Social Work

Regulatory Responsibility:  Although a national exam is required, the state board, or council grants Social Worker (SW) licenses. Clinical social workers are always licensed and/or certified. In most states, master’s level social workers are licensed whether or not they are in clinical practice. Each state has the responsibility of determining the titles professionals can use and the scope of practice they are allowed.

Social Worker titles vary. A Licensed Social Worker (LSW) doesn’t always mean the same thing when one crosses state lines. Sometimes it signifies baccalaureate level practice, sometimes master’s level practice. The highest level of practice is generally termed “independent”, “clinical” or “independent clinical”. They may be abbreviated LISW, LCSW, or LICSW. Some states have both an “independent” and “independent clinical” category. The paths may begin to diverge during the student years.  To find the social work requirements in each state see:  »

Accreditation:  The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredits baccalaureate and master's level social work programs within the United States.  Most states mandate CSWE accreditation.

Exam:  The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is responsible for the national social work examination required by nearly all social work regulatory boards and colleges.  »

Steps to Licensure:

  1. Complete an accredited program
  2. Take and pass national exam
  3. Apply for state licensure

graphic illustration of steps to become accredited for social work in Kansas. Steps are listed just prior to this graphic.

Licensed Social Worker Kansas Requirements and Licensure Information   »