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How Can I Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) working with a teen.
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  • Originally Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Revised By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
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Becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) takes some effort and time, but can reward you with a range of job possibilities. Exact requirements for this licensure can vary depending on where you live, so you should look at local qualifications. Many regions require a degree such as a Masters in Social Work (MSW) and a certain period of time of supervised employment as a social worker. You may then need to pass a test to receive a license to practice therapy or social work privately.

Required Education

The method necessary to become an LCSW varies in different regions. In the US, you typically need at least an MSW from an accredited university. The MSW generally requires previous completion of a bachelor’s degree in one of the social sciences, though not necessarily social work. If you want to practice a particular aspect of social work, such as therapy, then look for a program that focuses on your interests.

Professional Experience

After the MSW is obtained, many positions may become open to you. In order to become an LCSW, you typically need to work in a supervised position for approximately 3000 hours, or about two years of professional employment. The exact number of hours may vary from one region to another. These positions are often paid, and can be found in government agencies, hospitals, and similar locations.

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Application and Testing

Once supervised practice hours are completed, you can apply to your local Board of Behavioral Examiners or similar agency for licensure. The test you take to become licensed depends on where you live, but usually consists of both a written and oral examination. Preparation for the LCSW examination is important. You can usually receive study materials from your local board or find books to help you prepare for the test.

Some regions also have a minimum age requirement before you can sit for the LCSW exam. For example, in many US states, you need to be at least 21 years of age to become licensed. Preparation for LCSW licensure can begin prior to this age, but you are not allowed to take the exam before your 21st birthday.

Ongoing Study and Education

Maintaining an LCSW can also take effort. You may need to continue studying and taking additional courses in order to keep your license current. Many universities offer these types of classes, though some conferences or seminars may be sufficient. Changes to licensing policies or laws in your area should also be understood, so it helps to remain aware of new developments related to your licensure.

Impact of Licensure

Once you become an LCSW, you are licensed to practice therapy, or to take a wide range of other positions. Some people work as educators, school counselors, or as parts of private psychiatric teams. Pay ranges vary depending upon the type of job you take and the area in which you live. When moving from one area to another, you may be able to qualify for licensure in the new region based on your previous experience and license, though this depends on the laws of the area to which you are transferring.

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Discuss this Article

anon935186
Post 109

I am a student in social work and I am planning to become a LCSW but I am wondering if I can be be eligible to managerial position as a LCSW? To be honest, my long term goal is to become a manager because of the better work conditions and salary.

I am not sure if I should focus more on clinical social work or medical social work to be a manager after a few years of experience.

anon340988
Post 107

The first thing a well-respected professor and advisor I had said when I was obtaining a BSW was that social work is not about making money. Second, she stated that if she asks you why you want to become an LCSw and you reply that it's for pay then that's the worst answer you could possibly give.

Basically, if this is your mindset then you shouldn't be a social worker. I took a pay cut from what I was doing before and now I'm working on my MSW. My previous occupation was not doing anything for me as a person. Social work is rewarding and I love how broad the field is. You can work with just about any population. I think that there's something very unique and special about that when you think about what our purpose in life really is.

If you think it's about making money, then social work is not for you because you have a different set of values than what the NASW sets as a standard. There are so many opportunities and things you can gain in social work. If anyone isn't convinced because they prefer to make money, then social work IS not, I repeat is not for you.

We have enough crummy social workers in this field, so I would just suggest you take your profession elsewhere. We constantly get a bad rep because of the wrong people entering this field.

anon330475
Post 105

I got a late start and earned my MSW at age 44. I have never regretted my choice of careers. Obtaining an LCSW designation takes some time, but it is worth it. You can do so much with this degree. I've worked in mental health, geriatrics, hospice, drug/alcohol treatment and medical facilities. Once you get a license, you can work for yourself.

You will have to do lots of hoop jumping, particularly if you move to another state. Remember to keep copies of your supervision verification and continuing education. Apply for your license immediately if you move to another state. Sometimes it takes months to get approved. When you apply, send your application along with all documentation to the governing state board by certified mail. If you are getting the run around from the board, contact your local state representative and request assistance. Whatever you do, keep your license current or put it on inactive. Do not let it lapse.

anon328567
Post 104

Can I get a job after grad school in social work if I have a felony from when I was 17?

anon322514
Post 102

I currently have my MA in forensic psychology and clearly seem to be having the issue that I'm not licensed and I cannot obtain a job paying more than 28,000/year which is not workable due to student loans and the cost of living in general.

