Overview of Online Certificate Programs in School Social Work
School social work certificate programs are typically offered at the graduate level. Many of these programs are designed for students holding or currently pursuing their Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, and therefore, admission to these programs require at least a bachelor's degree and/or current enrollment in an MSW program. School social work certificates are intended for social work students who have an interest in working with school-aged youth and/or their families. Students in these programs study the role of social work in the education system and prepare to assist students in a variety of ways.
At least a couple of graduate certificate programs in school social work are available in an online format. Depending on the program, some of these certificates may help students meet their state's eligibility requirements for temporary approval to work as a school social worker. Some of these programs may also include a hands-on, in-person portion of the program to provide students the chance to interact with young learners.
Requirements for Online School Social Work Certificates
Certificate programs in school social work are designed to equip students with the necessary skills to address diverse educational challenges for school-aged children. These programs may provide students with skills in conflict resolution, working with disabled children, collaborating with teachers and other professionals to provide resources, and more.
Online, graduate certificate programs in school social work are usually short in nature, typically requiring around 9 credits. Some of these programs may also require students to complete a specialized field placement experience, where students participate in hands-on learning in a school setting. Commonly, students are enrolled in the MSW and certificate program at the school concurrently, with the certificate program serving almost as a concentration, and may be able to count credits from the certificate program toward professional licensure.
Social Work in Schools
Courses in social work in an educational setting provide students with an overview of the history of the field and explore the role of social workers in schools. Students may discuss laws relating to education, as well as current issues in school social work. Other topics for these courses may include terminology, client systems, preventions and interventions.
Interventions/Students with Special Needs
These courses explore how social work can serve the interventional needs of students with disabilities and/or special needs. Students learn how to identify and work with children who may have social, emotional, behavioral, or learning challenges. These courses may also cover topics in special education law, advocacy and inclusion, categories of disabilities, and community engagement in interventions.
School Social Work Assessment
Students in school social work assessment courses learn how to assess a young student's needs based on their home, school, and community environment. Students may receive hands-on training with various assessment practices and how to problem-solve within a school setting. Some of these courses may include field trips to schools to interact with and observe school social workers.
Career Outcomes with a Certificate in School Social Work
As mentioned, some programs may meet state requirements for temporary work as a school social worker, while other programs may help students meet coursework requirements that count towards a state license to work in a school setting as a special services provider. Therefore, students should be sure to check the requirements for a school social worker in their state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers usually need at least a bachelor's degree, but clinical social workers need an MSW and a state license.
The BLS reported that as of 2019, the median annual salary for child, family, and school social workers was $47,390. The job outlook for these professionals from 2018 to 2028 was 7%, which is a little higher than the national average. School social workers aim to improve students' academic performances and may help students cope with a variety of problems that occur in a school setting, such as bullying and social development issues.
Online certificate programs in school social work are available at the graduate level and may include some in-person fieldwork in a school setting. These programs are designed help prepare students for a career as a school social worker and may require around 9 credits.