According to Vermont statute, a person must have a degree in social work in order to call himself or herself a social worker. There are different levels of social work, though, and Vermont licenses only some levels. The state does not, as of 2018, have a licensing option for bachelor’s level social workers.
There are two licenses: Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). LICSW is considered a specialty area of master’s social work practice. It authorizes psychotherapy. Some social workers hold the LMSW as a transitional license while meeting requirements for LICSW. The LMSW can also be a long-term credential for social workers whose duties fall outside the clinical social work arena.
Social Work Education
In order to achieve licensing, one must earn a master’s (Master’s in Social Work programs in Vermont) or doctoral degree from a program that is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE) or its equivalent. The CSWE maintains a directory of accredited programs (https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx).
Supervised Practice for LICSW
The prospective LICSW will need to accrue 3,000 hours of supervised experience. The minimum timeframe for supervision is two years. At least half the required hours are to be accrued within the five-year period before the individual completes his or her licensing requirements. An individual who is working part-time must work at least 16 hours a week in order to credit his or her hours.
No fewer than 2,000 hours are to be spent in the direct provision of psychotherapeutic social work services. Direct services may include some time spent in client-directed consultation. The licensing agency classifies general consultation as an indirect service. State rule includes a list of direct and indirect services.
The supervisee will need an hour of supervision for every 30 hours worked. Vermont permits clinical supervision by psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health counselors as well as by clinical social workers. Supervisors must, however, meet experience standards. The supervisor will have experience appropriate to the practice area.
Supervision is to be face-to-face, but the licensing agency can accept supervision carried out through electronic systems that are HIPAA compliant. A portion of the supervision can take place in a group setting. Vermont can credit supervised experience that takes place in other states or provinces, but the individual will need to verify the supervisor’s credentials.
The clinical supervisor will submit a supervision report to the licensing office.
The Examination Process
Examinations are administered by the Association of Social Work Boards. Prospective social workers take the licensing examination appropriate to their level. For LMSWs, this is the Masters Examination; for LCSWs, it is the Clinical Examination.
A social worker can expect to take two examinations en route to the LICSW.
The Vermont Office of Professional Regulation will grant authorization after application. The candidate may take the examination in Vermont or elsewhere. It is administered via computer and is available by appointment at authorized sites around the nation.
In some cases, an applicant will have already taken the examination. There is a time limit, though, on acceptance of examination scores.
Out-of-State Social Workers
There are multiple avenues open to out-of-state applicants. Vermont permits endorsement of social workers who are licensed in U.S. or Canadian territories, provided licensing standards are determined to be substantially equivalent.
A social worker from a U.S. or Canadian jurisdiction where standards are not substantially equivalent can still qualify by the ‘five year rule’. The social worker will need to have met active practice requirements for at least five years; the minimum requirement is 1,200 hours. Among the requirements for licensure by ‘five year rule’: the absence of disciplinary history in any state where the social worker has licensure.
The Application Process
Application forms can be found on the website of the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation (https://www.sec.state.vt.us/professional-regulation/list-of-professions/social-workers/forms-instructions.aspx).
Applicants who are applying for license by examination will need to submit official transcripts; they should request that their school send them directly to the Office of Professional Regulation.
Those who are applying for LICSW by examination should have the ASWB submit their Masters Examination results.
The applicant will need to submit answers to the state jurisprudence exam; this is also available for download in the forms section. The purpose of the exam is to demonstrate familiarity with laws and rules. Applicants who have too many errors will be required to re-submit the exam. An applicant who makes any errors is encouraged to review those items.
There is a $100 application fee.
Licenses are renewed on a two year schedule. Continuing education requirements are delineated in Part 6 of Administrative Rule (https://www.sec.state.vt.us/professional-regulation/list-of-professions/social-workers/statutes-rules.aspx). The continuing education requirement is higher at the LCSW level than at the LMSW level. (There are also some differences in the type of continuing education activity that can be credited.)
Information about social worker licensure is available on the website of the Office of Professional Regulation (https://www.sec.state.vt.us/professional-regulation/list-of-professions/social-workers.aspx). The Director of the Office of Professional Regulation has encouraged social workers to make regular visits to the website.
There are periodic changes. New rules went into effect in 2017.
The application packet includes contact information for the licensing administrator in charge of social work.