All 50 states have some form of legal regulation, "licensure" or "certification" of social workers. It is similar to other professions such as nurses who become registered, lawyers who have to pass the bar exam, or physicians who pursue board certification.
Licensure is granted by the states and provides a form of consumer protection that the social worker has a MSW or BSW degree, had significant supervision, and passed the designated tests. While each state has its own social work regulation statutes that often differ, there are common elements to getting licensed as well. These include having a MSW or BSW degree from a CSWE accredited program, having the required supervision provided by a qualified supervisor, and having passed the designated exam as taken through ASWB. (www.aswb.org)
To begin the licensure process-key steps:
- Read the licensure rules and application procedures on the website of the state in which you plan to practice. (not by where you live) For example, you can Google, "Arizona social work licensure" to find the state's website.
- You can apply for your license on the state websites. New MSW graduates are able to apply 30 days prior to graduation. You will need to secure a letter from the Director of the MSW Program, Dr. Stephen Edward McMillin, (firstname.lastname@example.org or 977-3322) to send as well. There is an application, fee, letter, and a criminal check required. Then after graduation (or if you have graduated), students should contact the SLU Registrar's office-314-977- 2269 or go on their website to request an official transcript to be sent to the state office. For some states, there is usually a form that the Director of the MSW Program has to sign and attach the University seal. That gets sent to: Dr. Stephen Edward McMIllin, Director of the MSW Program, Saint Louis University, School of Social Work, 3550 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63103. Upon signing and securing the seal, Dr. McMillin will mail the form back to either you or the state office depending on the requirements.
- In securing your supervisor, be sure that you are choosing someone that you feel is a "good fit" in terms of their practice area, knowledge base, and who can commit to the 2 years of supervision process of 4 hours per month.(can be 2 hours twice or 1 hour weekly) The State of Missouri has a list of qualified supervisors for licensure; here is the link to the list: http://pr.mo.gov/boards/socialworkers/201811.pdf
- Begin to review your social work education textbooks, notes, and assignments. Secure a test "study guide" through ASWB.org, and plan to take a licensure review course offered as a gift to you from SLU School of Social Work or through the NASW chapters in your state. (Missouri-www.nasw-mo.org and Illinois- www.nasw-il.org)
- Secure a study buddy or form a study group to prepare for the test. The tests are not easy!
- Once you secure licensure, you are able to apply for "reciprocity" if you move to another state. You are to be licensed in the state where you work. It is very important that you maintain your license and not let it lapse. There are designated "CE's" or continuing education hours that are required each year once you are licensed that you will submit with your license renewal and the renewal fee. Very bad things can happen if you let your license lapse...your agency will not be able to bill for your services, you would be misrepresenting your "LCSW" credential, open to potential law suit for misrepresentation, and/or you could have to take a test or pay a lot more money for renewal.
- SLU School of Social Work Continuing Education has some of the best value and current continuing education with discounts for our alumni!