Social Work Licensing

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Here is your quick guide to getting your license!

Step 1:

A. Decide which ASWB exam you will take. There are three different ASWB exams for master’s level social workers:

1) Bachelor's Exam - SSW

  • Bachelor of Social Work, Master of Social Work, or Ph.D. in Social Work
  • Passing of the Bachelors exam

OR

  • Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science with courses specified
  • A passing score on the Bachelors exam
  • 2,000 hours of supervised experience post-degree, acquired within 2 years

1) Master’s Exam - CSW

Until June 30, 2021 candidates may complete either the Clinical, Advanced Generalist, or Masters examination to meet the CSW examination requirement.  Effective July 1, 2021, candidates will be required to complete the Masters exam for the CSW (the Clinical and Advanced Generalist exams will no longer be accepted for the CSW examination requirement). Candidates who receive approval to test before July 1, 2021 will still be eligible to take their examination for the duration of their authorization to test.
  • Master of Social Work or Doctor of Social Work with clinical focus
  • Passing of the Masters exam

3) Clinical Exam - LCSW

  • Master of Social Work or Doctor of Social Work with clinical focus
  • Passing of the Clinical Exam
  • 4,000 hours of supervised experience post-degree, with 100 hours of direct supervisor contact, acquired within 2 years

IF YOU ARE MOVING TO ANOTHER STATE: Call that state’s regulatory board or that state’s NASW (if you are an NASW member) and ask them (a quick internet search will assist you in procuring the phone numbers of these organizations) Most states do require that you take two exams; the masters/intermediate after graduation and the clinical when you become independently licensed, so you will most likely end up taking the Master/Intermediate exam, but it is important to call and find out the definitive answer!

B.  Once you have decided which exam to take, obtain pre-approval to register for the ASWB exam. You do this by completing an online application and paying a $60 fee through ASWB's website: http://www.aswb.org/utah/. You will receive a reply from ASWB requesting your transcript(s) OR if you are still a student in your final semester but have not graduated, other required documentation, specifically  a release of information form AND an original letter from your school social work program chair confirming that you are in the final semester of a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program.  Submit all requested documentation. Talk to Inka in the social work office about obtaining the appropriate documentation.

Step 2:

Once you have received ASWB approval via mail/email, follow the instructions to register for the APPROPRIATE ASWB exam. Keep in mind, that even though you are taking the clinical exam, you are only eligible for the CSW license until you have completed the required 4,000 supervised hours, in no less than two years.

Step 3:

Once you have passed your exam, go to www.dopl.utah.gov download, print and complete the application for the CSW-level license. You will need your final, official transcripts indicating a conferred degree. The official transcript is typically not available until the week after graduation, and can be obtained through your university’s Registrar’s office. Do not break the seal on the envelope containing your transcripts! Once you have completed the DOPL application and enclosed your official transcript allow about 2-3 weeks to receive your official CSW license!

Step 4:

Step back and congratulate yourself on this important milestone in your social work career journey! In order to begin accruing your supervised hours, be sure to find an employer willing to provide supervision by a LCSW who has been independently licensed for at least 2 years, that you are employed as a W2 employee (not a 1099 contract employee) and then track your hours carefully. A sample tracking form can be found on the NASW, Utah Chapter website under the “Career Center” menu. Another important note: A newly graduated MSW who has completed ALL required coursework, but is awaiting the formal CSW license from DOPL, can still practice with clients for up to 45 days from your last day of classes if certain conditions are met.

A note about taking the ASWB exam early! While Utah law allows you to take the ASWB exam during the last semester of your MSW program, there is no advantage to doing so since you will need your official transcript with conferred degree in order to apply for the license, and the official transcript is typically not available until one week AFTER graduation exercises. Also, taking the exam early may put you at risk of missing important content that is taught later in the semester, not to mention critical prep time! As of 2015, you have a 45-day grace period to practice as a social worker before you have your formal CSW license, take advantage of this dispensation and take time to relax and prepare.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Social Worker Licensing in Utah

1. Must I apply for ASWB pre-approval before registering for the ASWB examination? Yes. ASWB must pre-approve you to take the social work licensing examination. You can obtain pre-approval by going to http://www.aswb.org/utah/. You will receive a reply from ASWB requesting your transcript(s) and other required documentation, specifically “an original letter from your school social work program chair confirming that you are in the final semester of a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program.” Submit all requested documentation.

