Michigan Social Work License

Earn Your Michigan Social Work License

In the state of Michigan, it is the Michigan Board of Social Workers that social work candidates must apply through in order to become a Michigan LMSW (note: LMSW is an LCSW in other states). If you're interested in earning a Michigan social work license, check out their website to access the various application forms, or you can call 517-373-1820 and speak to someone at the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (whom MBSW is under) to get more information. We’ll provide the necessary steps you need to take to earn a Michigan Social Work License and become a Michigan LMSW, but it’s always good to connect with the board as well to make sure you’re on the right path. Another great resource to look into is the NASW Michigan. The National Social Workers Association Michigan offers great opportunities to connect with other social workers from the community.

In Michigan, if you do not have your Master's in Social Work, you can still work in the field of social work either as a Registered Social Services Technician (RSST) or a Licensed Bachelor’s Social Work (LBSW).

  • An RSST is an entry-level license in Michigan. To obtain this license you must have one of the following:
    • Associates Degree in Social Work from an accredited college or university.
    • Completed 2 years of college (60 semester hours) with at least 4 courses relevant to human services, and a GPA of at least 2.0
    • Complete at least 2,000 hours of experience in the field of social work, accrued in no less than one (1) year’s time. This experience must be under the supervision of a LMSW or LBSW, as well as current employment in social services or human services during which core values of social work, proper ethics, and fundamental social work skills were applied.
  • A Licensed Bachelor’s Social Work (LBSW) must have earned their degree from a CSWE accredited school, as well as...
    • Applied for and received a Limited BSW license (LLBSW).
    • Completed at least 4,000 hours (2 full-time years or part-time equivalent) of bachelor's level experience in the practice of social work under the supervision of a fully licensed social worker of master's level. These hours can only be accrued after already earning a bachelor's degree & the total amount of hours cannot be accumulated in less than two years time.
    • Passed the ASWB Bachelors exam with a score of 75% or higher.

But if you have completed your MSW already and are ready to take the next steps towards earning your Michigan social work license, here’s what must happen next…

Michigan state map

STEP 2 - Apply for Limited License Master’s Social Work (LLMSW) and Accrue Hours

  • The next step in earning a Michigan social work license is getting a Limited License Master’s Social Work (LLMSW) and accruing hours in preparation for the clinical exam.
  • Once you’ve graduated with your MSW, click here to find and fill out the application for a limited Michigan social work licensure.
  • Next find a job in your intended practice area (clinical or marco), and a qualified supervisor within that area to accrue at least 4,000 hours
    • Michigan social work license applicants may work between no less than 16 hours per week and no more than 40 hours per week.
    • No more than 2,000 hours of experience may be accrued in one calendar year.
    • The applicant must meet individually and in person with his or her supervisor, or in a group modality that provided for 50% of the supervision to include individual contact, during which active work functions and records of the applicant were reviewed.
    • In cases of extreme hardship where an approved supervisor is not available, the Michigan Board of Social Work may approve an alternative supervision arrangement by a related health practitioner. Before using an alternate supervisor, the Michigan social work license applicant must submit a request with a proposed plan and documented willingness by the alternate supervisor. The Board must approve the alternative supervision arrangement before the arrangement is implemented.
  • Once the hours are complete, the supervisor will fill out and submit the verification forms to the Michigan State Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

STEP 3 - Register for the ASWB LCSW Exam and Pass!

  • IMPORTANT: In Michigan, the Clinical Social Work license is called the LMSW, however, the exam you will be taking is the LCSW. In some other states, there is an exam required for recent MSW graduates to take called the LMSW, but this is not the one you want to register for. Confusing right? Just make sure when you register with the ASWB, and when you purchase a study program, it’s for the ASWB Clinical exam.
  • And on that note… Therapist Development Center has this exact program ready to help you pass your Michigan social work license exam on the first try. We offer an “all-you-need” online program, designed to get you ready in 4 to 8 weeks. Check out the National LCSW exam prep page.

Michigan Social Work License FAQ's

How do I become a licensed social worker in Michigan?

You need to have an education that requires either an Associate of Social Work (ASW), Bachelor’s Degree (BSW), or a Master’s Degree (MSW) if you want to earn the title of a “Social Worker.” You can also earn a Doctoral Degree, but it is not required for certification. The ASW, BSW, and MSW social worker degrees need to be an accredited program approved by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Next, you can apply for the LBSW or LMSW exam at the Michigan Board of Social Work (Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs) and take the exam. After you pass the exam, your Limited License Master’s Social Work (LLMSW) will be issued and you can start accruing hours. Once your experience requirements are met, you can apply for the ASWB licensing exam, pass it, and you are on your way to getting your Michigan Social Work License.

How frequently does my social work license have to be renewed in Michigan?

All social work licenses in Michigan have to be renewed every three years. For LBSW and LMSW renewal applicants, 45 hours of continuing education must be completed during each 3-year renewal window. At least 5 hours must be in ethics and 1 hour in pain & pain system management. At least half of the 45 hours must be completed in-person, not online or at home.

Other social workers such as LLMSWs, LLBSWs, RSSTs, and LSSTs do not require continuing education for renewal in Michigan.

What Are the Types of Social Workers Licenses for the State of Michigan?

There are many different types of social worker licenses in the state of Michigan.

  • Full Licensed Bachelor’s Social Worker (LBSW) in Michigan
  • Full Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW) in Michigan
  • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) in Michigan
  • Social Service Technician (SST) in Michigan
  • Limited Social Service Technician in Michigan

Is an LSST or LLBSW required for becoming a fully licensed social worker in Michigan?

Most social work applicants in Michigan will become a Limited Social Work Technician (LSST) or Limited Licensed Bachelor’s Social Worker (LLBSW) to get supervised experience, but it is not a requirement for those who have already completed their supervised experience requirements in another state.

What’s the average salary for social workers in Michigan?

The average Michigan social worker averages around $50,600/year with those who have worked less than 1 year averaging close to $47,000 while social workers with over 10 years of experience make closer to $60,000. Data from Salary.com shows that the average BSW social worker in Michigan makes about $58,500 while MSW’s bring in an average of $64,600.

Social Worker for families


CONGRATULATIONS! You passed your exam and earned your state of Michigan social work license. You’re a Michigan LMSW!