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After Your MSW: A State-by-State Guide to Social Work Licensing

If you want a fulfilling career where you can create positive change within families, communities, and systems, becoming a licensed social worker is a great avenue. Use this licensure guide to understand your state’s unique social work licensing requirements.

Author: Angela Myers

Editor: Staff Editor

Are you dedicated to making a positive impact on the world by helping your fellow man? If so, you might find meaning in working as a licensed social worker. Before you can obtain your license and begin positively affecting others, however, most states require you to earn a Master’s in Social Work (MSW). While earning a master’s degree requires dedication and work ethic, a recent study found that social workers with an MSW were better prepared to implement and be actively involved in public health initiatives than those only holding bachelor’s degrees.

In addition to preparing you for the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) master’s exam, earning an MSW helps you excel at your job by providing you with expert knowledge and tools. Holding an MSW may also entitle you to earn more advanced licenses, resulting in better roles and higher pay.

While all states require ASWB licensure, the level of education and type of license you’ll need depends on your career goals and the state you wish to practice in. To help you better understand the different parameters, this guide clearly outlines state-by-state MSW licensure guidelines and information.

View Social Work Requirements by State

Why You Need a Social Work License

The purpose of licensing is to ensure that anyone who practices social work protects the communities they serve by following a strict code of ethics and related protocols. Professionally, licensure proves that you are qualified and legally entitled to provide social work services. Many insurers also require providers to be licensed before reimbursing them for services.

For these reasons, a social work degree can’t be used in most professional settings across the United States without an accredited license. Below are some more details as to the reasoning and benefits behind obtaining your social work license.

Adhere to a Code of Ethics

As a social worker, you use your expertise to help individuals and communities with intimate and sensitive issues. When studying for your licensure exam, you will review The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics and learn in-depth the steps you need to take to protect clients and the local community. Your MSW program — and subsequent license — certify that you have learned the empathy and ethics to act as a confidant and solution-finder while protecting the people you serve.

Qualify for Clinical Licensure

In some states, you can become a licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW) or clinical social worker (CSW) with just your bachelor’s or associate’s degree. However, to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), you must complete a master’s program and take the ASWB master’s exam. Once you’ve become an LCSW, you can diagnose patients, conduct assessments, and create treatment plans in a clinical setting. In these clinical roles, social workers often facilitate family, couples, or individual therapy sessions and work in a more hands-on way.

Boost Your Career

As you can imagine, earning your LCSW opens up additional career opportunities that would not otherwise be available to you. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers often find employment in three primary areas:

  • Child and family care
  • Healthcare
  • Mental health and substance abuse

In many states, all three areas require a license. The BLS also notes that some social workers are employed in other fields with licensure requirements, such as gerontology, community health, and substance abuse. Jobs that require licensure are expected to grow over the next ten years, meaning you’ll have ample positions to choose from after getting your license. On top of that, in this competitive job market, it’s always good to have qualifications that can make you stand out.

Offer More Specialized Care

When pursuing your MSW, many programs allow you to specialize in certain areas of social work, such as gerontology or case management. To legitimize these specialties, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) provides licensed social workers with advanced training courses and subsequent certifications for each specialty (E.g., addictions, case management, and military). While some advanced training is available to those holding a bachelors in social work (BSW), more than 75% of NASW training requires an MSW to enroll.

Steps to Obtain a Social Work License in Your State

Each state has its own framework to earn your LCSW, and we’re going to dive into that more below. First, let’s discuss the general structure most states follow. Awareness of these steps and state social work licensing reciprocity policies allow you to understand the procedure to become a licensed social worker anywhere in the country.

Step One: Earn A Social Work Degree

Again, the first step toward becoming a licensed social worker is earning a degree that fulfills your state’s requirements. Although you can gain licensure in some states with a BSW, an MSW guarantees your ability to become licensed in any state, opening up more career opportunities. These degrees usually take about two to three years to earn, and many can be completed online. Advanced standing programs generally finish faster, and they are designed for those with a bachelor’s degree in a related field. The cost will depend on the program you choose and the location where you wish to practice.

Step Two: Pass the ASWB Exam(s)

After getting your degree, the next step is to take the ASWB exam. Not all licensed social workers take the same exam. There are five different tests, all of which have different costs and correlate to different licensing types:

Exam Type Cost Purpose Educational Requirements

Associate

$230

For use in jurisdictions that issue licenses to applicants who do not possess a social work degree.

N/A

Bachelors

$230

Basic generalist practice of baccalaureate social work.

BSW

Masters

$230

Practice of master’s social work (I.e., the application of specialized knowledge and advanced practice skills).

