What motivates a person to choose the social work profession?

Motivations for choosing the social work profession include a desire to help others, a longing to fight for social change and human rights, an appreciation for the opportunities social work provides, and a chance to pass on lessons learned through experience.

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People have many different motives for entering the social work profession. Most have a strong desire to help others. They care about the lives of other people, have great compassion for those who are at risk and struggling, and possess a strong desire to do something about it.

Others blend in the desire to fight for human rights and social change. They want to work for justice and to make society a better place in which to live for people of all classes and races. They long to make communities stronger, families healthier, and individuals better able to cope with life.

Some social workers choose their profession because of the variety of opportunities it provides to work in many different spheres and with many different kinds of people. They are flexible and curious; they work well with others. They want a job in which they can perform a wide variety of tasks in many settings.

Still others have had struggles and challenges of their own in the past. They've lived through and learned from these experiences, and they are eager to reach out to others going through similar problems. They are living examples that people can and do overcome the worst possible circumstances, and they long to provide hope, comfort, and help to people who are facing the trials they once faced and overcame.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 26, 2021
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I would say that most people who enter the social work profession are motivated by the desire to help others as well as the desire to change their world. Social workers have a hard job and we all know they aren't paid very well. Certainly anyone desiring this profession would be interested in helping others rather than making money. Social workers are often the front line for protecting children and families from harm. They have a great opportunity to generate change. Social workers are able to protect those in trouble and set them on a better path. They can greatly influence the new path that someone is sent down, especially in the case of young children.
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Along with the compassion and desire to help others that have been mentioned, some social workers are hopelessly idealistic and chose to put effort into trying to make their dreams of a better world become reality. Their energy is partially based on their hope that they can do something to help the world become a better place - if not for everyone, at least for the people they serve in their particular capacity within the social work field of endeavor.

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Social work, to my mind, is about feeling a personal responsibility for others. In that sense, it is something that is, as #4 says, intrinsic to some and not to others. I have known several people who perform social work, and they all have this in common: they are endlessly patient. To help people who do not want to be helped, to provide support for people who are self-damaging, to see day after day a line out the door of people who have nowhere else to turn, and to know that you cannot help everyone... it's a hard job, and one that I could not do. I admire those who make the conscious choice to live their lives in the service of others.

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There is no one motivation that drives people to social work. Some people may go into social work, because they have been helped by social worker in the past. Others might go into social work for reasons of faith. I have three committed Christian friends that are in social work, because they want to help people as a outflow of their faith. To be sure, there are other social workers who are atheists as well. If I had to take one guess, I would say that people enter into social work, because they care for people.

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For the pay and the glory, of course!  Kidding.  To go into social work it helps a great deal if you are intrinsically motivated to do so.  As the above poster points out, if you enjoy helping people, are patient, aware of social issues and want to do something about them, and you are fine with not making a lot of money, you may just be cut out for what is a very important job in our society.

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given that both my mother and my sister are foster parents, people involved in this type of work are typically ones who wish to look out for the less fortunate. It does take a very special person with nerves of steel, lots of emotional stability, and hearts of gold. I cannot say how many times I have said that it is not something I could do. The motivation simply lies in the innate desire to help others.

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Typically, people who want to be social workers want to go into that profession because they like to help people.  Social work is a profession in which a worker gets to try to help people who are often in very difficult circumstances.  People who get into, then, must really want to help people who are having problems.

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