As a field, social work tends to attract those who want to make a difference in the lives of others. Because of this, social work can also be an extremely rewarding career, especially as social workers do tend to help many people.
Yet, social work is also an intense and draining field, particularly on the emotional level. To make matters worse, social workers often don’t earn all that much money. This pattern can be pretty disillusioning, especially for social workers who do love the concept of their job.
Making More Money As A Social Worker
Thankfully, you do have some control over your income and there is the chance to make more money as a social worker.
There are various options for doing this, although some approaches may make more sense than others depending on your specific situation.
Making More Money Within A Social Worker Role
The first way to make more money is to simply focus on your current role. As a general rule, social workers don’t earn a lot of money, especially not for the work they put into their jobs. Nevertheless, the field isn’t necessarily as dire as many people imply.
Work Towards A Higher Paying Role
In most fields, including social work, much of your income potential is tied to your specific role.
Likewise, there will be some positions that pay well, while others that pay much less – even if the skills and the workload are similar across them. Often these differences may simply come down to the balance of supply and demand.
Because of this, social workers have the chance to make more money by specializing in fields that pay better and are in demand. One example of this is a substance abuse counselor, while another is a family therapist.
As you can imagine, both of these roles are very specialized and would require some specific training. The positions would also come with their own set of challenges and some of those would be different than conventional social work.
However, if you can specialize in this way, you would end up increasing your potential income. You could also make yourself more employable, as the demand for specialized positions can often be higher.
Increase Your Skills
Even if you can’t actually change your role, simply increasing your skills can sometimes be a way to also raise your income. For example, some employers may pay more for specific skills or qualifications, especially if they are in short supply.
They may even have tuition reimbursement, meaning they'll pay you to go to school and improve your chances of landing a higher-paid position or at least a raise.
If you’re looking at this direction, then research is important. After all, you don’t want to waste time and money on a qualification that won’t actually make a difference. Talking to your employer may be a good first step here. In many cases, they may be able to tell you what steps may help you to increase your income.
Nevertheless, this technique won’t work in all situations. In many cases, your employer may not need or want any extra skills from you. Alternatively, they may simply not have the money to pay you anything more, regardless of your skills.
Still, keep an eye out for other positions in your local area or nearby. A gas-efficient car and a list of your favorite audiobooks could make a 45-minute commute worth it if you can land a higher-paying job in a nearby city.
Consider Moving Locations
Your specific role as a social worker has a large impact on your income potential but it isn’t the only factor. Another relevant area is where you are physically working.
For one thing, some organizations will pay more for the same position than others. This may suggest that you should keep an eye out for a new job, particularly one that pays better. At the same time, some states will pay better than others.
Theoretically, this means that you can earn more money simply by moving to a different part of the country. However, if you’re planning to do so, make sure you do your research carefully.
As I mentioned above, commuting can help as well. My girlfriend works with special needs kids. The local area pays very poorly, but it's a small town.
By doing a 1-hour commute she can make 3x the income in the city, and live on cheap rent in a small town. Commuting is no fun, but if it's the only option to earn more money within the field of social work, then it's a viable option despite not being ideal.
Just watch out for gas prices, car repairs, extra food costs, and time spent away from home. You may end up earning about the same after subtracting costs and calculating for time spent commuting. Is a change like this worth the stress?
Look For Extra Hours
Another option within your current role is the common idea of looking for extra hours. This is the simplest option and will often be the most viable. Some companies may allow you to work as a part-time employee, taking on families 1-by-1, or working just a few days a week in the evenings or weekends. There's no shortage of need for caring people in this field.
However, as a social worker, you may already feel that you are overworked or may not even have the extra time to work more hours. Alternatively, you could find that more hours simply add to your stress without having a dramatic impact on your income.
As a result, it’s important to weigh up this option carefully. While extra hours may help you to hit your bills, the process might not be worth it if you end up majorly stressed out as a result.
Try Your Hand At Freelancing
If you want to make more money as a social worker, you could also choose to go outside of your current role. Doing so may be particularly powerful if you want to do something a little different, or if your current employment options are fairly limited. One way to do this is through freelancing.
The term freelancing basically means you’re selling your skills on your own, rather than working for a salary. For some people, freelancing can be a full-time career but for many others, it offers a relatively easy way to earn some extra money.
The main idea of freelancing is to promote a marketable skill. Typically, this tends to be more effective if you have a skill that is in demand or is somewhat unusual. As a social worker, you may have a number of skills that are potentially marketable, although this would depend on your specialization and background.
For example, some social workers may freelance in the area of marriage counseling or counseling for people with depression. Even if you don’t specialize in these areas, you may have enough background to provide some support and services.
Babysitting special needs kids, or grocery shopping for the elderly are also other options. This may be particularly relevant in cases where people cannot afford to see somebody who does formally specialize in the area at hand.
Getting involved in freelancing is fairly simple, as you can advertise your services locally, such as through newspapers and handing out business cards. However, you would also want to research any laws and regulations in your area, along with any restrictions in your employment contract.
You could check out the site Care.com too. This can be a perfect environment to find small caring jobs.
Leveraging Your Time Better By Making Money Online
The issue with any regular job is that you trade time for money. To make more money, you have to spend more time. Through the internet, however, you can leverage the millions of people using the internet to browse, research, watch, and buy to make money.
The potential to make money online is only increasing over time, especially as people are spending more and more money shopping from digital stores. If ever there was an exciting new industry to get into, it would be earning money on the internet.
There are many different ways to make money online and some of these are inherently better for newbies than others. For social workers, one of the best options would be an approach called affiliate marketing. This is why I do, and I have a real passion for teaching people about it because I feel it could help so many folks like yourself.
Affiliate marketing is a particularly powerful way to make money, partly because it works for pretty much anyone. By this, I mean that you don’t have to have a specific skill set or a product of your own to be successful. Here are a few reasons why:
- You can do it from anywhere with internet access
- You can learn at your own pace
- You can choose a topic that interests you
- You make money selling other people's products
- It's cheap to start: Just $15/year for a domain name and $10/month for hosting
Affiliate marketing is perfect for a social worker because it means you don't have to invest a lot of money to start the business, and you can stop/start as you have time. Of course, consistency is what gets long-term results, but if you are slammed for a time one week, your business is not going to suffer if you don't work on your website for that week.
Plus, you get to make money by helping people! Although “selling stuff” isn't necessarily as noble as doing social work, it's still helping. If you spend 2 hours researching the pros and cons of different organic puppy food, then distill that down into a single article someone can read online, you just saved them 2 hours of work and helped them get the best food for their puppy!
There is no shortage of options for topics to write about. In fact, there are probably thousands of affiliate programs out there, some of which cover hundreds or thousands of products all on their own. You can make a website on pretty much anything you like and make money from it. I have one on sprinklers, one on computer programming, and one on beer. That's pretty diverse!
Some people choose to make a website about something they already know a lot about. Alternatively, you could create a site that is connected to something you want to learn more about. As a social worker, doing so could offer a valuable way to decrease your stress and to focus on something that you personally find interesting.
Learning More With Online Training Courses
One good thing with affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to know what you’re going to do right from the very beginning. You can make money as you learn. My first $5 was earned with a terrible website and very promotional content.
It was a mess, but it earned money. Now I create much better content and earn more money as a result! So you do not have to be an expert in the beginning, but you can make money while you're learning how to become one.