Florida has two types of credentialing for professional social workers: Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW). In order to become an LCSW and get LCSW status in Forida, a person needs to complete a master’s degree, meet Florida’s clinical coursework requirements, fulfill a supervised practice obligation, and pass a national examination. While fulfilling supervised practice requirements, a social worker must be registered as an intern.
Certified master social workers also have a post-master experience requirement. A key difference is that the coursework and experience does not have to be clinically focused. For this designation, a background in social work administration is just fine.
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In order to be accepted by the Board, master’s level education must meet both accreditation and coursework standards (http://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/mental-health/licensing/index.html). United States and Canadian programs must be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work. Foreign degrees are acceptable if judged equivalent by the CSWE.
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.
Degree programs should include at least 24 semester hours of clinically focused human behavior and social work practice methods courses; at least one course should be in psychopathology. There should be clinical fieldwork as well. However, candidates who do attend accredited nonclinical social work programs may make up clinical coursework deficiencies later.
LCSW candidates must work under supervision for at least two years (or 100 weeks) after completing their degrees. Before beginning the supervised clinical experience, a social work graduate must register with the Florida Board. The candidate must find a supervisor and put together a supervision plan. Any time the candidate adds or changes supervisors, the candidate will again need board approval.
Intern registration costs $150 and requires submission of an application packet or online registration. (http://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/mental-health/applications-forms/index.html).
Before the candidate can apply for licensure, the intern must spend at least 1,500 hours providing face-to-face psychotherapy. The Board has strict rules about clinical supervision. The intern must have an hour of supervision for every 15 hours of psychotherapy the candidate conducts; at least one hour of supervision must be provided every two weeks. Some of the supervision may be in a group setting; group supervision sessions, however, must alternate with individual. (If there are two interns in session, the Florida Board will accept the supervision as individual – this is not the case with all states.)
The licensing exam may be taken before or after completing the supervised practice requirement. Board approval is required. If a candidate had clinical coursework or practicum deficiencies at the time the candidate began the internship, the candidate will need to remove them before the candidate will be allowed to test. Once approved, the candidate may register with the ASWB to take the exam. The candidate will pay examination fees directly to the ASWB.
An endorsement candidate or an in-state candidate who has completed internship requirements may work under a provisional license while fulfilling examination requirements. The provisional license is good for 24 months.
Florida requires a few additional classes before awarding professional licensure. They can be taken as continuing education. Among the requirements are an eight hour Board-approved jurisprudence (laws and rules) course and a two hour course in the prevention of medical errors. Candidates must take approved HIV/AIDS and domestic violence courses within 6 months of the time they are licensed if they have not done so already.
Professional licensure requires a $100 application fee and a $105 licensing fee. Application Packet: (http://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/mental-health/applications-forms/index.html).
Licenses must be renewed biennially.
Master social workers should have degrees from CSWE-accredited schools and be able to demonstrate coursework in eight specific areas including agency administration, advocacy, and research.
Three years of experience is required; at least two must be post-master. If the social worker enrolls in a doctoral program, experience hours earned during this period may be counted. The two years of post-master experience may be supervised by a clinical social worker or by a person who meets the education and experience requirements for certification as a CMSW.
Both clinical and administrative work may be included. Rules and forms are available from the Florida Board in Microsoft Word format (http://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/mental-health/licensing/index.html).
MCSWs must pass the ASWB’s advance generalist exam.
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 Florida.