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This picture is the logo of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers

Career Map: Social Worker

This Career Map was developed in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade in January 2016. The information was accurate at time of writing. Please refer to the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers website for the most up-to-date information.

Copyright to this Career Map is held jointly by the Queen's Printer for Ontario and The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers © 2016. This Career Map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment or royalty of any kind shall be charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the Career Map by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this Career Map requires a written license from the Queen's Printer for Ontario and The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.

Overview of the profession

  • Registration: The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers is the regulatory body for social workers and social service workers in Ontario. The College was established by the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 (SWSSWA). Its mandate is to serve and protect the public interest through self-regulation of the professions of social work and social service work. Only registered social workers are permitted to use the professional designation RSW (Registered Social Worker) after their name in documents related to their practice of social work.
  • Anyone in Ontario who wishes to use the title “social worker” or “registered social worker” (or any abbreviation of these protected titles), or who holds themselves out as a social worker, must register with and obtain a certificate of registration from the regulatory body, the Ontario College of Social Workers & Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW).  
  • Roles and responsibilities: Social workers assess, diagnose, treat and evaluate individual, interpersonal and societal problems through the use of social work knowledge, skills, interventions and strategies, to assist individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations and communities to achieve optimum psychosocial and social functioning. In addition, the Ontario government authorizes social workers who are registered with the OCSWSSW to conduct specialized assessments. For example:
    • Under Ontario’s Health Care Consent Act, 1996, social workers may determine if a person can make his or her own decision on whether to be admitted to a long-term care or other such facility. Social workers can also assess whether a person needs a personal assistance service, such as help with eating or bathing.
    • Under the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992, social workers who comply with other requirements set out in the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998and its regulations can conduct capacity assessments. These are legally-binding appraisals of whether a person is capable of managing his or her own property (such as bank accounts) or performing personal care.
  • Job titles: In the course of their practice in Ontario, social workers may use a range of job titles These  include:  “school social worker”, “medical social worker”, “program coordinator”, “manager”, “group worker” or “mental health counsellor”.
  • Work settings: Social workers in Ontario typically work in hospitals, school boards, child welfare agencies,  correctional facilities, health and social service agencies, and employee assistance programs, or in private practice.

Key organizations for social workers

  • The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) is the provincial regulatory body for two distinct professions in Ontario – social work and social service work. It governs its members in accordance with the professions’ Act, regulations, policies and bylaws. It is not an academic institution and neither offers academic courses nor grants degrees or diplomas. The OCSWSSW was established under Ontario’s Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998, which became law on August 15, 2000.  
  • The Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) is a voluntary, provincial, non-profit bilingual professional body that represents the social work profession in Ontario.
  • The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) is the national professional association for the social work profession in Canada. It is a federation of one territorial and nine provincial social work organizations and plays a leadership role in strengthening, advancing and speaking for the profession.  CASW assesses social work credentials obtained outside of North America for social workers who wish to apply for a certificate of registration.
  • The Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE), formerly the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work, is a voluntary national charitable association of university faculties, schools and departments that offer professional education in social work at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels. It has a process for accrediting Canadian social work programs.
  • The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in the United States accredits social work programs offered at colleges and universities in the USA.

Requirements to register

  • You may qualify for a certificate of registration as a social worker if you have
    • a degree in social work from a social work program that is accredited by the CASWE or the CSWE; OR
    • an equivalent program offered outside Canada and the United States which CASW considered equivalent to at least a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) obtained from a social work program accredited by the CASWE; OR
    • a combination of academic qualifications and experience performing the role of a social worker that is substantially equivalent to the qualifications required for a degree in social work from a social work program accredited by the CASWE. This is also known as the “equivalency stream”.

      You need to demonstrate to the OCSWSSW that you have achieved the academic qualifications required for membership no matter how much experience you may have in the field of social work in your home country.
  • Authorization to work in Canada: You must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, or be legally authorized to work as a social worker in Canada.
  • Language proficiency: You must demonstrate you have the ability to speak and write either English or French with reasonable fluency by achieving acceptable scores on a language test through TOEFL, IELTS, MELAB, CANTest (English) or TestCAN (French).
    • You don’t need a language test if you:
      • communicate primarily in English or French; OR
      • completed your social work education in English or French; OR
      • provide professional services as a social worker in English or French.
  • Recent practice:Within the past 5 years, you must have:
    • completed your professional education, OR
    • practised as a social worker.
      If you have not practised within 5 years of the date of application, you can complete a supplemental form to provide additional information for consideration by the OCSWSSW. If the OCSWSSW is satisfied that the other requirements for registration have been met, it may issue a certificate of registration with terms, conditions and limitations – such as a period of supervised practice – provided that you consent to them.
  • Professional conduct: Your past and present conduct must provide reasonable grounds to show that:
    • you are mentally competent to practise social work; and
    • you will practise social work with decency, integrity and honesty and in accordance with the law; and,
    • you have sufficient knowledge, skill and judgment to practise social work.
      To demonstrate this, you must answer a series of questions on the application form regarding any criminal offences and findings or proceedings in relation to professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity.

