High demand and low supply for social workers

By: Sara Zendehnam Email
By: Sara Zendehnam Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Drugs, poverty and domestic violence are issues that plague the Western Slope and the growing rates of these issues makes the need for people to help, crucial.

Mesa County is home to a huge group of older people. Some case managers and social workers focus on the aging population suffering with mental issues, including Alzheimer's and dementia.

However, with the elderly population growing and the low number of people applying for jobs in social areas, it leaves a lot of people without the help they need.

Becky Hobart with Ariel Clinical Services has spent the last 20 years assisting families and said the reputation that follows social workers doesn't help get more applicants in the door.

"It gets a bad rap that you're overworked and underpaid and it's so hard and yes it is a challenging field but it's a great field too," Hobart.

According to a 2012 study, the average annual salary of social workers in Colorado is about $48,000 which is still higher than the average in Grand Junction at $44,000.

However, Hobart said people should go into this career to help others and not have money be a motivating factor.

Although they have similar workloads there are differences between case workers and social workers. Being a licensed social worker requires getting a Masters degree in the field.

For those interested in this career, the University of Denver opened its Western Colorado Master of Social Work program in Glenwood Springs in September.

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