How do I become licensed? What would be my best route so I don't waste any more time ending up not being able to use what I worked towards? Any help or insight is greatly appreciated.

anon294190
Post 100

I am currently going into graduate school for social work! All the comments I read make me wonder about the money but I came to realize that if you budget yourself maybe the salary we make will sound good. I just want to try something different but I wouldn't lie. After graduate school I would love to have a salary of at least 65,000 to paid back my loans.

anon283992
Post 98

I am currently getting an MSW at NYU and want to move back to California after I graduate. I will still have to complete some hours for the license no matter where I go, but I'm wondering if there is a big difference in getting an out of state degree vs. getting it where I want to practice.

anon260673
Post 97

I am looking into my MSW with the hopes of then becoming a LCSW. Does it matter what state I go to graduate school in as long as my supervision hours are in the state I am planning on getting my license in?

anon257589
Post 96

I have been an LMSW since 2001 and got my PhD in social work in 2009. I now teach part time and do research. Tenure track faculty jobs in the tri-state area are difficult to find.

I wanted to earn my CSW in NYC so I could open a clinical private practice. My goal is to continue to teach, and do research but supplement my income with the private practice.

Like many of you, I tried to get my foot into a mental health clinic to get supervision with no success.

So now I am looking into post graduate training institutes in NYC but they require a lot of personal analysis and take app. It takes four years to complete, although it's quite part time. When you are done, you still won't have the 2,000 hours, believe it or not. But you can continue to work there and get the rest of the supervision hours to sit for the LCSW. And after the four years, you can sit for the NY psychotherapy exam, but I am not sure how that license works.

Does anyone know anything about these training programs and can anyone recommend any in NYC?

anon240590
Post 95

What does it mean 3000 hours of supervision? Does a licensed lcsw have to be in the same room while you while you are with a client, or does the lcsw only have to review your work? Please provide whatever info you can.

anon230959
Post 94

Gosh, it's so disappointing to read all of these horror stories. It's unfortunate that so many have had such negative experiences once they've obtained their degrees/licenses.

First, and foremost, if you have only obtained a BSW, and you're expecting a high-paying job, you're out of luck. It's not going to happen. BSW degrees were intended to only provide human and/or social services. BSW social workers probably have the hardest jobs on the planet. They receive all sorts of abuse from all sorts of directions. That, my friends, is a truly thankless job unless you go into it with an altruistic point of view. Then, it's perfect for you.

If you expect to make any decent money, obtaining an MSW and getting a license is required. End of.

My story is probably the exception to the rule because I am a man. It was extremely easy for me to find a supervising clinician. Why? Men make up 8 percent of all social work professionals. So, historically, men are underrepresented in this occupation and just about every medical facility, private practice, government agency, etc., is dying to get their hands on you, and the money goes along with it. As an example, the week after I graduated, I had no fewer than nine offers. So, during my clinical hours, I was getting paid $70,000 at a not-for-profit hospital. Once I obtained my license here in Washington state, my employer bumped my salary to $87,000. If I were to hang a shingle and start my own practice, my region's billable rate is $150/hr and $500 for a home visit.

Now -- this is very important and often overlooked: In 2009, the Obama Administration enacted a rider to the TEACH Act that allows social workers the opportunity to work off their loans. For every year a social worker practices at a local, state, or federal agency, public education facility, and a host of other nonprofit settings, Ford Federal Loan program will dismiss 25 percent of your debt. For. Every. Year. of. Service. Got that? Most of my graduating class that took advantage of this program have almost all of their debt written off now. I didn't go this route, so I'm still trying to pay down the $110,000 worth of student debt from undergrad and grad school. I may want to revisit this plan.

For those of you going *back* to get an MSW, try to go to school in a state that has the Title IV-E program. Under that program, you basically get all of your schooling paid for by the state in exchange for two years of state service. If you renege on your obligation, it simply gets converted to an unsubsidized federal loan. Don't renege. Not only would it be morally wrong, but the reputation will follow you because people talk. Trust and believe.

Some other advice: Join NASW immediately. Not only is it a great way to network while in school, but they offer discounted malpractice insurance. Why is this important when the school provides insurance during your practicum? Well, who pays the insurance? The school. So, whose interest is the insurer looking after? The school's; your interests come in second or not at all. You'll want your own policy as a backup. Please heed this advice. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen malpractice cases against students.

