Earning a Social Work Certification Online

Social Work is a growing field of professionals who have made it their mission to alleviate some of the daily stress of clients. People in the community who may need extra help with healthcare, welfare, education, the list goes on. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental illness, addiction, behavioral and emotional issues. A social worker has a big job, and they have quite a lot of area to cover.

In order to obtain employment in many fields of social work, you are first going to have to become certified in that specific field of study. Different certifications mean different training, specific to each type of social worker. If you want to work with children, you are going to need a different certification than one you would get if you want to work with the elderly. Even though it may seem that there are quite a lot of paths to take, and a lot of education to be acquired , the fact that you want to help someone makes all the difference in the world.

Certification means that you have been educated, and are licensed to practice social work, in the state that you live in. It also means that you have completed certain hours of supervised work, continuing education, and have taken the exam to become licensed. Each type of social work certification listed below is a continuing education certificate.

Take your time and read through each section in order to get a better idea of what each certification requires, and hopefully this list will help you narrow down your potential career path.

Types of Social Work Certification

Each area of social work requires some type of certification and licensing. In order to obtain licensing in the state you plan to work in, you must take an exam and pass, along with other credentials. There may be a time in which you seek different paths in social work certification. Not only do these different paths require specific licensing and certifications, some require continuing education and possibly advanced programs. Remember to find out if a certain path requires a master's degree, or a bachelor's degree.

Licensed Bachelor of Social Work (LBSW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person who has a bachelor’s in social work and obtains a license through the Association of Social Work Board's Bachelor exam will seek this certificate.

What do recipients get from this certificate? With this certificate, you can work in entry level jobs like human services. You will not be able to provide counseling services with this certificate. Consider this certification like a stepping stone into the world of Social Work. This would be the perfect time to look around at different employment opportunities and try different areas of social work to see which you prefer.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to receive a LBSW, you must have graduated from an accredited university with a bachelor’s in social work and have passed the licensure exam, and you also must adhere to the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person with a masters in social work can obtain this certificate by passing the licensure exam. This path will help patients with mental and emotional issues.

What do recipients get from this certificate? With this certificate, recipients can find employment in schools, offices, hospitals, and even take on management roles with this certificate. Although this is the next step up from a LBSW, this is still a fairly entry-level position. You are able to find a wider range of employment, but getting a specific certification will lead you down even greater pathways.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain a LMSW, you must first acquire a masters in social work. Then, you must pass your licensure exam as well as adhere to the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018)

Licensed Master Social Worker-Advanced Generalist (LMSW-AG)

Who seeks this certificate? A person with a master’s in social work who has been licensed and attended required advanced classes will seek this certificate.

What do recipients get from this certificate? From this certificate, recipients do not provide clinical social work. This is one of the only advanced degrees that is not for a clinical position.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain a LMSW-AG, you must have a masters in social work and have done two years of unsupervised work in a non-clinical environment. You must also have taken your licensure exam and passed. You will also need to adhere to the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW,2018).

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person who has a masters in clinical social work and has passed the licensure exam, plus passed any extra advanced courses will seek this certificate.

What do recipients get from this certificate? With this certificate, recipients are able to practice in their own workplaces, and have their own practices.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? You must obtain a masters in clinical social work, pass the exam, and also have two or three years of supervised wore before you are awarded this certificate. You will also need to adhere to the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Check out our article on the MSW vs LCSW to learn more about the differences.

Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person who is a qualified provider of social services will seek out this certificate.

What do recipients get from this certificate? This is a special recognition for outstanding work in social services. If you take part in the Academy of Certified Social Workers, it means that you understand and uphold the knowledge and persistence it takes to be a social worker.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain this certificate, you must be a member of the National Association of Social Workers, have a master's degree from an accredited university, have two years of social work employment, have 20 hours of continuing education, and adhere to the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW)

Who seeks this certificate? This is the highest level of expertise in the field, if you are a social worker who educates on mental health issues, psychosocial dysfunction or other types of emotional and mental disabilities, then you are going to seek out this certificate.

What do recipients get from this certificate? You will receive recognition from employers, this certificate will showcase your abilities in the field, and your expertise.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? A master's degree with 20 hours of clinical coursework, 4,500 hours or three years of clinical social work experience, and 30 contact hours of post graduate continuing education. You must also have references from two experienced colleagues, as well as a clinical social work license, and adherence to the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW)

Who seeks this certificate? A master’s in social work holder who has an affinity for people with substance abuse issues. With this certificate, you will be able to evaluate and treat people with substance abuse issues, such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and even prescription medication.

What do recipients get from this certificate? Recipients of this degree received acknowledgement of national standards in knowledge, skills, and experience in this field. You will also be able to work with groups in therapy, as well as organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain this certificate, you must hold a master's degree from an accredited university, have 180 hours of relevant continuing education, have two years of paid, supervised work in an agency that provides treatment for substance abuse, and have a current license. Additionally, you must adhere to the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM)

Who seeks this certificate? Social Workers who wish to help clients and their families with self-care, quality of life, and who hold a bachelor’s in social work will seek out this certificate.

