The South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners issues four types of social work license. The Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) credential requires a bachelor’s in social work. The other licenses require either a master’s or doctoral degree in social work.
A new master’s program graduate is eligible for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) credential. After completing additional requirements, including supervised work experience, they will become a Licensed Independent Social Worker – Advanced Practice (LISW-AP) or Licensed Independent Social Worker – Clinical Practice (LISW-CP). LISW-CPs are authorized for mental health practice.
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The Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker license requires a BSW from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Candidates must also pass the bachelor’s level exam given by the Association of Social Work Boards. They may apply to the South Carolina Board for testing authorization as early as their final semester (if they get a letter from the dean of their program). The license will not actually be issued, though, until after final transcripts arrive.
To be licensed at the Master's level, a candidate will need a graduate degree from a CSWE-accredited master’s program. The candidate will also be required to pass the ASWB master's level exam, which may be taken as early as the last semester of their master's program, with a letter from the dean.
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 successfully passing the ASWB master's level exam and submitting their application materials, the candidate will become a Licensed Master Social Worker. (Click Here to go to the SC Board of Social Work Examiners application forms section and other relevant material)
After licensure as an LMSW, the candidate will most likely seek a social work position with a recognized organization. The organization may be social, governmental, or medical (as appropriate).
The LISW-CP applicant should have previously enrolled in and completed a board-approved academic program that includes at least 45 contact hours of psychopathology and 45 hours of psychodiagnostics. If the candidate seeks the advanced practice license, they should have a total of 90 academic contact hours in advanced practice social work with communities and organizations.
Once an LMSW has secured a job/position and appropriate supervision, they will submit a supervision contract to the South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners. In the contract, he or she will indicate their area of practice. The contract must be approved before supervision begins.
The LISW candidate must work under supervision until he or she has accrued at least 3,000 hours of experience. During this time, the candidate will have at least 100 hours of face to face supervisory meetings. Up to half the supervisory meetings may take place in a group setting. The social worker in training has some flexibility with regard to how many hours a week they work, but must complete requirements in a two- to four-year-period.
While under supervision, the LISW candidate must also pursue education or training in professional ethics. At some point, he or she must either take a board-approved course or pursue 15 academic contact hours or 20 CE contact hours.
At the conclusion of the supervised work period, the supervisor will assess the candidate and make a recommendation for (or against) licensure.
The social worker must take one more examination before the independent license can be issued. The LISW-CP license depends on attaining a passing score on the ASWB clinical exam while the LISW-AP license depends on attaining a passing score on the advanced generalist exam.
The application includes legal and professional fitness questions and can be downloaded from the Board site (Click Here to go to the SC Board of Social Work Examiners application forms section). Application at any level carries a $45 nonrefundable fee. (Examination fees are separate, and are payable to the ASWB.)
Any social worker who has been licensed in another jurisdiction must get license verification. If the social worker has already taken the required examination, they should have the ASWB send official test results.
Social work licenses are renewed biannually. The licensee must affirm that he has completed 40 clock hours of continuing education.
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 South Carolina.