Where you go to school does make a huge difference once you go back to the world of work. I see a lot of references to Boston University and USC on here. Avoid them. Contrary to what they tell you, their online degree programs have suffered much criticism. Also, they are beginning to be recognized as very expensive degree mills ($44K a year at Boston). You are often paying much higher tuition rates than campus students are paying.

When selecting a school, choose one with a solid social justice philosophy. This almost guarantees you a job when you leave your program. Community-based and direct (mental health) service programs always favor people who graduated from schools with this type of program (Portland State University, University of Washington-Seattle or Tacoma, San Francisco State University, Arizona State University, to name a few). Of paramount importance: you *must* select a school with a CSWE-accredited program. Be very careful about this because there are more schools that have provisional accreditation than have full accreditation. So, you're risking that your school might lose the temporary accreditation during your study period. Not fun.

Ever wanted to live in Canada? Graduates of U.S. MSW programs are guaranteed permanent resident status and puts you on a fast track for citizenship because there is a critical shortage of MSW practitioners. You will easily find a job at any medical facility starting at a wage of about CAD$35/hr. I don't have a calculator handy, but I think that's CAD$70,000 annually (full time is 37.5 hours a week, not 40 like it is here).

Finally, the LCSW (LICSW) boards are challenging. I had the pleasure of missing the revamped boards that includes the psychopharmacology portion. There is a purpose for this. For example, Washington State is considering allowing MSW/Ph.D./DSW-licensed practitioners restricted prescription rights. Other states are considering this, too.

Good luck! I won't be following this thread, so I'm afraid I won't be responding back to any questions or comments.

Be well, and remember, it's never too late to go back to school.

anon227789
Post 93

Social work is about helping people. If your goal is to make a lot of money, that might not happen. For student loans, there is a program that will let you make 120 payments and then forgive the rest of the loan. You don't have to do volunteer work to get the hours you need for the CSWL.

Do your homework, find the right company that can provide the supervision you need and contact the agency that will tell you what you need to do before you assume you are on the right track.

anon216171
Post 92

I graduated with my MSW in 2008 in Indiana. I moved to California thinking I'd have plenty of time to work towards my clinical licensure. The problem is no one will higher me without a clinical license and no one will higher me to work towards my clinical license. The only opportunities I've seen are in state prisons with male sex offenders. I'm a 5'2" female and not interested in that job.

I have never made over $38,000 with my master's degree and I put my student loans in forbearance again! Being a social worker has been discouraging. I currently write home studies, which is fine but not my dream job. How do I work towards clinical hours? One therapist friend suggested working at a community mental health center for FREE (for what? a minimum of two years to get all the hours in).

I think the requirements for LCSW are too strict for the limited career options and pay. I wish I had known all this before. I definitely learned the hard way. I would recommend getting a degree in psychology or trying to stick with any internship so that you can earn clinical hours immediately. If you don't do it immediately, it may never happen.

anon205658
Post 91

I am from Philly and make 55,000. I have been with the same agency for 18 years which is why, even if I didn't have an MSW, I'm making that much. One thing that's sad is that social workers do not raise the bar salary wise. Honestly, it's like SW's feel bad if they want to be able to live! Even with the money I make, it's still hard to make ends meet!

anon203906
Post 90

This is in response to xty: I graduated with a B.S. in Community and Human Services and a M.A. in Human Service. This was not a good career move. For one, Human Service is considered the lowest of the low. A lot of companies want to hire you to work in direct care positions (glorified baby sitting). The only thing that worked out for me is that I teach at a local college, one class every other four months which, while I am grateful for it, does not consistently put food on the table.

I currently work as an advocate for people with developmental disabilities at a rate of $28,000 yearly. Seriously! How can I be expected to pay off my student loans on this type of salary? Therefore, I suggest that you get the Masters in Social Work. With a social work degree, you will be able to find employment in every area. Not only that, you will be able to freelance.

My Masters is not doing anything for me and I received mine in 2008. Now, I am considering the Boston University online program because I live in Florida and I am looking for flexibility at the moment. Good luck!

josettefee
Post 89

Thank all of you for sharing your thoughts and experience. I have recently graduated with an MSW and paid the money for the title, LMSW.

