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Experience pathway: S13

The Experience Pathway: S13 is a route to registration 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. 

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.  

The Experience pathway: S13 application process

At the end of 2021, the Board decided to change the application process to combine both stages into one, and for a single fee to be charged for the whole process from 1 March 2022. You can read more about the Board’s decision on fees and levy changes.

What will you look for in my 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 

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 and payment is required before your application will be processed. Find out about fees and funding.   

Please contact us if you need further information to help you make your application. You can contact us by email to applications@swrb.govt.nz or freephone 0508 797 269.