Vermont’s Office of Professional Regulation regulates the state’s social workers. This is an evolving process. New laws (to go into effect in July 1, 2017) call for creation of a Licensed Master Social Worker designation. There will be additional changes in social worker requirements.
The clinical license is currently Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) but will become Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) in 2017. The clinical license requires more than just education at the graduate level. There is also a licensing examination and a supervised practice requirement.
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A prospective LCSW needs to enroll in a graduate program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
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 social worker candidate must put in 3,000 hours of supervised work experience. During this time, she or he is registered but not licensed; to be in compliance with state rules, the candidate needs to be entered on the state’s roster of nonlicensed psychotherapists. Beginning in 2017, though, the graduate may hold licensing as a Licensed Master Social Worker. (The Office can still accept hours accrued while on the roster.)
The social work trainee may be supervised by a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health counselor, or clinical social worker. Proposed rules call for one hour of face to face supervision for every 30 hours worked. At least half the direct supervision hours must be individual. The other hours may be in a group setting with up to eight trainees in attendance.
The supervisor will eventually fill out a report for the licensing agency, that will attest to the number of practice and supervision hours, describe the nature of supervision, evaluate the candidate, and make a recommendation for or against independent licensing.
Licensure also depends on passing a nationwide licensing exam. Currently, candidates take the clinical examination offered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). In the future, they may take two examinations en route to clinical licensure: first the ASWB master’s level examination, then the ASWB clinical examination. The prospective licensee must apply to Vermont OPR in order to receive testing authorization. At this point, he or she may schedule an exam with the ASWB. The exam is administered via computer and is available at sites around the country.
Application packets can be found on the OPR site (Click Here for links to the online application process and required forms). The application form includes professional fitness questions. There is an education verification form to be sent to the institution that granted the qualifying degree. Applications must be accompanied by a processing fee. (The examination process will incur additional fees, payable to the ASWB.)
A candidate who is licensed or certified elsewhere will need to have a form filled out by his or her state licensing agency. If licensed on the basis of similar requirements (a graduate degree, examination, and two years of supervised experience) he or she may apply for what the Board terms “license without examination”. Beginning in 2017, there may be multiple eligibility pathways for out-of-state licensees, with professionals who have held licensing for at least five years (and who meet minimum standards for active practice) exempt from some requirements.
LCSW licenses must be renewed every two years. Licensees are responsible for completing 20 contact hours of continuing education during this period. Continuing education is not required, however, during the social worker’s first licensing period.
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 Vermont.