MSW

Advanced Generalist Exam

$260

Practice of advanced generalist social work that occurs in nonclinical settings and may include macro-level practice

MSW; Two years (or commensurate experience as defined by the jurisdiction) of experience in nonclinical settings

Clinical Exam

$260

Practice of clinical social work requiring the application of specialized clinical knowledge and advanced clinical skills

MSW; Two years (or commensurate experience as defined by the jurisdiction) of experience in nonclinical settings

Source: ASWB Exam Guidebook, 2023

Step Three: Gain Any Necessary Experience

Most states require a certain number of field hours before a student applies for a license. Usually, these hours are acquired in a MSW program. Even in fully online MSW programs, you can complete your field hours as part of your degree. However, the field work in those courses isn’t enough for all types of licenses. If you want an advanced generalist or clinical license, you must complete two years of experience related to the desired degree before applying.

Step Four: Apply for Social Work License in Your State

Once you have earned your MSW, you must apply for licensure in the state you wish to practice; for most students, this is the same state where you got your degree. If you need to relocate or move states at some point, you can look into the reciprocity agreements between states to see what steps you must follow to practice in your new state of residence.

Step Five: Follow Steps to Retain Licensure

Every so often, you’ll need to renew your license; the exact renewal timeframe varies between states. For a better idea of the differences between state license renewal processes, check out the timeframes and continuing education (CE) requirements for these five states:

  • Arizona: License must be renewed every two years and 30 CE hours are required.
  • Connecticut: License must be renewed every year and 15 CE hours are required.
  • Hawaii: License renewal happens every three years and 45 CE hours are required.
  • Mississippi: The board provides performance reviews twice a year for all social workers. License renewal happens every two years, pending the requirement of four reviews and 40 CE hours.
  • Wisconsin: License renewal occurs in February during odd-numbered years; the required CE hours depend on the type of license.

Social Work Licensure Requirements by State

Below, we cover each state in more detail, including licensing requirements, governing boards, and additional information. Click on your state below to get started.

Alabama Social Work License Requirements

Applying to be a social worker in Alabama requires at least a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited institution, although the requirements for each type of license vary. All applicants must also have four hours of supervised work every month for 24 months to apply (or 96 hours of supervised work total).

Alabama Governing Board

Alabama State Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in Alabama

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Additional Information

Social workers in Alabama must renew their license(s) every two years and have 30 hours of continuing education completed during that period. For more information on Alabama’s social work license, check out their frequently asked questions page.

Alaska Social Work License Requirements

In Alaska, a successful applicant should possess at least a BSW from a CSWE-accredited institution. Students must complete a number of supervised field hours, though the exact amount depends on the type of license they apply for.

Alaska Governing Board

Alaska Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in Alaska

  • Baccalaureate Social Worker License
  • Master Social Worker License
  • Clinical Social Worker License

Click here for Alaska social work license applications, including detailed information about licensing requirements.

Additional Information

Social workers in Alaska must submit a license renewal form, pay a fee every two years, and complete 45 continuing education hours. The state lists board-approved CE courses to help meet this requirement.

Arizona Social Work License Requirements

For all three licenses offered in Arizona, applicants must have a degree from a CSWE-accredited university or college and have completed supervised social work field hours. Applicants must also have proof of residency, as well as pass a background check and the qualifying exam.

Arizona Governing Board

Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in Arizona

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

Additional Information

Social workers need to renew their licenses every two years and should take 30 hours of continuing education hours during that time. The board has a helpful links page for getting and renewing your license.

Arkansas Social Work License Requirements

In Arkansas, applicants must submit a fingerprint test, pass the appropriate ASWB exam, and have at least a bachelor’s degree from a board-approved university or college. Master’s and clinical social work applicants must also have 4,000 hours of supervised social work experience.

Arkansas Governing Board

Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board

Social Work Licenses Offered in Arkansas

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)

Additional Information

Every two years, applicants must renew their license. An application fee and 30 continuing education hours are required for renewal.

California Social Work License Requirements

Unlike other states, California only offers one social work license and requires an MSW. Applicants must also successfully pass an exam and complete additional ethics work set out by the state. No supervised work hours are required for licensure.

California Governing Board

California Board of Behavioral Sciences

Social Work Licenses Offered in California

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Additional Information

To maintain/renew their license, California social workers must complete 36 hours of continuing education and pay a renewal fee of $220 every two years. The board has a FAQ page to clarify any other questions.

Colorado Social Work License Requirements

In Colorado, licensure requirements are a bit more rigid than other states. To apply for a full social work license, Colorado applicants must:

  • Hold an MSW from a board-approved institution,
  • Complete supervised work hours,
  • Pass the appropriate ASWB exam, and
  • Pass a jurisprudence exam.