Let me state some facts. Social work is indeed rewarding in ways that money cannot compensate. The social work field is comprised of women as the majority. Social work ethics state that we, as social workers, must make a stand against injustice. Fields such as the medical field are also considered to be highly rewarding in areas such as providing care for others and "saving lives" (not for the money). Yet, the medical field does not say they are not worth being invested in, yes, even with monetary pay. Let's keep in mind, that the medical field's majority are male.

I say social work is a worthy field in which our society and our social workers must advocate for funding and investment of money. Where are our priorities as a society when a computer major with a four year degree (I know some without the whole four years) can make almost double starting, as what an MSW can make after much experience and loan debt? It is a social worker's place to advocate for social injustice. Getting paid barely enough to get by with a master’s degree is social injustice!

I hope for all of you that you will find the strength and the spirit to speak out for the worth of social work, for the women who work to better our society, and take your right to be valued in our communities, our government, and ourselves.

peter58
Post 87

I lived in Florida before and I am now thinking about moving back after being in New york for the past 25 years.

Those of you, who are planning to move to florida need to know that Florida is the weirdest state in the country. Florida has the most ridiculous, off the wall requirements and qualifications for everything. For example, LMSW does not exist in Florida. It's called something else, I think it's "CMSW" (Clinical Master Social Work).

Furthermore, those of you, who are looking for information about what to do to get in social work, or to become a social worker, need to contact the university or the college that they want to attend to get the information they need.

It would be even better to go to the "Social Work Department" of the school they want to attend and meet with an adviser/counselor to ask questions and get answers to your questions directly.

You may have to produce your transcript(s) to see all the courses you have taken so far because you may have already taken the required courses, but they may have called differently depending on the college.

It is very important that everyone keeps in mind that transferred credits are not accepted or honored in the social work master's degree program.

In terms of pay for any level of social work, whether it's LMSW, LCSW, etc. depends on the cost of living and tax rates of the community and state that you live in. Nobody can really tell for sure that someone with LMSW or LCSW pay is such and such. Also, some employers' pay scales depend on how long since you earned your MSW, LMSW, and your LCSW on top of years of experience.

The pay scale for social work is not "one size fits all"!

Last but not least, those of you who are inspired social workers need to understand that there is a process in place in order to obtain any level of license.

For instance, a person must have an LMSW first before being eligible for LCSW. It usually takes someone with an LMSW another two to three years of work supervision to get an LCSW.

In New York, for example, someone with an MSW will have 2000 hours waved of the 3000 hours work supervision needed to get the LCSW. People need to check with the state they want to live and practice in about their requirements to obtain a social work license.

peter58
Post 86

I am a social worker (LMSW), and frankly, this has been the biggest career choice mistake that I have ever made in my life. If I knew then what I know now, I would have chosen something different. Social work is nothing but a problem, aggravation, headache, frustration, which causes a high level of anxiety and high blood pressure to most everyone who is inspired to become a social worker.

Many classmates who completed their BSW with me had decided to get their master's in something different, claiming that it's not worth it to become social workers.

Not only is the master's program of social work among the hardest academic programs, but it's also extremely expensive and extremely demanding. Once graduated, it becomes extremely hard and painful to obtain a license. Most employers will not hire you without being licensed. In New York, for example, you are not recognized by the state as a social worker with only a BSW. You have to have a master's degree.

Social work is down the very bottom list of the 10 lowest paying jobs in America. Most community agencies pay between $32,000 to $35,000 and some hospitals would start between $38,000 to $40,000. Someone who is piled up with student loans can just forget about ever getting ahead after paying all the monthly bills.

To obtain the license, it costs just about $600 application fee and $230, payable to the ASWB, to register for the exam. Most people fail the exam the first time, and therefore, you have to pay another $230 everytime you have to take the exam over again, and must wait three months before taking it again.

Since January 2011, the exam has changed and became now even more difficult because the exam is not "academically based" from what you learned in the classroom. A big chunk of the new exam is about medications that was never taught to us in the classroom. Besides that, social workers do not administer/prescribe medications to clients/patients, so why is it so big on the test? This is more like setting applicants up to fail the test so they can keep paying $230 to take the test again.

The states keep creating more and more nonsense and ridiculous requirements for social workers.

Since the exam is not academically based, why don't the states just charge a fee to obtain the license (LMSW) without taking the exam?

I would advise everyone who is inspired to become a social worker to think again and evaluate their career path before registering to a social work program.

