The Oklahoma State Board of Licensed Social Workers issues five different social work licenses. Licensed Social Worker Associate (LSWA) is granted to individuals with baccalaureate education and supervised work experience.
All other licenses require a master’s degree. A person becomes eligible for Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW) right after graduation. After a period of supervised practice, he may earn one of the following designations: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), or Licensed Social Worker – Administration (LCSW-ADM).
The Board has a well-defined scope of practice for each level. A distinction is made between independent practice and private practice. Only LCSWs are permitted to go into private practice, but LSWs and LSW-ADMs are allowed to practice independently.
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Forms may be downloaded from the Board site (Click Here to find Licensure application forms, supervision forms and other pertinent material). There are certain commonalities to the licensing process regardless of the level at which a candidate applies. All applicants must pass a background check. All must pass a licensing exam. Board rules currently state that four ASWB exams are accepted: bachelor’s, master’s, clinical, and advanced generalist. It is generally accepted that certain exams correlate with particular roles: clinical for clinical practice and advanced generalist for administrative roles and some other advanced practice.
Oklahoma issues provisional licenses. This allows candidates time to take and pass the appropriate exam.
With the exception of LMSW, all licenses are contingent on having 4,000 hours of supervised practice. At the onset, they must submit a supervision contract that delineates the focus of supervision. Samples can be found on the Board site.
All trainees need at least 100 hours of what the Board terms “educational supervision”; this is guidance by a qualified professional. Up to half of these direct supervision hours may be in a small group setting. A trainee working 20 hours a week is expected have an hour a week of supervision, but the Board will also permit two hours every two weeks. A trainee who is working less will still need at least an hour every two weeks.
In all cases, the training supervisor must be board approved. However, the required credential will differ according to license level/ category.
There are separate evaluations for administrative and clinical social workers. They include competencies that are specific to the job role. The supervisor will submit an evaluation after 25, 50, and 100 hours of supervision. If the supervisee is working full-time, evaluations may take place as early as the 6-, 12-, and 24-month marks. The supervisor will assess performance in the various domains using terms such as “emerging competence” or “insufficient progress”.
Specific requirements are outlined below.
An LSWA must have a baccalaureate degree from a board-approved program. Assuming that the degree was earned in the U.S., the program should be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
A professional at this level may be supervised by either an LSW, LCSW, or LSW-Adm.
Candidates in any of these license categories must have a master’s degree from a CSWE accredited program or comparable foreign program. They may choose the most appropriate specialty based on the role they envision taking after graduation.
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.
A prospective LCSW must be supervised by a licensed clinical social worker. He must earn 3,000 of his required 4,000 hours in direct client care. The Board defines this as anything clearly connected to treatment provision.
A prospective LSW-ADM must be supervised by an LSW-ADM while a prospective LSW may be supervised by a social worker with any of the three independent level licenses.
Out-of-state candidates who are credentialed in other jurisdictions must request license verification from their board. They should request that the ASWB release their test results.
Social workers at each practice level must do 16 hours of continuing education per calendar year.
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 Oklahoma.