Colorado Governing Board

Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in Colorado

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (CSW)

Note: Colorado also offers Provisional Social Worker (SWP) and Clinical Social Worker Candidate (SWC) licenses for MSW graduates working toward their LSW or CSW.

Additional Information

Both licenses must be renewed every two years, with 40 continuing education hours completed. The board clarifies commonly asked questions on their FAQ page.

Connecticut Social Work License Requirements

Connecticut has two social work licenses, and both require an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school. License seekers must also pass the appropriate ASWB exam, although the state has suspended the ASWB master’s level examination requirement until January 1, 2026.

Connecticut Governing Board

Connecticut State Department of Public Health

Social Work Licenses Offered in Connecticut

Click on each license below to learn more about its specific requirements.

Additional Information

LCSW applicants must also complete 3,000 hours of post-master’s social work experience, including 100 hours of work experience under professional supervision by a licensed clinical or certified independent social worker.

As for renewal, either license must be renewed every year by filling out a form, paying a $200 renewal fee, and completing 15 hours of continuing education credits. More about the continuing education requirement can be found on the board’s website.

Delaware Social Work License Requirements

Delaware offers three social work licenses with varying educational requirements. For any license, applicants must graduate from a board-approved university and pass the appropriate ASWB exam.

Delaware Governing Board

Delaware Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in Delaware

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Additional Information

Applicants must also complete a background check and sign a child protection registry consent form. The board goes into more detail on applying for and renewing a social work license on their website.

District of Columbia (DC) Social Work License Requirements

Social workers seeking licensure in DC must possess a degree from a CSWE-accredited program. The required number of fieldwork hours varies depending on the type of license they’re pursuing. Students earning an MSW can also sit for their licensing exams during their final semester of graduate school.

District of Columbia Governing Board

District of Columbia Board of Health

Social Work Licenses Offered in DC

  • Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA)
  • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Additional Information

DC social work licenses must be renewed every two years. Visit the governing board’s website for social work license requirements, applications, and renewal information.

Florida Social Work License Requirements

Florida offers two social work licenses. Similar to most states, applicants must hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school and pass the appropriate ASWB exam before applying for licensure.

Florida Governing Board

Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling

Social Work Licenses Offered in Florida

Click on each license below to learn more about its specific requirements.

Note: Florida also offers a Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern license for applicants looking to gain experience before earning one of the above licenses.

Additional Information

Within six months of getting their license, social workers must complete a three-hour HIV/AIDS course and a two-hour domestic violence course. Every two years, the license must be renewed. The board’s website features additional resources to help social workers at each stage of the process.

Georgia Social Work License Requirements

To be eligible for a social work license in Georgia, applicants should hold a master’s or doctorate in the field from a board-approved university. They also must complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience and pass the ASWB exam.

Georgia Governing Board

Georgia Board of Social Workers, Professional Counselors, and Marriage & Family Therapists

Social Work Licenses Offered in Georgia

Click on each license below to learn more about its specific requirements.

Additional Information

Georgia social workers need 35 continuing education credits every two years in order to renew their licenses. At least five of those credits must be completed in person. For additional questions, check out the board’s FAQ page.

Hawaii Social Work License Requirements

To apply for a Hawaii social work license, applicants must have a BSW or MSW from a CSWE-accredited program and sit for the appropriate ASWB exam.

Hawaii Governing Board

Hawaii Professional & Vocational Licensing Division

Social Work Licenses Offered in Hawaii

Click on each license below to learn more about its specific requirements.

Additional Information

Renewal occurs every three years and requires 45 hours of continuing education credits. The board’s website features more details and resources on continuing education requirements and license renewal.

Idaho Social Work License Requirements

In Idaho, applicants must possess a BSW or MSW from a CSWE-accredited school depending on the license they are pursuing. All applicants are required to complete supervised clinical hours before applying and pass the appropriate ASWB exam.

Idaho Governing Board

Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses

Social Work Licenses Offered in Idaho

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

View Idaho’s Application for Social Work License for specific license and application requirements.

Additional Information

There are specific clinical hours required for each license. Check out the board’s application process for more information. All licenses must be renewed each year along with 20 required hours of continuing education.

Illinois Social Work License Requirements

In Illinois, applicants need a bachelor’s or master’s from a board-approved school, with the exact type of degree dependent on the desired license. Applicants must also complete supervised clinical hours; the amount varies on the license being pursued. Only those applying for an LCSW need to pass an exam.