In my humble opinion, if you'd ask me, I really don't think social work is worth all the headaches, the aggravation, the anxiety, and all the panic attacks a person has to go through to become a social worker. I really don't!

tamiicans
Post 84

I have been licensed (LCSW) in Nevada 14 years as a psych social worker. I've moved to Riverside CA. and have applied to test for LCSW in this state. Meantime, I have received a ASW registration number to be able to work temporarily under someone who is already state licensed. However, finding a job has been quite challenging under the circumstances. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

anon170494
Post 81

I have a BA in communications, an MFA in creative writing, and an MA in curriculum and Instruction. I'd like to become a counselor. Do I really need another master's degree? Or is there some way around this? Please advise. Thank you!

anon167134
Post 80

I had been a LCSW in GA for 20 years working with abused clients. In 2004, I was attacked and defended myself. The evidence to show that it was self-defense was deemed inadmissible. Therefore, I now have a felony on my record.

Given the legal issues, I let my LCSW lapse. It has been a nightmare to say the least. I've recently relocated to Maryland and would like to pursue licensure again.

Does anyone know if one can obtain licensure with a felony? It is difficult to find work with a felony and in Maryland everyone must be licensed even if you have a bachelor's degree and not a Masters.

anon165198
Post 79

I am an LISW-CP. It is true that salary is not amazing,but it depends on where you live. I live in SC and made around 32,000 with an LMSW and am now in a private practice in which I make around 60,000. Most LCSWs have more than one job and all will tell you "we don't do this for the money".

I absolutely love what I do and would not do anything else. The beauty of social work is that you can make your career and not let it make you. LCSWs are respected in all fields. As with anything, it is a lot of hard work, but extremely worth it. There are many jobs that only look for social workers. Again , if I had to do it over again, this is exactly what I would do!

anon164386
Post 78

Which is the better field to get into in the future and make more, medical social work or school social work?

anon162754
Post 77

I recently graduated as an MSW. I am looking for in Southern California and it seems that most of them start at $37k-$40k, depending if you live in San Diego versus Los Angeles. Is this right? If so,this won't be enough to support my daughter and me (considering COLA in SoCal).

anon154507
Post 76

Florida does not accept out of state licenses from any other states, meaning you will be required to sit for another licensure exam, especially to be in private practice. -- Saja, advanced stating student at Barry University, Miami, FL.

anon154119
Post 75

I have been a LCSW in New York for over 25 years. I currently have a full time private practice. I'm looking to relocate to Florida and would like to open up a practice as my income. How do I find out about transferring my license?

anon148273
Post 74

As long as your applied behavioral science degree meet the required liberal arts background of at least 30 credit hours and at least six credits in the sciences, then you will be eligible for admission to MSW program.

anon148217
Post 73

I am an pursuing a BA in Applied Behavioral Science degree. I would like to become a social worker (MSW) when my BA is complete. Should I stick with ABS or move to psychology or sociology or a social science degree? Any info is appreciated. Tia, Alabama

anon148091
Post 72

Depending on your MSW degree curriculum, one thing i know for fact is that i have seen people with licenses from other states like New York, New Jersey, Maryland, but when they moved to Florida they were not only required to take the licensure, but had to take some courses that was required for all Florida schools of social work. But if your state or school curriculum met those of Florida, then you can take your licensure there.

Saja M., Barry University school of social work

anon147853
Post 71

I was wondering what is the job market/salary like for LCSW's in Florida? I've been told that FL does not accept the license from other states; however, can you complete a MSW including the required supervised hours in another state but apply and take the exam for licensure in FL so that you can practice there? Thanks so much.

support
Post 70

I'm 23, with a BA in Sociology, working as a caseworker for a medical group. I have been working for seven months at 36 hours/week. i am getting paid $18/hour. Is it time for a raise? caseload gets bigger by the week?

anon144528
Post 68

Advice, please. I am 40 years old. I have a bachelors in liberal arts with a major in history. When I went back to college six years ago, I basically attempted to get the quickest degree I could based on my past credits. In my heart, I wanted to pursue a degree that would enable me to be a counselor.

I have had a life-long struggle with food addiction and it has stopped me from pursuing my true passion, to be a food addiction counselor. I have recently lost a significant amount of weight, and because I am now 40, I feel I need to pursue this career field. I want to help others, but of course I do need training. I am currently planning a move to the west coast coast from the midwest.

