South Dakota licenses social work professionals at multiple levels. The license depends on the level of education and examination and, at the highest level, on attainment of qualifying experience. Only individuals with degrees in social work or social welfare can be licensed as social workers. Others, though, can be licensed as social work associates.
Licensure at all levels is by examination. The prospective license will take the examination after application.
Social Worker Educational Attainment and License Eligibility
Professionals with accredited bachelor’s degrees in social work or social welfare can be licensed at the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) level. The degree is to come from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work. In South Dakota, students who enroll in programs that hold candidacy through the CSWE but have not yet become accredited run some risk of not being eligible for licensure if the program itself fails to meet CSWE standards.
Professionals with accredited master’s (Master’s of Social Work programs in South Dakota) or doctoral degrees can earn the title of Certified Social Worker (CSW) and, after meeting additional requirements, progress to the level of Certified Social Worker-Private Independent Practice (CSW-PIP). They may be qualified in any of multiple areas; the specialization may be psychotherapy but could be another area like community organization or planning.
There are multiple areas of concentration at the graduate level. Prospective social workers can carry out their search on the CSWE website (https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx). A graduate will be eligible for licensure as a CSW shortly after graduation. He or she will be eligible to work as a social worker, but must have supervision approved.
A person is eligible for licensure as a Social Work Associate with a non-social work bachelor’s degree or with an associate degree that is specifically in social services. Associates work under the supervision of social workers. A social work associate will have will have at least four hours of supervision a month.
Supervised Practice for CSW-PIP License
South Dakota statute mandates that a social worker who will be certified for private and independent practice have two years of experience; the experience is to be in the field of specialization (psychotherapy, community organization, planning). The social worker will be licensed as a CSW during the supervision period. Supervision is to be pre-approved; the supervisee will work under a supervision contract. The supervisor will note his or her areas of expertise and confirm that he or she will carry out certain responsibilities.
The prospective PIP will have a supervisor who is a CSW-PIP or psychiatrist or psychologist. The supervisee will have at least four hours of supervision a month; a portion of the supervision can take place in a group format.
The supervisee will have periodic evaluations. The Board has provided forms to be used at 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-month benchmarks. The supervisee should receive a copy of evaluations.
At the end of the supervision period, the supervisor will also submit a completion of supervision form.
The Application Process
The social worker application fee is $130 to $210, depending on level; prospective social work associates pay just $90.
The prospective licensee will submit an application and cover letter. Both are available for download in the forms section of the Board website (https://dss.sd.gov/licensingboards/social.aspx). The cover letter confirms that the applicant has read the pertinent laws and understands procedures and ramifications of application.
The applicant is to request official transcripts that show his or her highest qualifying degree.
The Board will need three references. Ideally, these will come from professionals with different agency affiliations.
Applications require notarization.
Candidates will, once approved, make arrangements on their own to test. Currently, testing is offered in South Dakota in Sioux Falls. Candidates may test anywhere in the United States – and sometimes beyond. They can search for testing centers on the Pearson VUE website (https://wsr.pearsonvue.com/testtaker/registration/SelectTestCenterProximity/ASWB/1345526).
Candidates may make a limited number of retakes without re-application. Retakes, however, necessitate payment of another fee to the ASWB. There is a 90-day wait period (http://dss.sd.gov/licensingboards/socialwork_licensing.aspx).
License renewal is biennial. Because licenses expire on a set date, the first renewal period is typically shorter. Renewal fees are equal to the initial application fee.
Out-of-State Social Workers
Social workers must provide license verification from all states where they have held licensing. The Board notes that they will need to contact the licensing agency in the other state(s).
The Board can license out-of-state social workers without further examination if they have passed the appropriate examination and otherwise meet requirements found in state code. Applicants will need to provide transcripts. Applicants for licensure at the PIP level are expected to provide verification of supervision.
The prospective South Dakota licensee is to submit his or her license application at least 30 days before a scheduled Board meeting. The Board notes that individuals seeking supervisor verification may wish to inform the professionals they contact of the date by which materials must be received.
South Dakota social work professionals are licensed by the South Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners (http://dss.sd.gov/licensingboards/social.aspx). The Board can be reached at (605) 642-1600.