Illinois Governing Board

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

Social Work Licenses Offered in Illinois

Click on each license below to learn more about its specific requirements.

Additional Information

In Illinois, licenses are renewed every two years. To renew, social workers need 30 continuing education hours, with at least three in ethics or cultural competence. For more information, check out the department’s FAQ page.

Indiana Social Work License Requirements

In Indiana, students with a bachelor’s degree can apply for a LBSW. Those with a master’s degree are eligible for a LSW or LCSW depending on their program. LCSW applicants need 3,000 hours of paid experience to apply for their license. They also need to pass the ASWB exam and a background check.

Indiana Governing Board

Indiana Professional Licensing Agency

Social Work Licenses Offered in Indiana

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Social Workers (LSW) — Master Level
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) — Master level with two years of experience

Click to view the application instructions page, which details the license and renewal requirements for each license above.

Additional Information

40 hours of continuing education credits are required for each renewal cycle (or 20 CEs per year). All licenses expire April 1st on even years. The licenses — once renewed — remain valid for two years, with March 31st as the last day of the renewal year.

Iowa Social Work License Requirements

In Iowa, aspiring social workers must hold at least a BSW; however, an MSW is required to practice independently. All applicants must provide transcripts from a CSWE-accredited school, pass the appropriate ASWB exam, and fill out an application ($123).

Iowa Governing Board

Iowa Board of Social Work

Social Work Licenses Offered in Iowa

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)

Additional Information

Every two years, Iowa social workers must renew their license and provide proof of 27 continuing education hours.

Kansas Social Work License Requirements

Depending on the type of social work license they are applying for, Kansas applicants must provide:

  • Official transcripts showing they hold a BSW or MSW from a CSWE-accredited school,
  • Proof of passing the appropriate ASWB exam,
  • Two professional references from social workers holding a BSW or above,
  • One professional reference from an on-site practicum supervisor or work supervisor, and
  • A supervisor’s attestation that they’ve completed 3,000 hours of supervised, post-graduate clinical work experience in a clinical setting (LSCSW applicants only).

Kansas Governing Board

Kansas Board of Social Work

Social Work Licenses Offered in Kansas

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW)

View Kansas’s social work application page for specific license and application requirements.

Additional Information

In Kansas, social work licenses are renewed every two years. 40 hours of continuing education are required, and at least six must be in safety training.

Kentucky Social Work License Requirements

Kentucky applicants with a CSWE-accredited BSW or MSW can apply for their CSW or LSW, respectively. LCSW applicants must also have two years of full-time postgraduate field experience.

Kentucky Governing Board

Kentucky Board of Social Work

Social Work Licenses Offered in Kentucky

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Click here to view detailed license requirements.

Additional Information

In Kentucky, licenses are renewed every three years. At the time of renewal, CSWs need 15 hours of continuing education, while LCSW and LSWs need 40 CE hours.

Louisiana Social Work License Requirements

Louisiana offers social work licenses for BSW and MSW graduates from CSWE-accredited schools. MSW holders can work their way up from CSW to LMSW to LCSW (respectively) by gaining required work and supervision hours, along with meeting other conditions.

Louisiana Governing Board

Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners (LABSWE)

Social Work Licenses Offered in Louisiana

  • Registered Social Worker (RSW)
  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)

Click here for detailed license information and applications.

Additional Information

Louisiana social workers must renew their license every two years. 20 hours of continuing education is required at the time of renewal. For help with a license application or renewal, check out the free resources offered by the LABSWE.

Maine Social Work License Requirements

For any of Maine’s three social work licenses, applicants must have a BSW. An MSW is required for some licenses, along with an additional clinical work component that’s dependent on program curriculum. Click here for full license requirements including the application process and associated fees.

Maine Governing Board

Maine State Board of Social Work Licensure

Social Work Licenses Offered in Maine

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Note: Maine also offers Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Conditional (LSX) and Licensed Master Social Worker, Clinical Conditional (MC) licenses. A ‘Conditional License’ indicates the licensee is completing a required internship period under certain conditions to progress to another level of licensure.

Additional Information

Every two years, social workers must renew their license and complete 25 hours of continuing education. For additional questions, check out the board’s FAQ page.

Maryland Social Work License Requirements

In order to practice social work in Maryland or to refer to oneself as a social worker, an individual must be licensed by the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners. Unlike most other states, Maryland offers four social work licenses, and graduates can apply by examination or endorsement.

Maryland Governing Board

Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in Maryland

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C)

Click here for a detailed list of social work licensing requirements in Maryland.

Additional Information

All licenses must be renewed every two years. The LBSW requires 30 hours of continuing education while the other three require 40. For more information on each license type, check out this guide.

