Indiana now licenses social workers at three levels: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker, Licensed Social Worker, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Credentialing of Licensed Bachelor Social Workers went into effect in 2017. Licensure is based on education and examination.
Master’s educated social workers can be licensed at the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) level on the basis of education and examination. There is no experience requirement for this credential. The LCSW, on the other hand, is reserved for social workers who have completed master’s degrees and have met additional stringent requirements.
Education and Examination Requirements
Education and examination are the foundation for licensure at all levels. The qualifying degree is to come from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or is a candidate for said accreditation.
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Graduate level social work programs can have may different areas of emphasis. Indiana has set specific requirements for clinical coursework. The following topics are each to be represented through a three semester hour course:
• Clinical theory and practice
• Group practice
• Practice evaluation/ research
• Practice with diverse populations
• Family practice
• Behavior within the social environment
The individual will need to have completed a clinical practicum.
Licensure at the LSW or LCSW level requires examination. Licensure at the LBSW level does as well, unless the individual qualifies for an exemption by virtue of experience; this option is for the initial transition period.
All examinations are administered by the Association of Social Work Boards. A prospective LCSW will take the clinical examination. A prospective LSW will take the master’s examination. A prospective LBSW will take the bachelor’s level exam. However, a person with two years of experience in human services and behavioral health may be granted an exemption from taking the bachelor’s exam if he or she submits an application before July 1, 2018. (The person will still need to have graduated from a CSWE-accredited program.) The examination at this level costs $230.
A prospective Idaho social worker will need approval to take the licensing exam but can be granted a temporary license to work as a social worker pending examination. A temporary license is valid through one examination attempt.
Re-examination requires reapplication. After several failures, a candidate will need to appear before the Board if he or she still wishes to pursue licensure.
Post-degree experience takes the form of paid employment. Employment may take place in any of many settings. The licensing agency notes the following among them: social service agencies, schools, employee assistance programs.
After receiving his or her qualifying degree, the prospective LCSW will work under supervision for a minimum of two years. 1,500 hours can be credited as a year. Part-time work can be considered for licensing purposes. However, the number of hours required may be greater.
A master’s graduate seeking LCSW licensure will need to be supervised by an LCSW. The supervisee will need at least four hours a month of face-to-face supervisor contact.
In some cases, a person will have more than one supervisor across the work experience period. The licensing agency will seek verification from former supervisors as well as current ones.
The application packet includes information about documenting work experience.
The LSW Pathway for BSWs
Some individuals with bachelor’s degrees in social work did opt for licensure pre-2017, following a different pathway.
The old pathway remains a licensing option until July of 2019. A person with a Bachelor of Social Work can achieve LSW if he or she has two years of qualifying supervised practice. The requirement can be met with a total of 3,000 hours of post-baccalaureate experience. The LSW is dependent on taking an examination more often associated with licensure at the master’s level.
Candidates with questions may wish to email or call the licensing agency.
Applicants are expected to supply license verification from all past or current states of licensure. This includes licenses to practice professions other than social work. The licensing agency notes the requirement applies to any regulated profession.
In many cases, out-of-state social workers can be licensed by reciprocity. A social worker will need to have passed the required exam at some point in the past. Although it will not be necessary to retake the licensing exam, the endorsement candidate will need to take a test on state laws and rules.
The current standards for licensing out-of-state social workers went into effect in 2017.
The Application Process
The applicant will need a small head-and-shoulders photograph made.
Transcripts are to come directly from the program. This is also the case with supervisor verification.
There is a $50 application fee.
The prospective licensee must have a national fingerprint-based criminal background check. Under current policy, this step must be completed after application. (Prospective applicants can check the application form for the most recent information.) The application includes background screening information so the applicant will already have provided information about any adverse history.
An approved examination candidate can visit the ASWB website or call Candidate Services at (888) 579-3926 to register. The candidate can then schedule an appointment at a Pearson VUE testing center.
Online CSWE-Accredited option: Online Master’s of Social Work
Indiana social workers are regulated by the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board, operating under the banner of the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (https://www.in.gov/pla/3030.htm). The licensing agency can be reached at (317) 234-2054 or ‘pla8 at pla.IN.gov’.
Licensees have continuing education requirements. The length of the first licensure period will determine how many units (if any) the person is responsible for during that cycle.