In my mind, I believe my new lifestyle will be healthier in a different part of the country -- different from where I have always lived, and could possibly fall back into my old habits and waste another 20 years of my life.

Please, offer suggestions for a course of action concerning schooling I should pursue, say in california. Is the MFT a smart choice for this? I would greatly appreciate any input.

anon142332
Post 67

I live in CA but am considering getting my MSW at Hunter in NYC. After I complete my 3000 internship hours in NYC, if I choose to return to CA, is it true that I will not be able to practice there? Thank you!

sajamboge
Post 66

Every state is different, typically only Florida and California won't accept a license from the other 48 states, but one good thing about these two states is, once you obtain your license from either one, it is accepted in all the states and those 48 states accepts a license from all the fifty states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

One thing to do is to register with a MSW with NASW under a license supervisor who can supervise your work, if you happen to be working while you already acquired your MSW from an accredited CSWE school and you have someone who can supervise your practice with verification from CSWE at your job then you have to register and complete your 2500 supervised hours and you are good to go.

Saja, Barry University, Miami FL

anon138632
Post 65

In order to get supervised hours, you are required to have your MSW in a CSWE approved school period. One cannot have supervised hours unless until you have acquired your masters in social work.So doing an intern or practicum in your MSW program is a requirement standards set up by NASW to be an accredited school as part of your MSW degree and no you cannot use those hours while in graduate school to count towards your post MSW supervised hours.

Also, according to both the National Association of Social Workers and Council on Social Work Education, you cannot sit for a LCSW in social work without having a degree in social work -- either a BSW or MSW.

Saja M., a current advanced stading MSW student at

Barry University, Miami, Fla.

anon131798
Post 64

I am pursuing a MSW at Washington University In Saint Louis. I can't decide if I want to do school social work or pursue a career in hospitals. The license is different for school social workers than an LCSW, however, I am still interested in working towards a LCSW to broaden my employment outlook.

Could I work towards 3,000 hours of supervision while working as a school social worker?

anon131735
Post 63

can you have a felony and become one? even if you have it on your juvenile record?

anon131520
Post 62

I have really been researching getting a MSW as I work in New York as a case planner. I am now in school pursuing a masters in counseling studies.

i am beating myself up because I feel like maybe I should have pursued the MSW instead. Can I still work as a social worker with a masters in Counseling Studies or do i have to have the actual MSW degree?

anon124359
Post 61

I have my bachelor and Masters in Psychology .Right now i am working in preventive services. What education or courses do i need to have a license in a social work field?

anon124092
Post 60

I have a M.ED in Community Counseling from UAF. I currently live in New York State, what do I need to do to take the LCSW exam without having to start a new 3 year Master's program?

anon112986
Post 59

I am currently in a MSW program in Florida. I never thought about getting my License in social work but now I am considering. I am a single mom of two girls. I am looking to start out making $40,000. is this possible?

anon103442
Post 58

I currently work in the health and human services sector in New York state. I have my bachelor's in psychology, and my company, which is a massive, not-for-profit company that provides services for the developmentally disabled, the blind, etc. has offered a "fellowship" (I put it in quotes, because they pay for only a small stipend at a very expensive school) for employees to go back to school to get their MSW.

Needless to say, I have applied and have been accepted, and paid for my first semester (nine credits). I will be starting field-work placement next year (September 2011). I am just wondering if field-work placements counts towards supervised hours?

Also, once I complete my MSW, in say, three years, what steps do I need to take to get the LCSW?

Also, is New York state a good place for a LCSW/MSW to be to get a decent job? I like the company I work for now and appreciate the opportunity they have given me, but the position I am at is somewhere in between direct care and management and there is really no place for me to go here unless I get my Master's degree. Thanks!

anon102376
Post 57

I am an LPC in Arkansas and want know what I would need to get a LCSW. What is the difference in the course work and licensure?

anon97301
Post 56

I live in New Mexico and plan on taking the test hopefully soon. Does anyone know of an excellent study guide for the test? or ones to stay away from. Thanks!

anon95352
Post 55

I'm an LCSW in CA and work for the federal government. I have been employed a little over seven years and make $85k. Federal employees make more than small organizations, however in CA there are numerous opportunities to supplement income if you're an LCSW in CA. Hope this helps.

anon93254
Post 54

I am a social worker in Massachusetts. I first obtained my BSW from New York University after which I was eligible to sit for the LSW (licensed Social Worker) Exam. I then pursued a MSW from Boston University and soon after became licensed as a LCSW (Licensed Certified Social Worker).