Massachusetts Social Work License Requirements

There are four social work licenses offered in Massachusetts, each with its own specific requirements. Interestingly, Massachusetts residents can become a social worker with just a high school diploma and supervised work hours, making it much more lenient than other states. The state also offers different routes to licensure depending on education, examinations, professional references, supervision, and documented experience. Check out the Massachusetts licensing application processing page for more details on licensing requirements.

Massachusetts Governing Board

Massachusetts Board of Registration of Social Workers

Social Work Licenses Offered in Massachusetts

  • Licensed Social Worker Associate (LSWA)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Additional Information

License renewal varies by license type, and it’s best to check the board’s renewal page for up-to-date information.

Michigan Social Work License Requirements

Michigan is unique in that it offers a technician license, which only requires a high school diploma. Meanwhile, a BSW or MSW is needed for all other degrees. The state also offers limited licenses for people who are working toward meeting the requirements of a full license. All applicants must also complete a background check.

Michigan Governing Board

Michigan Board of Social Workers

Social Work Licenses Offered in Michigan

Click on each license below to view its requirements.

Note: Michigan also offers a Limited Social Service Technician License, a Limited Bachelor’s Social Work License , and a Limited Master’s Social Work License that are valid for one year from the issue date. You should only apply for (or renew) a limited license to gain experience toward the full license.

Additional Information

All requirements for licensure or registration should be completed within two years after filing your application. Limited licenses are valid for one year from the date of issuance, while full licenses are valid for three years from the date of issuance. Licenses are eligible for renewal 90 days prior to the expiration date.

Minnesota Social Work License Requirements

Depending on the type of license, Minnesota applicants must hold a BSW or MSW from a CSWE-accredited school to become a social worker. All applicants must complete a background check, pass the appropriate ASWB exam, and pay a licensing fee.

Minnesota Governing Board

Minnesota Board of Social Work

Social Work Licenses Offered in Minnesota

Click on each license below to view details and requirements.

Additional Information

Social workers in Minnesota must renew their license every two years, with 40 hours of continuing education credit. Click here for more on the application process and required steps.

Mississippi Social Work License Requirements

Mississippi offers three types of social work licenses. Applicants must obtain at least a BSW and a social work license to practice in the state. There may be additional requirements, such as a background check and clinical supervision, for those wishing to pursue higher licensing.

Mississippi Governing Board

Mississippi Board of Examiners for Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapists

Social Work Licenses Offered in Mississippi

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)

Additional Information

Unlike in other states, the board reviews social workers’ performance on a semiannual basis. Four reviews and 40 hours of continuing education are required to renew a license, which happens every two years. For more on applying and renewing a license, check out this guide from the board.

Missouri Social Work License Requirements

In Missouri, all social work license applicants must:

  • Provide official transcripts from a CSWE-accredited school,
  • Pass a fingerprint/background check,
  • Pass the appropriate ASWB exam, and
  • Pay an application fee.

Depending on the license type, applicants may also need to provide proof of supervised experience within a given timeframe, a supervisor attestation, and suicide prevention training. View this helpful guide about beginning the beginning the licensure process for more details.

Missouri Governing Board

Missouri Division of Professional Recreation

Social Work Licenses Offered in Missouri

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Advanced Macro Social Worker (LAMSW)

Additional Information

In Missouri, license renewal occurs every two years. 30 hours of continuing education are required for renewal. For more on continuing education, check out this guide from the board.

Montana Social Work License Requirements

Similar to other states, Montana requires all degrees to be from a CSWE-accredited program, and applicants need at least a BSW to be eligible. Montana social work license applicants also need to:

  • Complete a set number of supervised hours,
  • Pass a fingerprint/background check,
  • Pass the appropriate ASWB exam, and
  • Pay an application fee.

Montana Governing Board

Montana Board of Behavioral Health

Social Work Licenses Offered in Montana

Click on each license for more information on requirements and an application submission checklist.

Additional Information

Licenses are renewed every two years, and license renewal requires 20 hours of continuing education. Check out the board’s FAQ page if you have additional questions.

Nebraska Social Work License Requirements

In Nebraska, there are two different social work licenses, and both require students to pass the appropriate ASWB exam. You may perform social work activities/services in Nebraska without certification or licensure, but you must be certified in Nebraska in order to represent yourself as a social worker.

Nebraska Governing Board

Nebraska Mental Health and Social Work Practice

Social Work Licenses Offered in Nebraska

  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW)

Note: You can apply as a Provisionally Certified Master Social Worker (PCMSW) if you are in the process of obtaining your 3,000 hours of supervised experience in Nebraska toward your CMSW.

