Continuing Education for Social Work
by Lesley Graybeal
Continuing education credits are a requirement for state license renewal.
Continuing education (CE) courses in social work are designed to help social workers stay abreast of current issues in the field and enhance their professional skills. Continuing education courses are also a requirement for state licensure renewal, although the number and type of continuing education courses or CE credits required varies by the licensing board.
The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) keeps a searchable database of the social work licensing boards in the United States and Canada, so social workers can find their jurisdiction and stay up on the latest criteria for license renewal. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) also lists individual state board license requirements through their credentialing center. Always contact your licensing board for current information on what courses are accepted for continuing education credits and how the hours are calculated.
Approved Courses and Providers
The ASWB's Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program and the NASW CE Approval Program both certify individual courses offered in social work continuing education to provide a list of options. The ASWB also has a searchable list of social work continuing education providers offering a broader course selection. Among the courses listed are continuing education classes and seminars in ethics and other special topics that may be required for license renewal or specialty certification.
Structure and Delivery
Some social work continuing education courses are offered in-person in a classroom format, while others are offered online in a distance-learning format. Courses in both forms of delivery are listed in the ACE list of approved courses. Some courses are offered as day-long workshops, while others are structured as a set of course modules.
Being approved by the ASWB, NASW or another national body does not guarantee that a continuing education course will be accepted by your licensing board, but it is an indicator that the course is likely to be accepted. Other qualities to look for as you select a program include the involvement of experienced social workers in the curriculum, relevance to theory and practice of social work, availability of a course syllabus, learning objectives and evaluation procedures.
Your continuing education provider should document your participation in the course and provide your licensing board with a certificate of completion, attendance documentation and instructor qualifications if necessary. Any ACE approved providers must demonstrate that they provide accurate and reliable documentation for their courses in order to be listed with the ASWB.