Social Work Licensure By State

Are you interested in becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)? At Therapist Development Center, we provide a proven study system to help social workers pass their licensing exam, but our greater mission is to help nurture and develop the careers of social workers across the nation. And the first part of this is helping you understand the step-by-step process that is required in each state to become an LCSW. Remember each state will be slightly unique, but the first step is the same for everyone...

STEP 1 - Fulfill Your Education Requirements

  • Obtain a Master of Social Work (MSW) from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) approved or accredited college or university. To find one of these programs, visit the CSWE’s website.

From this point, please click below which state you will be applying for your licensure in, and see the next steps you will need to take.

Frequently asked questions

Social work licensing reciprocity is different state by state. Unfortunately, there is not a single set of guidelines that applies across the nation, as each state’s licensing board sets their own rules and criteria. No automatic reciprocity exists between the states. Thankfully, once you pass the ASWB clinical exams, you won’t have to retake those exams if you are getting licensed in additional states. The University of Northern Iowa put together a state reciprocity document outlining the rules for each state, but as always, the best bet is to check with each individual state’s social work board to get the most accurate and up-to-date information. A couple of things you can do to prepare yourself for this process are:

  1. If you wish to be licensed in your current state and the state you are transferring to, make sure you complete all your current state requirements before trying to transfer. If you attempt to transfer BEFORE you meet your current state license requirements, it may make the process more complicated than if you are already fully licensed in your existing state.
  2. Keep all pertinent information about your clinical supervision, including a detailed log of your hours, and up-to-date information on your supervisor (i.e. full name, license number, contact information). Many states want to know specific information on your accrued hours.
  3. Be prepared to have your MSW school transcripts sent to the state licensing board you’re applying to. This usually includes a fee to your graduate school for sending those transcripts.
  4. Complete all continued educational requirements for the state you are transferring to. For example, certain states have “Law and Ethics” requirements while others may have “Child Abuse Reporting” courses that need to be taken. Be sure to check with the state social work board to determine which (if any) courses you need to complete.
  5. You will need to apply with the state you are pursuing licensure with, including paying any applicable application fees. Fees are usually at least $100, but can be higher in some states.
  6. And finally, be patient. Whether you’re trying to get someone on the phone for information or are waiting for the application to be processed, it can take some time. So, get all your ducks in a row early, and be prepared to wait for a bit.

There are a few reasons a social worker may pursue licensure in more than one state. The first is if you live in an area that closely borders another state, having a license in both states may open more options when searching for a job or getting new clients. Also, some agencies may have locations in multiple states, so having a multi-state social work license can make it easier to gain employment there. Another reason could be if you were interested in telehealth, where technology allows you to provide mental health support across state borders, but your license may restrict this. And lastly, if you are a military spouse,relocating from state to state is a common occurrence. The good news is there have been efforts to streamline the process for active-duty transfers and the ease of license reciprocity as part of the military relocation.

License reciprocity is the ability to earn a license in one state, based on the license you currently hold in another one. This includes the ability to apply your ASWB exam scores and supervision hours from state to state. Because each state has slightly different requirements, you want to check in with each individual state’s licensing board for any state(s) you are considering getting licensed in to learn what their specific requirements are.