Colorado Social Work License Requirements and Schools: Learn How to Become a Social Worker in CO

Written by Ann Feeney
Last Updated: August 2023

Colorado is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. As the population grows, so does the need for social workers.

This guide explains the differences between the two types of social work licenses offered in Colorado, outlines typical salary expectations, and lists the accredited master of social work (MSW) programs in the state. Learn more about how to earn a Colorado social work license and what to expect in your career.

Colorado Social Work Licensure Requirements

The State Board of Social Work Examiners, part of the State Department of Regulatory Agencies, oversees licensure. There are two main kinds of Colorado social work licenses: licensed social worker (LSW) and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). As in other states, only a licensed clinical social worker can provide counseling as part of their services to clients. Residential childcare facility social workers must apply for a social work provisional license.

Social workers from another state can apply for a license by endorsement, if the requirements from that other state are equivalent to those for a Colorado social work license.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW)

Colorado licensure requirements for LSWs include:

  • Completed MSW degree
  • Passing score on the Association of Social Work Boards intermediate, clinical, or advanced generalist exam
  • Passing score on the Colorado jurisprudence exam, an open-book online exam
  • A disclosure statement acknowledging that you know the laws about professional confidentiality
  • Completion of questions about any past criminal convictions
  • Completion of all other application forms

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Colorado licensure requirements for LCSWs include:

  • Completed MSW or doctor of social work (DSW) degree
  • Verification of post-graduate supervised hours
    • At least 96 supervision hours, including at least 48 hours of individual supervision, over a period of at least 24 months
    • At least 3,360 experience hours over a period of at least 24 months
  • If they are not already completed and on file, a disclosure statement on confidentiality and a passing result on the Colorado jurisprudence examination
  • Completed online application

Featured Online Social Work Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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How Long Does it Take to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Colorado?

It takes at least five years of education to earn a Colorado social work license. First, you need a four-year bachelor’s degree. If your bachelor’s degree is a BSW, then you may be eligible for advanced standing in a master’s program. Advanced standing MSW students typically finish in one year. This prepares you to become an LSW in Colorado. If you want to become an LCSW, you must complete at least two years of supervised professional experience.

Out of State Licensing Reciprocity in Colorado

Colorado does not offer license reciprocity but does offer licensure by endorsement. If you can demonstrate that your existing social worker licensing requirements match Colorado’s, then you can fill out a form attesting to your background. You must also pass the Colorado jurisprudence exam.

How to Renew a Social Work License in Colorado

To renew your license, you must complete and submit a professional practice rubric, self assessment, and learning plan. These documents allow you to reflect on your practice, set learning goals, and track completion of professional development activities. Colorado requires documentation of 40 professional development hours for each renewal cycle.

All social worker licenses expire on August 31 of odd-numbered years. The board prorates your required professional development hours as needed.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Colorado

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers earn slightly less than the average workers across all jobs in Colorado: $67,870 annually, or $32.63 hourly. However, they earn more than the average national social worker salary of $59,440 annually. Child, family, and school social workers earn the most, followed by healthcare social workers, mental health and substance misuse social workers, and all other social workers.

Social Workers in CO
OccupationAverage Annual SalaryAverage Hourly Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers$58,930$25.99
Healthcare Social Workers$58,310$27.45
Mental Health and Substance Misuse Social Workers$56,460$24.32
Social Workers, All Other$55,000$23.40

Source: BLS, 2022

Accredited MSW Programs in Colorado

Colorado MSW Programs
UniversityLocationAvailable ConcentrationsEnrollment Type2023 Tuition
Colorado State UniversityFort Collins, CO — On Campus (Full-time only), Online (Part-time only)Multidisciplinary, Advanced Clinical Behavioral Health, Conflict Resolution and Mediation, Nonprofit Administration, Pre-K-12 School Social Work, Social Aspects of Human-Animal InteractionFull Time, Part Time, Advanced Standing$735 per credit hour (resident); $1635 per credit hour (non-resident)
Colorado State University PuebloPueblo, CO — On CampusGeneralistFull Time, Advanced Standing $396 per credit (resident); $750 per credit (non-resident)
Metropolitan State University of DenverDenver, CO — Hybrid On Campus, OnlineGeneralistFull Time, Part Time, Advanced Standing$510 per credit (resident); $714 per credit (non-resident)
University of Colorado Colorado SpringsColorado Springs, CO — On Campus, Online, HybridGeneralist Advanced Standing, Full Time, Part Time $1,135 per credit (resident); $1,830 per credit (non-resident); $788 per credit (online)
University of DenverDenver, Glenwood Springs, or Durango CO — On Campus, OnlineOnline: Mental Health and Trauma or Equity and Wellness;
On campus: Child Welfare, Children and Youth, Ecological Justice, Family Systems Practice, Health and Wellness, Mental Health, Organizational Leadership Services and Policy, Aging Services and Policy Pathways
Advanced Standing, Full Time, Part Time$1,310 per credit (on campus), $1,164 per credit (online)

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Colorado

Professional organizations help members stay engaged in the profession. Social work students and professionals benefit from access to networking opportunities, career centers, and information about applying for state licensure. Some professional organizations award scholarships and grants to social work students. Most professional organizations for social workers offer discounted rates for students or individuals early in their careers.

  • National Association of Social Workers – Colorado Chapter: The Colorado chapter of NASW represents the professional interests of social workers in the state. Members have access to continuing education opportunities, licensure information, and a career center. Members also benefit from the organization’s legislative advocacy.
  • Colorado Society for Clinical Social Work: CSCSW represents Colorado’s clinical social workers and their clients. The organization advocates for clinical social workers, promotes public understanding of the field, and offers professional education opportunities to members. Other membership benefits include networking opportunities, referrals, and access to an email listserv, news, and job openings.
  • Colorado School Social Work Association: CSSWA promotes the work of school social workers in Colorado and advocates for the profession. The association provides professional development and networking opportunities for school social workers. CSSWA also offers training and access to relevant news. The association’s career center includes a database of school social worker jobs in the state.