Agreement on Internal Trade: applicants registered in an equivalent class in another Canadian jurisdiction may become registered in Ontario without any material additional training, experience, examinations or assessments, provided that they meet certain criteria for registration.  In the case of applicants who are currently registered as social workers by the Alberta or Saskatchewan social work regulatory authority, the College will also assess their academic qualifications as permitted by an exception approved by the Ontario Government under the labour mobility chapter of the AIT.

All applicants are subject to the requirements to practise in place when they apply.  For the most current information about registration requirements for membership in the OCSWSSW, visit www.ocswssw.org   or email, fax or call the OCSWSSW.

Paths to registration

There are two pathways for internationally-trained social work professionals to become registered in Ontario:

  • PATH 2 is for applicants who have a social work degree that CASW considers NOT equivalent to a Canadian degree, OR who have a degree in a field other than social work AND have a combination of academic qualifications and experience performing the role of a social worker.  For more information, refer to the Registration Guide for international applicants with a combination of academic qualifications and experience performing the role of a social worker at http://ocswssw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/sw-combo-registration-guide.pdf

Steps in the registration process

PATH 1 (Social Work degree obtained outside Canada and United States)

  • Step 1: Apply for credentials evaluation to CASW
    • You can apply online for an evaluation of your social work credentials to the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) at www.casw-acts.ca. Applicants are responsible for any fees that apply to have their credentials assessed.
    • Ask the academic institution that you attended to send directly to CASW your official university or college transcripts (originals, not photocopies, signed, sealed and sent by the academic institution’s Dean or Director of the School or Faculty of Social Work). They must include a record of the courses you took and the grades you obtained, PLUS a completed Verification Form (signed by the same person) confirming that you successfully attained the degree(s) indicated and the dates on which you attained them.  (Note that CASW does not assess degrees obtained through distance education or self-study/correspondence course work.)
    • If any of your official documents are not in English or French, it is up to you to arrange and pay for a certified translation into either language before sending them to the credentials evaluation agency. The same also applies to documents you submit to the OCSWSSW.

      Required documents for CASW credentials evaluation  (PATH 1)
      • Application form (original, not a photocopy, signed and dated)
      • Official transcripts sent directly from academic institution
      • Course and practicum descriptions sent directly from academic institution
      • Verification form signed by the Dean of the program, sent directly from institution
      • Certificate of attendance for any workshops/seminars (if applicable)
      • Copies of social work certificates and/or diplomas
      • Proof of membership in professional social work organization(s) in your home country
      • Proof of change of name, if name on application differs from name on supporting documents
      • Certified translation of any non-English/French documents.


      CASW Response

      • CASW will evaluate your application within four to five weeks after it receives your fee and all required documents.  It will send you an official letter stating whether or not, in its opinion, your qualifications are equivalent to a Canadian degree in social work. (The CASW will keep a copy of this official letter for up to five years.)
      • If CASW determines that your academic qualifications are equivalent to a Canadian social work degree, you can then apply to the OCSWSSW for registration.
      • If CASW determines that your academic qualifications are NOT equivalent to a Canadian BSW or Master of Social Work degree, you can:
      • appeal the CASW decision, OR
      • apply to OCSWSSW through PATH 2. If this is your situation, see PATH 2 below or contact the OCSWSSW directly to discuss.

  • Step 2: Apply for registration to the OCSWSSW (PATH 1)
    • If your qualifications are considered equivalent to a degree from an accredited Canadian social work program, have CASW send your evaluation results directly to the OCSWSSW.
    • Complete, sign, date and send the Application Form, with applicable fees and documents, to the OCSWSSW.  You can download the application form and registration guide from www.ocswssw.org, or e-mail registration@ocswssw.org.
    • The OCSWSSW will process your application within four to six weeks after receiving all necessary documents. It will either:
      • issue a Certificate of Registration if you meet all requirements to practise in Ontario, OR
      • issue a Certificate of Registration subject to terms, conditions or limitations, OR
      • propose to refuse to issue a Certificate of Registration because you have not met the requirements.

