Are you in the field of social work, public health, or speech/occupational/physical therapy? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 10-17-2011, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
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This isn't my first career searching post on this forum :-/ Here is my previous thread:


These are the majors I'm considering:

Speech therapy/audiology (not sure of the real difference despite some Googling!)

Occupational therapy

Physical therapy

Public Health

Social Work


If you are in any of these fields, or studying any of these fields, can you tell me what you love about it? What you don't like about it? What your day to day schedule is like? Your work load/work schedule? Is the pay worth the student loans to get there? 






Single mama to S ~ 6/09

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#2 of 9 Old 10-19-2011, 10:55 AM
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I am in the field of social work.  I have an MSW and an LCSW.  I like the flexibility of the degree.  I have friends from grad school who work at hospitals, schools, mental health care facilities, non profit organizations, adoption agencies...  The pay is not great to begin with usually (maybe 30-40 depending on field,) though I know people who are making 80k+ now after 10 years of experience.  There are lots of flexible jobs, part time, school based (9 months / year), independent contracting / per diem situations etc.  Right now I only work 10 hours / week though I have worked in a range of full time settings in the past.


OT and Physical and Speech Therapy would have a similar degree of flexibility I would think. Not sure about Public Health.



Good luck on your search!

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#3 of 9 Old 10-19-2011, 11:28 AM
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I'm a social worker and the majority of my close friends are social workers or therapists (with social work degrees).  I've worked in child welfare, adoption, and with families who have children with special needs.  The part of the job I've always loved was working with families in their homes or environments on their goals.  Seeing them achieve even seemingly small  goals has been really rewarding to me.  I really would not suggest a social work career to anyone though.  Unless you get your Master's degree and then 3000 supervised hours, etc. to become a therapist, the pay is really low.  To put things in perspective, I saw my supervisor's pay stub a few years ago, and having had 15 years of experience, an MSW, and working 50-60 hours/week, she was making 38K.  Of my friends with BSWs and MSWs whose salaries I'm familiar with, the majority are making in the 25k to 45k range.  45 would be at the way high end. My friends working in hospitals and schools are making more than friends working in child welfare and mental health, but they all have MSWs.  The pay is just not there considering the schooling and considering the stress, long hours, etc.  I have not found being a social worker (in child welfare at least) to be really conducive to having a family.  I've done some contract work since my son was born, but I now have a sense of fear that I didn't have when I wasn't a mom.  Obviously some of the families I've worked with have been very angry with me for various reasons.  I've worked with parents and children who have histories of being extremely violent.  This just hasn't sat that well with me since becoming a parent.  Granted, that is just one area of social work, and there are other "safer" choices.  PTs, OTs, and SLPs tend to make quite a bit more than social workers, aren't "on call" to the extent most social workers are, etc.  You have to have the ability to face difficult, sickening, sad situations all day long, and then go home and somehow turn it all off.  The first year or so really threw me because it can be difficult to leave work at work....not think about the tough situations people are in, etc.   I wouldn't change having chosen social work as a career, because I really have a passion for it, but it isn't a super easy or financially rewarding career, and it can be super stressful. 

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#4 of 9 Old 10-20-2011, 10:59 PM
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I'm in Public Health, currently on a short-term contract to do research in the health policy field. I want to get a PhD though so hands-on work may be years in the future. I think Public Health is an excellent choice. You can decide which specialty you'd like, from numbers (epidemiology) to health promotion, to environmental health. It's a diverse field, yet with a general Public Health degree and depending on what internships/work experience you've got you can test them out and decide later or even switch fields.

caveat: I'm in Germany and paid no tuition for the degrees, and here you woulld def. need a master's to get anywhere. I have one from previous studies.



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#5 of 9 Old 10-21-2011, 07:15 PM
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I'm in public health by way of being a nurse. I run a lactation program for low-income mothers through my local health dept. I love it. I like going into people's homes, assisting them. The pay is not great. I could make far more working in a hospital with my certifications then I do in public health, but most that I know in public health do not do it for the money. As a supervisor I set my own hours and my program grants only cover me for part time anyway which is what I want to work. At our health dept, it is very common for one person to work for multiple programs because the funding only allows for x amount of hours for this program, x amount for another, to get full time, it can take more then one "job". Eventually when I want to work more, I will just pick up a job in another program as well. 

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#6 of 9 Old 10-24-2011, 03:34 AM
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I took a backdoor route, and am working in Public Health (sort of by accident, but its fascinating!).  I don't know much about the degree (b/c I have a BA in Criminal Justice and a JD - no public health education for me!), but the field is broad, and there are lots of different avenues to pursue. 

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#7 of 9 Old 12-03-2011, 12:19 PM
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I work in a non profit community mental health facility--pay is OK--I work part time and make my own hours which is great.  I have a BA in psychology.  I can tell you that from my research on the fields you posted you will probably make far less in public health and social work.  With that being said, a social work degree is VERY versatile and depending on your other experience (volunteer work and job history) you would be in a position to chose from a plethora of jobs and could potentially do well for yourself.  The top 3 fields you posted would peg hole you more into a position.

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#8 of 9 Old 12-07-2011, 08:40 AM
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I'm kinda-sorta in public heath - also by accident and not by training. My master's is in anthropology with a community health focus, though. I work doing public health evaluation and research for a large consulting firm, so I'm not in traditional public health at all. But working for a large company has meant that I have job stability and good pay, and I've gotten experience with a large number of different topic areas. Some of the projects I've worked (which are mostly contracts with the U.S. government) on were in areas like substance abuse prevention, bioterrorism, mental heath, child health, community health policy, and lots of others. I've found it very interesting!


One of the drawbacks with my particular job though, is that you probably need at least a master's degree, and many of my co-workers have Ph.Ds. (I don't plan to pursue one though, even though it would probably put me on a faster track for promotions. And right now, while my son is still young, I am taking a few years off from being ambitious in my career!) And the work load here can be heavy - the average work week is definitely more than 40 hours. But for me that is balanced by the fact that I have flexibility about when and where I work.


My student loans were paid off within 7 years of completing my master's, and my salary has more than doubled in that time.

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#9 of 9 Old 12-07-2011, 08:11 PM
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I am a physical therapist and I love it.  I love the flexibility of my job - I can work with adults or children in a variety of settings, outpatient, orthopedic, schools, neuro, etc.  It is a rewarding job.  I go home feeling as if I have made a difference in the world.  I also like that I am rarely sitting, I interact with people all day long, and I am always learning something new! 


The field is in high demand.  I get phone calls weekly and emails almost daily about positions being open.  The pay is good, depending on the amount of loans you have.  I think my total loan payments are slightly less than 1/4 of my monthly salary.  I'm only 5 years out of graduate school, so I've a ways to go on those.  I chose to work in pediatrics so I make significantly less than I could if I worked in other settings.  My starting salary was a little over $40K.  However, I know several of my classmates had starting offers in the $55K - $70K range, so there is a broad range depending on what you do and where you do it.  My hours are pretty regular and flexible.  It is a very family friendly field too, many opportunities for part time or job sharing. 

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