Illinois social workers must hold state licensing unless they fall under exception categories noted in state code. Illinois recognizes two levels of social work license: Licensed Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. The Licensed Social Worker (LSW) credential may be earned by individuals with social work education at either the bachelor’s or graduate level. The process will take longer for those who hold only a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential requires education at the graduate level. It is in all cases, it is a credential that requires considerable practice beyond the degree level.
LCSW Licensing Requirements
A prospective LCSW will earn an approved master’s or doctoral degree. A master’s degree program will be approved if it accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (See: Master’s of Social Work Programs in Illinois). International programs that are approved by the CSWE Foreign Equivalency Determination Service will also be approved in Illinois. Doctoral programs in social work, meanwhile, should be acceptable if they hold some accreditation recognized by the United States Department of Education.
An individual with a master’s degree in social work will need at least three years of post-degree supervised practice. An individual with a doctoral degree will need at least two years of post-degree practice. The graduate is to accrue qualifying experience at a rate somewhere between 15 and 40 hours a week. The licensing agency expects an average of four hours a month of supervisory meetings. In some cases, supervisory meetings will include more than one professional who is under supervision.
The supervisor is to be an LCSW; current state code allows the supervisee to contract with a supervisor. In other cases, though, there will be an appropriate supervisor employed by the agency. Social workers who completed their supervised practice in the distant past, though, may have been supervised by social workers who did not hold this license. There are provisions in place for licensees who completed their supervised practice in past eras. State administrative code also makes provisions for those who completed practice in jurisdictions where there was no licensing.
Licensure depends on evaluation; the prospective LCSW is to be rated at least satisfactory.
The foundation for LSW practice is a social work degree at the bachelor’s level or higher.
In order to achieve LSW licensing, a person with a BSW in social work must have three years of social work experience under qualifying supervision.
There are multiple social worker credentials that may be accepted as adequate for a supervisor of BSW practice. In the case of pre-LSW supervision, too, the licensing agency will look for an average of four hours a month and a rating of at least satisfactory.
Provided the master’s graduate completes all steps in a timely manner, he or she will be ready for licensure very soon after graduation.
The Examination Process
Examination is a prerequisite for licensure. The required examination at the LSW level is the Association of Social work Boards (ASWB) masters examination. The required examination at the LCSW level is the ASWB clinical examination.
A candidate applies for examination by submitting a license application. An approved candidate can register with the ASWB (www.aswb.org). He or she will be sent an ASWB which authorizes self-scheduling through Pearson VUE. Examinations are computer-delivered and are available by appointment on an ongoing basis.
The examination costs $230 at the masters level, $260 at the clinical level. Candidate guides can be downloaded from the ASWB website.
Individuals who have passed the examination at the appropriate level and are otherwise qualified can apply to the Board for licensure on the basis of acceptance of examination scores.
The Application Process
Application packets can be downloaded from the website of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (https://www.idfpr.com/profs/SocialWorker.asp).
Applicants who have legal issues in their background will submit explanatory materials.
The application packet includes forms that are to be used to verify education and work experience.
Applicants who have held social work licensing in other states will need verification from both the initial state of licensure and the current state.
Endorsement applicants are directed to submit a copy of the laws and rules under which they were initially licensed.
An individual who is applying for licensure or by acceptance of examination scores pays $50. An individual applying for license by endorsement pays $200.
Currently, licenses come up for renewal on odd-numbered years.
Illinois social workers are licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The main licensing page includes a link to use for email contact. Applicants with questions may call 1-800-560-6420.
Licensure is governed by statute and administrative rule. The Director of the Division of Professional Regulation may opt to grant a waiver for some requirement when it is not against state law and when it appears the best course of action in an individual situation.
The Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers is an additional resource. NASW-IL has provided an outline of steps needed to achieve licensure (http://naswil.org/social-work-practice/licensure/).