How to Become a Licensed Social Worker: State-by-State Requirements

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By Doug Wintemute

Reviewed by Melissa Russiano, LCSW, LISW

Published on September 14, 2021

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Licensure can help assure the public and employers that social workers have the appropriate training and experience to deliver support services. Each state has its own licensing requirements. However, all states require social workers to pursue a license if they want to work in a clinical setting.

Aspiring social workers typically need to complete a bachelor's or master's degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and take an exam offered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) to qualify for licensure.

Here, we examine the social work license requirements by state.

Why Become a Licensed Social Worker?

Licensure helps to protect the public and the social work profession by standardizing the knowledge social workers must know, regardless of which state they work in. Licensure helps ensure that professionals have the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to support clients and offer clinical services in various settings. For social workers, licensure may lead to more professional opportunities, more responsibilities, and higher earnings.

Each state has its own licensing requirements and responsibilities for social workers. No matter where they live, all social workers need a license to practice at the clinical level. Aspiring professionals should look into their state guidelines to determine local education and experience requirements before applying to a program.

Types of Social Work Licensure

What Is a Licensed Baccalaureate/Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)?

The LBSW is the typical licensed pathway for graduates of social work bachelor's degree programs. These professionals often work in non-clinical or administrative case management roles, providing indirect support to clients and organizations. Many states do not require LBSWs to complete professional field experience prior to licensure, but some may. Additionally, some states use the licensed social worker (LSW) credential to differentiate between social workers with bachelor's degrees and those with master's degrees.

What Is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)?

The LMSW is a pathway for graduates with master's degrees to take on more responsibility. In some states, this license can lead to non-clinical administrative and management roles at social work agencies. Other states allow LMSWs to provide clinical services in supervised settings. Depending on their state, aspiring LMSWs may need postgraduate clinical experience.

What Is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?

The LCSW is the most common clinical license available. LCSWs can provide clinical support, counseling, and treatment services to clients — typically without supervision. In most states, LCSWs need at least a master's degree and a minimum of two years of postgraduate experience to qualify for clinical licensure.

What Is an Independent Social Worker (ISW)?

The ISW license operates similarly to the LCSW, requiring a master's degree and significant postgraduate professional experience to qualify. Many states offer ISW licenses as the highest level of clinical licensure, and it may be interchangeable with the LCSW from other locations. However, the ISW may be a non-clinical master's-level license in some states. As a result, it is important to investigate what level of licensure will meet your ultimate career goals.

Many other licenses exist, with the names and descriptions varying by state. Additional credentials in some areas include certified advanced practice social worker (CAPSW), licensed advanced practice social worker (LAPSW), licensed social work associate (LSWA), and social work associate (SWA).

These alternatives may have different educational requirements than the major licenses described in detail above, such as associate-level credentials, which usually require an associate degree.

Social workers with these licenses may also have different responsibilities, with many advanced practice licenses focusing on non-clinical services. These professionals may possess the same master's-level education as LCSWs, but their responsibilities fall on the administrative and organizational sides of the field.

Social Work License Requirements by State

Alabama Social Work Licensure

To become a licensed social worker in Alabama, candidates need to earn a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree in social work. They also need to pass the ASWB examination and then apply for licensure with the Alabama State Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) - Clinical or Non-Clinical
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Field Requirements

To qualify for licensure, LBSWs require a minimum of two years of supervised clinical experience. LICSWs and LMSWs require a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate clinical hours. All licensure types require at least 96 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Licensed social workers need to renew their licenses every two years and must complete a minimum of 30 continuing education hours, including 10 face-to-face hours. Studies must include ethics. LICSW licenses require studies in clinical social work for renewal.

Alaska Social Work Licensure

Alaska's social worker requirements include earning a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, depending on the chosen licensure. Graduates must then pass the ASWB exam and apply for licensure with Alaska's Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

For licensure eligibility, LCSWs require a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of postgraduate supervised clinical experience, including at least 100 supervised contact hours. Aspiring LBSWs and LMSWs do not require any supervised clinical hours.

License Renewal

Alaska's licensed social workers need to renew their licenses every two years by completing a minimum of 45 continuing education hours. They must include training in ethics, substance abuse, and cross-cultural education with particular focus on Alaska's Indigenous population.

Arizona Social Work Licensure

The social worker education requirements in Arizona depend on the licensure type. However, they include a background check and a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree in social work. After graduation, candidates must complete the ASWB exam and apply to the Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners for licensure.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

While LMSWs and LBSWs do not have postgraduate requirements in Arizona, the LCSW requirements include a minimum of two years and 3,200 hours of supervised experience. Of those hours, 1,600 hours must include direct client contact and 100 hours need to be completed with direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Arizona social workers need to renew their licenses every two years by completing a minimum of 30 continuing education hours. The training should include subject areas like behavioral health ethics, cultural competency, mental health law, and board statutes.

