New Professional Development Requirements for 2022

This summer, a committee of hard-working social workers, serving on the ad-hoc professional development standards working group, put together a proposal to transform our professional development standards. These changes were approved by Council in November 2021 and will take effect in January 2022.

These new professional development standards, briefly summarized below, reflect an evolving understanding regarding the importance of professional development to ensure the safety and well-being of the public. After two years of temporary changes to the professional development requirements of social workers due to the pandemic, we are excited to announce these new standards which will address many of the pressing concerns facing our members, as well as the clients that we serve.


The changes are intended to promote the professional competency of registrants, in light of new recommendations by the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network and evolving research regarding best practices related to professional development. Furthermore, they are grounded in our professional Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, and are aligned with CASWE-accredited social work curricula.

The proposal was also informed by the current context of our profession in Nova Scotia, taking into consideration recurring patterns in complaints received by the College, our obligations to reflect and respond to inquiries and reports such as the calls for justice offered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and communication received from our members.

Summary of changes

Old requirements

Active NSCSW members previously had to complete 40 hours of professional development annually, plus 5 hours of professional development on social work ethics every 5 years. Inactive members had to complete a reduced number of hours, and the ethics requirement was suspended until and unless they regained active status to resume practice of social work.

New requirements for 2022

Instead of being on a five-year cycle, mandatory training will now be included in the annual professional development tally, and additional topics have been selected. All active and associate members will be required to complete a total of six hours on selected topics every year.

  • mandatory ethics training (1 hour)
  • mandatory anti-racist and anti-discriminatory practice training (1 hour)
  • mandatory training and/or activities in:
    • Truth and Reconciliation (1 hour)
    • social justice (1 hour)
    • prevention of vicarious trauma and secondary distress (2 hours)

The guidelines for identifying types of formal and informal professional development are being revised to provide members with greater clarity on categories and expectations, based on our current realities and research related to best practice.

The online form for professional development tracking is being revised to reflect these changes, increase ease of use, and encourage members’ critical reflection on each of the activities they choose.

Support from NSCSW

Concurrently, we’re working on developing easily accessible, online and free educational resources to assist members in completing these requirements, and in organizing their professional development to facilitate their successful annual registration renewal. This was a key component of the feedback that we received from members.

While this remains a work in progress, we invite all members looking for professional development resources to check out the growing lists of recommendations on our redesigned Professional Development Activities page.

We are also preparing messages for the organizations that employ social workers in Nova Scotia, to help them understand what is required of you and why. It benefits your employer to have competent, ethical professionals who are engaged in continuous learning as part of their organization, and protects the people and communities you work with; it is in their interest to support you in this process at every stage of your career.

Your voice

These new requirements were designed by and for Nova Scotian social workers, to enable the College to fulfill its mandate to regulate social work practice in a way that truly protects the public, and to support social workers in enacting the values of our profession. We are grateful to all of the members who served on this committee, as well as all those who have provided important input and feedback into the draft proposal at one of the four feedback sessions we held this fall or via email. 

“I am grateful to be part of an organization working to ensure greater justice and equity for all Nova Scotians.”

Member feedback

“These new requirements make me proud to be a social worker.”

Member feedback

As part of fulfilling our mandate, we are constantly working to improve the way that social workers in Nova Scotia are able to complete their required professional development. If you have any ideas regarding professional development that you would like to see offered in the future, please contact