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Experience pathway: S13

If you don’t hold a SWRB-recognised social work qualification, but you do have significant experience practising social work in New Zealand, you may be eligible to become registered as a social worker through the Experience Pathway: S13.

To find out if you have a SWRB-recognised social work qualification, including historical social work qualifications, please check both lists on our NZ recognised qualification page before going any further. If you have one of these qualifications, please apply under the registration pathway for a NZ qualification.

If you are unsure if your experience sits within the description of social work practice, the Scope of Practice may help you.

The Experience pathway: S13 criteria

The Board will need to be satisfied that you are competent to practise social work, meet our fit and proper criteria and that your experience is enough to compensate for not holding a recognised social work qualification.

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.

Submitting your application

The first task is to provide us with your completed application showing your practical experience as a social worker.  Please follow the instructions on the section 13 template.  We ask you to provide the following information (to ensure your application is valid):

  • the story of your pathway into social work
  • your relevant social work employment history
  • a description of your most significant social work practice experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • a list of the qualifications you hold
  • details of your professional development
  • evidence and reflection on your professional supervision
  • a practice study demonstrating your social work competence
  • a self-reflection on the SWRB Core Competence Standards
  • additional information you might wish to share that demonstrates elements of the Scope of Practice within your experience
  • your declaration that your application is a true reflection of your practice, and
  • contact details for colleagues who can endorse your social work practice.

If you have provided us with all the above, we will be able to assess your application.

If not, your application may not be valid (as it doesn’t have everything we have asked for). If this is the case, we will let you know what information is needed and you will have the opportunity to provide this.

Experience Pathway S13 Template

We welcome applications in te reo Māori and English.

You can find out more about our fees on the Fees and Funding page.

To submit your application, first create a MySWRB account

Follow the prompts to upload your completed application template and to pay your assessment application fee for the Experience pathway registration application fee.

Assessment of your application 

When we have confirmed that your application is valid, the assessment progresses as follows:

  1. You will meet the SWRB social work advisor who will look after your application from this point. 
  2. This advisor will work with your assessment rōpū including two social work kaiarotake, who will look at your written application to assess your experience and competence. 
  3. You will then be given a copy of the assessment. If the rōpū have any questions about your application, you may be invited to meet with them, either in person or via Zoom. You may invite support people and/or your endorsers to be with you. Following initial whanaungatanaga, the rōpū may ask you questions about your written application and/or give you a hypothetical case study and ask you to describe your social work approach to the situation. This is to help us understand your social work experience. 
  4. We will submit your Police vetting, assess your fitness to practice, and contact your endorsers while the rōpū assessment is underway. 
  5. Your social work advisor will prepare a submission of recommendations to the Board and let you  know when the Board will consider your application.  
  6. The Board will consider all the information and make a decision. Your social work advisor will contact you again to let you know the outcome and discuss any additional steps. You will also receive a letter from the Registrar advising you of the Board’s decision. 

Please note that the Experience Pathway: S13 Policy is valid until 27 February 2024, from which time applications for registration through this pathway will no longer be accepted.

You can download our Experience Pathway: S13 policy and implementation document:

Revised experience pathway policy - March 2022

Once you are registered

Congratulations! Once you are registered, you will need a Practising Certificate to work as a social worker.

Find out more about applying for your Practising Certificate.

If you have already applied under the previous process

The registration process for the Experience pathway: S13 was updated in December 2021. If you were told by us to proceed to Stage Two under the previous registration process, you may continue. However, we encourage everyone to use the new improved template. Starting at ‘Part 2: Practice Study’ on the updated template equates to Stage Two of the previous process.

Please contact us if you have any queries.