      If the OCSWSSW proposes to refuse your application, it will identify the reasons why and send you a full refund of your registration fee, if applicable. You have the option to request a review  of the decision of the OCSWSSW. Otherwise, the OCSWSSW will refuse your application. Visit the OCSWSSW website or email, fax or telephone the OCSWSSW to discuss your situation.

      Required documents for OCSWSSW registration (PATH 1)
      • Application form (original, not a photocopy, signed and dated)
      • Credentials evaluation report sent directly to the OCSWSSW from CASW
      • Supplemental Form Regarding Competence to Perform the Role of a Social Worker (if you have not practised social work or did not graduate within the past 5 years)
      • Copy of authorization to work in Canada or work permit, if required
      • Certified translation of any non-English/French documents.

PATH 2(Social work degree not assessed by CASW, OR degree not in social work and you have a combination of academic qualifications and experience performing the role of a social worker)

  • Step 1: Apply for credentials evaluation to a third-party evaluation agency
    • If your degree is obtained outside Canada and the USA you may require assessment by a third party credential assessor. You can apply online for an evaluation of your credentials by a third-party evaluation agency such as World Education Services (WES) or the International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS).  If you are unsure whether an assessment is required contact the OCSWSSW.
    • For a credential assessment you must ask your academic institution to send your transcript directly to the credentials evaluation agency. When the evaluation is completed, ensure the agency sends your Credential Equivalency/Authentication Report and Course-by-Course Analysis directly to the OCSWSSW.
    • The evaluation report provided by such an agency will indicate how it has received or authenticated the documents. The report also provides a Canadian equivalency summary and credential analysis such as year awarded, name of institution attended, a major of field of study, all the courses taken, their Canadian credits and grade equivalents. (Note: The documents you submit to the evaluator will not be returned or released to you.)
    • If any of your official documents are not in English or French, it is up to you to arrange and pay for a certified translation into either language before sending them to the credentials evaluation agency. The same also applies to documents you submit to the OCSWSSW. (See Translation, below)
  • Required documents for credentials evaluation (e.g., WES/ICAS/other) (PATH 2)Application form (original, not a photocopy, signed and dated)

    • Official transcripts sent directly from academic institution
    • Course and practicum descriptions sent directly from academic institution
    • Social work field practice description (from university syllabus or other official document), including number of hours of field practice
    • Copies of social work certificates and/or diplomas
  • Step 2: Apply for registration to the OCSWSSW (PATH 2)
    • Complete, sign, date and send the Application Form with applicable fees and all required documents to the OCSWSSW.  You can download the application form and registration guide from www.ocswssw.org, or e-mail registration@ocswssw.org.
    • Complete Section 1 of the Length of Practice and Supervision Confirmation Form(s) and send one or more copies to people (current and/or previous employers/supervisors) who will be providing information about your experience in performing the role of a social worker. They must complete and mail the form directly to the OCSWSSW.
    • Once you have filled in the Application Form and gathered together all the required documentation, you need to mail it, along with all applicable fees, to the OCSWSSW. A fax or email of your application or a mailed-in photocopy will not be accepted.
    • The OCSWSSW will process your application within three to six months after receiving all necessary documents. It will either:
      • issue a Certificate of Registration if you meet all requirements to practise in Ontario, OR
      • issue a Certificate of Registration subject to terms, conditions or limitations, OR
      • propose to refuse to issue a Certificate of Registration because you have not met the requirements.

      Required documents for OCSWSSW registration (PATH 2)

      • Application form (original, not a photocopy, signed and dated)
      • Credentials evaluation report sent directly from evaluation agency (e.g. WES, ICAS or other)
      • Official transcript(s) sent directly from academic institution
      • Course descriptions, and /or course outlines for the year(s) in which you took the courses
      • Certificate of attendance for any university-level workshops/seminars, if applicable
      • Length of Practice and Supervision Confirmation Form(s) sent directly from supervisor(s)/employer(s)
      • Supplemental Form Regarding Competence to Perform the Role of a Social Worker (if you have not practised social work within last 5 years and you obtained your social work degree more than five years ago)
      • Original evidence of private practice, e.g., business card, letterhead, if applicable
      • Proof of membership in professional social work organization(s) in your home country
      • Copy of authorization to work in Canada or work permit, if required
      • Certified translation of any non-English/French documents
      • Fees

Translation

For non-English/French documents, you must forward with your application to both the credentials evaluation agency and the OCSWSSW your original documents PLUS a precise word-for-word translation in English or French. This must be a certified translation, accompanied by a cover letter from the translator including:

  • the exact name of the document(s) which have been translated
  • the method by which the translator received the document(s)
  • any comments about the accuracy of your documents
  • the date of the translation
  • the translator’s identification number and/or seal.

