Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) – What is it?

In most states, the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) is the first license a social worker can obtain after gaining their MSW degree. Typically, this license is required prior to earning the post-graduate hours that states require toward an LMSW’s clinical license (LCSW). An LMSW license allows a social worker to provide non-clinical services, or clinical therapy under the supervision of an LCSW (or other clinically licensed mental health professional). One last thing to note, each state may call an LMSW by a different name or acronym, so check with your state’s board or visit our social work licensure by state page to see what the title is where you live. But if you are preparing for the ASWB Masters Exam, then you are preparing for an LMSW license.


Why become an LMSW?

One of the main reasons social workers become Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSWs) is because it is the first step on the path to becoming a clinically licensed social worker (LCSW). However, not all social workers go for their clinical license and pursue roles that can generate broader social change for larger populations, such as administrative or government roles. Improving social well-being on a broader scale can be a very rewarding experience for many LMSWs. Overall, LMSWs can help enrich the lives of others and help people overcome social and emotional challenges.


How to become an LMSW?

Step one is to earn your MSW from an accredited college or university. Then after graduation, you will need to pass the ASWB Masters Level exam. To prepare for this exam, the best resource is the Therapist Development Center’s LMSW Exam Prep. We give you exactly what you need and nothing more. And when you pass this exam, you’re an LMSW! You can then pursue the career you’ve always dreamed of.


Check out TDC's LMSW Exam Prep program here:

LMSW Exam Prep    

Learn what's required for a Social Work License in your state:

Social Work Licensure



What does LMSW stand for in Social Work?

LMSW stands for Licensed Master Social Worker, or someone who has received their Masters in social work and has been licensed as a social worker by their state board. Part of this licensing process is passing the ASWB Masters Exam, and here at TDC we give you the best chance at passing with our ASWB Exam Prep programs. We’ve helped tens of thousands of social workers pass their licensing exam from all 50 states. Check out our program above, because with a 95% pass rate, TDC is the right choice for you. 


What’s the difference between an LMSW and LCSW?

Simply put, an LMSW cannot practice clinically without supervision. An LCSW can provide a diagnosis of problems, plan treatments, and give psychotherapy without supervision. An LCSW is usually more focused on micro-social work, where an LMSW provides more macro-social work but can provide micro-social work with supervision. Macro-social work (or Generalists) have a basic understanding of social work where they can intervene when social problems occur and promote general well-being. This allows them to work in organizational roles such as lobbying or administration to impact change on a broader scale.


Where do LMSWs work?

An LMSW can be found working in a variety of environments like schools, hospitals, public agencies, mental health clinics, psychiatric facilities, drug rehabilitation centers, emergency crisis services, and many more.


How much does an LMSW earn?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not distinguish between LMSW and LCSW. They put both under the same category of Social Worker. Because LCSWs have a higher level license, an LMSW can expect to make less. That being said, the BLS says the median pay is roughly $50,000. However, this figure can differ depending on where you live. Someone in Wyoming can expect to make less than someone in New York City.


What are the typical roles and responsibilities of an LMSW?

  • Providing case management
  • Facilitating group therapy
  • Support public assistance eligibility by working with government agencies
  • Improving social reform through policy and advocacy
  • Giving career support for at-risk clients
  • Help at-risk populations find food and housing


What is the passing score for LMSW exam?

The passing score for the LMSW exam (ASWB Masters) varies depending on which version of the exam you take. But typically, it is between 90 to 107 correct out of 150. Remember, there are a total of 170 questions on the LMSW exam, but 20 of them are experimental and do not count towards your score.


How many questions are on the LCSW exam?

On the LCSW exam (ASWB Clinical), the passing score varies depending on various forms of the same test. Typically, however, it is between 90 to 107 correct out of 150. While there is a total of 170 questions on the LCSW exam, 20 of them are experimental and do not count towards your score.