Earning a certificate in social work can be a quick and convenient way to enter the field without investing the time and money needed for a four-year degree. With just a certificate, it’s possible to work as either an aide or an assistant to a social worker in a variety of settings, including government agencies, healthcare facilities, mental health clinics, and schools. A certificate program might also be a good stepping stone for someone with work experience who is interested in making a career change.
Our list of the top ten affordable social work certificate programs began with a list of 35 programs with a yearly tuition of under $8,000 (based on tuition reported to collegenavigator.gov). These programs were then ranked according to the quality of the offering (based on graduation rate and student-to-teacher ratio).
The top 10 Affordable Social Work Certificate Programs are:
- Athens Technical College
- Georgia Northwestern Technical College
- Carl Albert State College
- Sinclair Community College
- Oakton Community College
- College of Lake County
- Elgin Community College
- Pima Community College
- Community College of Rhode Island
- Capital Community College
10. Capital Community College
Coming in at #10 on our list of social work certification programs, Capital Community College offers a 25-credit social work certification program that prepares students for immediate employment under the supervision of a social worker. The curriculum includes biology, sociology, social welfare, and relevant cultural courses. All courses can be applied to an associate’s degree. Upon graduation, students will be prepared for employment in the field with jobs such as group residence workers, neighborhood outreach workers, or social casework assistants.
9. Community College of Rhode Island
At the Community College of Rhode Island, students can take advantage of the condensed, 16-credit social services certificate program. Though brief, this program equips students with the necessary skills to enter the field. The five required courses are conveniently offered during both day and evening hours. The curriculum is designed to assist both those already employed in the field and those with interest in acquiring an entry level social work job. This program is #9 on our list of social work certification programs.
8. Pima Community College
Pima Community College offers an affordable, 18-credit certificate program which prepares students for entry level jobs in the social work field. The program, among the best social work certification programs, teaches the values and ethics of the social services profession, as well as the skills needed to work effectively with individuals, families, and communities. The curriculum consists of basic social work courses and places an emphasis on understanding diversity as it relates to social services.
7. Elgin Community College
Human Services Generalist Certificate
Elgin Community College offers a human services certificate program accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Services Education. This affordable 33-credit-hour program prepares students for employment in nonprofit and government agencies, healthcare facilities, or community social service agencies. The comprehensive curriculum includes substance abuse training, as well as family violence counseling training.
6. College of Lake County
Human Services General Certificate
The human services certificate program at College of Lake County is a 31-credit program that can be completed in just two semesters; it’s among the shortest social work certification programs. This unique program caters specifically to those with degrees or professional work experience who are looking to make a career change. The specialized curriculum includes no general education courses, focusing only on degree-specific coursework. Many of the required courses can conveniently be completed online.
5. Oakton Community College
Des Plaines, Illinois
Human Services Certificate
Oakton Community College offers a certificate program that serves as a good option for those wanting entry-level social work jobs without pursuing a degree program. This 34-hour specialized program, like several other social work certificate programs, consists of only career-specific courses such as psychology, addictions, sociology, behavioral sciences, and counseling. Students have the convenient option of completing many of the required courses online.
4. Sinclair Community College
The Social Service certificate program at Sinclair Community College is designed to provide the tools needed for employees of human service agencies and nonprofit organizations. The 27-credit-hour curriculum emphasizes skills in communication, investigative techniques, critical analysis of social problems. It also teaches students to understand the social and legal systems. This certification can help enhance careers in social work and human services, as well as education, government, healthcare, and public safety. This is #4 on our list of the top social work certificate programs.
3. Carl Albert State College
Carl Albert State College offers a new Social Services Assistant Certificate program as part of their Workforce Certificate Program. This 16-credit certification takes only one or two semesters to complete, and students have the option of completing the program on-campus or online. The condensed curriculum includes introductory social work courses, speech and computer courses, and supervised work experience, providing graduates with a good foundation for entry-level jobs.
2. Georgia Northwestern Technical College
At Georgia Northwestern Technical College, students can earn an affordable social work certificate in 5 semesters with the option of completing the program entirely online. This 56-credit program is designed to prepare individuals to obtain entry-level employment in public and private social service agencies. Both in-person and online students have elective course options in a variety of social work related fields, such as psychology and rehabilitation.
1. Athens Technical College
Athens Technical College has a well developed social work program with many degree and diploma options, and the school offers the top affordable certificate program in social work. This 59-credit program aims to furnish students with the entry-level skills, professional competencies, and interpersonal qualities needed to successfully aid social workers in all areas of service. In addition to the general certificate, students can also choose to earn an Addictions Specialist or Domestic and Family Violence certification.