A note about taking your exam early! While Utah law allows you to take the ASWB exam during the last semester of your MSW program, there is no real advantage to doing so since you will need your official transcript with conferred degree in order to apply for the license, and the official transcript is typically not available until one week AFTER graduation exercises. Also, taking the exam early may put you at risk of missing important content that is taught later in the semester, not to mention critical prep time! You have a 45-day grace period (see question 5 below), so patience will serve you well.

2. How long is a passing score on any of the ASWB exams good for? A passing score on the ASWB exam never expires. For purposes of licensing, a passing score earned several years ago is equivalent to a recent passing score.

3. What is the difference between the CSW-I and CSW licenses? Individuals with a MSW degree from a CSWE accredited program who have not passed the ASWB masters or clinical exam may qualify for a CSW-I (certified social work intern) license. The scopes of practice for a CSW-I and a CSW are the same; however, you cannot begin to gather the 4,000 hours of clinical social work training until you are licensed as a CSW. In other words, CSWI’s cannot accrue hours toward the LCSW.

4. How long can a CSW-I hold a CSW-I license? A CSW-I license can be held for a maximum of 6 months and the license cannot be extended.

5. Must I hold a CSW or CSW-I license before I start seeing clients? Yes, but you have a 45-day grace period! New MSW graduates can practice for 45 days without a CSW. The 45-day period starts the day after your last formal day of the classes required for graduation. The exemption ends 45 days after it starts or upon licensure, and may not be extended or used a second time.

Bear in mind that it does take 2-3 weeks during peak times (May-July) to gather and process your paperwork for licensure, so plan accordingly.

6. A CSW must complete a total of 4,000 hours of supervised clinical social work training, 1,000 hours of which must supervised training in mental health therapy. What is the difference between the 1,000 hours of supervised training in mental health therapy and the other 3,000 hours of clinical social work training?

The 1,000 hours of supervised training in mental health therapy only includes time spent in clinical sessions with individuals, couples, or groups doing actual mental health therapy as defined in Utah Code 58-60-102 (7).

Activities outside of actual client sessions all fall under the remaining 3,000 hours of clinical social work training. These include activities such as discussing clients or therapy-related issues with any of the agency staff, researching treatment strategies for clients, reviewing case notes, preparing for sessions, writing up case notes after sessions, miscellaneous case management, attending conferences or trainings as an employee, staff and/or team meetings, and researching issues or assisting a supervisor in completing tasks related to the practice of social work. Training can be completed out of state as long as the training meets Utah standards.

7. Who can supervise a CSW during the 4,000 hours of supervised training needed to obtain the LCSW license?

Utah law requires that a CSW work under the supervision of a LCSW who has been licensed for at least two years as a LCSW (See R156-60a-302e). A CSW cannot perform mental health therapy if completing clinical training under the supervision of a psychologist, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, physician, or anyone other than a qualified LCSW. If an employer of a CSW does not employ a LCSW, the employer may contract with a qualified supervisor from outside of the agency to provide supervision to the CSW.

8. Where can a CSW work while gathering the 4,000 hours of experience needed to obtain the LCSW license?

Utah law requires that a CSW be employed by a public or private mental health agency engaged in the practice of mental health therapy as defined in Utah Code 58-60-102 (7). A CSW cannot gather any of the 4,000 hours of training as an employee of a facility that does not provide mental health therapy as a service to actual patients. Furthermore, a CSW cannot engage in their own private practice and cannot hire their own supervisor.

9. How long does a CSW have to complete the 4,000 hours of supervised training needed to obtain a LCSW license?

A CSW cannot complete the 4,000 hours of training in less than 2 years, but a CSW can take as long as needed to complete the training. A CSW can maintain their CSW license indefinitely without seeking a LCSW license as long as they renew their license; however, a CSW must always remain supervised by a LCSW.

10. Can a CSW practice mental health therapy when hired by a facility as a 1099 contract employee?

No. The Mental Health Professional Practice Act Rule, R156-60-102 (3) defines employee as “an individual who is working or providing services for compensation paid in the form of wages or salary from which there is withheld or should be withheld income taxes or social security taxes under applicable law; or who meets any other definition of an employee established by the Labor Commission of the State of Utah or the Internal Revenue Service of the United States Government.” Because taxes are not withheld from salaries earned by a 1099 employee, a 1099 employee does not meet the definition of “employee” under the Mental Health Professional Practice Act Rule.

