Becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) takes some effort and time, but can reward you with a range of job possibilities. Exact requirements for this licensure can vary depending on where you live, so you should look at local qualifications. Many regions require a degree such as a Masters in Social Work (MSW) and a certain period of time of supervised employment as a social worker. You may then need to pass a test to receive a license to practice therapy or social work privately.
The method necessary to become an LCSW varies in different regions. In the US, you typically need at least an MSW from an accredited university. The MSW generally requires previous completion of a bachelor’s degree in one of the social sciences, though not necessarily social work. If you want to practice a particular aspect of social work, such as therapy, then look for a program that focuses on your interests.
After the MSW is obtained, many positions may become open to you. In order to become an LCSW, you typically need to work in a supervised position for approximately 3000 hours, or about two years of professional employment. The exact number of hours may vary from one region to another. These positions are often paid, and can be found in government agencies, hospitals, and similar locations.
Application and Testing
Once supervised practice hours are completed, you can apply to your local Board of Behavioral Examiners or similar agency for licensure. The test you take to become licensed depends on where you live, but usually consists of both a written and oral examination. Preparation for the LCSW examination is important. You can usually receive study materials from your local board or find books to help you prepare for the test.
Some regions also have a minimum age requirement before you can sit for the LCSW exam. For example, in many US states, you need to be at least 21 years of age to become licensed. Preparation for LCSW licensure can begin prior to this age, but you are not allowed to take the exam before your 21st birthday.
Ongoing Study and Education
Maintaining an LCSW can also take effort. You may need to continue studying and taking additional courses in order to keep your license current. Many universities offer these types of classes, though some conferences or seminars may be sufficient. Changes to licensing policies or laws in your area should also be understood, so it helps to remain aware of new developments related to your licensure.
Impact of Licensure
Once you become an LCSW, you are licensed to practice therapy, or to take a wide range of other positions. Some people work as educators, school counselors, or as parts of private psychiatric teams. Pay ranges vary depending upon the type of job you take and the area in which you live. When moving from one area to another, you may be able to qualify for licensure in the new region based on your previous experience and license, though this depends on the laws of the area to which you are transferring.