Rhode Island does not license baccalaureate social workers who are doing casework or other duties appropriate to their educational level. The state does license clinical social workers: professionals who diagnose, assess, and treat individuals with mental or emotional impairments. The minimum requirement is a master’s degree. There are two levels of credentialing: Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).
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One becomes eligible for the LCSW license soon after graduation from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited School of Social Work. The LICSW license, though, requires a period of supervised work experience. It is required for private practice – and for independent practice in other settings.
A licensing exam is required at each level.
The first step is to complete a master’s or doctoral program in social work. Master’s programs must be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
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.
After graduation, the candidate will take steps toward licensure as an LCSW. They must have this credential before the candidate begins work (unless the candidate is working at an exempt setting).
The required exam at this level is the master’s (or intermediate) exam; it is administered by the Association of Social Work Boards. The candidate will get authorization by submitting the application packet (Click Here to download the application packet) to the Rhode Island Board. Official transcripts must be included. The candidate will need two professional references. The candidate must sign a release before giving the official forms to her references.
The candidate will also need to attach a 2 by 2 photo and have the affidavit notarized. The application fee is $70.
After approval, a candidate may register, pay the fee, and schedule the computerized exam at a time that is convenient for her. The candidate is allowed up to two additional attempts without further communication with, or approval from, the Board. (A candidate who fails three times must request a meeting with the Board if the candidate still seeks licensure.)
The graduate must work under the supervision of a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker for a minimum of twenty-four months. The candidate will need to accrue 3,000 hours of social work experience, 1,500 of them in direct service to clients.
The candidate will need a minimum of one hour of supervision for every 20 hours spent in direct client contact. He or she must have two hours every two weeks.
A clinical social worker may work through the requirements more slowly. However, he or she is allowed a maximum of 72 months.
At least three-fourths of the supervision hours must be individual. The remaining hours may be in a group with up to ten supervisees in attendance.
The clinical social worker will need to pass another exam before the LICSW license can be issued: the ASWB clinical exam. The application and registration process is similar. This time, a supervisor verification form must be included in the application packet.
A social worker who is licensed in another U.S. jurisdiction and has met “substantially equivalent” requirements may apply for license by endorsement. Any social worker who has held a license elsewhere must have their license verified. The verification form asks whether the applicant has a CSWE-accredited master’s, which licensing exam (if any) the candidate took, and whether the applicant has two years of supervised experience. It also asks about the current license status and the past disciplinary history. Disciplinary history will be reviewed on a case by case basis and will result in some delay in processing.
Licenses must be renewed every two years, on odd 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 Rhode Island.