New Jersey Social work Licensing / Certification Requirements
The Statutes and Regulations for the New Jersey Social Workers’ Licensing Act are available via the website maintained by the New Jersey Board of Social Work Examiners ( the Board ) http:// www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/medical/socialwork.htm the “rules” link.
Specifically, the Statute N.J.S.A. 45:15BB-4 License or certification required to practice as a certified or licensed social worker and Regulation N..J.A.C.13:44G-1.3 - Persons requiring licensure ; persons requiring certification underscore the social workers’ obligation to contact the Board prior to employment in NJ in order to confirm whether a credential is required for the employment they may be considering. The Board is the ultimate interpreter for the Statutes and Regulations and a call from a BSW or MSW student prior to graduation can save unnecessary disciplinary action when that graduate has finally filed an application with the Board.
With the exception of the very limited and specific Exempt settings defined by Statute N.J.S.A. 45:15 BB-5 which permit the provision of certain social work services to New Jersey consumers without benefit of a license or certificate issued by this Board, an individual must have a credential before accepting social work employment in New Jersey.The New Jersey Licensing Act does not offer a temporary permit or grace period during which a graduate can continue to provide clinical services while pursuing a license. It should also be noted, that while a passing score on the national ASWB licensing exam is an essential element of the license application, it does not signify licensure. An applicant must meet all of New Jersey’s requirements in order to establish their eligibility for the particular license they seek and receive an approval notice from the Board . The specified credential fee is then required for the license or certification to be issued .
After graduation the MSW should be especially wary of continuing to work in the same Exempt setting in which they functioned as an MSW field placement intern. Once the field placement has been terminated, the graduate can NO LONGER provide the same clinical services they were previously assigned as an Intern until they obtain a license. If hired prior to licensure the graduate can work only in a non profit “Exempt setting” and provide only concrete and supportive services according toN.J.S.A. 45:15:BB-5.h .
The failure of the MSW graduate to identify this immediate need to pursue licensure, upon graduation unfortunately results in many instances where the Board has filed a public disciplinary action against the new professional while simultaneously issuing an initial license .
A public action remains a blemish on the professional’s record throughout the life of their social work career and must henceforth be revealed. These actions are identified on the Board’s website and can be released by the Board to the public upon request . The action also carries a designated civil penalty ( monetary fine) for the unlicensed provision of clinical social work services in a regulated profession and , N.J.A.C. 13:44G-8.1 holds the clinical supervisor responsible as well.
In order to streamline the credential process, especially at the LSW level where the national exam is required, the Board has established the policy permitting an MSW student , in their last semester of course work, to apply to the Board for authorization to schedule the “Masters” level exam . Once a passing score is achieved, the student must contact the Board office to request an LSW application which can be submitted upon graduation with an official MSW transcript . Passing an exam alone does not signify that you are licensed .
For BSW graduates,who are not required by the Act to take a national certifying exam, the application process is more simplistic and can be completed within approximately 6 weeks from the date an application is received by the Board office.
Since 2004 all applications include the requirement for a state and federal fingerprint history. Though this process cannot be shared between Boards of Education or alternate State departments and the Attorney General’s Office of the Division of Consumer Affairs, once you have been fingerprinted for the purpose of a license or certificate with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, your fingerprints remain on file and only a rescan of your prints is required for a subsequent credential.
The Licensing Act encompasses the professional guidelines for Social Work practice in New Jersey and all New Jersey social workers are responsible to become familiar with its contents. For this purpose, the Board office provides daily guidance and interpretation at 973-504-6495. For any special situations or concerns you may have please ask to speak directly with Kay McCormack , the Executive Director for the Board. Good luck in your chosen profession.