Additional Information

You will be required to complete 32 continuing education hours by Sept. 1 of every even year for license renewal; at least four credits must be in ethics. See these FAQs for more information about Nebraska licensure requirements.

Nevada Social Work License Requirements

In Nevada, you have four pathways toward becoming a licensed social worker; two are entry-level licenses, and two are advanced-practice licenses and require a post-graduate internship. Regardless of which option you choose, all applicants must pass a state and federal background check. Check out this quick comparison of each license’s scope.

Nevada Governing Board

Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers

Social Work Licenses Offered in Nevada

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Associate in Social Work (LASW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Review each license’s detailed requirements here.

Additional Information

Renewal occurs each year on the last day of an applicant’s birth month. Depending on your licensure, you’ll need 30 or 36 hours of continuing education to renew. For more on applying for and renewing a license, check out available forms and documents from the board.

New Hampshire Social Work License Requirements

New Hampshire only has one social work license, which requires a master’s degree from a board-approved school and a passing score on the ASWB exam. The LICSW requires 3,000 hours of clinical experience. All applicants also need to pass a background check.

New Hampshire Governing Board

New Hampshire Board of Mental Health Practice

Social Work Licenses Offered in New Hampshire

Additional Information

Social workers must complete 30 hours of continuing education and renew their license every two years. For more on education before and after licensure, check out this guide from the board.

New Jersey Social Work License Requirements

To become a licensed social worker in New Jersey, you have three options — one entry level (requiring a bachelor’s degree, but no independent exams required), and two that are more advanced and require graduate degrees and/or clinical work experience. All three licenses require passage of a criminal background check.

New Jersey Governing Board

New Jersey State Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in New Jersey

Additional Information

Licenses must be renewed every two years. The number of continuing education hours depends on the license, and continuing education requirements are outlined by the board. Scroll down this FAQ page to find a list of questions specific to each of the social work licenses offered in New Jersey.

New Mexico Social Work License Requirements

In New Mexico, applicants for any of its three social work licenses need a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program. They must also pass the ASWB exam, a jurisprudence exam, and a cultural competency exam.

New Mexico Governing Board

New Mexico Social Work Examiners Board

Social Work Licenses Offered in New Mexico

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

Additional Information

License renewal occurs on a two-year cycle, with 30 credits of continuing education required by June 30. Find answers to your frequently asked questions about New Mexico social work licensing requirements on this FAQ page.

New York Social Work License Requirements

Applicants for either of New York’s two licenses must have a master’s degree from a board-approved program. Students must also sit for the appropriate ASWB exam. You’ll apply for either the entry-level license, or the clinical license that allows licensees to make a clinical social work diagnosis and provide psychotherapy.

New York Governing Board

New York Office of the Professions

Social Work Licenses Offered in New York

Additional Information

License renewal happens every three years, and 36 hours of continuing education are required for renewal. Find more information about continuing education at this FAQ page.

North Carolina Social Work License Requirements

North Carolina offers five license types, all of which require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. Three professional references, a passing score on the ASWB or ACSW (Academy of Certified Social Workers) exam, and clinical hours are also needed. See specific eligibility requirements here.

North Carolina Governing Board

North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board

Social Work Licenses Offered in North Carolina

  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW)
  • Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Review the board’s Certification & Licensure page for more information on social work licensure in North Carolina

Additional Information

All licenses must be renewed every two years, and you must have 40 continuing education units (at least four related to ethics) completed for each cycle. Find answers to your application FAQs here.

North Dakota Social Work License Requirements

In North Dakota, license-seekers with a bachelor’s degree can apply for the LBSW license, while a master’s is required for the LMSW or LCSW. All applicants must pass a background check and sit for the appropriate ASWB exam.

North Dakota Governing Board

North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in North Dakota

Additional Information

Licenses must be renewed before Dec. 31 on odd-numbered years, with 30 continuing education hours required for renewal. The board’s website has additional information on.

Ohio Social Work License Requirements

In Ohio, you’ll find four levels of social work licensure, depending on education and experience. All applicants must pass a background check and watch the Ohio Counselor and Social Worker Board’s Laws and Rules video.

Ohio Governing Board

Ohio Counselor and Social Worker Board

Social Work Licenses Offered in Ohio

Additional Information

Every two years, social workers must complete 30 hours of continuing education and renew their license. Find a comprehensive set of licensing resources here.

Oklahoma Social Work License Requirements

In Oklahoma, all licenses require a master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program, except the LSWA license. That license can be awarded to applicants with a bachelor’s degree. All license candidates must pass the appropriate ASWB exam and a background check.

