NASW Credentialing Center Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the NASW Credentialing Center?
The NASW Credentialing Center is a department within the NASW National Office responsible for the management of NASW credentials and specialty certifications, the NASW Register of Clinical Social Workers, the NASW Continuing Education Approval Program, the Verifications Program, and the National Social Worker Finder.
2. How many credentials and specialty certifications does NASW offer?
NASW offers three credentials and seven specialty certifications (five for MSW’s and two for BSW’s).
3. How are NASW credentials and specialty certifications developed?
NASW credentials and specialty certifications are created based on member needs surveys. The criteria are then developed by social workers who are experts in the respective fields.
4. How long has NASW had credentials and specialty certifications?
NASW has been offering credentials to social workers for more than 45 years starting with the ACSW. NASW Specialty Certifications have been offered since 2000.
5. Does NASW membership automatically give you a credential or specialty certification?
No, not every member qualifies for an NASW credential or specialty certification. A member must have the required experience, supervision, education, knowledge, and skill to qualify for an NASW credential or specialty certification.
6. What is the NASW Register of Clinical Social Workers?
The NASW Register of Clinical Social Workers lists clinical social workers. The listees provide clinical social work services to clients throughout the United States. All listees have agreed to adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics, NASW Standards for the Practice of Clinical Social Work and NASW Standards for Continuing Professional Education. Managed care providers, individuals, and organizations use the Register as a referral source. To find a clinical social worker, go to www.socialworkers.org/register/default.asp.
7. How do I get my name in the NASW Register of Clinical Social Workers?
You must be an active QCSW to have your name listed in the NASW Register.
8. Do I need a social work degree to qualify for an NASW credential or specialty certification?
Yes. All credential and specialty certification holders have a BSW or an MSW. No other degrees are accepted.
9. Are the NASW credentials and specialty certifications the same as a state license?
No, a state social work license is issued to regulate the practice of social work and protect the public. A state social work license is issued by and useful only in the jurisdiction where the holder plans to practice. An NASW credential/specialty certification signifies that the holder has met the highest standards developed in the social work profession nationally in addition to having experience and supervision working with certain populations. All holders of NASW credentials and specialty certifications agree to adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics and NASW Standards for Continuing Professional Education as well as standards for social work practice.
10. If I have a state license do I need an NASW credential or specialty certification?
An NASW credential or specialty certification is a professional designation and does not take the place of a state license. NASW credentials and specialty certifications are used to enhance the state license. It signifies that the holder has additional training, experience, and supervision.
11. What are the benefits of having an NASW credential or specialty certification?
Holders of NASW credentials and specialty certifications become part of the most widely recognized social work organization in the world and have opportunities for broader exposure. In addition, holders are recognized as meeting established national standards of social work practice and adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics. Holders have social work knowledge, proven work experience, demonstrated competence, and adhere to ethical practice.
12. How do I apply for an NASW credential or specialty certification?
You can download the application from the NASW Web site at www.socialworkers.org/credentials. When the application is complete and all supporting documentation is attached, it can be mailed to the address provided in the application, along with the payment.
13. How long does it take to obtain an NASW credential or specialty certification?
If all of the required documents are received, processing of an application takes fifteen (15) business days. If additional information is needed, the processing could take up to thirty (30) days.
14. Is there a renewal process?
Yes. Renewal for the ACSW is every year. Renewal for the QCSW is every two years. Renewal for Specialty Certifications is every two years. Renewal packets are sent prior to the expiration of the credential/certification.
15. What are the criteria for the credentials and specialty certifications?
Each credential/certification has its own criteria. You can download an application from the NASW Web site at www.socialworkers.org/credentials or refer to the following fact sheets:
- Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW)
- Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW)
- Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW)
- Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW)
- Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)
- Certified Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-CYFSW)
- Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM)
- Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM)
- Certified Social Worker in Health Care (C-SWHC)
- Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)
16. Do I need to be a current member of NASW to apply for the NASW credentials and specialty certifications?
Yes. You must be a member in good standing.
