A New World! Information on CEU Requirements for New York Licensed Social Workers

Advance your career

Author: Lesa Fichte, LMSW, ACSW, Director of Continuing Education

Given the many questions we receive, I wanted to provide clarification for New York LMSWs, LCSWs and LCSW-Rs regarding the new requirement to have approved continuing education hours to renew your license registration. (Underlined words below are hyperlinked to the applicable web pages.)

  1. Effective date: The New York State Education Department (NYSED) Office of Professions State Board for Social Work put this new rule into effect 1/1/15 for LMSWs, LCSWs and LCSW-Rs. Only approved training taken after this date can be used for registration renewal. **As of 1/1/17, there will be a continuing education requirement for licensed mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychoanalysts, and creative arts therapists (please share this with colleagues):  first sentence and last line in section 8412 Mandatory Continuing Education and the  first sentence under Guideline 8: Maintaining Professional Competence
  2. Who are approved training providers? We are one of the approved NYSED State Board for Social Work training providers-  #0001. Refer to #11 below for the link to the list of all approved training providers.
  3. Have questions about the process? Information is on the NYSED website for FAQs (a must-read page for every social worker), regulations, updates on requirements, lists of approved providers, and applications to become a training provider.  The last question in the FAQs provides the email and phone number for the Social Work Board if you have a situation that is not answered by their FAQs or other information.
  4. How many continuing education hours do I need to renew my registration? Check the chart in #8 of the FAQs.  All registrations expire on the last day of the month. The chart gives you dates as of the first of the month when your license is due so you know now many hours are needed for registrations that expire in that month.
  5. Don’t know when your license registration expires? You can look up your license expiration date online. Once the search finds your record, click on your blue license number to pull up the details, status and expiration date if you are currently registered. This is public information available to everyone.
  6. How will NYSED know how many continuing education training hours I have taken? When you renew your registration, you will be asked to sign an attestation statement indicating you have completed your required hours. You do not send in copies of your training certificates at this time. Keep your training certificates for 6 years because when you are randomly audited by NYSED, you will need to provide copies at that time to prove you obtained the required number of hours prior to your last registration renewal. TIP: We suggest that you keep two copies of each training certificate in different places so you always have a copy. Example: keep the originals in a home safe and a scanned copy backed up to a cloud or external hard drive, or in a separate paper file in another location. If you keep certificates at work, keep photocopies and not originals as many people have lost their certificates when they changed jobs.
  7. How do I know if a training is approved for NYSED social work contact hours? Before you register for a training, look for the standard wording in the training or conference description that the provider is approved by the NYSED State Board for Social Work, their provider # and the number of live or self-study contact hours included. This wording should also be on your certificate of completion that you receive at the end of the training event.
  8. “Full attendance is required; partial credit is not given for partial attendance.” What does this mean? The NYSED State Board for Social Work made this a requirement for continuing education training and it was communicated to all training providers. Plan ahead- don’t be late or leave early.
  9. What is the difference between live and self-study contact hours? A live training is delivered in person where you are in the same room with the trainer, or through an online webinar where the trainer is delivering the training at the same time you are watching/listening and you have access to the trainer and other participants. Self-study hours are typically online courses that were prerecorded and you do not have access to the instructor and other participants. The training description and the certificates of completion must specify if the training is providing live or self-study social work contact hours.
  10. How many hours can be self-study? For licensees that register between January 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016, NYSED made an exception and is allowing 100% of your training hours to be self-study.  After 1/1/16, only one-third of your continuing education training may be comprised of self-study courses.
  11. I don’t live in the Buffalo area so how do I find approved training providers? Other approved providers are listed on on this NYSED web page.
  12. Are there other ways to obtain social work contact hours? Yes, hours can be obtained if you are a trainer for approved training provider, teaching select university credit courses, writing books or publishing articles, etc. There is information about this in #21 on the FAQ page
  13. What if I have circumstances that do not allow me to comply with obtaining the required continuing education hours? Refer to instructions in the Compliance section on the FAQ page.
  14. How long do I need to keep my training certificates? Keep them at least six years as you are subject to random audits to verify you obtained the required training.
  15. How can I afford to obtain continuing education training when my personal budget is limited? Continuing education is not required in first three-year registration period so this is helpful to those in this time period. As noted above in #13, you can refer to the Compliance section in the FAQ page if you have extenuating circumstances. Many training providers offer early bird discounts, discounts if you register for multiple trainings at the same time or other promotions. There are sometimes free or low cost trainings with approved hours offered though community trainings and conferences, as well as your affiliation with particular groups such as the university where you received your MSW degree. In addition, you can estimate for your area what the typical cost is per training. If you budget that you will need approximately 12 training hours a year (once you are in your three year registration period), set aside a small amount of money each month so that you have a fund to pay for training. For example, setting aside $20 a month in Western New York might be adequate to cover your training costs each year (unless you are attending unusually expensive trainings) if you spread your training out over the applicable time period.
  16. Who keeps track of the training hours I have taken? Each social worker is responsible for keeping a tally of the training hours taken in relation to the hours needed. Training providers do not send information to NYSED regarding the trainings you have taken.
  17. What other CEUs/contact hours/credits do you offer? Currently, we provide the NYSED social work contact hours for most of our live workshops, live certificate programs and online self-study courses as well as for a select number of MSW elective credit courses. For those states that accept ASWB ACE social work credits, we are an approved provider and most of our live and self-study courses offer these credits. For New York addictions professionals, many of our trainings offer NYS OASAS initial and renewal training hours.
  18. What is the difference between CEUs, contact hours and credits? Differently credentialing bodies use different language. NYSED uses social work ‘contact hours’ as their official wording. ‘CEUs’ is a worldwide definition for Continuing Education Units. The ASWB ACE program calls their hours ‘credits’. Other providers may use ‘training hours’, ‘CEs’, etc. We often use ‘CEUs’ in general marketing language. For the wording in training descriptions and certificates of completion, we are careful to use the social work wording required by NYSED and ASWB ACE program.
  19. Are there NYSED contact hours for UB’s MSW elective credit courses as I am already a licensed social worker and want to take some of these courses? We have select one and three-credit MSW elective courses approved for NYSED social work contact hours. Licensed social workers can take these courses on a non-degree basis. The course list and instructions are online.   Note: Active Field Educators for the UB School of Social Work have an opportunity each year to apply for a tuition waiver that will cover the tuition costs of UB’s credit courses (does not cover the additional fees). This significantly reduces the cost of taking a three credit MSW elective course.

I hope this information is helpful! 

Quick Links

NYSED State Board for Social Work Information

Quick continuing education overview from NYSED State Board for Social Work

NYSED links to all of the information regarding social work continuing education

Our Continuing Education Links

Our YouTube videos explaining some of the NY social work contact hours requirements

Our main website (use the horizontal green bar with the links to open the drop down list of additional links; click on links to open each web page)

Our online self-study course web page (introduction page with a link to the online course catalog)

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