Professional social workers are people who have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in social work. People working as social workers must register or be licensed in a number of nations and jurisdictions, and they must have certain criteria. In some cases, the professional association establishes academic and work experience qualifications for membership.
In the United States, a social worker must have a bachelor's degree (BSW or BASW) in social work from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) recognized program to be licensed, though individuals may also have a master's degree (MSW) or a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or DSW). The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is a four-year bachelor's degree in social work. Typically, liberal arts courses make up the first two years, while social work classes in human development, policy/law, research, and practice make up the latter two years.
BSW students must complete a minimum of 400 field education or internship hours in programs certified by the Council on Social Work Education. Accredited BSW schools frequently allow students who wish to pursue a Master of Social Work degree to complete the program in less time or to forgo courses.
In some areas, however, a social worker with a bachelor's or even associate degree in any discipline may be eligible to obtain a license. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the country's largest professional association of social workers.
The four-year degree may be structured differently depending on the university and draws on a variety of subjects, such as social work theory, psychology, human development, sociology, social policy, research methodologies, social planning, and social administration.
Various states in the United States have passed legislation that "protects" the use of the title "social worker." In most places, using the title necessitates licensure or certification. With the exception of California, which sets and conducts its own licensing test, all states need a prelicensure examination administered by the ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards). Licensure is available at various levels of social work practice in more than half of all states, and clinical social work is regulated in all states. The Master's level licensure exam has a pass rate of nearly 74%.
In most parts of Canada, a four-year Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is required for admittance into the field.
The diploma in social work practice is the entry-level prerequisite in Alberta. Psychotherapy treatment normally necessitates a Master's degree in Social Work (MSW).
In Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan authorized social workers with advanced clinical certification can independently use the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to make a mental health diagnosis. For this aim, these provinces maintain a clinical registry.
For this aim, these provinces maintain a clinical registry. MSW social workers in Nova Scotia are allowed to make provisional mental health diagnoses.
Candidates must register with their provincial regulatory agency in order to legally use the title "social worker." The Association of Social Work Boards also requires an exam as a condition for accreditation in some jurisdictions (ASWB).
The undergraduate Bachelor's degree (BA, BSc, or BSW) in social work, which has been offered at British institutions since September 2003, is the most common qualification for social workers.
A master's degree is also available (MA, MSc, or MSW). The undergraduate Diploma in Social Work (DipSW) has been replaced, while the postgraduate equivalent, the postgraduate Diploma in Social Work (PGDipSW), is still given and allows the holder to register and practice as a social worker.
The DipSW was first conferred in 1991, and by 2009, it has been phased down across the UK. Prior to this, the Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW), which was issued between 1975 and 1991, was the recognized qualification.
It is currently illegal to claim to be a social worker or a student social worker without first registering with the relevant Social Work Register and holding or undertaking training for the recognized qualifications. Every two years, social workers must renew their registration.
These standards provide protection to vulnerable persons by ensuring that social workers are professionally regulated. They also encourage workforce growth, as all social workers must complete at least fifteen days of professional training over the course of two years in order to renew their license.
In the United Kingdom, non-registered or non-qualified social care practitioners, also known as Social Services Assistants, Child and Family Workers, Community Care Assistants, or Community Care Workers (not to be confused with domiciliary or care home care workers), are unregistered social care practitioners who often do not hold any formal social work qualification and must practice despite this.
This is not the case in Scotland, where social care employees have a broader area of registration.
In the United Kingdom's mental health sector, social workers can become Approved Mental Health Professionals and Approved Clinicians.
With the passage of the Mental Health Act 2007, this post was superseded by the prior Approved Social Worker status, and is now open to other professions such as community psychiatric nurses, psychologists, and occupational therapists, while still preserving a social work ethos. Under the Mental Health Act 1983, as amended by the Mental Health Act 2007, AMHPs are in charge of organizing and contributing to assessments.
In Australia, a four-year Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is necessary for entrance into the occupation of Social Worker, while some universities also offer a two-year, graduate-entry MSW program. Membership is open to graduates of courses recognized by the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW).
A person having international qualifications can submit a formal application for assessment by the AASW to have their qualifications considered for recognition. Australia is the only developed English-speaking OECD country that does not need social workers to be registered.
Most employers require candidates to be members of the American Association of Social Workers (AASW), and only graduates of AASW-approved courses are eligible for membership.
However, participation in the AASW is not required, and only about a third of social workers are members. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a requirement of AASW approved membership and must include responsibility, the acquisition of new knowledge and information, and skill development (AASW CPD Policy 2011/12). Non-members are exempt from this requirement.