Virtually no career is exempt from the process of learning, improving and advancing. It’s how we project excellence, serve best, and stay at the top of our game. The field of social work is no exception. Licensed social workers have various rules for license renewal depending on the state. In addition to filing for renewal, licensed socal workers must have record of continued education and training (CE/T) in their chosen field to stay up to date with changing times, evolving practices and client needs. Continuing education units (CEU), or continuing education credits as they are sometimes called, are the primary measures by which requirements are met for renewal. Just as colleges and universities issue credit hours for each course completed, so are CEUs issued when social workers complete training in a specific area.
Conveniently, there are schools and organizations that allow online or distance education courses to earn CEUs or one may choose to study in a regular physical classroom setting. Nevertheless, it is the social worker’s responsibility to investigate and verify that the programs meet the requirements set forth by their particular licensing board. States vary in terms of the number of credits that can be taken online or via home study.
There isn’t a designated organization or body that notifies social workers when it’s time to renew licenses, where to study, or what to look for. I asked a fellow social workers in 2011 during February how many credits he had left to complete for the 2011 renewal in florida due in March. He was not aware that credits needed to be completed that year! Many people do not keep track of this information and it’s important. So social workers must be proactive to keep their own credentials up to date. Licensing requirements may be very specific or generalized. Some states, for example, may require 40 hours of in-classroom study with specific coursework in ethics; while another state may only require 20 hours of study with no specific coursework mentioned. Every case is different. Doing a thorough scouring on the internet may help one to find a state-by-state listing of requirements with contact information for additional questions.
Specific organizations that might be helpful in this area are the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). These organizations also provide their own CEUs that are generally accepted in the industry, but again verify with your board each type of CE/T program and CEU so that you don’t spend your time taking courses that are unacceptable to further your career. You can also get your license suspended if you don’t complete your credits so this is something to pay close attention to and not forget.