Georgia’s licensed social workers have master’s degrees. A person must have a state license to practice social work unless they fall into one of the exemption categories described in Georgia’s statutes. (One exempted group is graduates of CSWE-accredited baccalaureate programs; these individuals may practice social work within the context of an employer-employee relationship when under appropriate supervision.)
There are two levels of licensing: Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). The latter have completed a period of supervised work experience. They have also passed a social work exam at a higher level.
LMSWs may engage in a range of activities including community organization, administration, supervision of baccalaureate social workers and (under appropriate supervision) counseling. After two years of supervised experience, LMSWs are permitted to go into private practice offering some, but not all, services. They may not go into private practice offering psychotherapy or counseling. Their practice may include counseling and psychotherapy under supervision if they are in the process of meeting requirements for the next level of licensure: LCSW.
LCSWs are prepared to practice independently in all facets of social work including diagnoses and psychotherapy.
Individuals begin the process by enrolling in an accredited social work master’s program.
The University of Southern California School of Social Work offers one of the only CSWE accredited online Master's of Social Work degrees in the country. Click Here to contact the University of Southern California School of Social Work and request additional information.
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. (*This program is NOT available to students in North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Arkansas)
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.
After their degree posts, they can begin the application process. The application packet is fairly lengthy (Click Here to download the application form). It includes a consent form for a criminal background check. There is also an affidavit to be notarized.
Master social work applicants now have the opportunity fill out the application online. Candidates should have official transcripts sent to the Board – but be careful not to request them too soon. The application should be submitted before supplemental documentation. After reviewing the application packet, the Board will authorize the candidate to take the master exam through the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). The authorization is valid for one year. Candidate handbooks can be found on the ASWB site.
The Georgia Board does not issue temporary licenses. However, social workers may begin their supervised practice before a license is issued. Georgia statutes allow for graduates of CSWE master’s programs to practice up to a year while going through the examination/ licensure process. (In exempt settings, licensure is not a legal mandate.)
Social workers must practice under supervision for three years before applying for the clinical license. The first two years of work experience must be under direction. Social workers who go on to receive doctoral degrees in a social work specialty or related field may count a doctoral level clinical internship as one year of experience.
Over the course of the supervised practice, a social worker must have 120 supervision hours, at least 60 of them with an LCSW who is in good standing and has the requisite experience. The state’s professional organization, NASW-Georgia, has a list of potential supervisors on their site, as well as a series of articles about supervision. The organization notes that a number of applications have been denied due to issues related to supervised practice.
When the social worker has fulfilled experience requirements, the candidate will need to have two verification forms submitted to the Board: one from the employer or superior and one from the clinical supervisor.
Applicants may download packets from the Board site (Click Here to download the application material). The application packet includes two professional reference forms – these should be given to supervisors or instructors.
Applications should be sent to the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists. They should be accompanied by the nonrefundable application fee (currently $100).
Social workers who have met similar requirements in another state may be licensed without examination. Anyone who has held a license in another jurisdiction should have a verification form sent to the Board.
Licenses must be renewed biennially, on even numbered years.
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 Georgia.