interest you. Volunteer (yes, a little longer at no increase in salary) where you'll be noticed and where putting that work experience on your resume' will land you a position that is more lucrative.
    1831 days ago
    I would advise against going the diagnostic sonography route. My husband did this 6 years ago, and he is regretting it.
    1831 days ago
    Sounds like you know what you want to do! You sound excited about option 4. Go for it. I recently had some job reflection/changes and found to have many useful articles.
    1831 days ago
    In the meanwhile, what about subbing at the local public school? True, it doesn't pay a whole lot either, but with your degree some districts pay more. It's worth looking into- especially if you get layed off.
    1831 days ago
    Pray, remember it's not always about the money, you have to love what you everyday. I know money is a big factor especially to be able to live, but remember God always has a plan. Good luck in your future.
    1831 days ago
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