Te huarahi tūmahi wheako
Experience pathway: S13

The purpose of section 13  

If you don’t have a SWRB-recognised social work qualification*, but you do have significant experience in social work, you may be eligible to be registered as a social worker through the Experience Pathway.  

The application criteria 

To apply, we want you to demonstrate your employment experience in a CV, attach your CPD log, evidence of supervision, and demonstrate your social work practice through a case study and competence assessment.  We will also want endorsements from your colleagues including registered social workers, your supervisor, and employer.  

The Board decision making criteria 

The Board will need to be satisfied that you are competent to practise social work, have enough experience, are a safe practitioner and meet our fit & proper criteria. 

We welcome applications in English and Te Reo Māori. 

NOTE: The experience pathway process is currently being refined, building on work we’ve done over the last few months. We are aiming to roll out our revised process in September 2021. Our new process will place more emphasis on connections and relationships – and will also mean that you can speak to your application in person. In the meantime, if you are wanting to apply you can use the current process, which is primarily a written submission, or you can wait until the new process is in place.   

*If you have an historical social work qualification, check both lists on this page before going any further because you may be able to apply under a NZ qualification pathway.

Te huarahi tūmahi wheako  <br /> Experience pathway: S13 Social Workers Registration Board

Applying under this pathway is a two-stage process, as follows:

Step 1: Registration

Stage One

There are a number of steps in stage one, including creating a MySWRB account and uploading your documents.

  1. Create a MySWRB account

    Click Apply to Register, fill out our details, and follow the prompts for your application. Choose the Experience Pathway: S13 option.
  2. Upload your stage one: S13 documents

    Your stage one document is a template in 3 parts which includes:
    1. Describe the journey that has led you to social work. Then outline the extent of your social work practice in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally. We want to understand your connection to, and relationship with the social work profession.
    2. Summarise your social work roles (including where you used or developed your social work skills and knowledge), the years working in those roles and your tasks and responsibilities. Include both paid and voluntary positions that you have held (e.g. community work, iwi engagement, committees). We are looking for extensive experience practising social work in Aotearoa New Zealand.
    3. List the professional development you have undertaken.  Professional development is the strengthening and enhancement of your knowledge, expertise and competence in social work throughout your career. We are looking for a record of ongoing professional development and professional supervision throughout your social work career.

      Stage one – S13 template

      Stage one – S13 template – Te Reo Māori

  3. Possible phone interview with SWRB social work advisor

    In some circumstances, an SWRB social work advisor may contact you to arrange a phone interview to ask some clarifying questions.
  4. You will be sent an email with a recommendation:
    1. to go ahead with stage two or
    2. not to proceed with your application. (This recommendation does not prevent you from proceeding with an application but we would like to advise you that it is extremely unlikely you would be granted registration).
  5. Log back into MySWRB (top RH corner of SWRB home page swrb.govt.nz) and continue with stage two.

You can find out about the stage one fees (Experience pathway section 13: Stage 1 assessment application fee) here.

Stage two

There are a number of steps again in stage two.

  1. Your written submission (see template below) is in four parts and assesses the extent of your social work practice in Aotearoa New Zealand:
    1. Knowledge of the social science underpinning social work practice
    2. Knowledge of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the multi-cultural nature of Aotearoa New Zealand society
    3. Knowledge of social work theories, skills and fields of practice
    4. Knowledge of specific field of social work practice
  2. The stage two assessment templates are available here:

    Stage two S13 template

    Stage two - S13 template Te Reo

  3. Log back into MySWRB, click Continue Registration, upload your completed stage two assessment template, along with other required documents, and follow the prompts.

  4. Pay your stage two fees (Experience pathway section 13: Stage 2 assessment fee and registration application fee).

  5. Your application is assessed by the SWRB registration team, an SWRB social work advisor, and an external assessor. At the same time, your NZ Police vetting will be submitted.

  6. Your external assessor will be in contact with you to arrange a phone or zoom interview.

  7. We will also contact you if we need anything further.

  8. All of your documents, including the assessor’s report, then go before the SWRB Board for consideration.  Once they make a decision, we will be in contact with you to let you know the outcome.

You can find out about the stage two fees (Experience pathway section 13: Stage 2 assessment application fee) here.

Temporary Registration

It may not be possible to have your application completed and fully processed before mandatory registration begins on 27 February, 2021. However, temporary registration is available for those who:

  • have completed stage one of the Experience pathway: S13 and been recommended to proceed to stage two, and
  • are currently employed as a social worker, or have an offer of employment as a social worker, and
  • are considered by the SWRB Board to be a fit and proper person to practise social work.

If you have already submitted your Experience pathway: S13 stage one or stage two application, we will contact you about temporary registration.

Step 2: Practising Certificates

Once you are registered, you are required by law to hold a valid Practising Certificate when you are working as a social worker.

How to apply
  • Log into MySWRB (swrb.govt.nz – top RH corner of home page) with your username and password
  • click Apply for Practising Certificate
  • fill out your declaration
  • Pay your fee
  • download and print your Practising Certificate. 

You must renew your Practising Certificate each year for it to be valid. If you do not intend to practise, please log onto MySWRB and declare yourself not practising. 

What is social work practice?

Social workers fill many roles with different titles and responsibilities in the social services sector, and if you’re practising social work, you must hold a current Practising Certificate.

Practising social work can include any one or more of the following:

  • working directly with clients, including whānau, hapū and community
  • being involved with casework decisions at any level
  • managing and/or supervising other social workers
  • if you apply your social work values, skills, ethics, and knowledge in your role
  • teaching social work practice or theory
  • developing policy that impacts upon social work practice

The SWRB, along with the sector, has developed a Scope of Practice which you can find out more about here.

Process and policy documents

Check out the Experience Pathway: S13 process and policy documents:

Experience Pathway: S13 policy


The principles which apply to the process


Provides evidence of significant social work experience in New Zealand.

Knowledgeable and competent

Demonstrates the SWRB 10 core competence standards, including:

  • an understanding of social work theory
  • competence to practise social work with Māori
  • competence to practise social work with different ethnic and cultural groups in New Zealand.


Can describe their practice and call on others who will verify and vouch for their social work practice skills.

Fit and proper

Meets the current SWRB requirements to provide assurance of safe practice. Practises in accordance with the SWRB Code of Conduct.

Professionally connected

Identifies a range of professional connections within social work, engages in regular supervision and continuing professional development.

Ethical and reflective

Provides evidence of ethical and reflective practice and an awareness of the SWRB Code of Conduct and the ANZASW Code of Ethics.


Can call on the support of other registered social workers to provide assurance of competence and quality.

The principles use multiple reference points to assess the practical experience of the social worker. The endorsement of professional colleagues, co-workers, supervisors, and the applicant’s self-assessment, along with any qualifications, provide a robust framework to consider suitability for registration.

If you have previously been recommended to move onto the Full Framework (the earlier assessment for this pathway), you can progress straight to the stage two assessment. Please contact us at applications@swrb.govt.nz.