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Florida licenses social workers at the master’s level. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential is a mental health license. The Florida Board also offers a social work license that is geared toward administrative work: Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW).
Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern is an interim credential for social work graduates who are meeting their post-master practice requirements for clinical licensure.
While Florida does not license baccalaureate social workers, there are accredited Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) programs in Florida. They are appropriate for entry-level work. Earning an accredited BSW can also shorten one’s path to achieving an MSW.
The prospective social work licensee will enroll in a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work program in Florida (or in a doctoral program). This standard is the same whether one is planning a clinical or administrative career. There are differentiated educational requirements for the two license categories, however. Notably, a person must have a clinical practicum, internship, or other field experience in order to continue the process toward clinical licensure.
There is also specific course content required for each track. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker will need a course in psychopathology and at least 24 semester hours (32 quarter hours) of clinically oriented coursework in human behavior and practice methods. The licensing agency notes that the following topics are not considered clinically oriented: administration, policy, organization, communities.
In some cases, though, applicants can receive credit for some clinical coursework that was completed while they were still bachelor’s students. This applies to LCSW applicants who began their CSWE-accredited social work education at the bachelor’s level and then were granted advanced placement in master’s programs. They will, at the time of application, provide information from their school about clinical courses that were not required at the master’s level because the requirement was considered to have been already met.
A person can apply at the intern level even if he falls somewhat short of the clinical coursework requirement; the minimum is currently set as 15 semester hours (22 quarter hours). The remaining requirements will need to be met before the Board can authorize examination or issue an LCSW license.
Required courses for Certified Master Social Worker are as follows:
- Program planning and evaluation
- Agency administration and supervision
- Human services advocacy
- Social planning
- Community services
- Community organization
- Staff development
The above courses are to be three semester hours.
There are addition minor state-specific requirements that can be met through continuing education. A short laws and rules course is required prior to licensure as an LCSW or CMSW– this class is just eight hours.
A Florida social worker will also need CE courses in domestic violence and HIV/AIDS, if not before licensure very soon after. These classes are even shorter.
The required exam for the LCSW is the clinical exam. The required exam for the LMSW is the advanced generalist. Examination candidates will seek Board approval, then register with the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Exams are multiple choice. The Board notes that they can be scheduled Monday through Saturday at any of many sites — not just in Florida but around the world. A Florida candidate becomes eligible when all coursework is completed. A prospective LCSW will typically receive a letter at the time of internship that grants approval. In circumstances where an individual receives an initial credential without the approval, he or she may contact the Department of Health when ready (http://floridasmentalhealthprofessions.gov/resources/exam-schedule).
A prospective LCSW will need two years of experience, all at the post-master level. At least 1,500 are to be spent face-to-face with clients providing psychotherapy. The supervisee is to have, at minimum, an hour of supervision every two weeks. The person will need to have found a clinical supervisor before a credential can be granted at the intern level.
A social worker may be exempted from documenting supervision on the basis of out-of-state licensure and active practice.
A prospective LMSW will need three total years of experience, at least two of them post-master. The supervisor may be either an LMSW or CMSW.
Provisional Clinical Licensure
An individual who has had two years of post-master experience in another state but does not meet Florida’s requirements for LCSW may apply for a provisional license. This authorizes practice under supervision. This will be the initial license for an LCSW applicant who has not yet passed the ASWB clinical exam.
The Application Process
Prospective LCSWs who are meeting their initial requirements in Florida will first apply at the intern level.
Applicants may request the forms they need for application; requests can be accessed from the licensing page for the particular level sought (http://floridasmentalhealthprofessions.gov/licensing/). Applicants in some licensing categories may also find a PDF of the application available for download. Application packets include various forms that may need to be completed by third parties.
The applicant will provide educational documentation when he or she first applies for licensure or registration. He or she will need to request official transcripts. Prospective clinical interns will document their field experience or practicum; this documentation is also to come straight from the school.
An intern who is applying for LCSW will fill out the top portion of the experience verification form and give it to his or her supervisor. An applicant who accrued experience out-of-state but is not eligible for endorsement will also verify his or her supervisor’s credentials.
The application fee LMSW is $50. There is a separate $150 fee for licensure. Endorsement applicants pay a higher application fee: $150. There is a separate $5 activity fee.
Those seeking intern registration pay a $150 fee. At the LCSW level, there is a $100 application fee and $105 licensing fee. There is an additional $100 charge for those who need a provisional license.
Information is available from the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling (http://floridasmentalhealthprofessions.gov/licensing). The Customer Contact Center can be reached at (850) 488-0595. Applicants may utilize the online contact form (http://floridasmentalhealthprofessions.gov/contact/).
There is an additional application process for those who wish to become qualified as supervisors.