17. Can supervision by any mental health professional be used to qualify for NASW credentials and specialty certifications?
Alternate supervision by other professionals can be recognized. Specific professionals differ depending on the credential or specialty certification (see the application for additional information.)
18. May I use supervision with a social worker outside of my employer? May I contract for supervision?
Yes, you may contract for supervision. The written contract should accompany your application and be acknowledged by your employer/organization supervisor or administrator. The contract should specify the frequency, duration, and format of the session (see the application for additional information.)
19. My supervisor is deceased or unable to be reached, how do I document my supervision?
Submit a letter specifically explaining why you are unable to contact your supervisor. Provide documentation from the organization’s human resource office attesting to this supervision or include a copy of your state social work board application. A colleague familiar with your work may then complete the supervisory form.
20. What if the employer I worked for no longer exists?
Submit a letter specifically explaining why you are unable to contact your supervisor, along with a copy of the supervisory form you submitted to your state social work board. A colleague familiar with your work may then complete the supervisory form.
21. Are continuing education (CE) credits required for NASW credentials and specialty certifications?
All holders of credentials and specialty certifications agree to adhere to
the NASW Standards for Continuing Professional Education. CE’s
are required when submitting an application for the ACSW, C-CATODSW, C-ACYFSW,
C-CYFSW. Twenty (20) hours of continuing education are also required for the renewal of all specialty certifications.
22. Can I use the continuing education hours I submit for my state license to renew my NASW specialty certification?
Yes, as long as the content of the program is linked to the primary areas of the certification.
23. What CE’s are acceptable for credentials and specialty certifications?
CE’s submitted for specialty certifications must meet the core knowledge and skill areas for the respective certifications. In other words, continuing education programs must be related to the population and subject matter of the respective certifications. Please refer to the application for further information on a specific certification. Approved ethics programs are also required for the ACSW application and can be found on the NASW Web site at www.socialworkers.org/ce.
Types of activities that qualify for continuing education credit:
- Courses provided by colleges and universities.
- NASW National or Chapter provided or approved trainings, workshops, and conferences.
- Courses provided by groups and organizations certified to grant social work continuing education.
- Workplace in-service trainings or workshops.
- Home study programs that are approved by state social work licensing boards or educational entities.
- 50% (10 hours) may be obtained through accredited Web-based courses, distance learning, scholarly publications (e.g. books and journal articles), instruction (courses and workshops taught or presented), and computer-assisted instruction.
24. What is an approved ethics program for the ACSW application?
The NASW Credentialing Center has defined a social work ethics program as one that teaches principles of making ethical decisions and provides models for addressing ethical issues in social work practice.
Ethics includes one, some, or all of the following components:
- NASW Code of Ethics
- Statutes, state laws and regulations for social work practice
- Boundary issues
- Ethical dilemmas inherent in social work practice
- Ethics consultation
- Ethical misconduct
- Professional malpractice and liability
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The sole objective of the program must be to convey the aforementioned definition and/or components. If the ethics content is part of a larger conference, it must fulfill at least three (3) hours (evident in either the program agenda or on the certificate of completion).
25. How do I find CE programs?
Visit the NASW CE Approval Program at www.socialworkers.org/ce. The programs are listed by conferences, workshops, and distance learning and you can search by state and specific topics.
26. What is the NASW Continuing Education (CE) Approval Program?
The NASW CE Approval Program approves social work relevant educational opportunities provided by numerous organizations. Approved providers offer workshops, conferences, home study programs, Internet-based programs and distance learning education. A majority of social work licensing boards accepts programs approved through the NASW CE Approval Program. Social workers may use the NASW CE Approval Program to search for educational programs nationally, regionally, or locally.
27. How does a provider get approval for CE’s?
Programs must meet the criteria established by NASW. The criteria and application can be downloaded from the NASW Web site at www.socialworkers.org/ce/approval.asp.