A State by State Licensure Guide

Ohio Social Worker Licensure Requirements

Ohio has multiple levels of social work licensing. The Social Work Assistant (SWA) requires an associate’s degree. The Licensed Social Worker (LSW) license requires either a bachelor’s or master’s in social work.

social worker

The Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) requires a master’s as well as additional post-degree experience. This is attained while the candidate is licensed as an LSW. There are two types of supervision an LSW may have. Any time the candidate does clinical work, a qualified mental health professional must take responsibility for their professional decisions. Psychiatrists and master’s level psychiatric nurses are among those authorized to do so. The LSW is allowed to do non-clinical work without supervision.

However, when an LSW is in training for the higher license, they need what the Board terms “training supervision”.

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers a CSWE-accredited online Master's in Social Work. The GRE is not required to apply to the MSW@USC program. A Bachelor's degree is required. Learn more about this program.

Earn your Master of Social Work online from Simmons College School of Social Work (SocialWork@Simmons) in as little as 15 months. CSWE-accredited. No GRE required Request information about the program.

MSW@Denver is the online Master of Social Work program from the top-20–ranked University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW). The program is for students who earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work. GRE scores are not required. Request information.

Becoming an SWA in Ohio

An SWA must have, at minimum, a social service technology degree. The Ohio Board defines this as a degree that includes 30 semester hours of courses in social services/social work and 14 semester hours of supporting courses like sociology, psychology, and economics. There must be a practicum. Applicants must have at least a C- in required courses.

A licensing exam is not required, but candidates must take the online jurisprudence exam.

The application is $40.

ASWB Clinical and Advanced Generalist Exam Requirement Update

The Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board determined that beginning July 1, 2016, social work grad students will be required to wait two years prior to taking the ASWB Clinical or Advanced Generalist exam.

Social Workers will have to demonstrate they have completed two years of supervised Social Work practice as a Licensed Social Worker.

Becoming an LSW in Ohio

An LSW must have a degree at the baccalaureate level or higher from a social work program that is housed in an accredited institution.*

When it’s time to do field work, the student may be required to have a criminal background check and fill out paperwork to receive trainee status.

The prospective social worker must eventually take a licensing exam through the ASWB. The candidate may take it in the last term or wait until after the candidate has graduated. Master’s students have traditionally been allowed to take either the bachelor's level examination or the higher level examination that will be required for licensure at the independent level. Beginning June 30, 2016, the Board will stop granting students authorization to take the clinical or advanced generalist exam; prospective LISWs will not be able to test at this level until they have completed two years of supervised practice.

The application at this level is $60. The exam will cost $230 or $260, depending on what level the candidate attempts.

*Degree requirements are detailed in Chapter 4757-19 of state code.

LISW Requirements in Ohio

In order to be eligible for LISW licensing, a candidate must have a master’s from a social work program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or is a candidate for such. The candidate will later take steps to become licensed as an LSW. As an LSW, the candidate will work under supervision. The candidate must accrue at least 3,000 hours over a period of not less than two years.

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 LSW must have regular meetings with someone who can guide the professional development. The candidate will need 150 face-to-face supervision hours over the course of the 3,000 hours. This comes to one hour per 20 worked. There is only one acceptable credential for a training supervisor: an LISW-S. This title signifies an independent social worker who has earned a supervisor designation.

The supervisee must log the training supervision hours – the Ohio Board carries out audits on 10% of applications.

At the end of the training period, the supervisor will fill out a professional reference form.

Any candidate who did not take a higher level licensing exam before becoming an LWS will need to do so before the LISW license can be issued. The clinical exam is for clinical social workers. The advanced generalist exam is for non-clinical social workers.

The LISW application fee is $75.

The Application Process

Applicants at any level must have a criminal background check and pass an online exam of relevant laws and rules. Candidates need Board approval to take the licensing exam. Applications can be submitted online. Supplemental forms can be downloaded from the site of the Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Family Therapist Board. (Click Here to access the application for LSW licensure).

Social Worker Licensure Board and Professional Organization(s)

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 Ohio.

Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board

NASW – Ohio