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Social Work

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Social Work Licensure

There are several main types of social work licensure, including licensure for social workers with a bachelor’s degree, licensure for social workers with a master’s degree and licensure for clinical social workers. Within these fields, social workers can also apply for additional credentials and certifications through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) External link .

  • Initial License: States often require first-time social workers to become licensed asbachelor- or associate-level social workers, often referred to as Licensed Baccalaureate Social Workers (LBSW). Upon receiving this type of licensure, social workers in most states will be required to work under the supervision of an approved Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
  • Master License: Social workers holding an initial license and a graduate degree in social work may become licensed as master- or graduate-level social workers, often referred to as Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSW). This type of licensure often requires both field experience and the successful completion of a standardized exam.
  • Clinical License: A clinical license is a full professional license to practice social work. Social workers holding a current license and a graduate degree in social work may become licensed as a clinical-level social worker, often referred to as Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) External link . This type of licensure often requires years of professional experience, in addition to the successful completion of a standardized exam.
  • License Renewal: All states require licensed social workers to pay annual renewal fees. Several states also require licensed social workers to complete a certain amount of continuing education courses for license renewal.
  • Endorsement: There is no existing structure for transferring a social work license from one state to another. States require that you submit information such as your transcripts and background information, and apply directly for licensure within that state. Test scores are usually transferable from one location to another.

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