Minnesota issues four different types of social work license: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW), Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW), and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). LSW is the designation for baccalaureate level social workers. The other licenses require a master’s.
A person can apply for LGSW without work experience. The LGSW moves up to LISW or LICSW after a period of supervised experience. An LISW can go into independent practice in nonclinical social work. In order to go into independent clinical practice, though, the candidate must have an LICSW (http://www.socialwork.state.mn.us/).
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A prospective social worker can begin by enrolling in a bachelor’s program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work. The candidate may submit a license application before graduation – this will allow the candidate to take the baccalaureate level licensing exam through the ASWB.
The LSW will work under a supervision plan until the candidate has accrued at least 4,000 hours of work experience. A supervisor must be a more experienced social worker (an LGSW, LISW, or LICSW, or LSW who has completed experience requirements). The Board may approve alternate supervision for a portion of the required hours.
The LSW needs 100 total hours of consultation/ supervision at a rate of four hours per 160 hours worked. At least 50 hours must be individual as opposed to group. At least 25 hours of individual supervision must be face-to-face with supervisor and supervisee in the same setting; the others may involve electronic communication devices so long as there is eye contact.
When it’s time for license renewal, the supervisee and supervisor will jointly fill out verification paperwork.
A prospective LISW (nonclinical social worker) should enroll in an accredited social work graduate program. As the candidate approaches graduation, the candidate will apply to take the master’s level exam and become an LMSW. As an LMSW, the LMSW will need a supervision plan. The LMSW must have 100 hours of supervision during the first 4,000 hours of practice. The supervision must be provided by a social worker with a higher level of licensing or, at the minimum, by an LGSW who has completed supervision requirements. (Alternate supervisors require board approval.)
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.
Before the candidate can be awarded the higher license, LISW, the social worker must pass the ASWB advanced generalist examination.
An LISW may choose, at a later date, to do clinical work and pursue LICSW credentialing. The candidate will need to submit an LISW Clinical Supervision Plan.
Those interested in independent clinical work should make sure their graduate program includes 24 semester hours (or 360 clock hours) in clinical knowledge areas. Minimum hours for each of the six knowledge areas can be found on the board site. Social workers whose programs do not meet these standards will be allowed to make deficiencies up later through a combination of graduate level courses and continuing education.
The prospective LICSW will apply to the board for LGSW status. The master’s level exam will be a part of the licensing process.
The graduate social worker will work under supervision until the candidate has received 200 hours of clinical supervision. The candidate must receive this supervision at a rate of four to eight hours for every 160 hours worked. The total period of supervised experience will be 4,000 to 8,000 hours. During this time, the candidate must do at least 1,800 hours of work that involves direct client contact. Passing scores on the ASWB clinical exam will eventually be required.
The board requires official transcripts. A background check is conducted at first application. Application fees are currently $45 for candidates at all levels (except for those applying by reciprocity – in this instance, the fee is $85). There is a fee of $15 for the background check. Temporary licenses are available for $50.
Candidates who were born in another country and speak English as a second language may apply for a provisional license if they don’t pass the ASWB exam. 2,000 hours of supervised work may be accepted in lieu of the exam. The candidate’s supervisor will need to evaluate the candidate every six months and attest to their competence at the end. Licenses are renewed every two 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 Minnesota.