Formal social welfare/work education in Japan originally developed as a field of higher education after the 1920s. The Japanese educational system was reformed after World War II and a modern higher educational system was established. The Japan Association of Schools of Social Work was founded as a voluntary organization in 1955 by 17 schools. In response to the aging society, the Certified Social Worker and Certified Care Worker Act became effective in 1987 and the Association became larger and larger. As of March 2010, it included 148 four-year universities, 13 two-year colleges, and 8 vocational schools. Other organizations, such as the Japanese Association of Schools of Certified Social Worker included 271 member schools. As for the output of all these education courses, there were 134,000 certified social workers in 2010.
A certified social worker is a person who provides consultation, advice, guidance and other forms of support for those who have difficulties in living due to any types of disability and environmental barriers. In order to be a certified social worker, applicants must study social welfare related subjects as designated by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare at colleges and other institutions. Upon graduation, they have to pass the National Examination for Certified Social Workers. As of now, this examination includes the following 19 subjects:
Social welfare/work curricula have been influenced by this national examination and examination subjects have become standard in educational institutions. Applicants are also required to complete 23 days/180 hours of practicum at a designated field of social work.
Nintei-Shakaifukushishi Ninsho Nintei Kikou, or the Agency for Accreditation and Approval of Approved Certified Social Workers was formed in order to respond to complex social issues and needs by establishing a career path for social workers. This agency both accredits continuous educational programs for social workers and approves social workers who have completed these programs.