When most people think of social workers they don't normally think of wealth or riches. In fact, if they do think of money at all it's usually in the not-making-any sort of way.
It's an unfortunate association, but the profession is often considered to be one of the most underpaid that exists. I say unfortunate because although the career path is lauded as a noble one, the typical correlating salary is less than prestigious.
Paradoxically, much of the propaganda about low wages is perpetuated by the do-gooders themselves. Social workers often make statements like, "We don't do this for the money," and "If you want to get rich you're in the wrong profession," turning what's meant to be an affirmation of benevolence into a taboo of affluence.
Sadly, for many social workers this dichotomy often leads to burnout, disillusionment, and the search for a less fulfilling but more lucrative life path.
The What Ifs
But what if things were different?
What if to be a social worker meant that not only did you get to help people but you also got to live a fabulously lavish life if you chose to?
What if the pay range for social workers was equal to that of doctors, lawyers, or the highest paid executives?
What if social workers were armed with the knowledge of how to distill and package their unique brand of service and sold it on the open market and what if there was no stigma around any of these options?
The Move Is On
With proponents like Tim Ferris and his 4-Hour Work Week and the rise of the solopreneur, people from all walks of life have found freedom in the ability to offer products and services online; often receiving tremendous financial rewards in return. And while social workers themselves have been slower to this gold rush of free enterprise than most, the opportunity remains and is growing for these skilled professionals to profit from the momentum created.
In my opinion, if there's any group of people that need to be rich its social workers. And though some social workers may argue for the virtues of sacrifice over wealth, there are at least five very good reasons why, for social workers, the option to be rich is an absolute necessity.
1. The more money they have, the more people they can help.
Social workers are known for their service to humanity. In fact, so associated are they with this activity that many people who find themselves in service positions often ascribe to themselves the professional title sans the qualification.
Service for the social worker is not merely a job function, it's a routine practice. They're often found working "in the trenches" with clients and agencies, assessing needs and strategizing the best plans of action. But often the impetus for service is stifled because of a general lack of organizational resources and/or an ignorance of how to maximize the existing ones.
However, when social workers are rich they use their knowledge of wealth to leverage more resources, support more causes, and help more people; help which their clients, in turn, pass on to their circles of influence and networks.
2. Social workers need to be able to afford to take care of their mental and emotional health.
The profession of social work comes with its fair share of stress and fatigue. So legendary is this phenomenon that there exist entire journals, websites, and movements devoted to the importance and practice of self-care and maintenance.
However, while social workers are well aware of these maintenance tools, far too many of them don't take the time or spend the money to invest in the counseling, hobbies, and vacations that they should primarily because they complain of having neither the time nor the money to do so!
Oh, the irony.
When carers don't take care of themselves they do a lousy job of caring for others, and then you've defeated your purpose. But without the fear of not having enough money hanging over their heads, social workers are free to hire that coach, take that hobby class, book that three-week trip to Cancun, and splurge on that luxury spa treatment with no regrets. Not only will they be better functioning helpers, they'll be better equipped to help their clients to function better too.
3. When social workers are empowered, they empower their clients.
It's a skill that social workers are expected to possess -- and that is being able to empower their clients to higher levels of functioning.
But here's the kicker; they can't empower their clients in the ways of wealth if they're not empowered themselves. It's no secret that many social workers work with people and in environments which are economically challenged. This lack of financial resources is often the root of more serious problems (such as access to healthcare, quality education, and transportation services) that also require money to address.
However, because most social workers have not learned the principles of wealth creation, money management and investing, it's unlikely that, when it comes to money, they'll be able to offer their clients much more than the referrals to the traditional welfare resources that commonly exist.
If we consider the efforts of Brene Brown, Suzy Orman and Steadman Graham -- all trained social workers -- then it's easy to see the massive impact social workers can make in the lives of others when they're financially empowered. Now imagine that level of impact from social workers on a global scale. What an empowered world it would be!
4. Social workers bring a unique set of skills and services to the marketplace that are preventative, mitigating, and healing.
Social work interconnects with various industries such as healthcare, service, and education. These and other intersecting industries represent billions of dollars in revenue annually. They also represent major opportunities for social workers to fill the needs represented within their scope.
With skills such as assessment, problem-solving, coping, relationship improvement, and capacity building, social workers fill significant gaps within the marketplace providing services that are preventative, mitigating and healing. And with the evolution, we are the ones engineering new currency of relationship.
5. When money is not their concern, they can focus on other critical issues.
What problems do social workers focus on when money is not their issue? Anything else that they need to.
Consider this: you don't see Richard Branson, Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos stressed out about money -- neither do they spend time hankering for resources. Instead, these multimillionaires spend their time and energy seeking to engineer some of the most significant improvements of this generation.
It's because money is not their concern that they're able to focus their attention on such epic ideas and strategies -- and it's because social workers are concerned about not having enough money that they do not -- not in any systematic way, at least.
But when money -- or the lack of it -- is no longer a primary concern for the social worker, the question is no longer, "Can we afford this solution," but, "Which viable solution will we choose?"
The bottom line is this: social workers need to be rich -- and there's no reason why they shouldn't be. Perhaps as wealth becomes a reality for more of these trained professionals, their ability to enrich the lives of others will be expanded as well.