Steps to Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in PA
(Note: Other states may have their own procedures. Check that state's social work licensing board website.)
Qualifications to take the ASWB Master's Examination
First go to the website of the
PA State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors
and print out the: "APPLICATION FOR A LICENSE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL WORK" form.
To be eligible for the ASWB Master's examination, the applicant must be in the final semester or hold
a Master's Degree or a Doctoral Degree in social work or social welfare from a school accredited by the
Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
If the applicant is in his/her final semester, have the CSWE-accredited school dean or registrar or
department chair complete the section: Verification of Social Work Education for Applicants Enrolled
in Their Final Semester. The form must be sent directly from the educational institution to the Board
in an official sealed school envelope.
**In order for a license to be issued, after graduation, an
official transcript showing a Master's degree in social work or social welfare must be sent directly
from the educational institution to the Board in an official sealed school envelope.**
For an applicant that has graduated and received a Master's degree, request an official transcript
showing a Master's degree in social work or social welfare to be sent directly from the educational
institution to the Board.
The applicant will then receive notification from the PA Board of Social Workers that their
application to take the examination has been approved. The applicant can then go to the
Association of Social Work Boards website to
register for the exam at a place and time that is convenient to them. There are hundreds of testing
sites across the country. All states (except California) and all U.S. territories accept the ASWB
Master's Level Exam as evidence of competence to be licensed at the first level of licensure (in
PA: LSW or Licensed Social Worker).
- Preparing for the exam:
The ASWB website, at which you register
for the exam, has a number of study tools to help prepare you for the exam. You can enroll
in an online preparatory course and even take a sample online exam. You can also order a
hard copy study guide.
You can also take a day long preparatory course from the National Association of Social
Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter. You can find information about when and where licensure
prep courses are being offered by going to:
www.nasw-pa.org. There is a fee for
There are also other preparatory courses offered online or in person via other, commercial
organizations. The WCU, MSW Program does not vouch for the quality of these other programs.
Qualifications to then receive a licence to practice Social Work at the LSW level in PA
Once you have taken and passed the ASWB Master's Exam, have ASWB send your test score to the PA
State Board of Social Workers (or whatever state board you wish to be licensed by).
Once the state board has verified that you have graduated from a CSWE-accredited MSW Program and have
passed the ASWB Master's Level Exam, you will be issued a license at the LSW level.
Qualifications to practice Social Work at the Clinical (LCSW) level in PA
An LSW wishing to become licensed at the clinical level in Pennsylvania must be employed for a minimum of
two years and 3,000 hours of clinical work. For every 40 hours worked, 2 hours of supervision must be
documented by a qualified professional. Half of the hours worked (1500) must be supervised by a licensed
clinical social worker (LCSW). Half of the hours (1500) may be supervised by a licensed, clinical
psychologist or psychiatrist or other qualified, mental health professional. For detailed guidelines
as to the number of hours, types of work activities that qualify, and required qualifications of the
supervisor, the applicant is advised to go to the website of the
PA State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors.
Once the supervised work experience is accomplished, the LSW must then secure the form, "Application for
a License by Examination to Practice Clinical Social Work" from the website and follow directions for
documentation of supervised, clinical work experience, post LSW.
The applicant, once receiving word from the PA Board that their materials were received and documented,
can then go to the ASWB website to register for the
Clinical Examination. There are study guides and preparatory courses for the clinical examination available
through ASWB and/or NASW-PA, as well.
Note: many social workers do not go on to get their LCSW level of licensure - particularly if they are
serving in the public sector or in macro-social work. If you are in a private or non-profit group practice
or in private practice, then you will want to obtain the LCSW for purposes of your fees being reimbursed
by insurance companies, Medicaid or Medicare.
Questions? You can contact Dr. Nadine Bean, who currently serves on the PA State Board of Social Workers,
Marriage & Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors at: firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also Frequently
Asked Questions on the PA State Board website: