Certification for School Social Workers: Overview and Information

There are several different certification paths for school social workers. Continue reading for an overview of the qualifications necessary for certification, as well as job growth and salary info for a few career options for certified professionals.

School social workers address student issues, such as behavioral problems, truancy, drug use and teen pregnancy. They focus on helping improve the school and home environments. School social workers who would like to earn certification must have a bachelor's or master's degree in addition to experience their field.

Essential Information

School social workers assist children struggling with a variety of difficult challenges. Certification as a school social worker, while voluntary, can establish an individual's understanding of the standards of this profession.

Certification Certified School Social Worker Specialist (C-SSWS) Certified Children, Youth and Family Social Worker (C-CYFSW) Certified Advanced Children, Youth and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)
Required Education Master's degree Bachelor's degree Master's degree
Required Experience At least 2 years At least 1 year At least 2 years
Required Skills Knowledge of public education laws, student population features and social work procedures and ethics Supervisory, program evaluation and social function assessment skills Commitment to social work and helping families

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School Social Worker Certification Overview

School social workers often work with parents and school personnel to deal with a student's issues, such as misbehavior in class, truancy, drug use and teen pregnancy. The primary goals of school social workers include creating a safe environment for students that encourages learning and development and helping students improve school and home situations. Completing a bachelor's degree program in social work is a minimum requirement in some states for licensure, though some states require school social workers to earn a master's degree.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers a number of certification options, with three relevant to school social workers. The NASW certification is voluntary and recognized across the country for social workers with specialized training in their field. In addition to having state licensure, social workers pursuing any of these credentials must meet other basic requirements, including earning a degree in social work from an accredited program, obtaining experience as a professional school social worker and completing at least 20 continuing professional education hours.

Certified School Social Worker Specialist (C-SSWS) Information

The C-SSWS certification is designed for social workers who offer case management, crisis intervention, conflict resolution and other assistance in a school environment. School social workers pursuing this credential will need to become NASW members, earn a master's degree in social work, have two years of social work experience and submit to a background check. School social workers must submit academic records and proof of experience that demonstrate skills in public education laws, social work procedures, features of student populations, social work ethics and other core aspects of the position.

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

School social workers who represent or provide services for minors could also consider the C-CYFSW certification. This credential can be beneficial for school social workers who work in a variety of settings and provide several services, such as program evaluations, direct supervision and social function assessment. The C-CYFSW certification is intended to provide credentials for social workers with a bachelor's degree and at least a year of experience.

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

Similar to the C-CYFSW certification, the C-ACYFSW is available to school social workers who work outside of the traditional school setting. Those pursuing this credential need a master's degree in social work, a minimum of two years of experience and should demonstrate a strong commitment to their role as social workers as well as helping families develop healthy relationships.

Salary Information for School Social Workers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), child, family and school social workers earned a median annual wage of $42,350 as of May 2015, while those specifically working in elementary and secondary schools earned some of the group's highest wages: an average of $60,750 annually.

School social workers can be certified as school social worker specialists or one of two levels of children, youth and family social workers. These highly trained professionals work to create safe learning environments in school and help students learn to cope with issues that are affecting them at school and at home. Depending on the type of certification desired, a bachelor's or master's degree and 1-2 years of related experience is required.


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