It is up to you to arrange and pay for translation, copying and mailing costs.
To find an accredited translator, contact:

Dual Registration

If you wish, you can apply for registration in both the social work and social service work categories. You need to complete two separate application forms and submit two application fees, but only one registration fee. You can download the appropriate application forms from www.ocswssw.org  or call, email or fax the OCSWSSW to request two applications and two registration guides.

OCSWSSW Response

Once your application has been processed, the OCSWSSW may:

  • issue a Certificate of Registration if you meet all requirements to practise in Ontario, OR
  • issue a Certificate of Registration subject to terms, conditions or limitations, OR

propose to refuse to issue a Certificate of Registration because you have not met the requirements.

If the OCSWSSW proposes to refuse your application, it will identify the reasons why and send you a refund of your registration fee, if applicable. You have the option to request a review of the decision of the OCSWSSW. Otherwise, the OCSWSSW will refuse your application. Visit the OCSWSSW website or email, fax or telephone  the OCSWSSW to discuss your situation.

Timelines

The OCSWSSW and credentials evaluation agencies begin work on your application only when they have received all required documents and your payment for applicable fees has been accepted by the bank.

Before you submit your application to the OCSWSSW, give yourself enough time to collect documents and arrange verification and evaluation of your academic qualifications and translation as needed.  It can take several weeks for some academic institutions to provide transcripts.

Processing times:                                                                              
PATH 1

  • CASW Credential Evaluation: 4-5 weeks                
  • OCSWSSW Registration: 4-6 weeks,

PATH 2 -

  • Other Credential Evaluation (WES, ICAS): 1-12 weeks 
  • OCSWSSW Assessment: 3 to 6 months
Things that can slow down the process:
  • Incomplete applications
  • Transcripts not sent directly from educational institution
  • Transcripts missing information
  • Not sending official course descriptions
  • Sending additional documents that have not been translated

Keep in mind that, if required, upgrading your qualifications in Canada will take additional time.

Fees

The following fee schedule is in Canadian dollars. It is subject to change.
The fees listed include Canada’s Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) of 13%. Check for current information when you apply. See www.ocswssw.org or email, fax or telephone the OCSWSSW.  

 Fees :
  PATH 1 PATH 2
OCSWSSW Application Fee $100.00 $100.00
OCSWSSW Registration Fee $280.00 $280.00
CASW Credential Evaluation $339.00 N/A
WES Credential Evaluation N/A $237.30
ICAS Credential Evaluation N/A $200.00

In addition to these expenses, you will have to pay the costs for:

  • transcripts and other documents related to your academic qualifications, as required
  • certified translation of your documents, if required
  • language assessment tests, if required
  • tuition for further upgrading at university or college, if required.

Before you arrive in Canada

PATH 1

  • Before you arrive in Canada, you can have your credentials assessed by CASW and receive your evaluation report. You should do this as early as possible because it will allow you to identify whether you have any gaps to fill in your education.
  • You can also send your application form and required documentation to the OCSWSSW.
  • You can become registered if:
    • you have a valid work permit,
    • you don’t need a language test, or you can do a language test overseas, and
    • you meet all other registration requirements

PATH 2

  • Before you arrive in Canada, you can have your credentials evaluated by a third party evaluation agency such as WES, ICAS or another third party evaluation agency that will provide the College with a credential equivalency/authentication report and a course-by-course evaluation.
  • You can also send your application form and required documentation to the OCSWSSW and have it evaluate your qualifications.
  • You can become registered if:
    •  you have a valid work permit,
    •  you don’t need a language test, or you can do a language test overseas, and
    • you meet all other registration requirements

Once you arrive

Once you arrive in Ontario, you can take courses or programs to upgrade your skills, as required, and you can also take the bridging program for internationally educated social workers.

