The Tennessee Board of Social Workers issues four types of social work license. The Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) license requires a bachelor’s degree. The Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) license requires a master’s. Both licenses qualify individuals to carry out a number of duties, from case management to mediation, while working under supervision. Although neither license authorizes a social worker for independent practice, the LMSW license does allow one to work toward higher licensing.
The Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker (LAPSW) and (LCSW) licenses both require post-master supervised practice. The LAPSW license qualifies a professional to independently carry out many social work activities including case management, research, counseling, advocacy, and policy or program administration. However, it does not qualify one to do clinical work except under supervision.
The LCSW license qualifies a professional to do DSM-based assessment and treatment of individuals with psychological disorders. It also qualifies LCSW to engage in other social work activities, including those that fall under the LAPSW scope of practice.
Licensure at the LBSW level requires a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program.*
Licensure at the BSW level also depends on passing the ASWB exam.
The application at this level costs $50; there is a $50 initial licensing fee which should also accompany the application. The examination will incur additional fees.
(Click Here for the application forms)
*Students who enroll in programs that have applied for, but have not yet been awarded, accreditation will be denied permanent licensure in Tennessee if accreditation is ultimately denied. Until the accreditation is actually awarded, they will be eligible only for temporary licensure.
Licensure at the higher levels requires a master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program or a doctoral degree. After graduation, a candidate should seek licensure as an LMSW. The process will entail passing the ASWB master’s level exam. At the master’s level, the application fee is $75 with an initial licensing fee of $75.
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. (*This program is NOT available to students in North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Arkansas)
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.
Licensure as either an LAPSW or LCSW requires 3,000 hours of supervised work experience. Those who are vying for clinical licensure must earn 3,000 clinical contact hours. This may be completed in as little as two years. The master social worker may choose to take up to six years.
During this time, the LMSW will need at least 100 supervisor-supervisee contact hours. At least 60 of the supervision hours must be one on one. A clinical social worker will need one supervision hour for every 30 clinical contact hours. An advanced practitioner will need one hour for every 30 nonclinical hours. Clinical supervision must be provided by an LCSW while advanced practice supervision may be provided by a social worker with either of the two independent licenses. Supervisors have a training requirement – candidates for licensure will need to verify that their supervisor meets requirements.
Social workers will also need to meet minimum experience requirements to take on the supervisory role (effective the end of December 2014).
The supervisor will ultimately evaluate the social worker’s skills in applicable areas of practice.
The ASWB clinical exam is a requirement for the clinical license. The advanced generalist exam is a requirement for the advanced practice license. Application at either of these levels incurs a $100 fee. Licensure is $125.
Applications and supplemental forms are found on the site of the Department of Health (Click Here for the application forms). Candidates at all levels must have a criminal history check. They need to apply to the Board for permission to take the licensing exam. Approval grants a 12 month eligibility window.
Once licensed, LBSWs need 9 clock hours of continuing education per year. LMSWs need 12, and those with a higher license need 15. Licenses are renewed every other year. Continuing education is not required the year that a baccalaureate or master social worker completes her 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 Tennessee.