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Ohio Social Worker Licensure Requirements

Ohio has multiple levels of social work licensing. The Social Work Assistant (SWA) requires an associate’s degree. The Licensed Social Worker (LSW) license requires either a bachelor’s or master’s in social work.

social worker

The Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) requires a master’s as well as additional post-degree experience. This is attained while the candidate is licensed as an LSW. There are two types of supervision an LSW may have. Any time the candidate does clinical work, a qualified mental health professional must take responsibility for their professional decisions. Psychiatrists and master’s level psychiatric nurses are among those authorized to do so. The LSW is allowed to do non-clinical work without supervision.

However, when an LSW is in training for the higher license, they need what the Board terms “training supervision”.

Becoming an SWA in Ohio

An SWA must have, at minimum, a social service technology degree. The Ohio Board defines this as a degree that includes 30 semester hours of courses in social services/social work and 14 semester hours of supporting courses like sociology, psychology, and economics. There must be a practicum. Applicants must have at least a C- in required courses.

A licensing exam is not required, but candidates must take the online jurisprudence exam.

The application is $40.

Becoming an LSW in Ohio

An LSW must have a degree at the baccalaureate level or higher from a social work program that is housed in an accredited institution.*

When it’s time to do field work, the student may be required to have a criminal background check and fill out paperwork to receive trainee status.

The prospective social worker must eventually take a licensing exam through the ASWB. The candidate may take it in the last term or wait until after the candidate has graduated. Bachelor’s students should take the bachelor’s exam. Master’s students may take the bachelor’s exam if they choose; they may also opt to go ahead and take the higher level exam that will be required for licensure at the independent level.

The application at this level is $60. The exam will cost $230 or $260, depending on what level the candidate attempts.

*A degree in a related field is acceptable for Ohio LSW licensing if the degree was granted before October 10, 1992.

LISW Requirements in Ohio

In order to be eligible for LISW licensing, a candidate must have a master’s from a social work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. The candidate will later take steps to become licensed as an LSW. As an LSW, the candidate will work under supervision. The candidate must accrue at least 3,000 hours over a period of not less than two years.

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.

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 LSW must have regular meetings with someone who can guide the professional development. The candidate will need 150 face-to-face supervision hours over the course of the 3,000 hours. This comes to one hour per 20 worked. There is only one acceptable credential for a training supervisor: an LISW-S. This title signifies an independent social worker who has earned a supervisor designation.

The supervisee must log the training supervision hours – the Ohio Board carries out audits on 10% of applications. If the trainee is not doing clinical work, the candidate will also document the psychosocial interventions the candidate employs.

At the end of the training period, the supervisor will fill out a professional reference form.

Any candidate who did not take a higher level licensing exam before becoming an LWS will need to do so before the LISW license can be issued. The clinical exam is for clinical social workers. The advanced generalist exam is for non-clinical social workers.

The LISW application fee is $75.

The Application Process

Applicants at any level must have a criminal background check and pass an online exam of relevant laws and rules. Candidates need Board approval to take the licensing exam. All forms can be downloaded from the site of the Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Family Therapist Board (Click Here to access the application forms for all levels of social worker licensure).

Social Worker Licensure Board and Professional Organization(s)

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 Ohio.

Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board

NASW – Ohio

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