Texas issues three social work licenses. The state also issues several ‘recognitions’; these provide additional validation of expertise obtained by nonclinical social workers.
The Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker and Licensed Master Social Worker credentials are awarded on the basis of education and examination. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker credential requires a period of supervised work experience, as does Advanced Practice Recognition and Independent Practice Recognition.
Texas, unlike many states, makes the independent practice designation within reach of social workers at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Each social work license and recognition, though, carries its own scope of practice (https://www.dshs.texas.gov/socialwork/sw_scope.shtm).
Social Work Educational Standards
A prospective LBSW or LMSW will pursue a particular type of education. The educational standard at the LMSW level is a master’s degree (Master’s in Social work programs in Texas) or doctoral degree. Degree programs at the master’s level must be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Degree programs at the doctoral level must be housed in accredited institutions and must be found acceptable by the Texas Board; the institutional accreditation may come from any of multiple agencies.
The educational standard at the LBSW level is a CSWE-accredited bachelor’s degree.
Current state rule also permits programs in CSWE candidacy status. Candidacy is a preliminary stage for programs seeking accreditation. The Board will seek documentation of status.
Education that was completed somewhere other than a U.S. state or territory can be accepted if the CSWE determines it is equivalent.
Examination Standards and Procedures
Prospective Texas licensees will take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) examination corresponding to their desired license category. The LMSW-AP recognition also carries an examination requirement. Examinations are as follows:
- LBSW: Bachelors
- LMSW: Masters
- LMSW-AP: Advanced Generalist
- LCSW: Clinical
The examination step is carried out after application. Texas does allow LBSW and LMSW social workers to seek employment under temporary licensing.
Individuals in their final semesters can, with appropriate documentation from the dean, seek testing approval. However, neither a temporary or permanent license can be granted until educational requirements have been met.
An approved candidate will contact the ASWB directly. He or she should be prepared to pay an examination fee (currently $230 at the LBSW or LMSW level). The examination can be scheduled by appointment at any of many locations.
Texas places some restrictions on retakes. A single failure means the individual loses the opportunity to work under the temporary license but does not prevent them from registering again for the exam. Repeated failures will mean that additional requirements will be imposed, and, in some cases, opportunities.
Texas has an alternate program for individuals who have, on at least two occasions, come very near the passing score yet failed. This is referred to as the Alternate Method of Examining Competency (AMEC) Program.
Texas also requires a jurisprudence exam for licensure at any level (https://www.dshs.texas.gov/socialwork/sw_Jurisprudence.shtm). This can be completed online.
Supervised Social Work Experience
A prospective Licensed Clinical Social Worker needs 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience. So does a social worker who is seeking advanced or independent recognition. Professional experience for the LCSW is to be completed in two to four years. Professional experience for independent recognition is to be completed in two to five years.
A social worker who is working toward a higher level of licensing or recognition will have a particular type of supervision, designed to foster professional growth. This is separate and apart from the administrative supervision that stake place in the workplace. The Texas Board has rules in place to assure there are not conflicts of interest. A supervision plan is due at the onset.
The supervisee will need to be in a position where he or she will be carrying out duties appropriate for the license or recognition sought. He or she will submit a job description at the onset. A social worker who is in more than one position will submit one for each.
Supervisor credentials will vary by level of licensing sought.
A supervisee will need 100 hours of supervision across the supervisory period. It is generally preferred that the supervisor and supervisee are present in the same place for many of their meetings. However, supervision can be approved that utilizes secure and appropriate technological tools. This is among the topics tha will be addressed in the supervisory plan.
Out-of-State Social Workers
Out-of-state supervised experience can at least be considered if it met standards and requirements in the jurisdiction where it was obtained.
Out-of-state licensees who have already taken the exam will not be expected to retake it.
Endorsement is granted on a case-by-case basis (https://www.dshs.texas.gov/socialwork/sw_apply.shtm).
The Application Process
Applications can be accessed from the Board website (https://www.dshs.texas.gov/socialwork/sw_forms.shtm). Applicants will find a range of supplemental documents from application checklists to forms that will be used in the supervisory process. Social workers who seek higher licensing or recognition will apply for upgrade.
The Board will require official transcripts of new applicants and of applicants who are upgrading from LBSW to LMSW.
Social work employment history will be required at each level.
The Board will, in the case of applicants who have held licensing in other jurisdictions, seek license verification.
The applicant will provide a copy of his or her ID.
The application fee is $20 at all levels. Licensing fee range from $60 to $100; recognitions carry an additional $20 fee.
Licensing information can be found on the website of the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners (http://www.dshs.texas.gov/socialwork/). The Board can be reached by email at ‘lsw at dshs.texas.gov’ or by telephone at (512) 719-3521 or (800)232-3162.
Rules are revised periodically. There were revisions made in 2017.