A State by State Licensure Guide

Wisconsin Social Work Licensure Requirements

The Wisconsin Joint Board of Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work credentials social workers who have education at the baccalaureate level or higher. Scope of practice is determined by education, examination, and supervised work experience.

social work student

A Certified Social Worker (CSW) has education at at least the bachelor’s level. A Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker (CAPSW) has education at the master’s or doctoral level.

A Certified Independent Social Worker (CISW) has met additional requirements and can practice independently. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is a master’s social worker who has met specific additional requirements; his/her scope of practice includes psychotherapy.

A social worker training certificate is sometimes issued to an individual who is in the process of meeting requirements.

Certified Social Worker Requirements in Wisconsin

A prospective social worker should enroll in a social work baccalaureate program that has been accredited by the CSWE or is in the accreditation process. However, if the prospective social worker already has a degree in a related field, he or she may seek to establish equivalency.

The ASWB bachelor’s level examination is another requirement for licensure. A candidate becomes eligible to take the exam shortly before graduation.

Social Work Training Certificate for those with a BA/BS in a field other than Social Work

An individual with a bachelor’s degree in a human service field like sociology, psychology, or criminal justice may apply for a social work training certificate. He or she must take additional coursework to satisfy equivalency requirements. This includes social welfare policy, human behavior in the social environment, and practice methods for social workers. If the trainee is not in a position to accrue a year of experience working with clients under the supervision of a licensed BSW or MSW, he or she will need to complete an internship.

The Social Work Section of the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing provides detailed information regarding which courses and programs meet their eligibility requirements for the Social Work Training Certificate. Click Here to find this additional information about the Social Work Training Certificate for those who hold a bachelor's degree in sociology, psychology, criminal justice or a related human services BA/BS degree.

The training certificate is good for 24 months and then must be renewed.

Advanced Practice Social Worker Requirements in Wisconsin

Advance practice social work requires a master’s or doctoral degree in social work. Master’s programs must either be accredited by the CSWE or be candidates for such accreditation.

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.

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 advanced practice certification depends on passing the applicable ASWB licensing exam.

In order to be certified for independent practice, the social worker must be under supervision for at least two years. He or she will need to accrue 3,000 hours of experience. A one hour supervision session each week that the advanced practice social work candidate practices is also required.

LCSW Requirements in Wisconsin

A prospective LCSW should enroll in an accredited graduate program that has a clinical concentration and a clinical internship. At the time of application, he or she must include syllabi for the psychopathology course and two other clinical courses (unless their school was the University of Wisconsin or Loyola, which are pre-approved).

The prospective LCSW should also have had clinical field work as part of the graduate program. If there was no clinical field work completed, he or she will have to do an additional 1,500 hours of supervised work (beyond what is usually required).

In order to attain the LCSW, a social worker must work under supervision for a period of at least two years and until such time as he or she accrues 3,000 hours of supervised practice. During this time, he or she must have 1,000 hours of face to face contact with clients. The clinical supervisor may be a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a clinical social worker who has met experience requirements, or another board-approved professional. The social worker will need an hour of direct face to face supervision for every hour that is worked.

The clinical license is dependent on passing the clinical level ASWB exam.

The Licensing Process

Candidates will need to take an open book test on social work statutes and codes. This is taken via computer.

Applications for CSW, CAPSW, and CISW certification are found on the site of the Department of Safety and Professional Services (Click Here for these applications).

Applicants for certification must pay a total of $165 to the Board with their application unless they have taken the law exam during the preceding five years. If they have done so, the fee is reduced to $90.

Applications for LCSW are found on a separate page (Click Here for the LCSW application).

Social workers must do 30 continuing education hours every two years in order to renew their credentials. Continuing education is not required for the first renewal.

Social Work Licensing Board and Professional Organizations in Wisconsin

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 Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Joint Board of Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work

NASW – Wisconsin

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