Social Work Licensure

Become a Social Worker

Social Work Resources…

In most cases, you will take a licensing exam through The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). (California is the one state that has its own exam.)

After graduation, you will take a licensing exam at the appropriate level (generally, either the Bachelor’s or Master’s) level. Eligibility is determined by your own state board. Not all states accept all examinations or levels of practice.

You can find an exam study guide on the ASWB site. The exam will include multiple choice questions which test basic qualifications in four areas of competency. The first is human development, behavior, and diversity. Other competencies include assessment, direct and indirect social work practice, and issues related to professionalism. The Master’s exam also includes intervention planning. The ASWB reports that 78% of baccalaureate candidates pass on a first attempt, and a little over 74% of master’s candidates do.

You will need to renew your license every two years. You can expect to do continuing education units. This is a requirement in almost all municipalities, though the specifics vary by state. Social work is a diverse field, and you will have the opportunity to pursue studies relevant to your own practice.

After you have been in practice for a few years, you may have the opportunity to pursue more advanced licensing. The ASWB offers clinical and advanced generalist certifications for social workers who have two years of experience post-master’s. Some states have corresponding higher levels of licensing.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers certifications in specialty areas like hospice and palliative, youth and family, addictions, and case management. Adding a certification does not change your level of licensing, but it is a signal to employers that you have advanced knowledge in a particular field.