Arkansas Social Work Licensure

Arkansas offers several social work licenses that require a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree in social work, depending on the credential chosen. After graduation, candidates need to complete background checks, pass the ASWB exam, and apply for licensure with the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The LSW and LMSW credentials do not require postgraduate clinical experience. LCSW candidates need to complete a minimum of two years and 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. LCSW applicants also need a minimum of 100 hours of direct supervision.

License Renewal

Arizona's licensed social workers need to renew their licenses every two years by completing a minimum of 30 continuing education hours. Of the 30 hours, 15 must include face-to-face instruction, and professional ethics must be one of the topics covered.

California Social Work Licensure

California offers two types of licensure. Both require a CSWE-accredited master's degree. However, graduates with a bachelor's degree also may qualify for employment in the field. After meeting the licensure requirements, social worker candidates need to complete the state law and ethics exam and the ASWB exam. They can then apply for licensure with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

California's social worker requirements include a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience for LCSWs. At least 2,000 hours must include psychosocial diagnosis and treatment. Candidates also need at least 750 hours of face-to-face client contact.

License Renewal

California social workers need to renew their licenses every two years by completing a minimum of 36 hours of continuing education. The courses must include law and ethics, and all 36 hours may come via distance education. However, only 9-18 hours can come via self-study courses.

Colorado Social Work Licensure

For social worker licensure in Colorado, candidates need to earn a CSWE-accredited master's degree, though bachelor's degree-holders may qualify for some positions. After graduation, they need to complete the state's mental health jurisprudence examination and the ASWB exam. They can then apply for licensure with Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

Colorado requires its LCSWs to complete a total of two years and 3,360 hours of postgraduate supervised clinical experience. At least 1,680 of those must come from face-to-face client encounters. A minimum of 96 hours must have direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

To renew a Colorado LCSW license, social workers need to complete at least 40 continuing education hours every two years. LCSWs must complete all 40 in face-to-face training. LSWs can acquire up to 20 hours via distance education.

Connecticut Social Work Licensure

The licensed social worker requirements for Connecticut include a CSWE-accredited master's degree. However, bachelor's degrees may qualify graduates for some careers. Candidates also need to complete their field requirements and ASWB examinations before they can apply for licensure with the Connecticut State Department of Public Health.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Master's Level Social Worker (MSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The field requirements for social workers include a minimum of two years and 3,000 supervised clinical experience hours. At least 100 of those hours need to come from within an environment with direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Social workers need to renew their licenses every year by completing a minimum of 15 units of continuing education. Up to six units of the training can be acquired via distance learning. Topics must include mental health conditions common to veterans and family members of veterans and cultural competency.

Delaware Social Work Licensure

The social worker education requirements in Delaware include a minimum of a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, depending on the license being pursued. Graduates then need to pass the ASWB exam before they can apply for licensure with the Delaware Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The LBSW and LMSW feature no specific field requirements. LCSWs need to complete a minimum of two years and 3,200 hours of practical experience. Of the experience hours required, 1,600 hours must be under professional supervision, and 100 hours must be completed under direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Delaware LCSWs need to renew their licenses every other year by completing at least 40 continuing education units. LMSWs must complete 30 credits, and LBSWs must earn 20. All social workers may complete up to 10 hours via distance education. Some training must focus on ethics for mental health professionals.

Florida Social Work Licensure

In Florida, social workers must have completed a minimum of a CSWE-accredited master's degree for licensure. With this level of education, they may pursue one of three credentials provided by the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling. Two of the credentials require candidates to complete the social work license exam with the ASWB.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW)
  • Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The registered intern is a provisional license, so it does not feature examination or experience requirements. The other credentials require prospective social workers to obtain supervised clinical experience to qualify for the licensure exam. LCSWs need a minimum of 100 weeks and 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience, including 100 hours of direct supervisor contact. CMSWs need at least two years and 3,000 hours of supervised experience.

License Renewal

Licensed social workers need to renew their licenses every two years in Florida. They need to complete at least 30 units in continuing education, including courses in domestic violence, prevention of medical errors, professional ethics and boundaries, and laws and rules.

Georgia Social Work Licensure

Georgia recognizes two types of licensed social workers. Both require a minimum of a CSWE-accredited master's degree. After that, graduates need to complete the ASWB exam and apply for licensure with the Georgia Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The field requirements vary by credential in Georgia. LMSWs require a minimum of two years of supervised experience. LCSWs need at least three years and 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, including at least 120 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

LCSWs and LMSWs in Georgia need to renew their licenses every two years by completing at least 35 hours of continuing education. Professionals can earn up to 10 hours via distance education. They need to cover professional ethics in their training.

Hawaii Social Work Licensure

Hawaii features three types of licensed social workers. Candidates need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree at minimum to qualify. Graduates must complete the field experience requirements and pass the ASWB exam before applying for licensure with Hawaii's Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

LBSWs and LSWs have no field requirements. The social worker requirements for LCSWs include at least two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. At least 2,000 of those hours must focus on assessment, clinical diagnosis, and psychotherapy. A minimum of 100 hours need to be completed with direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Hawaii licenses are renewed every three years by completing the required 45 units of continuing education. Professionals must complete an ethics course.

Idaho Social Work Licensure

Idaho offers three types of licensed social worker positions. Professionals need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree at minimum to qualify. Graduates also need to complete the ASWB exam before applying for state licensure with the Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

All social work licenses require a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. Within the 3,000-hour field requirement for the LCSW license, a minimum of 1,750 hours must be completed with direct patient contact, and 100 hours with direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Idaho licenses need renewal every year by completing at least 20 units of continuing education. A minimum of 10 units must come from face-to-face instruction. All licensed professionals need to complete a professional ethics course. LCSWs need a clinical content course as well.

Illinois Social Work Licensure

The social worker requirements for licensure in Illinois include completing at least a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree. Candidates also need to complete their respective field requirements and pass the ASWB exam before they can apply for licensure with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

For the LSW license, bachelor's graduates need to complete three years of supervised postgraduate experience, whereas master's graduates do not need any postgraduate experience. The LCSW license requires a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience for candidates with master's degrees and 2,000 hours for candidates with doctorates.

License Renewal

For license renewal, professionals need to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years. The training must include topics in ethical practice of social work, sexual harassment prevention, and cultural competence in the practice of social work.

Indiana Social Work Licensure

Indiana offers three types of social work licenses. Candidates need to complete a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree at minimum, depending on their chosen path. They need to complete field requirements, have a clean background check, and pass the ASWB exam. These candidates also must apply for licensure with Indiana's Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The LBSW and LSW credentials don't have field requirements. LCSW requirements include a minimum of two years of supervised clinical professional experience. Many of these hours must come with direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Social work licenses need renewal every two years in Indiana. Licensed professionals need to complete a minimum of 40 continuing education hours, with up to 20 hours available through distance education. Learners must complete a course in ethics.

Iowa Social Work Licensure

Aspiring social workers can choose from three licenses in Iowa. At minimum, they need to complete a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree program and acquire the field requirements necessary to qualify for the ASWB social work license exam. After passing that, they can apply for licensure with the Iowa Board of Social Work.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)

Field Requirements

The field requirements for social work licensure vary by the credential. LBSW and LMSW licenses require no postgraduate professional experience. LISWs, however, require a minimum of two years of supervised professional experience after graduation.

License Renewal

Iowa licenses need renewal every two years. Professionals must complete a minimum of 27 continuing education units to do so. Of the required units, 12 can come from distance education. Mandatory courses include social work ethics, child abuse identification and reporting, and training in dependent adult abuse identification and reporting.

Kansas Social Work Licensure

Social worker education requirements in Kansas depend on the license type. At minimum, professionals need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's degree, although they need master's degrees for two of the three licenses. Professionals also need to pass their respective ASWB exams before applying for licensure with the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW)

Field Requirements

LMSW and LBSW licenses do not have postgraduate field requirements in Kansas. LSCSWs need to complete a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. At least 1,500 of the 3,000 hours must come from direct client contact, and at least 100 hours need direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

All Kansas licenses need to be renewed every two years. Professionals need to complete a minimum of 40 continuing education hours, with all 40 hours available through distance education. Learners must complete training in social work ethics and diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.

Kentucky Social Work Licensure

Kentucky offers three social work licenses, which require a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree. Before applying for licensure with Kentucky's Board of Social Work, candidates need to complete their field requirements and pass the appropriate ASWB exam.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

LCSWs are required to have supervised professional experience: a minimum of two years full time (30 hours per week) or three years part time (20 hours per week). LCSWs need to complete at least 200 hours with direct supervisor contact. LCSWs also need 3,600 hours in total, with at least 60% of the hours featuring client contact.

License Renewal

Licenses expire every three years in Kentucky. LSWs need to complete 15 continuing education hours during this time. CSWs and LCSWs need to complete 30 hours. Courses include ethics, domestic violence and elder abuse, HIV/AIDS, and suicide prevention.

Louisiana Social Work Licensure

Louisiana offers four social work licenses, which require a CSWE-accredited bachelor's degree or master's degree at minimum depending on the license. Aspiring professionals also need to participate in a criminal background check and earn a passing grade on their ASWB exam to qualify for licensure with the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Registered Social Worker (RSW)
  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

Three of four licenses do not feature field requirements in Louisiana. The LCSW requirements include 5,760 hours of postgraduate professional experience. Of those total hours, 3,840 must be under a clinical supervisor, and at least 96 hours must feature direct contact with a supervisor.

License Renewal

Louisiana requires social workers to renew their licenses every year. They need to complete a minimum of 20 continuing education hours, with at least half from face-to-face training. All licenses need training in social work ethics. LCSWs need training in diagnosis and treatment.

Maine Social Work Licensure

In Maine, licensed social workers need a minimum of a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, plus a background check. They also need to pass the ASWB exam to qualify for licensure from the Maine's State Board of Social Worker Licensure.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The field requirements vary by license. They often include a minimum of two years and 3,200 hours of supervised professional experience. Professionals also need 96 hours of direct supervisor contact. LCSWs without a clinical concentration need a minimum of four years and 3,200 hours of supervised professional experience, plus 192 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Maine licenses need to be renewed every two years. The requirements for this include a minimum of 25 continuing education hours, 10 of which can come through distance education. At least one course must cover social work ethics.

Maryland Social Work Licensure

Maryland social workers have access to several licenses, which require a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree. Professionals also need a clean background check and a passing grade on the ASWB exam. They can then apply for licensure with the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) - Clinical or Non-Clinical

Field Requirements

The LBSW and LMSW credentials do not require professional experience. LCSW requirements include a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate experience. Clinical specialists need at least 1,500 hours of patient contact and 144 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

LMSWs and LCSWs need to be renewed every other year and require the completion of 40 continuing education hours, with up to 20 hours able to be completed through distance education. LBSWs require 30 hours, and 15 hours may be earned remotely. All social workers must complete a course in ethics and professional conduct, including boundary issues.

Massachusetts Social Work Licensure

Aspiring social workers can pursue multiple licenses in Massachusetts. Depending on their chosen pathway, they may need a CSWE-accredited associate, bachelor's, or master's degree. They also need to complete the field requirements and earn a passing score on their ASWB exam. They can then qualify for licensure with the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Social Workers.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Field Requirements

The social worker requirements for LICSWs include a minimum of 3,500 hours of supervised professional experience. LSWs with a bachelor's degree typically need the same level of experience. However, candidates with lower levels of education could need up to 10 years and 17,500 hours of experience before qualifying for licensure.

License Renewal

Social worker licenses in Massachusetts need renewal every two years, but the continuing education requirements range from 10-30 hours. LICSWs need 30 hours, which can all come through distance education and feature no course specifications.

Michigan Social Work Licensure

The social work licenses available in Michigan provide opportunities for graduates with varying levels of education. Most candidates need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, plus the appropriate field experience. They also need to provide a clean background check and pass their ASWB social work license exam before applying to Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Social Service Technician (SST)
  • Limited Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Limited License Master's Social Worker (LLMSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker - Clinical and Macro (LMSW)

Field Requirements

The field requirements vary for each license. Two of Michigan's SST licenses require one year and 2,000 hours of supervised experience. LBSW and LMSW licenses require two years and 4,000 hours of supervised postgraduate experience. Professionals also need 96 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Licenses need to be renewed every three years by completing a minimum of 45 hours of continuing education. Social workers can complete 10-22.5 hours via distance education. The courses need to cover topics in human trafficking, social work ethics, and pain and symptom management.

Minnesota Social Work Licensure

Aspiring social workers need a minimum of a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree to pursue licensure in Minnesota. They must also complete a criminal background check before their ASWB exam. Then they can apply for licensure with the Minnesota Board of Social Work.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Field Requirements

Most social worker licenses in Minnesota, including the LICSW license, feature field requirements of at least 4,000 hours. Most licenses also need a minimum of 100 hours direct supervisor contact. The LGSW license requires 200 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Minnesota social worker licenses need renewal every two years. These professionals need to complete a minimum of 40 continuing education hours. Up to 20 can come via distance education, and ethics must be one of the topics. LICSW licensees need to complete a clinical content course as well.

Mississippi Social Work Licensure

Licensed social workers in Mississippi need a minimum education of a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, depending on the pathway they choose. They also need a criminal background check and a passing grade on their ASWB exam. This qualifies them to apply for licensure with the Mississippi Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

Graduates pursuing LSW and LMSW licenses do not need to meet any field requirements. LCSWs need a minimum of two years of supervised professional experience. This includes 1,000 hours of direct client contact. Within that time, they also need 100 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Mississippi requires social workers to renew their licenses every two years by completing at least 40 continuing education hours. They can complete up to 20 via distance education. The training must include topics in professional ethics and cultural competency.

Missouri Social Work Licensure

Licensed social workers have multiple avenues available to them in Missouri. The pathway requirements vary, but candidates need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree at minimum. They also need to have a clean background check and pass the appropriate ASWB exam. Professionals can then apply for licensure with the Missouri Committee for Social Workers.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Advanced Macro Social Worker (LAMSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)

Field Requirements

The LMSW license features no professional experience requirements. The three other licenses require a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. The LCSW license also requires 100 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Missouri social workers need to renew their licenses every two years by completing at least 30 continuing education hours, including 15 face-to-face hours. They also need to complete ethics and suicide prevention classes.

Montana Social Work Licensure

Montana has several levels of licenses for social workers, each with slightly different requirements. Professionals need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree. They then need to submit a background check and pass the appropriate ASWB exam before they can apply for licensure with the Montana Board of Behavioral Health.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

Both the LMSW and LBSW require 18 months and 2,000 hours of supervised professional experience. The LCSW license requires two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. This includes 1,500 hours of direct client contact. All licenses also require 100 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Montana social workers need to renew their licenses every year by completing at least 20 hours of continuing education. All 20 can be completed through distance education. The training must include suicide prevention.

Nebraska Social Work Licensure

Nebraska features multiple social work credentials, including non-clinical and clinical roles. Depending on their pathway, aspiring social workers may need to complete a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree program, pass the social work license exam, and apply for licensure with Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW)
  • Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP)
  • Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner (LIMHP)

Field Requirements

Some licenses do not require an ASWB exam, but LIMHP, LMHP, and CMSW licenses do. Candidates must complete 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. This includes 1,500 hours of direct client contact. LMHP licenses also require 300 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Nebraska social work licenses need to be renewed every two years. Professionals need to complete at least 32 continuing education hours, including 12 face-to-face hours. LIMHPs and LMHPs must receive training in mental health practice ethics.

Nevada Social Work Licensure

Nevada has three licenses that feature slightly different education requirements. Candidates may need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree. Graduates must have a clean background check and pass the appropriate ASWB exam before applying to the Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers for licensure.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Social Worker
  • Independent Social Worker (ISW)
  • Clinical Social Worker (CSW)

Field Requirements

The baseline social worker credential in Nevada does not have any field requirements. For ISW and CSW licenses, however, candidates need to complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. Within that total, CSWs need 2,000 hours of face-to-face client contact and 104 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Nevada licenses get renewed every year, but the continuing education requirements satisfy two years of licensure. Professionals need to complete 30-36 hours in total. During this time, they must take courses in ethics in the practice of social work and suicide prevention and awareness. All hours can be taken through distance education.

New Hampshire Social Work Licensure

New Hampshire only offers one licensed social worker credential. This role requires candidates to earn a CSWE-accredited master's degree, pass the ASWB exam, and have a clean background check. They then can apply to the New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice for licensure.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Field Requirements

To qualify for licensure, aspiring social workers need to complete a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. At least 100 of those hours must include direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Licenses must be renewed every two years by completing a total of 40 continuing education hours. Social workers can complete up to 20 hours via distance education. Mandatory training topics include social work ethics, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and suicide prevention.

New Jersey Social Work Licensure

The social worker requirements in New Jersey vary by license type, but students typically need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree and a clean criminal background check. Professionals need to pass an ASWB exam before applying for licensure with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

In New Jersey, CSW candidates need to complete 1,600 hours of supervised professional experience to qualify for licensure. LCSWs need two years and 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate experience, including at least 1,920 hours of direct client contact and 96 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Social workers in New Jersey need to renew their licenses every two years. CSWs need a minimum of 20 continuing education hours. LSWs need a minimum of 30 hours, and LCSWs need a minimum of 40 hours. All licenses feature courses in ethics, prescription opioid drugs, and social and cultural competence. LCSWs need clinical practice training as well.

New Mexico Social Work Licensure

Aspiring social workers in New Mexico can take various pathways. Depending on the license, they may need to complete a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, a jurisprudence exam, and the appropriate ASWB exam. They then can apply for licensure with New Mexico's Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

LBSW and LMSW credentials require no field requirements. LISW and LCSW credentials need a minimum of 3,600 hours of postgraduate professional experience. Included in those hours are at least 90 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

New Mexico social work licenses need to be renewed every two years. Professionals need to complete a minimum of 30 continuing education hours. As part of the requirements, they also need to take a cultural awareness course.

New York Social Work Licensure

New York's social workers typically take one of two paths, and both require a CSWE-accredited master's degree, including a mandated course about child abuse. After completing that and their field requirements, social workers can apply for licensure with the New York State Office of the Professions.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The LMSW credential does not feature any field requirements, but the LCSW license requires the completion of three years and 2,000 hours of supervised postgraduate professional work. The 2,000-hour requirement must include direct client contact. At least 100 hours must feature direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Licenses need to be renewed every three years in New York. Professionals need to complete a minimum of 36 continuing education hours for this requirement. They can earn up to 12 via distance education.

North Carolina Social Work Licensure

In North Carolina, students can pursue various social work credentials, including certificate pathways that require a bachelor's degree or a master's degree for clinical licensure. After gaining their degree and field requirements, learners must complete their respective social work license exam with the ASWB before applying for licensure with the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW)
  • Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

Both the CSWM and LCSW credentials require 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate professional experience. LCSWs need direct client contact and at least 100 hours of direct supervisor contact as well.

License Renewal

Licenses need to be renewed every two years, which can be done by completing a minimum of 40 units of continuing education. Up to 20 units of the education can come via distance education. Ethics must be one of the courses.

North Dakota Social Work Licensure

Aspiring social workers can pursue various educational and licensure pathways in North Dakota. Depending on their desired license, they may need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, along with a clean criminal record check. This qualifies them for licensure with the North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

Only the LCSW credential features field requirements. To qualify for licensure, these professionals need a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised postsecondary experience, including 150 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

North Dakota licenses need to be renewed every other year, which requires a minimum of 30 continuing education hours. They can acquire up to 10 through distance education. At least one course needs to cover ethics.

Ohio Social Work Licensure

Ohio offers social work opportunities for graduates with various CSWE-accredited degrees, including associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. The social worker requirements and the type of ASWB exam depend on the candidate's licensing goals. All applicants must undergo a criminal background check before applying to Ohio's Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Social Work Assistant (SWA)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)

Field Requirements

SWA and LSW credentials do not require field requirements. To qualify for the LISW, candidates need to complete at least two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience, including 150 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Social work licenses in Ohio need to be renewed every two years. To qualify for renewal, professionals need to complete a minimum of 30 continuing education hours, including an ethics course.

Oklahoma Social Work Licensure

To become a licensed social worker in Oklahoma, students typically need to complete a CSWE-accredited master's degree, although a bachelor's degree qualifies graduates for one credential. They also need to have a clean background check and pass the appropriate ASWB exam before applying for licensure with the Oklahoma State Board of Licensed Social Workers.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

Aspiring LSWs and LCSWs need to complete a minimum of two years and 4,000 hours of supervised postgraduate professional experience. Included in that total, LCSWs need at least 3,000 hours of client contact and 100 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Licenses need to be renewed every two years in Oklahoma. LCSWs need to complete a minimum of 16 units of continuing education, which they can complete entirely through distance education.

Oregon Social Work Licensure

Oregon's various social work licenses each feature different requirements, but a CSWE-accredited master's degree is the most common pathway. A bachelor's degree can lead to the lowest level of licensure. Other requirements for licensure with the Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers include completing the Statutes and Administrative Rules test and taking the respective ASWB exam.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW)
  • Licensed Master's Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Certified Social Work Associate (CSWA)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

Only the LCSW credential features additional social worker requirements, including field experience. It requires applicants to complete two years and 3,500 hours of professional and supervised experience. This includes 2,000 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Most licenses need to be renewed every two years in Oregon. LCSW professionals need to complete a minimum of 40 continuing education hours, including an ethics course.

Pennsylvania Social Work Licensure

Licensed social workers in Pennsylvania need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, depending on their chosen pathway. They also need to complete their field requirements and pass their respective ASWB exam to qualify for licensure with Pennsylvania's State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The LSW and LBSW don't have field requirements. The LCSW credential requires candidates to complete two years and 3,000 hours of professional experience. Of those hours, 1,500 must include direct patient contact, and 150 must feature direct supervisor contact to qualify for licensure.

License Renewal

All licenses in Pennsylvania need to be renewed every two years. Social workers need to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education. All 30 can be completed through distance education at this time due to COVID-19 provisions. Regularly, up to 20 hours of continuing education can be completed through distance learning, although at least 10 hours need to be completed in person. Mandatory topics include professional ethical issues and child abuse recognition and reporting.

Rhode Island Social Work Licensure

In Rhode Island, licensed social workers need a CSWE-accredited master's degree. They also may need to complete specific field requirements and the clinical or master's ASWB exam. This will qualify them for licensure with the State of Rhode Island Department of Health.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Field Requirements

The LCSW license does not have any field requirements. Aspiring LICSWs need to complete a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate professional experience. Of those hours, at least 1,500 must include direct client contact, and 150 need direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Social worker licenses need to be renewed every two years with the completion of 30 continuing education hours. Up to eight can be accessed through distance education. Training includes social work professional ethics and cross-cultural practice to alleviate oppression.

South Carolina Social Work Licensure

Several licensed social worker pathways exist in South Carolina. Most require a CSWE-accredited master's degree. One requires a bachelor's degree. Graduates must complete their field requirements and pass their respective ASWB exams. They then can apply for licensure with the South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker - Advanced or Clinical (LISW)

Field Requirements

The LBSW and LMSW don't feature field requirements. However, both the advanced and clinical LISWs need a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. That includes at least 94 hours of direct supervisor contact for Advanced LISWs and 100 for Clinical LISWs.

License Renewal

South Carolina's social worker licenses need to be renewed every two years. Professionals need to complete at least 40 units of continuing education, of which 20 units can be completed through distance education.

South Dakota Social Work Licensure

Social workers have multiple pathways to pursue licenses in South Dakota. This includes options for graduates with CSWE-accredited associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees. After graduation, prospective social workers need to complete their field requirements, pass the appropriate ASWB exam, and apply for licensure with the South Dakota Department of Social Services.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Social Work Associate (SWA)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Certified Social Worker in Private or Independent Practice (CSW-PIP)

Field Requirements

Only the CSW-PIP license features additional social worker education requirements, such as field requirements. Candidates in this field need to complete two years of supervised postgraduate professional experience.

License Renewal

Social work licenses expire every two years. To renew them, professionals need to complete 30 continuing education hours. All 30 can be completed through distance education.

Tennessee Social Work Licensure

In Tennessee, social workers typically need a CSWE-accredited master's degree for licensure, though a bachelor's level credential is available. Aspiring social workers also need a clean background check and completed field requirements to qualify for licensure with the Tennessee Board of Social Workers.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master in Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker (LAPSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The LBSW and LMSW credentials have no field requirements. However, LAPSWs and LCSWs need to complete a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of postgraduate professional experience to qualify for licensure. This includes 100 hours with direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Licenses in Tennessee need to be renewed every two years. For renewal, LAPSWs and LCSWs must complete 15 hours of continuing education per year. LBSWs must complete nine hours, and LMSWs must finish 12 per year. Courses include professional ethics and suicide prevention.

Texas Social Work Licensure

Most Texas social work licenses require a CSWE-accredited master's degree. However, graduates with a bachelor's degree can apply for the baccalaureate license. Other social worker requirements include a jurisprudence exam and an ASWB exam. Completing these steps will qualify candidates for licensure with the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker - Advanced Practice (LMSW-AP)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

All licenses in Texas require the completion of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate professional experience. LCSWs and LMSW-APs need to include 100 hours of direct supervisor contact in those hours.

License Renewal

Licenses need to be renewed every two years. Social workers need to complete 30 continuing education hours, which can be acquired through distance education. Some training needs to cover professional ethics and social work values.

Utah Social Work Licensure

Social worker licenses in Utah need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, depending on the chosen license. Clinical social worker licenses and certified social workers need a master's degree and a passing grade on their specific ASWB clinical exam. Once candidates fulfill those prerequisites, they can apply for licensure with the Utah State Social Worker Licensing Board.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Social Service Worker (SSW)
  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

The field requirements vary by license. While CSWs and some SSWs do not need to complete any field requirements, some SSWs need to complete two years and 2,000 hours of professional experience. Aspiring LCSWs need to complete two years and 4,000 hours of supervised postgraduate experience, including a minimum of 100 direct supervisor contact hours.

License Renewal

Social worker licenses need to be renewed every two years. SSWs require 20 continuing education hours during this period, whereas LCSWs need 40 hours. Mandatory topics include ethics and/or law and suicide prevention.

Vermont Social Work Licensure

All licensed social workers in Vermont need a CSWE-accredited master's degree and their completed field requirements. They also may need to pass the jurisprudence examination and the master's or clinical ASWB exam. These steps can qualify them for licensure with Vermont's Office of Professional Regulation.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Field Requirements

Only LICSWs have field requirements in Vermont. These aspiring professionals need to complete a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional work. This includes 2,000 hours of direct patient contact and 75 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Licenses need to be renewed every two years. LMSWs need to complete 10 continuing education hours, while LICSWs need to complete 20. Both need to study ethics. LICSWs can complete up to five units through distance education.

Virginia Social Work Licensure

Virginia's licensed social workers need a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, depending on their chosen pathway. They also need to complete their field requirements and pass their respective ASWB exam to qualify for licensure with Virginia's Board of Social Work.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Associate Social Worker (ASW)
  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master's Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

There are no field requirements for ASW, LBSW, and LMSW credentials. LCSW candidates need to complete a minimum two years and 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate professional work. Included in that time, they need 1,380 client contact hours and 100 direct supervisor contact hours.

License Renewal

Social work licensure needs to be renewed every two years in Virginia. Professionals need to complete 15-30 hours of continuing education, including training in ethics. LCSWs can complete 10 of their hours through distance education.

Washington Social Work Licensure

Washington has two major classifications of licensed social workers. Both require a CSWE-accredited master's degree. Candidates need to complete their training and field requirements at the associate level before taking the appropriate ASWB exam. After that, they can apply for licensure with the Washington State Department of Health.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Field Requirements

Aspiring LASWs need to complete a minimum of 3,200 hours of supervised professional work hours. This includes 800 hours of direct patient contact and 90 hours of direct supervisor contact. LICSWs need three years and 4,000 hours, including 1,000 hours of direct patient contact and 130 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Social workers need to renew their licenses every year in Washington, but the 36-hour continuing education requirement is for every two years. Social workers can take up to 26 via distance education. Mandatory topics include professional law and ethics.

Washington, D.C., Social Work Licensure

With the exception of the associate-level license, which requires a bachelor's degree, social workers in Washington, D.C., need a CSWE-accredited master's degree. They also must have a clean background check, and a passing grade on their respective ASWB social work license exam to qualify for licensure with D.C. Health.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA)
  • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Field Requirements

Both the LISW and LICSW credentials require at least two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. This includes 100 hours of direct supervisor contact for LICSWs and 94 hours for LISWs.

License Renewal

Social workers need to renew their licenses every other year by completing 40 continuing education hours. Up to 12 can be completed through distance education for LGSWs, LISWs, and LICSWs. LSWAs may complete all 40 hours remotely. Mandatory study areas include LGBTQ topics, HIV/AIDS, and professional ethics.

West Virginia Social Work Licensure

In West Virginia, licensed social workers can take several paths to begin their career. This includes earning a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree. Bachelor's graduates may pursue provisional and entry-level licensure. However, most licenses with the West Virginia Board of Social Work require a master's degree and a passing grade on the appropriate ASWB exam.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Field Requirements

Only the LICSW and LCSW licenses have field requirements. LCSWs must complete two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. Aspiring LICSWs need 4,000 hours, including 100 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

License renewals take place every two years and require the completion of 40 continuing education hours. As many as 20 hours can be completed through distance education. Mental health conditions specific to veterans and family members of veterans must be one of the study topics.

Wisconsin Social Work Licensure

Wisconsin offers four types of social work licenses, along with a training certificate. Most of the licenses require a CSWE-accredited master's degree. A bachelor's degree can qualify graduates for a certificate and social worker certification. Other requirements to qualify for licensure with the State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services include a passing grade on the state law exam and the ASWB social work license exam.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Advanced Practice Social Worker (APSW)
  • Certified Independent Social Worker (CISW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

To qualify for licensure, both CISWs and LCSWs need to complete a minimum of two years and 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. An hour of direct supervisor contact is required each week. LCSWs also need 1,000 hours of direct client contact within their 3,000-hour requirement.

License Renewal

Licenses need to be renewed every other year. Social workers need to complete at least 30 continuing education hours during that time. At least one course needs to cover ethics and professional boundaries.

Wyoming Social Work Licensure

Social work licensure in Wyoming requires a CSWE-accredited bachelor's or master's degree, depending on the license. License options require applicants to pursue a provisional license, acquire the necessary field experience, and pass the appropriate ASWB exam. Successful candidates then can apply for licensure with the Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board.

Types of Social Work Licensure Available

  • Certified Social Worker (CSM)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Field Requirements

CSMs do not have field requirements. LCSW requirements include a minimum of 18 months and 3,000 hours of supervised postgraduate professional experience. This requirement includes at least 1,200 hours of direct patient contact and 100 hours of direct supervisor contact.

License Renewal

Social worker licenses need to be renewed every other year. Social workers need to complete at least 45 continuing education hours. Some of the mandatory study topics may include ethics and suicide assessment or intervention.

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Work Licensing Requirements

How long does it take to become a licensed social worker?

Licensed social workers typically need to complete a bachelor's and master's degree, which is approximately six years of postsecondary education. They also need supervised postgraduate professional experience, which varies by state. Many states require two years of experience, which could bring the total time to eight years before licensure.

How do I become a social worker without a degree?

Almost all states require licensed social workers to earn a bachelor's degree at the very least. However, some states offer alternative pathways for candidates without college degrees. Massachusetts, for example, offers licensing options for high school graduates. To qualify for the licensing exam, high school graduates pursuing LSWs need to complete 10 years and 17,500 hours of supervised professional experience.

What is the fastest way to become a social worker?

It depends on the state and the license. Most states only offer clinical licenses to graduates with master's degrees who have two or more years of experience. However, non-clinical licenses in many states may only require a bachelor's degree and have less-demanding experience requirements.

Is it hard to become a social worker?

Becoming a social worker takes time and commitment. The career can come with many personal and professional challenges. However, students who are committed to the field and their training should not find social work any more challenging than other humanities and social sciences disciplines.

What can an unlicensed social worker do?

The differences between licensed and unlicensed social workers depend on the state. They often differ in what services they can offer and where they work. For example, many licensed social workers can provide clinical services to clients, even in private settings. Unlicensed social workers typically work in administrative and non-clinical roles.


Reviewed by:

Melissa Russiano is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice that has organically developed into a specialty helping working professionals. Russiano has a proven track record helping professionals avoid burnout in a unique way that holds clinicians accountable through laughter, tears, blunt (yet very supportive) feedback, and quirky analogies that are grounded in solid theoretical research. Russiano practices solely in a virtual setting in the states of California, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. In addition, Russiano is a professor at Simmons University online, imparting her experiences and knowledge in the field to graduate social work students.


Melissa Russiano is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.

Schools, organizations, and state governments all issue education credentials, but there are big differences between certificates, licenses, and certifications. Whether you're in the research phase or preparing for your first post-college interview, read our comprehensive guide to an online social work degree. What does a licensed clinical social worker actually do? Learn what the field of social work entails in this candid interview with a private-practice LCSW.

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