Oklahoma Governing Board

Oklahoma Board of Social Workers

Social Work Licenses Offered in Oklahoma

  • Licensed Social Worker Associate (LSWA)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Social Worker-Administration (LCSW-ADM)

To view details about each level of licensure, review “Licensure Requirements” (Chapter 10) in this guide.

Additional Information

In Oklahoma, the renewal cycle is annual. Each year, social workers must complete 16 hours of continuing education.

Oregon Social Work License Requirements

Oregon offers four licenses. A master’s degree is required for three of the four, while a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field is needed to fulfill RBSW requirements. Applicants need to pass the appropriate exam for their degree, which the board outlines on its website. They also must pass a jurisprudence exam and background check.

Oregon Governing Board

Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers

Social Work Licenses Offered in Oregon

  • Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW)
  • Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW)
  • Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Find a breakdown of license types with qualifications here.

Note: You will apply to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Exam Candidate if you are an applicant who otherwise meets the LCSW requirements, but you have not passed the ASWB Clinical exam. However, this is not a license to practice, and you will not receive a license or license number until after you pass the ASWB exam.

Additional Information

In Oregon, social work licenses are renewed every year, with varying numbers of hours of continuing education credits needed for each level. See specific requirements here.

Pennsylvania Social Work License Requirements

Pennsylvania offers three licenses, two of which require master’s degrees from board-approved programs. The third, the LBSW, requires only a bachelor’s degree. A passing score on the ASWB is also required for all three. Students can take the ASWB in their last semester or after graduation. For the clinical license, an applicant also needs 3,000 hours of work experience in the field.

Pennsylvania Governing Board

Pennsylvania Board of Social Workers, Family and Marriage Therapist, and Professional Counselors

Social Work Licenses Offered in Pennsylvania

Additional Information

Social workers must renew their license every two years, with 30 continuing education hours necessary for LSW and LCSW. LBSWs need three continuing education credits to renew. For more on renewal, see the Pennsylvania 2023 Renewal Guide. You’ll also find answers to common licensing questions here.

Rhode Island Social Work License Requirements

To apply for a social work license in Rhode Island, an applicant needs a master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program. You must also pass the ASWB exam and have two letters of reference. For clinical practice, applicants also need 3,000 hours of supervised work experience.

Rhode Island Governing Board

Rhode Island Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in Rhode Island

  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Find a complete set of requirements for each license on this application.

Additional Information

Both licenses must be renewed every two years. Social workers need 30 continuing education credits at the time of renewal.

South Carolina Social Work License Requirements

South Carolina offers four licenses. For the LBSW, applicants need a bachelor’s degree in the field. The other three options require a master’s degree. Those interested in the LISW-AP or LISW-CP license must also complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience.

South Carolina Governing Board

South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in South Carolina

The South Carolina application for social work licenses provides helpful details about requirements for each license type in one location.

Additional Information

All licenses need to be approved every two years. Social workers need 40 hours of continuing education at time of renewal. To start an online application or review licensing requirements, click here.

South Dakota Social Work License Requirements

South Dakota offers four social work licenses. Each level requires a baseline of education and the passing of level-specific ASWB exams, and the highest license awarded in South Dakota requires clinical supervision. When you apply for any license in this state, you’ll need to provide three professional letters of recommendation with your application.

South Dakota Governing Board

South Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in South Dakota

  • Social Work Associate (SWA)
  • Social Worker (SW)
  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Certified Social Worker in Private or Independent Practice (CSW-PIP)

Find specific information about requirements for each license here.

Additional Information

A social work license expires on Jan. 1 the second year after issue, and it must be renewed by the same day of each subsequent two-year period. For more information on licensure and renewal, check out the FAQ page from the board.

Tennessee Social Work License Requirements

Of the four licensure types in Tennessee, three require a master’s degree from a board-approved program. The other, the LBSW, requires a bachelor’s degree from a board-approved program. To apply for the clinical license, candidates need 3,000 hours of supervised work experience.

Tennessee Governing Board

Tennessee Board of Social Workers

Social Work Licenses Offered in Tennessee

Additional Information

Renewal occurs every calendar year. At the time of renewal, social workers need to have 9-15 hours of continuing education, with the exact number depending on license type. For more information about licensure, check out the board’s licensure page.

Texas Social Work License Requirements

Texas offers four licenses, all of which are only granted to applicants who have passed the appropriate-level ASWB test, a background check, and Texas jurisprudence exam. The entry-level license can be awarded to graduates with a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program, while the other three require a master’s from an accredited program and/or 3,000 hours of supervised experience.