Then, after 3,500 hours and two years of post graduate work as a therapist at a paid internship I was able to obtain the highest license a social worker can have in Massachusetts, the LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker). This license allows me to practice therapy. I know work at Mass General Hospital making over 65k. And I’m only 34.

anon93193
Post 53

After obtaining your MSW it can take anywhere from two to six years to get licensed, depending on how fast you obtain hours and supervision and if you are able to pass both tests. The test are both multiple choice and one is standard questions the other in vignette format.

Don't think that you will make a ton of money as an LCSW unless you are able to find consultation work, have a great private practice or are in a supervisory position. Most LCSWs make around $50,000 a year, however you can get up to around $75,000 in some positions (again I'm not counting side jobs/consulting). This is in CA which pays more than most states.

Psychologists (licensed) do make about $20,000 more a year but have more schooling and usually more student loans but both titles usually do the same job.

anon91399
Post 52

In California, LCSW's get paid the highest in the nation.

anon90955
Post 51

I received my MSW from Fordham in 1987 and soon after that passed my CSW exam in NY State, also later in Kentucky. I did do some clinical work but eventually got into teaching.

However, now (20 years or so later) I am exploring better jobs and I realize I don't know what an LMSW is. It seems there are new distinctions of which I am unaware. Do I have my LMSW as I passed the CSW exam? If so, I can move on to try to get my LCSW? If not, how do I get my LMSW?

anon89668
Post 50

You cannot get an LCSW without first obtaining the LMSW, which you cannot get unless you have a masters degree in social work. You must have a masters degree in social work in order to sit for the LMSW. After that, you must obtain supervision (about three years/3,000 something hours are needed), then you are eligible to sit for the LCSW. You cannot sit for the LCSW without first doing these things. Signed JJ, LMSW.

anon88842
Post 49

"I have a Bachelors of Science and a Masters of Science in Rehabilitation Psychology from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Every job I am interested in requires an MSW. What additional education do I need to get those 3 letters after my name?"

As a current MSW student, I would suggest going back to the University of Wisconsin if they have a MSW program. Perhaps some of your courses from your first masters degree will count towards your Masters in Social Work. In which case, you will be on an accelerated track and finish in about a year. Most MSW programs only take two years anyway.

anon80302
Post 48

I've actually just started in the field and need some direction. I do not want to enroll in classes I will not need. So my question is, does any one know the exact classes to take after the AA to lead to LCSW?

anon77880
Post 47

Lest there be confusion, there is no CSU Berkeley. However, the University of California-Berkeley has an excellent program. It is actually fifth in the nation, while the number one spot in social work programs belongs to the University of Michigan I believe.

anon74776
Post 46

I am currently obtaining my AA in psychology. My psychology professor whom I have had for two semesters now asked me at the beginning of this semester what I planned to do with my psychology degree. When I answered "cognitive therapy," he told me about a career as an LCSW.

He said that I would get into the work force quicker than I would with a psychology degree, making the same amount of money. He said they generally start out at around $50-$75 an hour and are eventually able to create their own salary.

Money is important to most; it is what makes the world go around. I am not going to go to school for six-plus years to be broke and pay off student loans for the rest of my life.

At 100,000 a year, LCSW's might not be "loaded," but I bet they live comfortably.

anon73837
Post 45

I graduated in 2008 from an out of state college with my MSW. I am now in Southern CA and trying to complete my hours for licensure but am finding it extremely difficult to get a job/internship working in that direction. Any suggestions for how and where to acquire hours? Thanks.

anon64442
Post 44

I am in Kerala. I completed my Masters in social work. I would like to take the LCSW. Now i have GSCC registration. Now i am working as a medical social worker in 1000 bede medical college Dept. of cardiology. i have more than 3000 hours work experience. My question is am I ready for this LCSW? What all are the procedures i should do in getting this license? How much is the LCSW exam fee? where is it conducted?

anon63347
Post 43

Schools: CSU Berkeley is number one in the country for Social Work. I'm at Cal State LA and it's a pretty good program, I think we're fourth in CA and like 60 or 16 in the nation. USC and CSU Long Beach are also really good. Outside of CA I'm not sure.

