Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Licensure/Certification for Social Workers

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

This is a huge issue facing social workers in the U.S. and Canada; licensure/certification for professional social workers.

Many posts are up on Linkedin along with others sites and blogs that focus on this issue.

Once a person has graduated with a BSW or MSW, obtained some work experience they often are required to become licensed and/or certified as a social worker for insurance purposes, an employer may require it or one may want to do private practice (U.S.).

The issue is states and provinces/territories do not have the same rules and/or regulations for this process and if a licensed or certified social worker relocates to another state they often are required to retake the exam, become supervised again and fork over more money for the whole process.

This to me should become a national issue in both the states and Canada. Every state and province should have the same rules, regulations, requirements and social workers should be able to relocate to another state or province and have their license, certification or registration follow them.

For example, here in Canada only one provinces requires a BSW or MSW to be registered with the provicial social work order and pass an exam, Nova Scotia. For all the other provinces it is optional to be registered with the provincial order. But as a BSW or MSW if you are not registered with your provincial order you can not legally write or use the term social worker, meaning it is about title protection. No exam, except for Quebec (to prove you can speak, read and write in French).

Out of the 10 provinces in Canada, only Nova Scotia requires one take a competency exam to become a Registered Social Worker or a Private Practitioner for those that choose private practice.

Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland/Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia only require that a BSW or MSW register with the social work order in the respective province, prove the educational degree, complete an application and pay a yearly fee-all to use the title Social Worker.

In the states the rules and regulations are very difference and require exams, education and of course fees to become a licensed (there are different levels) or certified social worker.

I am curious as to how other social workers feel about this?

*Initially posted on (the post has been expanded on since the original post to include updated information on social work in Canada)- November 11, 2012. – UK Social Work – NASW- National Association of Social Workers -U.S. – CASW-Canadian Association of Social Workers

*October 19, 2012

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