Learn about North Carolina Licensure

Continuing Education in North Carolina

Written by Jack Levinson

continuing education group

After going to the great lengths required to receive your Master of Social Work degree and the license that suits your intended career trajectory, you may feel like you’ve completed the work to become a social worker. Indeed, to a certain extent you have, opening the door for job opportunities that are only available to full-fledged social workers. However, after having acquired credentials, social workers are also expected to put in work to maintain them.

Social workers throughout the state of North Carolina are expected to complete continuing education courses throughout their career in order to maintain their licensure.

This is an important way of ensuring that social workers are continuing to stay engaged in their professional lives and to keep everyone in the field aware of the larger changes that are happening across the social work profession.

Read on to learn more about what you should expect from your continuing education courses and how you can use them to gain a leg up in your social work career.

Benefits of Continuing Education for Social Work

Though it may sound arduous, there are many advantages to continuing education courses, which ensure that social workers are up to date on new research and methods, evolutions in best practices, and burgeoning issues in the social work discipline. This means that your continuing education courses will help make you a better social worker.

Some of the top benefits of continuing education courses include the following:

As you can see, continuing education courses have the potential to take your career in exciting new directions. This is one reason why many social workers actually enjoy their continuing education courses, recognizing it to be a skill-, knowledge-, and community-building part of the social work profession.

Social Work Continuing Education Requirements in North Carolina

In the state of North Carolina, licensing is overseen by the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensing Board (NCSWCLB). They outline the requirements for continuing education on their website.

These guidelines apply to those who hold LMSW and LCSW standing. They are as follows:

While these shouldn’t be hard to complete if you are diligent about attending courses throughout the year, forty hours can add up, so make sure to be mindful of these requirements as soon as your license has been renewed.


Continuing Education Options

The NCSWCLB’s guidelines for continuing education allude to the variety of options available for social workers to pursue. While some of these look like traditional classes, others are a far cry from what your MSW program looked like. There are all sorts of continuing education options for social workers that should be engaging and enjoyable to complete before your license is up for renewal.

Read on to get the lay of the land so you know what you can expect.

Social Work Continuing Education Seminars

The most similar to traditional graduate-level social work programs, seminars are run by educational institutions and private organizations with classes tailored to the experiences of social workers who have already gotten their professional lives started. For those who enjoy academic settings, this will provide you with focused, rigorous academic readings and discussions to keep your brain active as you proceed in the field.

As noted above, it is now possible to take up to twenty hours of one’s continuing education course in an online format. For social workers who are stressed about fitting continuing education into an already-packed schedule, this can be fantastically helpful, sparing you the commute to and from school and allowing you to fit your classes into the rest of your busy life.

If you are not yet finished with your MSW program, ask your professors or consult with other on-campus resources to see if you will be able to take continuing education courses at the same school. This will make it easy to seamlessly incorporate CE requirements into your life as a social worker.


Conferences can be another excellent way to build up your continuing education hours, often offering several days of programming that can quickly cover a huge amount of your requirements. In-person offerings have the particular advantage of providing especially strong networking opportunities, while online options can be of great convenience to social workers whose scheduling needs won’t allow them to visit in person (especially those who live in different cities than where the event is taking place).

One reason social workers often flock to conferences for their continuing education courses is that they offer a great variety in subject matter, making for an engaging day or more of conference time. Sessions can run the gamut of topics, including burgeoning issues like neurodiversity, artificial intelligence in social work research, intergenerational trauma, and more. This means social workers get the opportunity to build upon existing areas of knowledge as well as creating new ones.

The NASW-NC Annual Continuing Education Conferences

If you’re a practicing social worker in North Carolina, it’s quite likely your continuing education will at some point include one or more of the NASW-NC Annual Continuing Education Conferences. Designed specifically to help social workers meet their licensing renewal requirements, these conferences bring together social workers from across the state to engage in knowledge-sharing, collaboration, and skill development. This conference serves as a vital platform for practitioners to stay abreast of the latest advancements in social work, discuss emerging challenges, and explore innovative solutions to address the diverse needs of their communities.

There are six annual continuing education conferences hosted by the National Association of Social Workers in North Carolina:

  • LCSW Prep
  • Ethics Conference
  • Clinical Social Work Institute
  • Clinical Supervision Certificate Training
  • Essentials Series
  • Fall Conference

As you can see, these conferences offer opportunities for social workers holding LMSWs and LCSWs alike, with courses and workshops to satisfy subject requirements and fill up your continuing education hours overall.

As of recently, it’s easier than ever to attend an NASW-NC conference, as they are now available in online format. This is great news for those who had been unable to attend previous conferences due to the burden of traveling to other cities.


For shorter-term opportunities for continuing education, there are workshop opportunities in cities throughout North Carolina that can build targeted skills, address pressing issues in the social work field, and provide opportunities to meet and connect with your professional peers. For those who seek a more interactive approach to continuing education, these can be great opportunities for hands-on, participatory educational experiences.

social worker conference


What is continuing education in social work?

After receiving their licenses, social workers in North Carolina are expected to renew them every two years. Doing this requires practicing social workers to complete additional courses to stay up to date on their practices and ensure that they are in step with ever-evolving work standards.

Is there a way for social workers to bypass continuing education courses?

Typically, there is not. Continuing education courses are an important way for social workers to demonstrate their commitment to the profession and to learn about how they might potentially need to revise their practices in the future. Because of this, it is an all but impossible step to bypass in the licensure renewal process.

Can I receive my social work continuing education online?

In the state of North Carolina, social workers are allowed to complete twenty of their forty required hours through online classes. This is excellent news for social workers concerned about juggling continuing education with their new professional responsibilities.

What else counts as continuing education?

Organized training events and conferences can be put toward one’s continuing education credits. Beyond their educational benefits, these can offer terrific opportunities to network and build a community of social workers throughout the state and beyond. Social workers can also attend these conferences and webinars virtually and receive credit.

How often do social workers need to complete continuing education courses?

Social workers must complete continuing education courses every two years, which is in keeping with the state’s licensure period.