What do recipients get from this certificate? This certificate will provide recognition and expertise in the field of case management, in which you will be able to provide care to people on welfare and other state assistance related organizations.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain a C-SWCM certificate, you must have a bachelor’s in social work from an accredited university, have documentation of at least 3 years and 4,500 work hours of supervision, and experience in an organization that handles case management. You must also have a license and adhere to the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM)

Who seeks this certificate? Social Work members who would like to optimize client functioning, well-being, and provide case management services with a master’s in social work will seek this certificate.

What do recipients get from this certificate? This certificate will provide recognition and expertise in the field of case management. Your knowledge in the field of case management will ensure that you are competent to work in this field.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? You must hold a masters in social work from an accredited university, 3,000 hours of supervised work in a case management center, have a license, and adhere to the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW)

Who seeks this certificate? Clinical social workers who have an affinity for psychosocial development, preventing psychosocial dysfunction and disability, will seek out this certificate. If you have an interest in the psychology of a person's mind, this would be something that you would be interested in looking into.

What do recipients get from this certificate? From this certificate, people will receive notoriety for being available to people in times of struggle. A QCSW is someone who has met credentials and standards in clinical social work for their experience with helping people.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain a certificate in QCSW, you must hold a master's degree in social work from an accredited university. You must also have 30 hours of continuing education and three years of supervised employment with a social work agency. Plus, you must abide by the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education, as well as hold a social work license (NASW, 2018).

Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology (CSW-G)

Who seeks this certificate? A person who enjoys helping elders and aging people would be a great person to seek this certificate. A CSW-G is someone who is well-versed in legal as well as emotional issues with the geriatric crowd.

What do recipients get from this certificate? People who receive a certificate in CSW-G are experts in elder care and specialize in gerontology. A CSW-G is someone who helps the elderly with different areas of care, and represents the sociological aspect of life for the other population.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain a certificate, you must hold a masters in social work from an accredited university. You must have 30 hours of post-graduate education in the field, 3,000 hours of supervised work within the CSW-G specialization and hold a social work license. You must also abide by the Code of Ethics, as well as the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)

Who seeks this certificate? A person who enjoys working with the youth in a school setting will seek out this certificate. A C-SSWS works with students in their school and home life.

What do recipients get from this certificate? The recipient will be able to work in any school setting, including preschools, private schools, as well as in people's homes and also a C-SSWS can help with special education and students with disabilities in home and at school.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to acquire a C-SSWS, you must hold a master's degree in social work from an accredited university. You also have to have two years of supervised work in a school setting, and a license in social work. Plus, you must abide by the Code of Ethics, as well as the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Social Worker in Gerontology (SW-G)

Who seeks this certificate? A person who enjoys helping elders and aging people would be a great person to seek this certificate. A SW-G is someone who is well-versed in legal as well as emotional issues with the geriatric crowd.

What do recipients get from this certificate? A person with a SW-G has met standards in knowledge, skill level and expertise in the geriatric crowd.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain a certificate, you must hold a bachelor’s in social work from an accredited university. You must also have 30 hours of post-graduate education in the field, have 3,000 hours of supervised work within the CSW-G specialization, and hold a social work license. You must also abide by the Code of Ethics, as well as the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Advanced Social Worker in Gerontology (ASW-G)

Who seeks this certificate? Since this is an expertise serving elders, people who have had experience with the elder population are going to seek out this certificate. People with a master’s in social work with a specialty in gerontology would be the perfect fit for this field.

What do recipients get from this certificate? The recipient of this certificate is held to high standards within the social work community, and their expertise in treating the elderly population is recognized.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to receive a certificate in ASW-G, you must hold a master’s in social work from an accredited university, and you must also have 20 hours of continuing education in the field of elder care. Plus, you must have two years of work experience in the field. Your license needs to be up to date, and you also need to abide by the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Certified Social Worker in Health Care (C-SWHC)

Who seeks this certificate? People who like to help patients and families in a hospital setting, as well as after hospital care would be good for this career.

What do recipients get from this certificate? With this certificate, recipients receive recognition and professional visibility as a specialized social worker.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain this certificate, you must have a masters in social work, 30 hours of supervised work in a Health Care setting, a current license, and you must also abide by the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Certified Hospice & Palliative Social Worker (CHP-SW)

Who seeks this certificate? Someone with a bachelor’s in social work who would like to help patients and family members with a life-threatening disease or illness. This is typically end of life care and primarily pertains to helping the patient with the quality of their life.

What do recipients get from this certificate? People with this certificate attain national and professional notoriety, as well as credentials in hospice and palliative care.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain a CHP-SW, you must have a bachelor’s in social work from an accredited university. You must also have 20 hours of social work dealing with hospice and palliative care. Also, you will need 3 years of supervised work in the field and to have a current license. You will also need to abide by the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Advanced Certified Hospice & Palliative Social Worker (ACHP-SW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person with a master’s in social work who would like to help patients and family members who have a life-threatening disease or illness. This is typically end of life care and primarily pertains to helping the patient with the quality of their life, and making them comfortable in their final days.

