North Carolina’s Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) are mental health professionals. They must be licensed by the state. Credentialing at this level requires a master’s degree and post-master supervised practice. While completing post-master requirements, practitioners work under a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA) license.
Credentials for non clinical social workers are voluntary. However, in most cases, a professional must be state certified in order to call themselves a social worker. (Some government workers are exempted.) North Carolina certifications include Certified Social Worker (CSW), Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM), and Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW).
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A CSW needs a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. He must pass the bachelor level examination given by the ASWB. He receives his authorization by applying to the North Carolina Certification and Licensure Board.
A CMSW needs a master’s degree in social work from a similarly accredited program. He must pass either the ASWB master level examination or the ACSW certification exam. (The ASWB exam is widely used in jurisdictions that license master social workers, but the ACSW grants a national certification.) With this level of credentialing, a social worker may practice non clinical social work only.
An LCSW begins his journey the same way a CMSW does: by enrolling in an accredited graduate program. Upon graduation, one applies for the LCSWA credential. This will allow one to fulfill their clinical training requirements.
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.
The LCSWA will be authorized to take the ASWB clinical exam and granted a two year window to do so. The candidate must pass by their first license renewal. After a failed examination attempt, a candidate must wait 90 days. The associate may take anywhere from two to six years to fulfill the supervised practice requirement. LCSWAs should visit the FAQ section of the Board site if they are unsure if their employment meets the Board’s definition of clinical social work.
Before beginning supervised practice, the LCSWA must submit a position statement and crisis plan.
During their time as an associate, a social worker must have 100 hours of direct supervision from a licensed clinical social worker who is in good standing with the Board. This comes to one supervision hour for every 30 practice hours. No more than 25 supervision hours may be credited for supervision that takes place in a group setting.
The associate and their supervisor are responsible for completing six month reviews. One case study must be prepared and retained on file with the supervisor.
At the end of the supervision period, the associate social worker will also turn in a short form application.
The CSWM credential is for social workers who serve in an administrative capacity. Social workers with degrees at the bachelor’s level or higher are eligible for this certification. Candidates need 3,000 hours of related supervised experience. A total of 100 hours of supervision are required. Up to half of these hours may take place in a group setting.
The North Carolina Board counts only supervised experience that took place within the preceding six years. The required test at this level is the ASWB advanced generalist exam.
Applications for licensure or certification can be downloaded here. They require a $115 fee. Applicants need three professional references; the references will fill out confidential forms and return them in sealed envelopes.
Exam retakes require approval and a $40 processing fee. This is separate from the examination fee which is paid to the testing company.
Social workers who are currently licensed in another jurisdiction may apply for credentialing by comity. Licenses and certifications 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 North Carolina.