Arizona’s social workers are licensed at the baccalaureate (LBSW), master (LMSW), and clinical (LCSW) level. Both Licensed Master Social Workers and Licensed Clinical Social Workers have graduate degrees. LCSWs have completed post-master supervised practice in clinical social work and are authorized for independent clinical practice.
Master social worker status is often a step en route to becoming a clinical social worker; it is also an end goal for non-clinical social workers. Arizona law requires that they have direct supervision only when they engage in clinical practice.
Capella University is now offering an online Master's of Social Work that is in CSWE candidacy status. The MSW program helps prepare students to enter the general or clinical practice role (in most states). Capella also offers an online Doctor of Social Work that focuses on in-demand leadership skills and integration of technology. Click Here to contact Capella University about their Master of Social Work program or Doctor of Social Work program.
All applicants for social work licensing must have a degree from a program that is accredited by CSWE or from a foreign program that the Foreign Equivalency Determination Service of CSWE judges equivalent (Click Here for the AZ Board of Behavioral Health Examiners website).
The Simmons College School of Social Work, based in Boston, MA, offers another option to earn a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Online Master of Social Work. Click Here to contact the Simmons College School of Social Work and request additional information.
You may also want to read the article "Master’s Degree in Social Work: Developing Skills and Competencies" if you have any questions about Master's of Social Work programs.
A licensing exam is required at each licensing level. All applicants need to apply to the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners for permission to take the exam. The notarized application must include the supplemental forms required at that practice level. Application forms are available on the Board website (http://www.azbbhe.us/node/557). At first application, the prospective social worker must send fingerprints or a clearance card; s/he has the option, on subsequent application, of noting that the documentation is already on file. The application fee is currently $250.
Candidates may apply to work under a temporary license ($50) while they are going through the testing process. The Arizona Board allows two examination attempts over a twelve month period. Candidates must re-apply if they don’t pass in the allotted time but still desire licensing. Temporary licenses expire after examination failure.
Graduates from baccalaureate programs may be licensed on the basis of either the ASWB baccalaureate level examination or a higher level examination. Baccalaureate social workers must work under direct supervision (in an employer-employee capacity), but, under most circumstances, do not need to demonstrate that they’ve served a minimum number of hours. Those that wish to practice non-clinical social work independently must demonstrate 3,200 hours of supervised social work experience gained over at least a two year period. Baccaulaureate social workers carry out clinical duties only under direct supervision.
Graduates of master’s or doctoral level social work programs should take the master level exam given by the ASWB. Master social workers who desire clinical status must put in 3,200 hours of supervised work experience over at least a two year period. At least 1,600 must involve direct client contact. During the period of supervised work experience, the master social worker must have 100 hours of clinical supervision. At least 50 hours of supervision is to come from a social worker who holds independent licensing. The remaining 50 may come from another qualified professional. Although Arizona has strict rules regarding the qualifications of clinical supervisors, exemptions may be granted in cases of hardship.
If there is no suitable professional employed at the agency, the Board may allow someone from outside to supervise. However, there will be additional requirements. The supervisor and agency must enter into a written contract that meets Board mandates.
The supervisor will evaluate the social worker’s skills and conduct and submit this as part of the application for clinical level licensing.
Licensed are renewed every other year and require 30 hours of continuing education.
A social worker may be eligible for license by endorsement if he or she has been licensed at the level sought for at least three years and has accrued at least 3,600 hours of experience at that level during the prior five-year period. An endorsement applicant must have a current behavioral health license. All licenses must be in good standing.
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Social Worker in Arizona.