5 things you didn’t know about renewing your NY social work license

Continuing education requirements have arrived for New York social workers and with them some pitfalls to trap the unwary. Since this is all new as of January 2015, you may just be sorting through what, exactly, is required, and how to meet the new standards for renewing your license.

To inform social workers about the new regulations, the state prepared a list of questions and answers. (We have downloaded them into a more accessible and readable format in our FAQs section.) But here are five things that you should know right away, with links to the appropriate FAQ answer from the state licensing board.

1. Only approved providers can deliver courses that count for license renewal

You see a national conference advertised on a major social work website, the topics are interesting and it says on the site that social workers can obtain continuing education hours. Sounds great, right? Not so fast. The conference organizers have to be approved specifically by New York State—and the specific courses have to be vetted—before those hours are valid.

2. Not all courses from approved providers count

A brochure is pinned on the bulletin board at your agency advertising—an interesting one-day course from a provider that you know is approved by New York to provide continuing education. Good to go? Read the fine print. You need to check the wording on the brochure and make sure that the course is specifically approved for New York credit.

3. Many online courses qualify as equivalent to “being there”

Your renewal date is looming and you can’t get away for a morning to scoop up a last few hours at a workshop. You’ve used up all your online self-study hours (one-third of the total), and you’re still short. Catastrophe? Not necessarily. Look for online courses being conducted in real-time, termed Live Online. They count the same as courses you attend in person. In fact, you can search Socialworkceufinder.com for that term and just see available courses that you can attend right from your desk.

4. Sitting in classrooms or online is not the only way to obtain valid “hours”

Beyond sitting on a chair in a hotel conference room or in front of your laptop with an online course, the state has given a few options that might interest any of you who teach or write. For example, you could write a book on the practice of an LMSW or LCSW. The state is a little unclear about what constitutes a book (in this era of e-books), if there is a length requirement, or whether it needs to be published before the credit is given. Also, no matter how many hundreds of hours that you spend on the writing, the maximum credit you get for the book is five hours. But if you aspire to authorship, it’s an extra perk for your hard work.

5. It can be expensive to get it wrong

You ran out of time and came up an hour short at your renewal date. There must be a way to continue to practice as an LMSW or LCSW while fixing the situation? There is, but “it’s gonna cost you.” In this case, $224 for a one-year conditional  registration, the same as a full 36 month registration. Remember though: At the end of the conditional year,  you will have to complete 12 hours or continuing education in addition to the missing hour or hours you were short at the beginning of the year.

Here at Social Work Continuing Education Finder, we will be exploring some of the ins and outs of the new regulations as they play out over the next several years. We encourage you to share your stories either through this form or in our forums (planned for June 2015).