According to the National Association of Social Worker website:
When social work was developing as a profession, licensure was not established in all states in the U.S. Credentialing for the field of social work grew out of the need to regulate practice and provide social workers with a means to identify their level of expertise. Now all 50 states regulate licensure, however, many social workers still take advantage of the NASW credentials as a means of professional identification.
The National Association of Social Workers (the largest professional organization of social workers) has provided social workers with credentialing services for over 40 years. Some of the credentials that you will see their members obtain are Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW), Qualified Clinical Social Worker (QCSW), and Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW).
According to the Association of Social Work Board:
All 50 states regulate social work practice. Whatever state you decide to work as a social worker, you should obtain licensure. It is the law and it identifies your level of education and social work experience for the public. The application process often involves submitting an application, school transcripts, passing a state background check, and passing an exam.
The majority of states have several different levels of licensure that correlates with your level of education (BSW, MSW or DSW) and experience (no years of experience to several years of post Master's experience).
The Association of Social Work Boards is the organization that produces the required licensure examinations for 49 states. California contracts with a different vendor. Click here to review California's specific licensing requirements.
The process of applying for licensure involves:
According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Community Affairs:
The State of Michigan has two different levels of licensure for MSW graduates - the limited license (LLMSW) and full license (LMSW). The State also identifies social workers by area of practice- clinical or macro practice. The Limited License is the first level of licensure for MSW graduates. It is valid for one year and renewable up to six times. It may take up to 4-6 weeks for the State to approve your application so start the process several weeks prior to graduation.
The requirements to obtain a Limited License in Michigan are:
The requirements to obtain Full Licensure in Michigan (which occurs after several years of post MSW experience) are:
To obtain more information about licensure in the State of Michigan, visit the Department of Licensing and Community Affairs website.
The ASWB creates the social work licensing exams, provides information about each of the state requirements for licensing and Continuing Education, has resources regarding legal practices, and offers preparation materials for the licensing exam. For more information, please visit: www.aswb.org.
The SWES is the most popular resource for licensing exam preparation. It offers courses and books to study for the exam. For more information, please visit: www.swes.net.
This board offers clinical social workers certification in areas, such as children and families, psychoanalysis, clinical supervision, and advanced generalist practice. For more information, please visit: www.abecsw.org.