The West Virginia Board of Social Work Examiners issues social work credentials to candidates who have baccalaureate or graduate level education. The Licensed Social Worker (LSW) license is at the baccalaureate level. All other licenses require at least a master’s. Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) is issued to new graduates of master’s programs. After obtaining sufficient post-master experience, a social worker is eligible for one of two licenses: Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) or Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).
Some applicants who do not meet all requirements for standard licensing will be eligible for provisional licenses or temporary permits. All licenses (with the exception of temporary ones) are dependent on passing a licensing exam.
Each licensing level has a set scope of practice.
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To become an LSW, one needs an undergraduate degree from a CSWE-accredited program. A student may apply for a temporary permit (and permission to take the licensing exam) when the candidate is in the final semester. Temporary permits require a written request. After receiving permission, the candidate will schedule an exam with the Association of Social Work Boards.
If a candidate has a degree that does not meet the above requirements but is closely related (for example, psychology, sociology, or counseling), the candidate may be eligible for employment in a position where there is critical workforce shortage. In this case, the candidate will apply for a provisional license. The candidate will need to pass a civil service exam. If the candidate works under provisional licensing for a solid four years, and meets additional requirements, the candidate will become eligible for the standard license. The candidate will need to complete 12 semester hours of social work coursework while he or she holds provisional licensing. The candidate will also have a continuing education requirement.
Proposed regulations could allow a provisional licensee to meet educational requirements through an alternate pathway: training through the Department of Health and Human Services.
In order to be eligible for an LGSW license, a candidate needs a master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program. The candidate has a choice of concentrations, but should realize that the choice – and the fieldwork placement – will have an impact on the allowable scope of duty.
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.
The candidate may take the master’s level examination du ring the final semester or some time afterward. After the candidate has two years of post-master experience, the candidate becomes eligible for the LCSW license. The candidate will need to pass the advanced generalist exam.
The LCSW license does not rest on attaining a minimum number of direct supervision hours. However, a prospective social worker who is interested in clinical practice should follow the procedures outlined below.
A social worker who desires independent clinical licensing should enroll in an accredited graduate program that includes clinical field experience. A course in abnormal psychology is also required. (If the candidate’s master’s program does not include these components, the candidate will need to make them up later.) As the candidate nears degree completion, the candidate may take steps toward licensure as an LGSW.
The clinical license requires the equivalent of two years of supervised clinical practice under conditions acceptable to the Board. If the social worker opts for part-time employment, the candidate will need 3,000 total hours.
The social worker will need at least 100 hour of clinical supervision during this time period. At least 60 hours must take the form of face to face meetings.
The required exam at this level of practice is the ASWB clinical exam.
Applications may be requested via a link on the Board site or by contacting the Board. Click here to download the application. The renewal period is every two 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 West Virginia.