Social Work Certification

Social workers help individuals and families in a wide range of life situations and prepare for a career through schooling and certification. While exact requirements vary by state, social workers are generally required to be certified or licensed. Learn about the different types of social worker certifications as well as the requirements for becoming certified. Schools offering Addictions & Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is Social Work Certification?

Social work certification is a form of professional credentialing offered through trade organizations that demonstrates a certain knowledge and skill level in your field. Certification is not usually administered by state/local government agencies; however, it is generally required by government agencies to work legally. In this context, 'social work certification' is not the same as a certificate in social work. Certificates in social work are provided through formal training programs, whereas social work certifications are given upon passing a single exam or series of multiple exams after training has been completed.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that all U.S. states and territories have varying licensure and certification requirements (www.bls.gov). While the terms 'certification' and 'licensure' are sometimes applied interchangeably for common usage, they are different terms. Licensure is the highest form of regulatory credentialing. If you have obtained a graduate degree and are trained to engage in psychotherapy, you would be classified as a clinical social worker, and would be required to obtain a license through your state (e.g., licensed clinical social worker or LCSW). As a non-clinical social worker, your state may require that you obtain certification instead.

In addition to adhering to state regulatory mandates, certification may be also used as a tool for career enrichment and/or advancement. Depending on the type of certification, exams may be taken in person or online.

Overview Credentialing provided by trade organizations, must pass a single exam or a series of exams
Specialization Options Gerontology, addictions, education, youth and family, hospice and palliative
Job Outlook 12% increase between 2014-2024 (for social workers)*

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Types of Certification?

Certification can be grouped by title or by specialization. For example, you would be eligible to become a non-clinical, Certified Social Worker/CSW with a bachelor's degree in social work or other approved and related degree program, such as psychology. As a non-clinical, Certified Master Social Worker/ CMSW, you would need a master's degree. To become a non-clinical, Certified Social Work Manager/CSWM, you would need a master's degree and at least two years of postgraduate professional experience.

You may also consider obtaining certification in one or more of many available specialties, including gerontology, youth and family, hospice and palliative, addictions, case management and education.

What Can I Do with My Certification?

Your job opportunities will vary with your experience and type of certification. For example, you may help people with medical conditions by providing psychosocial assistance as a public health and medical social worker. Or, you may serve is a social worker who develops and implements programs to help families and individuals through a wide range of situations, such as poverty, homelessness and child abuse.

The BLS reports that the employment rate for social workers is projected to grow 12% between 2014 and 2024. You could work for various kinds of employers, such as government agencies, insurance companies, hospitals, schools and non-profit organizations.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Leo University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Maryville University

    Maryville University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Maryville University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • New England College

    New England College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at New England College:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »