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Does every state have different license procedures for Social Workers?

Up and coming social Work student at Eastern Michigan. #licensed

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Daniela’s Answer

Hi Theodore,

Clinical social workers are always licensed. In most states, master’s level social workers are licensed whether or not they are in clinical practice. Many states also license baccalaureate social workers. If a state doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that bachelor’s in social work program graduates can’t get jobs using skills they were taught in their classes. However, each state has the responsibility of determining the titles professionals can use and the scope of practice they are allowed.

Prospective social workers at any level should enroll in CSWE accredited programs. Most states require that U.S. candidates have degrees from programs that hold CSWE accreditation or have candidate status. The latter is granted to programs that are just beginning; such programs need to demonstrate success before they are granted full accreditation. There are states that do not accept candidate status, however. They will either hold off on licensing a candidate or award only a provisional license until the accreditation process is complete.

An undergraduate degree in another field does not disqualify anyone from pursuing a social work license. The person with an undergraduate degree in another field will need to pursue a CSWE accredited master's degree, which most social workers will do anyway, to be eligible for social work licensure.

After graduation, a would-be clinical social worker must practice under board-approved supervision. Requirements vary, but a candidate can expect to do at least two years of full-time work (paid) before receiving the higher credential. In many states, the same holds true for nonclinical master’s social workers. A few states require baccalaureate social workers to complete board approved supervision; workers may be given a lesser title until they finish their training.

The supervision that is required for licensing is different than the standard employer-employee supervision. There is generally a minimum number of direct consultation/ supervision hours that a professional must have (and document). Licensing boards can be very particular about the qualifications of the person who sits down with the supervisee, reviews their treatment plans and diagnoses, and guides their professional development.

All states have adopted ASWB licensing examinations. There are four levels: bachelor’s, master’s, clinical, and advanced generalist. Some states use them all, requiring the master’s exam at the onset of practice and the clinical or advanced generalist after supervision requirements are complete. However, some require only one exam.

In the link below you can get some detailed information, as well as find social license requirements by State:

Best of luck!!

Thank you comment icon This was such a great response. Thank you so much for the knowledge. I am so excited for my future as a Social worker. Theodore