Alberta Disability Workers Association
Building a Valued, Proud & Professional Workforce

This is where we answer questions that have come from members of our community about ADWA certification. Click on your question to reveal the answer. If you have a question related to certification, please send it to

No. Because there are no set standards for education or experience in the field, unlike other professions, ADWA feels it is important to the public's view of our credential to make sure that everyone with it has demonstrated that they have the required knowledge skills and abilities to our satisfaction. However, the more experience you have in the field, the easier (and faster) it should be to demonstrate that you meet the requirements.
There is no certification course. There is a difference between a "certificate" and "certification." A certificate is given for the completion of a series of courses offered by an accredited (we hope) education body in recognition that you have learned the body of knowledge taught to an acceptable level. Certification is given by a professional certifying body for demonstrating that you possess a body of knowledge, skills and abilities required to provide a given set of services competently, regardless of where and how you learned them. While ADWA does provide candidates with a manual to help them prepare to demonstrate their competence, we do not offer a course.
Many years ago, there was a core curriculum agreed on by post-secondary programs in this field, similar to the current situation with social work, accounting and many other professions. However, programs in our field no longer have the same or similar requirements. Therefore, we require another method to determine if people have the competencies that our sector agrees are important. We are evaluating past and present post-secondary courses in the sector to able to give people credit toward the competencies covered in them. (This information will appear on our Education Providers page on the website.) And we are pleased by the commitment shown by some current programs to ensure that our competencies are included in their certificate and diploma programs.
ADWA will not require all its members to become certified. However, some agencies could make it a requirement OR provide a wage incentive for certification. ADWA has no control over what employers require or offer. It is also possible that the government (PDD/Disability Services) might start to put in their contracts with organizations that a certain percentage of employees be certified. Currently ADWA does not have the resources to put the entire field through the certification process all at once. That would take many years.
That is one of the things that the certification pilot in 2018 will determine. ADWA staff are keeping track of the time we spend on various tasks associated with the certification process and will work out the average. The price will be set so that it covers ADWA's costs.
That is one of the things that the certification pilot in 2018 will determine. We have asked certification candidates and their supervisors in the pilot to keep track of the amount of time they devote to the various certification tasks so that we can make sure the process is manageable. We have set a time frame of 6 months from start to finish to complete the steps.
Other professions in health and human services require members to complete continuing education courses and activities in order to keep up their certification or registration. ADWA will require certified members to submit a short report on their learning activities from the past year and learning plans for the upcoming year; this can be the same one as in their annual performance evaluation at work. ADWA has no plans to require a certain number of hours of professional development activities, and it leaves it up to the individual to choose their own activities. These are not limited to courses or workshops, but can include reading, watching work-related videos on YouTube or Vimeo, training or mentoring other workers or being mentored in an area of professional interest.