Continuing Education for Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)
For social workers, continuing education is required for licensure renewal. But this requirement can be much more than that for those that are interested in growing their professional skills to use in their career. Continued education provides many people the opportunity to develop expertise in a specialty area. Additionally, with new conditions developing often, continuing education, CE, is critical in properly training social workers and keeping them up to date on resources available for the populations with which they work. Social workers must stay well informed of new evidence-based treatments so they can provide relevant, effective care. CEs help social workers build their own credentials making their services more attractive to employers and patients alike. With many jobs now offering more flexible work options and with more opportunities to work from home, taking continuing education courses are more accessible and more attractive than they have ever been in the past. Below we will review a few key points to keep in mind to guide you in your decision-making process when considering a continuing education course.
Know What Your States Requirements Are
Every state has different requirements when it comes to license renewal. This can vary from the number of hours a person is required fulfill to the types of classes that will be accept towards credits. Typically, a person will need to complete between 30-40 hours of education every two years relevant to their practice of social work or clinical social. Some states also require specific topics for their continuing education credits. Ethics, Domestic violence and suicide prevention are some of the topics that many states now require for CE training. The best way to ensure you’re compliant with your state and profession’s requirements is to check with the licensing board before taking any courses you are considering. For information on how to contact your licensing board, visit https://www.aswb.org/licenses/protecting-the-public/look-up-license/. For information on how to find your state’s requirements, try the search tool to find courses compliant with your state board’s requirements. You can also filter your search to include specific topic areas and distance learning options.
Remember that Maintaining Your License Is Your Responsibility
A person is not allowed to work with an expired license. Therefore, it is important that you know when your license is due for renewal and that you give yourself ample time to complete the necessary courses required completing your renewal. Do not assume that your current employer will remind you to renew your credits. While some employers may provide this, remember it is a courtesy and that being up to date with your licenses is something you are responsible for. It is important to make sure you enroll in courses offered by an accredited school of social work, a licensed health facility, a government agency or a professional social work or mental health association. Keep your own records and track your hours and certificates as this is considered to be your responsibility as well.
How Can You Find Continuing Education Opportunities?
Below we have listed a few points in helping you find out more about continuing education opportunities:
- Visit your state’s licensing board website to check for listings of approved courses or links to approved company websites.
- Some professional social work organizations may offer CEs to members watching webinars or attending conferences. This can include the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the Association of Oncology Social Workers (AOSW), the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) and the Society for Social Work Research (SSWR).
- The Association of Social Work Boards provide a spreadsheet of approved continuing education offerings that can be downloaded. Currently this spreadsheet is populated with 850 classes and provides a description of the course title, the number of credits offered, and the format in which each course is offered in addition to the website to register for that particular course.
- Accredited schools of social work will often offer CE opportunities to their alumni and local practitioners. Information about these options can be found on the school’s website and/or social media pages.
- Colleagues from current and previous jobs in your network can also inform you about CEs that they’ve recently earned and would recommend.
Consider What Will Complement Your Current Expertise
It is important to be thoughtful and consider what topics you are interested in. This will help you build your credentials and create a cohesive professional background for your career. Consider if the CE content makes sense in terms of what you are looking for and if the course can provide a higher level of learning on the topic you currently have. The purpose of continuing education is to broaden your knowledge and skills. For a complete list of courses for social workers, visit https://www.datapathdesign.com/ASWB/ACEdswb/Prod/cgi-bin/ACESearchDSWBDLL.dll/acesShowProviders
Continuing Education Courses Are Available in Many Formats
One of the silver linings the pandemic has created is the ability to access continuing education beyond an in-person classroom. Whether a course you are interested in is geographically farther than you would like to travel or if you are just not comfortable being in an indoor classroom environment yet, there are still many options available to obtain the CEs you need. Today, CEs can be accessed and earned through a variety of formats, including:
- Conference sessions. Many times, this is an additional fee.
- Independent study – reading a book or journal article and passing a short test
With some planning, continuing education can be very manageable and rewarding. CEs offer you the opportunity to discover new techniques and tools to amplify the skills you already have. You may even find yourself discovering a new way you can use those skills altogether. With a bit of thoughtfulness, CEs can do much more than just renew your license.