11. Under the Mental Health Professional Practice Act, how do the scopes of practice of a CSW and a LCSW differ?

Utah Code Annotated 58-60-202 provides that a CSW must be supervised in their practice of mental health therapy. Under the Mental Health Professional Practice Act, the requirement to be supervised is the only difference in the scopes of practice of the CSW and LCSW license.

12. Are CSWs required to complete continuing education?

No. Utah law requires that LCSWs complete no less than 40 hours of continuing education during each two-year license renewal cycle, but CSWs are not required to complete continuing education.

13. How often must a CSW renew their license?

CSWs, LCSWs, and SSWs are all required to renew their licenses every two years. The renewal period begins on October 1 of every even numbered year and ends on September 30 of every even numbered year.

14. What are the duties and responsibilities of a LCSW when supervising a CSW?

Utah Admin. Code R156-60a-601 outlines the duties and responsibilities of a LCSW when supervising a CSW:

R156-60a-601. Duties and Responsibilities of a LCSW Supervisor. The duties and responsibilities of a LCSW supervisor, are further defined, clarified or established as follows: (1) be professionally responsible for the acts and practices of the supervisee; (2) be engaged in a relationship with the supervisee in which the supervisor is independent from control by the supervisee and in which the ability of the supervisor to supervise and direct the practice of the supervisee or is not compromised; (3) be available for advice, consultation, and direction consistent with the standards and ethics of the profession; (4) provide periodic review of the client records assigned to the supervisee; (5) comply with the confidentiality requirements of Section 58-60-114; (6) monitor the performance of the supervisee for compliance with laws, rules, standards and ethics applicable to the practice of social work; (7) supervise only a supervisee who is an employee of a public or private mental health agency; (8) supervise not more than three individuals who are lawfully engaged in mental health therapy training, unless otherwise approved by the Division in collaboration with the board; (9) not begin supervision of a CSW until having met the requirements of Section R15660a-302e; and (10) in accordance with Subsections 58-60-205(1)(e) and (f), submit to the division on forms made available by the division: (a) documentation of the training hours completed by the CSW; and (b) an evaluation of the CSW, with respect to the quality of the work performed and the competency of the CSW to practice clinical social work and mental health therapy.

Notice that this law does not require that a LCSW be onsite at all times when CSW is practicing; however, the LCSW supervisor is required to “be available for advice, consultation and direction” at all times. To be available means that the LCSW is available for consultation at all times by face to face contact or direct voice contact by telephone or radio.

15. Can a CSW supervise a licensed Social Service Worker (SSW)?

Yes. If practicing at a facility where mental health therapy services are provided, a SSW must be under the general supervision of a “mental health therapist.” Because a CSW falls under the definition of a “mental health therapist”, a CSW is a qualified supervisor of a SSW.

16. I am planning to move, should I still take the ASWB exam in Utah?

The ASWB is a national exam so it does not matter WHERE you sit for the exam, just make sure that the exam you are taking is the right one for the state you are moving to AND that the score report is sent to the regulatory board of the state you are moving to. Contact ASWB for updated information regarding transfers www.aswb.org

Social Service Worker (SSW) License

A Social Service Worker is an entry-level (bachelor’s degree), social work generalist.   

Unlike master’s level social workers, SSW’s do not need a degree in social work (BSW) to qualify for licensure.  However, applicants without a BSW degree must take additional courses and work under the supervision of a licensed mental health therapist for 2000 hours (in no less than one year) prior to submitting an application for licensure.

Steps to getting your SSW License

If you have a BSW degree or are in your last semester of study in an accredited or candidate BSW program:

  • Step 1: Complete the ASWB Exam Pre-approval Application ($60).
  • Step 2: Receive email from ASWB providing exam eligibility information. In this email, ASWB will provide instructions for registering for the exam.
  • Step 3: Register for the ASWB bachelor's exam ($230). Register online or phone at 888-579-3926.
  • Step 4: Take the ASWB bachelor's exam, which is administered at testing centers throughout the state.
  • Step 5: Receive unofficial score immediately after taking the exam and an official score report will be forwarded to the regulatory board of the state in which you are seeking licensure.
  • Step 6: Apply for your SSW license (if in Utah)! If you do not pass the exam, you are eligible to take it again in 90 days.