What do recipients get from this certificate? People with this certificate attain national and professional notoriety, as well as credentials in hospice and palliative care.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain a ACHP-SW, you must have a master’s in social work from an accredited university. You must also have 20 hours of social work dealing with hospice and palliative care. Also, you will need 3 years of supervised work in the field, and to have a current license. You will also need to abide by the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Military Service Members, Veterans & Their Families – Social Worker (MVF-SW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person with an affinity for service members and their families who holds a bachelor’s degree in social work will seek out this certificate. You will deal with caring for members of the armed forces with physical, emotional, or psychological issues.

What do recipients get from this certificate? You will directly engage with members of the armed forced, their families, and veterans. You will help these members through activities and organizations that can offer resources to this unique group of people.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain this certificate, you will have to hold a bachelor’s of social work from an accredited university, have a current license to practice social work, have two years of supervised work, as well as 24 of continued education. Last but not least, you will have to uphold the Code of Ethics and the Standards for Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

Military Service Members, Veterans & Their Families – Advanced Social Worker (MVF-ASW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person who would seek this certificate would be someone who enjoys assisting service members and their families. This person would have a master’s in social work. You will be encouraging members of the armed forces as well as making sure their quality of life is going well and treating any mental or emotional issues.

What do recipients get from this certificate? With a certificate in MVF-ASW, you will receive the ability to serve all military members, from every branch, from newly enlisted to veterans, and their families.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to receive a certificate in MVF-ASW, you must first hold a master’s in social work from an accredited university, and also have a license to practice Social Work. You will be required to have thirty hours of continuing education and up to three years of supervised work working with service members and their families. You will also have to uphold the Code of Ethics, and the Standards for Social Work Practice (NASW, 2018).

Military Service Members, Veterans & Their Families – Clinical Social Worker (MVF-CSW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person with an affinity for the armed forces, someone who would like to help servicemen and women and their families to gain a better quality of life, would seek out this certification.

What do recipients get from this certificate? With a certificate in MVF-CSW, you will receive the ability to serve all military members, from every branch, and their families, from newly enlisted to veterans.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to receive a certificate in MVF-CSW, you must first hold a master’s in social work from an accredited university, and also have a license to practice social work. You will be required to have thirty hours of continuing education, and up to three years of supervised work, working with service members and their families. You will also have to uphold the Code of Ethics, and the Standards for Social Work Practice (NASW, 2018).

Certified Children, Youth & Family Social Worker (C-CYFSW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person with a bachelor’s in social work that has a desire to help troubled youth and their families would seek this certificate.

What do recipients get from this certificate? With a certificate in C-CYFSW, a person will receive professional and public recognition for their work with children and families, and also become part of a select group of social workers who specialize in the youth and family sector.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to obtain a certificate in C-CYFSW, you must have a bachelor’s in social work from one of the accredited universities, as well as twenty or more hours of continuing education in the field of children and youth, supervised work experience, as well as a BSW license.

Certified Advanced Children, Youth & Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)

Who seeks this certificate? A person with a master’s in social work who is interested in family dynamics, who can identify with strengthening families, and a person who aspires to help with the education, psychological, and emotional development of youth would seek this certificate.

What do recipients get from this certificate? A recipient of this certificate would receive advanced professional and public recognition (NASW, 2018). A person who holds a C-ACYFSW agrees to hold up the Code of Ethics as well as the Standards for Continuing Education.

What are the basic requirements you need to obtain this certificate? In order to get a C-ACYFSW certificate, first you must hold a Master's Degree from an accredited graduate program, then you have to have at least twenty hours of continued education. You must also have at least 3,000 hours of paid, supervised work in a youth and family workplace. Finally, you must be a licensed MSW holder and abide by all of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Continuing Education (NASW, 2018).

There are many different paths to think about when you want to get into the Social Work field. Each one is special and significant in its own way, whether you want to help veterans or you want to help hospice patients, you are going to find good, altruistic work. No matter what path you decide to take, you will be on the road to helping others.

Depending on if you have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree will change the course of your employment. You also want to make sure that whichever degree you decide to get, that you obtain it from an accredited university. If you are curious to know if your university is accredited, take a look at the Council for Higher Education list, which will help you to find out. Each certification will help you become employed in a different sector of the social work community. You will be educated and master your chosen path, and your expertise will be used to help foster the well-being of your clients. What you are thinking of doing is outstanding work, and you should be commended for it.

This may seem like a long, arduous road, but it will be worth it when you finally see the smiles on your clients’ faces. Helping others is the best gift you can give, and it will lead you on a wonderful path. I hope you take your time and look over the different career paths that Social Work has to offer and that you choose something that will give you joy in your life.

Sources:

NASW. (2018). Retrieved January 31, 2018, from https://www.socialworkers.org/

Council for Higher Education http://www.chea.org

Nedda
Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.