As a social worker, certification is essential because it proves that you are qualified to perform your duties. Some of the best certifications for social workers give them opportunities to work with people of different ages and positively impact their lives. Social worker certifications provide ongoing professional development for those in private practice and general health care.
If giving a better quality of life to people is a part of your career goals, you’ll need specialized knowledge in human behavior. You have a wide variety of choices for your social work career from clinical practice to palliative care to public and private school settings. We’ve listed the best certifications for social workers in this article to increase your career opportunities.
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What Is a Social Work Certification?
Social work certification is a credential that allows social workers to work in different health care roles. These opportunities include working as mental health counselors as well as leadership roles working for social justice or leading non-profit organizations.
Certifications test the knowledge of the professional and awards a certification after the candidate passes the exam. Advanced social worker certifications validate that you have up-to-date knowledge in your field of expertise. It also validates that you’ve been through extensive training programs and uphold ethical standards in social work services.
How Much Can You Earn With a Social Work Certification?
You can earn an average of about $52,000 per annum in social work jobs, according to PayScale. Generally, those who have a certification can earn $44,000 to $65,000 per year or more, depending on where they work.
Why Is Social Work Certification Important?
A social work certification is important because it offers recognition for a professional’s skills and expertise. While it may be costly to get certified, most people consider it a useful career investment. They help prove that you are fit for social work employment opportunities.
The social work field is saturated with professionals with the same qualifications as you. Certification sets you apart from your counterparts and shows you are dedicated to sharpening your skills to offer the best service to others. As a certified social worker, you will be a more competitive job candidate.
Certifications increase your salary potential. This is mostly because employers are often willing to pay more for social workers with certifications. In some cases, employers may save costs on training by hiring someone with certification.
Expand Your Knowledge
The most important reason you need to get certified as a social worker is that it allows you to expand your knowledge. Certifications are often renewed within a few years so you can learn a newer and better method of carrying out your job. Continuing education and new knowledge help you gain better results with your cases.
Best Certifications for Social Workers at a Glance
|Certified Advanced Children, Youth & Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)||$165||Master’s degree, 20 hours of community practice, two years of supervised work experience|
|Academy of Certified Social Workers Credential (ACSW)||$165||Current NASW membership, Master’s Degree in Social Work, two years post-graduate work, 20 hours of continuing education|
|Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)||$165||A Master’s Degree in Social Work from a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education|
|Functional Aging Specialty Certification||$399||Current CPR or Basic Life Support certification from the American Heart Association, Red Cross, or another organization|
|Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW)||$450||A Master’s Degree in Social Work from a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education showing 20 hours of clinical coursework|
|Child Development Associate (CDA)||$425||Complete 120 hours of formal early childhood education training|
|Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC)||$410||The applicant can be a student enrolled in or be a graduate from a master’s-level rehabilitation counseling or clinical rehabilitation program accredited by CACREP|
|National Clinical Supervision Endorsement (NCSE)||$235||At least 30 hours of education/training on substance use disorders and addiction clinical supervision|
|Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (BCD)||$158||A Master’s Degree in Social Work from a graduate program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education showing 20 hours of clinical coursework|
|Certification in Forensic Social Work (CFSW)||$195; members $245;non-members||Complete a two-day training program and pass a course evaluation|
Top Social Worker Certifications: A Closer Look
Certified Advanced Children, Youth & Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)
This certificate program is for social workers who want to provide services to youths who are under 18. It builds on the social work experience and education of professionals. It focuses on policy, advocacy, direct practice, program development, research, program evaluation, education, and supervision to improve youths’ psychological and social functioning.
Academy of Certified Social Workers Credential (ACSW)
The ACSW certification is one of the most important social work credentials. It is widely recognized and ideal for providers of social services. However, you must be an NASW member to get this certification. Since it is not an entry-level certification, you need a Master’s Degree in Social Work awarded by a CSWE accredited school.
Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)
This certification covers social work procedures and modalities, social work ethics, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary activities, program management and development skills, and federal and state laws and public education.
Functional Aging Specialty Certification
The only requirement for this certification is a basic life support certification. It is for social workers who want to work with elderly individuals. The certification trains professionals based on the Functional Aging Training Model.
This way, they can empower active elderly individuals to lead active and healthy lives. You do not need a degree in social work to enroll in this program.
Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW)
The DCSW certification is a highly regarded credential for clinical social workers. It shows excellence and the highest level of expertise in the job. This certification is globally recognized and a good tool for those who want to transition to a clinical setting within the social work industry. To enroll in this program, the educational requirement is a Master’s Degree in Social Work.
Child Development Associate (CDA)
This certification is for early educators who work with toddlers and their families. Its main focus is to assess early childhood education professionals through a supervised experience. This will include an exam, professional portfolio, and observation.
There are a lot of educator pathways available to social workers in this certification. Each one is for kids of different ages, and some experience in childhood education is required to enroll in this program.
Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC)
The CRC credential is a graduate-level certification for social workers who want to demonstrate their depth of knowledge and skills in serving people with disabilities. The certification evaluates candidates as they learn to manage, coordinate and determine necessary processes during the rehabilitation process. It is ideal for clinical social workers.
National Clinical Supervision Endorsement (NCSE)
This is one of the best certifications for social workers who want to work with those who struggle with addiction. The role of clinical supervision involves counseling for substance abuse disorders. NAADAC offers it, and it tests candidates on psychoactive substances, pharmacology, co-occurring disorders, issues of regulation and law, and the theoretical base of counseling.
Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (BCD)
Social worker certifications like this are crucial credentials for clinical social workers. With this certification, social workers can apply their skills as clinical supervisors, psychoanalysts, and children/families practitioners. To take this exam, you need to have experience in clinical social work.
Certificate in Forensic Social Work (CFSW)
This program is not a certification. It is a certificate program that provides continuing education credit. It consists of a two-day course and professionals must pass a summary exam in order to earn the credit.
This program is ideal for social workers who want to work with families and children going through custody battles, divorce, separation, termination of parental rights, and neglect. The scope of the certification covers child abuse, spouse abuse, juvenile justice, adult justice services, mandated treatment programs, and corrections.
Free Social Work Certificate Courses Worth Your Time
- The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness. This course is offered by Coursera and it covers mental health and illness and how it is influenced by social developments and attitudes in North America and the world.
- The Arts and Science of Relationships: Understanding Human Needs. This is another course by Coursera. It introduces the concepts of strategies and skills learning and development systems. You can also learn about the relevance of this topic for everyday relationships.
- Managing ADHD, Autism, Learning Disabilities, and Concussion in School. This course focuses on managing children with learning disabilities such as autism, ADHD, concussions, and other topics in child welfare.
Are Social Work Certifications Worth It?
Yes, social work certifications are worth it because they keep your skill and core knowledge up-to-date. These certifications give you advanced skills in a specific area. They are a great investment that can take you on new career paths. Social work professionals may also want to get social worker certifications because they are a great way to verify hands-on experience.
Best Certifications for Social Workers FAQ
The best certifications for social workers include Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), Functional Aging Specialty Certification, Child Development Associate (CDA), and Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW). You can choose to get certified as a social worker or as a clinical social worker.
Yes, you need a degree to work as a social worker. Some employers may require a bachelor’s degree in the field, while others prefer professionals with master’s degrees. However, to become a clinical social worker, you need to have a master’s degree. A hospital social worker will need a bachelor’s degree in social work, sociology, or psychology.
Yes, you need professional field experience to take social work certification exams. In most cases, you need many experience hours and a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
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Social work certifications are worth it for both social workers and clinical social workers that provide they meet national standards. With certifications, professionals can update their skills and knowledge to better serve their clients and patients. In a highly regulated field like social work, certifications can help you advance your career.
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