Can I Get a Social Work Job in the U.S. if my Degree is From another Country?

International students may wonder about getting a social work job in the U.S. The good news is that students with a degree from another country can find work in the U.S. as a social worker.

The Council on Social Work Education

There is only one accrediting body that transfers international degrees for students who wish to pursue a social work job in the U.S. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the premier organization that accredits social work higher education programs.

Two of CSWE’s agencies, the Commission on Accreditation (COA) and the Office of Social Work Accreditation (OSWA), collaborate to provide the International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service (ISWDRES). This program will analyze foreign academic credentials in social work and compare them with accredited baccalaureate and master’s degrees in social work in the U.S. This formal accreditation recognition is necessary to establish social work qualifications for employment, state licensing, graduate school admission and even admission into the National Association of Social Workers. The CSWE is accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), which is one of the main higher education accrediting bodies in the U.S. However, not all international social work programs will be accepted by the CSWE.

Social Work Degree Transfer

International students, whose social work degree is not recognized by the CSWE, will have to find a college social work program that is accredited by either the CSWE or the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Ideally, students should select a college that will accept as many of their credits as possible, but students may be required to re-take non-transferable classes.

For example, this may include basic coursework on child welfare programs, human behaviors in social environments and social welfare policies and services. Advanced coursework may include topics such as racial justice, social work research and clinical social work practices. Social workers are also required to complete at least two years of paid social work under watchful supervision. Every state’s regulatory board will have their own specific requirements for approved supervision. Once the student successfully graduates with a degree, they will be ready for ASWB certification.ASWB Certification

Getting a social work job in the U.S. doesn’t end after successfully obtaining an accredited social work degree. The ASWB offers four categories of social work licensure exams, which include bachelors, masters, clinical and advanced generalist. ASWB exams are used in every state except California. Passing an ASWB exam is essential for obtaining a legitimate social work job. ASWB exams contain 170 multiple-choice questions and are designed to measure basic core competencies. Candidates are allotted four hours to complete the online exam.

Maintaining Certification

Every state requires social workers to obtain varying amounts of continuing education credits to maintain certification. These classes generally cover new or alternative social work methods. Social workers who move to a different state will have to re-apply for a social work license with the state’s regulatory board.

To review, international students with a degree in social work can submit their academic credentials to the CSWE for review. If the degree is not approved, they should find a college that will accept as many of their credits as possible. In a nutshell, there are two primary paths to getting a social work job in the U.S. for international students.

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