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Experience pathway: S13

The Experience Pathway: S13 is a registration pathway for people who have been working in social work for a number of years in Aotearoa New Zealand, but who do not have a recognised social work qualification. The Experience Pathway is provided for under section 13 of the Social Workers Registration Act 2003.

How do I know if the experience pathway is for me?

If you have substantial social work experience in Aotearoa New Zealand and you are acknowledged as a safe and competent practitioner, this pathway could be for you.   

The experience pathway is a recognition pathway. This means it recognises the skill, knowledge, expertise and long-term experience of people practising social work in Aotearoa. It is a pathway for those experienced people who wish to be registered so they can continue to call themselves a social worker.  

The experience pathway is not a conversion pathway. If you do not have social work experience, you will need to pursue a formal social work qualification if you are interested in a social work career. The experience pathway is not for people looking for recognition of prior learning gained through other qualifications, for example psychology, counselling, psychotherapy, nursing, or teaching.  

The experience pathway is not a step up pathway. If you have developed a range of helping skills, for example through support work or voluntary experience, and you are interested in a social work career, you are encouraged to pursue a formal social work qualification.  You can read more about education qualification.

How do I know if I have enough relevant experience to think about applying? 

We estimate that people with around ten years or more full-time social work experience are likely to have the breadth and depth of experience, skills and knowledge required to be granted registration under section 13. This is a guide only because it is hard to be definitive on what is enough experience in terms of years and months. The value and impact of experience can vary for different people.  

Before formally applying, you can send us your CV for review. This means we can give you some initial pre-application feedback about whether you are likely to have enough experience before you complete your application.

This initial feedback does not replace the full application process. It provides an early indication of whether you are likely to have enough experience to meet the Board’s expectations before you commit to paying the non-refundable application fee.

Please note, that when reviewing your CV before application, it will not be possible to advise you if we believe you will be successful in your full application. We are only able to offer guidance in relation to your experience. The full application will review your experience in more detail, consider your fitness to practise as well as assess your competence across the ten core competence standards.

The pre-application review will only be undertaken on the basis of your CV. If you have any additional information in support of an application, you will need to submit a full application.

To have your CV reviewed before applying, please email section13@swrb.govt.nz. Make sure that your CV provides the following information:

  • Details of social work roles you have held in New Zealand, including the job title, employer, dates of employment and key duties
  • A list of your qualifications.

What will you look for in my full application? 

 To be successful you will need to describe:  

  • The type of social work experience you have had in Aotearoa 
  • The breadth and depth of that experience  
  • Your skills in working with Māori and other ethnic and cultural groups. 
  • Your Learning and Professional Development experience and how that has supported your growth as a social work practitioner 

Please note that we have recently received applications that have been unsuccessful because the applicant did not demonstrate sufficient social work experience. This includes applications that have included experience in roles such as support worker. These roles do not usually have the depth and breadth of knowledge required for a social work role.

In addition, the legislation is specific that applicants must demonstrate their experience of social work practice in Aotearoa. Social work experience in other countries is excluded for this registration pathway under our legislation. 

If you interested in applying, please read Experience Pathway: S13 – Guide for applicants for more detail about what we look for and what to do next.  

Experience Pathway: S13 - Guide for applicants

Experience Pathway: S13 Application Template

Please be aware that there is a fee to pay before your full application will be processed. Fees are non-refundable. Find out about fees and funding.  

A fee is not required for initial pre-application feedback on your CV. 

Please contact us if you need further information to help you make your application. You can contact us by email to section13@swrb.govt.nz or freephone 0508 797 269. Please note that the staff on the phone will not be able to provide you with advice on your experience but they can talk you through the process.