Whether you're still pursuing your degree or already practicing in the social work field, you could benefit from joining one of the several professional associations for social workers.
Even though you'll have to pay dues, investing in professional memberships will pay off in helping you build a better career. Everyone competing for social work jobs has a degree and at least one fieldwork experience, so it's important to set yourself apart. Joining a social work association shows employers that you're deeply committed to staying up-to-date with professional development.
Being an association member will also help you network with other social workers, access job boards, attend conferences, earn continuing education credits, and more.
The following are some of the best professional associations for social workers where you should consider applying for membership.
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
As the largest social work association worldwide, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) will allow you to join a community of over 132,000 members. NASW has the mission of enhancing its members' professional growth and advancing sound social advocacy policies. Its Code of Ethics is revered as the golden guide for how social workers should conduct their practice. Across all 50 states and Puerto Rico, NASW operates chapters where you can get involved in promoting the profession firsthand. Members will receive free issues of Social Work, which is the field's premier journal. Discounts for continuing education, HIPAA compliance training, and conferences are also included.
Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
Although the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is best known for accrediting social work degrees, the non-profit national association also has over 2,500 individual members. CSWE is dedicated to improving the quality of social work education to develop professionals who can effectively bolster the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Individual membership from CSWE is available for students, faculty members, program directors, social work practitioners, agency consultants, non-profit managers, and more. Members will be given annual subscriptions to the Journal of Social Work Education, monthly email newsletters, and a 10% discount on other CSWE publications. Members can also interact with other change makers by attending the CSWE Annual Program Meeting.
School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA)
First founded in 1994, the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) is an esteemed professional organization dedicated to empowering social workers who are working in school communities to promote the social and emotional growth of K-12 students. As this niche's only national association, SSWAA is well-known for developing the national Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Common Core standards. Joining SSWAA is ideal for school social workers to access practice tools, research papers, articles, and valuable products to enhance their role on the school team. SSWAA operates chapters in 29 states nationwide and sends out bi-weekly "E-Bells" showing the latest news in school social work.
Overall, professional associations make it simpler to access a plethora of resources that can offer a smooth transition into building a long-lasting social work career. Adding memberships to your professional resume and getting involved in the association's chapter will demonstrate your sincere devotion to the field.
In addition to these favorite professional associations for social workers, you could also consider joining the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW), Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA), National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW), North American Association of Christians in Social Work (NAACSW), or Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA).
See also: Five Great Social Work Conferences