Indiana licenses social workers at two levels: Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Licensed Social Workers may have education at either the baccalaureate or master’s level. Those that do not have master’s degrees must put in two years of service before they can earn the credential.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers have education at the master’s or doctoral level. Whatever their educational level, they must fulfill a practice requirement.
Social workers at both levels must pass a national qualifying exam and a background check (Click Here to learn more about the exam and background check).
The first step is enrolling in a social work program that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
Graduates of master’s programs may apply to take the exam as soon as their degree posts. They should arrange to have official transcripts sent straight to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. They must send an application to the IPLA along with a $50 application fee (Click Here to download the application for an LSW).
Graduates of baccalaureate programs must work under the supervision of an LSW or LCSW before beginning the licensing process. The minimum is twenty-four months and 3,000 hours. They must have four hours of direct face to face supervision each month. The supervisor and employer will need to fill out and notarize verification forms after requirements have been met. At this stage, the candidate can apply to take the exam.
A candidate may work under a temporary permit while waiting to take the examination. This costs an additional $25. The permit is good for 180 days and may be renewed if the candidate was scheduled to take an exam and, for some reason acceptable to the Board, was unable to take it. A candidate who fails the exam may not renew his permit but may apply for a new one. After a failure, a candidate must wait 90 days before making another attempt.
Any candidate who fails three times must document remediation in the form of education and/or experience before being allowed to make another attempt.
The cost of the master level exam is currently $230.
Those interested in becoming LCSWs should enroll in an accredited graduate program that prepares them for clinical service work. Master’s programs should include coursework in clinical areas like the following: psychotherapy, group therapy, case management, psychiatric social work. Clinically oriented service classes should total at least 24 semester hours and there should be a fieldwork experience that involves direct clinical service work. There is a clinical coursework worksheet included in the application package which lists the seven general coursework requirements (Click Here for the application package).
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.
If a candidate’s social work master’s program did not meet the clinical requirements, he will need to meet them later by re-enrolling in an academic program.
Before beginning employment within Indiana, the social worker must be licensed as an LSW (as outlined in the previous section). Social workers need to accrue at least 3,000 hours of paid experience before they can pursue the higher license. They need to carry out clinical social work duties, including evaluation and assessment. At least half the hours must be direct service work. During this time, the social worker must receive no less than four hours of face-to-face supervision from an LCSW each month.
At the end of the experience period, the candidate’s supervisor and employer will each submit verification to the Board and the candidate will apply to take the exam and be licensed. The clinical exam will cost $260. Candidates can work under a temporary permit while waiting to take the exam.
Out-of-state social workers may be exempted from taking the exam if they passed a similar exam in their jurisdiction and have been in active practice during at least three of the preceding five years. Licensure by endorsement depends on not having discipline issues in another jurisdiction. Endorsement candidates must pass an Indiana jurisprudence exam.
Licensed social workers need to do 20 hours of continuing education a year. They may renew licenses online.
(Click Here if the links to application forms are not working and you will be directed to the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board site for an updated link to the application form).
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 Indiana.