The field of social work is constantly advancing. Maintaining familiarity with a current and rapidly growing body of research, techniques, and theories can help social workers to retain their skills, acquire new knowledge, and help them to better serve their clients.
Continuing education requirements for social work licensure vary by state, so it’s important for social workers to understand the rules for their jurisdiction and to stay abreast of rule changes. For example, some states may not have renewal requirements while others require social workers to complete 30 or more hours of continuing education units (where one hour of coursework equals one unit) for license renewal. Some states also have specific requirements about the subject matter that must be covered for continuing education units.
Continuing education for social workers can take the form of professional development courses, lectures, seminars, workshops, webinars, conferences and self-study courses that are provided by an accredited school of social work, a licensed health facility, a government agency or a professional social work or mental health association.
Social workers who live in states that may not require continuing education for license renewal can still take advantage of professional development resources available online. The National Association for Social Workers (NASW) prioritizes continuing education and provides continuing education resources on its website to guide and support social workers.
Online Continuing Education Options
Social workers balancing the demands of full-time employment or family have the option of completing continuing education units online. Most online CEU programs allow unlimited review of the material or lectures as often as needed, and many also provide student forums and virtual study or discussion groups. It is important to note that online CEU programs must be accredited by regional or national boards in order to count toward professional development.
Online CEU programs are offered through a variety of websites and associations, each differing in credibility and quality, so it is important to research the options available. Below is a small selection of online social work CEU resources you can refer to.
Access webinars, webcasts, podcasts and presentations for continuing education through the National Association of Social Workers’ website.
Benefits of Continuing Education Units
The benefits of completing continuing education units span from qualifying for license renewal to developing expertise in a specialty. It is important to be aware of the benefits of CEUs as well as the conditions for maintaining your license. Below is a list of tips you can refer to when selecting continuing education courses and applying to renew your license.
1. Earning CEUs and maintaining your social work license is your responsibility.
Make sure you maintain compliance in your jurisdiction by enrolling in courses offered by an accredited school of social work, a licensed health facility, a government agency or a professional social work or mental health association. It’s up to you to keep track of hours and certificates.
2. The licensing board always has the final say on what CEUs will be approved.
If you are unsure the course is compliant with state requirements, check with the licensing board before you take the course.
3. Make sure you provide the correct documentation and can verify attendance and certification.
Keep your own records; don’t rely on the provider.
What type of continuing education do I need to remain a licensed social worker?
Almost every jurisdiction requires some form of continuing education in order for you to maintain your social work license. This normally consists of a series of classes that are intended to keep you up to date on the most modern and accepted methods of social work. The requirements vary by jurisdiction, so the number of hours and classes you need to take will depend on where you are currently licensed. Check your jurisdiction’s details to see what continuing education is required for you.
I have licenses in more than one jurisdiction. Will my continuing education hours qualify for the various social work license requirements?
This depends on the jurisdiction in question. While some jurisdictions may have overlapping continuing education requirements that would allow you to apply CE hours to both, there is no definitive answer across the board. Check with your jurisdiction in question to see if you can apply CE hours to maintain your social work license in all of them.
Not Looking for CEUs? Explore Social Work Master’s and Doctorate Programs
While there are many master’s in social work or MSW programs to choose from, it’s important to consider whether you can relocate or not. If relocating to an on-campus program is not an option for you, an online MSW program may provide the flexibility you need to balance your career and educational aspirations. Students also have the option of enrolling in an accelerated program.