The details of the licensing process can look very different from state to state, and so can license titles. In Michigan, the title ‘Licensed Master Social Worker’ represents full licensure at the clinical or macro level. It is the state’s highest license.
Michigan sets supervised practice requirements a little higher than many states. There is a supervised practice requirement for full licensure as a social worker at any level; this includes the bachelor’s designation, Licensed Bachelor Social Worker. Social workers hold limited licenses while accruing hours. Those at the bachelor’s level are termed LLBSWs; those at the master’s level, LLMSWs.
While it is necessary to have a degree in social work to become a Michigan social worker, the Social Service Technician designation is within reach of many individuals who do not meet this requirement. The Bureau of Professional Licensing has provided a grid delineating activities permitted by individuals with different levels of licensing (LMSW-Macro, LMSW-Clinical, LBSW, and SST). Limited license holders have essentially the same scope but practice under different conditions.
Educational Foundations for Licensing as a Social Worker
Limited licensure is dependent on attainment of a qualifying degree. The degree is to be at the bachelor’s level for the LBSW, at the master’s or doctoral level for the LMSW (Master’s in Social Work programs in Michigan). Accreditation is to be through the Council on Social Work Education, or CSWE.
Supervised Practice Requirements for Full Licensure as a Social Worker
Full licensure as an LBSW or LMSW is granted only after completion of at least 4,000 hours of post-degree supervised practice; the minimum timeframe is two years. The actual timeframe may vary quite a bit. LMSW regulations state that a supervisee at this level may be employed between 16 and 40 hours a week. The licensing agency can credit no more than 2,000 hours a year. License holders are allowed to renew for up to six years.
The supervisor of record will be an LMSW (unless an exception has been granted due to severe hardship). The Bureau of Professional Licensing notes in its FAQ that this professional will not necessarily be an employee of the agency that employs the supervisee. Supervisory sessions, moreover, may utilize telecommunications.
An LLMSW should be supervised by an LMSW who is licensed in the specialization where the supervisee will be concentrating practice — in other words, clinical or macro. The Board notes the following among the types of experience that might be credited toward the macro designation: administrative and managerial duties performed for social service organizations, research and evaluation, and utilization of the legislative or social action/ advocacy processes to achieve social justice. The following are noted among those that are creditable toward the clinical designation: carrying out psychotherapy, providing case management for complex and high risk cases, and carrying out functions of forensic practice.
An applicant can receive credit for out-of-state supervision if supervisor and supervisee were both credentialed at the expected level.
A social worker can receive a second specialty later by completing another 2,000 hours; the minimum timeframe is one year. The social worker will need 50 additional hours of supervisory review. (The second specialty designation also depends on passing a second examination.)
Examination Requirements for Full Licensure
Social workers will need to pass an examination to achieve full licensure. They can take the exam while working under limited licensure status. At the LBSW level, the required examination is the bachelor’s level exam offered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). At the LMSW level, the candidate will take the ASWB clinical or advanced generalist examination, whichever is appropriate. The advanced generalist examination is used for the macro designation. The ASWB master’s level examination is not utilized in Michigan.
Approved candidates will need to go through the ASWB to pay fees and schedule testing. Candidate handbooks are available for download from the ASWB website (https://www.aswb.org/).
Individuals who have already taken the required exam are directed to contact the ASWB to arrange to have their score reports sent to Michigan.
The Application Process
Application forms can be downloaded from the website of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-72600_72603_27529_27554—,00.html).
Official transcripts are to be sent directly to the licensing agency. The school may send them via email using the address found in the application packet.
Applicants are required to have fingerprint-based criminal background checks unless they have already done so for another Michigan health professions license.
A social worker who completes requirements for full licensure while working under limited licensure will submit an application for re-classification.
Michigan charges $41.60 for initial licensure. The fee is $15.60 to add a specialty.
Out-of-state social workers can be endorsed into Michigan if they are in good standing and the requirements are at least substantially equivalent to those of Michigan.
Social Service Technician Requirements
Michigan also issues Social Service Technician registration. According to a licensing guide last updated in 2017, this confers title protection.
There are multiple paths to Social Service Technician (SST) credentialing: education and experience. An individual may qualify with an associate’s degree in social work. A social service worker can accrue 2,000 hours while working under a limited license. SSTs work under ongoing supervision.
Michigan social workers are licensed by the Bureau of Professional Licensing (https://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-72600_72603_27529_27554—,00.html).
The Board of Social Work operates as part of the Bureau. Administrative code can be found on the website of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (http://dmbinternet.state.mi.us/DMB/DTMBORR/AdminCode.aspx?AdminCode=Department&Dpt=LR&Level_1=Bureau+of+Professional+Licensing).