  • Attaining Your Academic Qualifications: If you need to take courses or a program, you can get an online listing of accredited Canadian schools of social work from the Canadian Association for Social Work Education at www.caswe-actfs.ca or contact the CASWE at 613-792-1953. You can write directly to the academic institution's Office of Admissions (for undergraduate programs) or Office of Graduate Admissions (for graduate programs) and ask for detailed application information and forms. The Office of Admissions will advise you on your documentation, translation, and visa requirements.

The IESW Bridging Program provides a valuable introduction to social services in Canada.  This program includes training, mentorship, employment and career support, and supervised work placements for qualified social work professionals educated outside Canada. It is not a requirement for working as a social worker in Ontario, but it will help you to:

  • gain an overview of the structure of social services in Ontario, including current labour market skills and expectations
  • acquire employment experience and orientation to the Canadian workplace
  • expand your network of social service employers and organizations.

The course starts each September and runs for one academic year. You need to apply by March 31 of the year in which you want to start.

Labour market information
For information on the labour market in Ontario, visit the Government of Canada Job Bank website where you can access topics such as:

  • Job Search in Ontario (browse by "Social Work")
  • Explore careers by occupation, education program, wages
  • Job Market Trends in Ontario (and other provinces)

This information is also available at public libraries or Employment Resource Centres in your community.

For more information
For more information on registration requirements in Ontario, contact:

  • The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW)
    250 Bloor St. E., Suite 1000
    Toronto, ON M4W 1E6
    CANADA
    Telephone: 416-972-9882
    Toll-free: 1-877-828-9380
    Fax: 416-972-1512
    Email: info@ocswssw.org
    Website: www.ocswssw.org

For an overview of the social work profession in Ontario, contact:

  • Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW)
    410 Jarvis Street
    Toronto, ON M4Y 2G6
    CANADA
    Telephone : 416-923-4848
    Fax : 416-923-5279
    Email: info@oasw.org
    Website: www.oasw.org

For information about social work education, evaluation and accreditation of social work programs in Canada, contact:

  • The Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE), formerly known as the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work
    383 Parkdale Avenue, Suite 410
    Ottawa, ON K1Y 4R4
    CANADA
    Telephone: 613-792-1953
    Toll free: 1-888-342-6522
    Email : admin@caswe-acfts.ca
    Website: www.caswe-acfts.ca/en/

For an overview of the social work profession in Canada and to have foreign social work credentials evaluated, contact:

  • Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW)
    383 Parkdale Avenue, Suite 402
    Ottawa, ON K1Y 4R4
    CANADA
    Telephone : 613-729-6668
    Toll free in North America: 1-855-729-2279
    Fax : 613-729-9608
    Email : casw@casw-acts.ca
    Website: www.casw-acts.ca

For information about the IESW Professionals Bridging Program at Ryerson University, contact:

Fax: 416-979-5047
Email: iesw@ryerson.ca
Website: www.ryerson.ca/ce/socialwork
For English language proficiency testing, contact:

  • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery
    English Language Institute MELAB Office
    University of Michigan
    Ann Arbor, Michigan (48104) U.S.A.
    Website: www.melabsuccess.com
  • International English Language Testing System
    University of Cambridge
    Local Examination Syndicate
    1 Hells Road, Cambridge CBI 2EU U.K.
    Website: www.ielts.org

For further information on achieving your academic credentials at an Ontario postsecondary institution, go to:

  • Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
    Telephone: 613 563-1236
    Fax: 613 563-9745
    Website: www.aucc.ca

For information on how to find an accredited translator, contact:

  • The Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO)
    Telephone: 613-241-2846
    Toll free: 1-800-234-5030
    Email: info@atio.on.ca
    Website: www.atio.on.ca

For information about the occupational skills social workers require on the job in Ontario, search for social worker in the occupations database at:

  • The Ontario Skills Passport, Ontario Ministry of Education

 http://www.skills.edu.gov.on.ca/OSP2Web/EDU/Welcome.xhtml

For information about jobs and employment in Ontario, visit:

For information about locating an Employment Ontario assessment centre in your community, call:

  • Employment Ontario Hotline

1-800-387-5656 toll-free
1-866-533-6339 TTY (telephone service for the Deaf)

For government contacts on accessing professions and trades in Ontario, contact:

  • Government of Ontario
    Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade
    Global Experience Ontario (GEO)
    Telephone: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
    TTY: 416-327-9710 or 1-866-388-2262
    Fax: 416-327-9711
    Email: geo@ontario.ca
    Website: www.ontarioimmigration.ca/OI/en/geo

Copyright in this Career Map is held jointly by the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, © 2016.

 
 
 
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