Texas Governing Board

Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners

Social Work Licenses Offered in Texas

  • Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Master Social Worker-Advanced Practitioner (LMSW-AP)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Specific requirements for each license listed above can be found on the “Applying for a License” page.

Additional Information

Licenses must be renewed every two years. Licensed social workers are required to obtain a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education during each renewal period they hold a license. For more on licensure and renewal requirements, visit the board’s FAQ page.

Utah Social Work License Requirements

Utah has three social work licenses. Two require a master’s degree, while the other, the CSW, can be awarded to graduates of a bachelor’s program in social work or a related field. All applicants need to pass the appropriate ASWB exam.

Utah Governing Board

Utah Division of Professional Licensing

Social Work Licenses Offered in Utah

Additional Information

LCSWs have an additional requirement of 4,000 clinical hours. Social workers must renew their license before Sept. 30 during even-numbered years. Continuing education requirements vary by license type and are outlined on the board’s website. You can also find answers to common licensure questions here.

Vermont Social Work License Requirements

Vermont offers two social work licenses: an LMSW and an LICSW, with the latter title allowing license-holders the ability to offer psychotherapy services. For both licenses, applicants need a master’s degree from a board-approved program and a passing score on the ASWB clinical exam. All applicants must pay a fee and pass the Vermont jurisprudence exam.

Vermont Governing Board

Vermont Office of Professional Regulation: Social Workers

Social Work Licenses Offered in Vermont

Additional Information

In Vermont, social workers must renew their license every two years, with 20 hours of continuing education required to renew (15 occurring in-person).

Virginia Social Work License Requirements

In Virginia, candidates must hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a board-approved school and pass the appropriate ASWB exam. The bachelor’s degree qualifies students to apply for the LBSW license, while a master’s is needed for the other two (LMSW and LCSW). All applicants must also pass a background check.

Virginia Governing Board

Virginia Board of Social Work

Social Work Licenses Offered in Virginia

  • Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
  • Licensed Master’s Worker (LMSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

For details about each license, review Virginia’s Licensure Handbook.

Additional Information

Applicants must renew their license every two years, with 30 hours and 15 hours of continuing education logged for LMSWs and LBSWs, respectively. LCSWs must complete 3,000 clinical hours before applying for licensure. To learn more, check out this FAQ page.

Washington Social Work License Requirements

For both licenses in Washington state, candidates must have a master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited school and must pass the ASWB exam. For the LICSW license, there’s an additional requirement of 3,200 hours of supervised practice.

Washington Governing Board

Washington State Department of Health

Social Work Licenses Offered in Washington

  • Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW)
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Check out this licensure page for details about each license.

Additional Information

The license renewal cycle in Washington lasts two years. At the time of renewal, social workers must have completed 36 hours of continuing education. For additional questions on renewal or applying for a license, check out the board’s FAQ page.

West Virginia Social Work License Requirements

Social workers in West Virginia must complete a master’s or bachelor’s degree from a board-approved program. A bachelor’s degree, along with passing of the appropriate ASWB exam, qualifies students to apply for the LSW license. A master’s degree is required for the other three.

West Virginia Governing Board

West Virginia Board of Social Work

Social Work Licenses Offered in West Virginia

Additional Information

Before becoming an LICSW, applicants must complete 3,000 hours of part-time work in the field. All licenses are renewed every two years, with 40 continuing education hours required.

Wisconsin Social Work License Requirements

Wisconsin offers four licenses. The CSW license can be awarded to candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a board-approved program, while a master’s degree is required for the other three license types. For any license, an applicant must successfully pass the state exam and a background check.

Wisconsin Governing Board

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services

Social Work Licenses Offered in Wisconsin

  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker (CAPSW)
  • Certified Independent Social Worker (CISW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Find each classification’s credentialing details here.

Additional Information

Applicants for the LCSW license need to complete 3,000 clinical hours before applying. Renewal for all four licenses occurs February in every odd-numbered year, and social workers are required to successfully complete 30 hours of continuing education — with four credits related to ethics. For more on the state exam and how to study, check out this guide from the board.

Wyoming Social Work License Requirements

To apply for licensure in Wyoming, you need a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program. To become an LCSW-licensed social worker, candidates need 3,000 clinical hours. LCSW candidates can apply for a temporary license after graduation until they have completed those hours.

Wyoming Governing Board

Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board

Social Work Licenses Offered in Wyoming

  • Certified Social Worker (CSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Additional Information

In Wyoming, licenses expire on a social worker’s birthday every other year. At the time of renewal, a social worker must have 45 hours of continuing education credits. The state also recently joined the Counseling Compact, which lets social workers work in a number of states without applying for a license there.