Why You Need the
The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB®) is the professional organization that sets the national standards for licensing examinations. All licensing boards only recognize BSW and MSW degrees from Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited programs. The licensing exams created by the ASWB® ask questions in all areas of social work practice, including direct service, administration, social policy, and research. The exams set minimum competency standards in the knowledge, skills, values, and ethics that every social work professional should meet.
But do you really need to take the ASWB® exams? Yes, and here's why:
1. To Further Your Career as a Licensed Professional
You may be wondering, “Why is it not enough to earn my degree in social work? Why do I also have to become licensed to practice?” Social work professionals are not alone in being required to obtain a license from the state before they are allowed to practice. Other professions that require licensure include nursing and other medical practices, psychology, law, engineering, architecture, and a wide assortment of other professions involving personal interactions.
2. To Protect Your Title as a Social Worker
Many NASW state chapters support the licensing of all social workers to protect the title of “social worker” as meaning a person who has graduated with a BSW or MSW from an accredited program. This is to ensure that state and local governments and human service agencies cannot hire nonprofessional social workers without specialized training. One of the benefits of licensure laws is that they often include title protection for social workers. This means that only those who have a degree in social work can call themselves a social worker. One thing that is frustrating to social workers is when the media does a negative story about a caseworker who works for the state and refers to him or her as a “social worker” when in reality he or she does not have a degree in social work.
3. To Enhance Public Trust in Social Workers
The primary purpose of licensure is to have a mechanism for protecting clients from unethical or incompetent practitioners. If a social worker is accused of unethical behavior, for example, an investigation can be completed by the state authorities. If the allegations are true, the social worker’s license can be taken away, thereby preventing him or her from continuing in practice. Licensure typically involves passing an exam, paying licensing fees, and undergoing continuing education. The state has a fundamental interest in protecting the consumer. Having licensed professional social workers enhances the public’s trust in the social work profession and commensurately raises the profession’s value to society.