Regarding pay, I switched from teaching to social work for this reason! lol. If you live in CA and get a pps/lcsw/msw you can get paid pretty well -- at least 80k-100k.

anon62349
Post 42

Inquiring about the average annual salary of a social worker doesn't mean a person lacks the heart to be an excellent social worker! Some of us have mouths to feed.

anon59879
Post 41

From my research, salaries are certainly higher in California than in any other state.

To the previous commenter, I don't see how wanting to a decent salary detracts from having a heart of a social worker. Many great social workers with big hearts leave the field because of burnout associated with low wages and being unable to financially support their families. Just because one is a social worker does not mean that they should take a vow of poverty. Mere acceptance of low wages is part of the reason we are underpaid!

Given the education level of most social workers (MSWs), I think social workers should advocate for wages that are similar to other professionals with masters degrees.

anon59602
Post 40

These dollar amounts being posted are not only misleading (the median salary for a phd in social work is $43,000), but also anyone who posts such things doesn't have the heart of a social worker.

anon58571
Post 39

I currently work in the dual diagnosis field and make approx 52k/year as an MSW, CSAC. LCSW's are in extremely high demand, to the point where I am in jeopardy of losing my job to one if state non-profit criteria continue to change. I can't obtain my supervision fast enough!

anon58319
Post 38

My AA is in Criminal Investigations and I'm about a year away from graduation. My question to you guys is do I stop now and start on my BA in Human Services/Social Sciences now, or should I wait unit I graduate and then start on my BA?

Simply confused. I'm in a career transition. All my life I've known I wanted to help people and I currently do, but it's only now that I've found the perfect career in which I can do what I love.

anon57807
Post 37

I am currently in the process of earning my BSW from an accredited CSWE program. I will then continue my studies with Texas State University. I am just very fearful of the California BBS LCSW exam. I've heard horror stories where some ACSW's failed six times and finally gave up and left the field with over $60,000 in college debt.

anon57787
Post 36

These are some wonderful comments and questions that are being posted. I am 27 and have now become interested in becoming a social worker. I have an associates and bachelors in human services and a master of education and I would love to find out more information on obtaining a MSW.

I like schools that are accelerated and online. I am industrious in gerontology and have been assisting/helping others with disabilities before I had education. Please, if you will, give me some information on how to transition my M.Ed. to a MSW. ~silver dollar 09

anon54658
Post 35

I am happy to state that I made the right choice to get my MSW and my LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Work)certification.

In the D.C. area I manage social workers and clerical staff and I make $100,000 annually and love what I do to assist families and their children. But understand that I've been practicing in a public agency, with several years of experience.

Social work is a wise choice and the benefits and rewards are not always the salary but the joy of assisting others.

anon54522
Post 34

These are some great responses and insight on everyone's part. For the person living in California,making $90,000/yr. What is the cost of living in CA? I'm wondering if an LCSW in GA, SC, TN would make comparable?

anon52079
Post 32

The LCSW in California is one of the best professional licenses. LCSW in federal and state government can make $90,000. LCSWs can make more than psychologists, MFT's, RN, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and other professions. LCSW can provide a stable and lucrative career!

anon51127
Post 31

after reading the comments posted i found myself asking, all of these social workers with questions, why have none of them turned to the largest professional organization of Social Workers, NASW the national association of social workers? there are chapters in all 50 states!

anon46608
Post 30

Social work is a wonderful profession with many rewards. However, anyone that is looking to make a lucrative career of it will fail. That is not to say that one cannot make a good living doing this work, but if one's focus is heavily in this direction chances are they will most likely be disappointed. Similar to teachers, if salary was a primary draw to this career. It would attract the wrong people.

anon41001
Post 29

For those of you who are saying this is a lucrative career based on the time and money put in, I am wondering what part of the country and what types of facilities you work in that provide this compensation? I am looking for work that is more treatment based (less like hospital work where you would only be in charge of in-take and diagnosis where follow-up care is provided by PhD, MD, etc.). Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

anon38504
Post 28

LCSW in the Mid-South region can average from $35k-$80k. It depends on the agency (non-profit vs. for profit).

anon38297
Post 27

I have a bachelors degree in criminal justice and would like to become a lcsw. I am trying to find out my options.

anon31083
Post 26

LCSW can be very lucrative. The common perception is that they get paid very little. I am happy that they think that because it is job security. LCSWs that I know get paid very well. Here in California, LCSWs make more than many professions. For consultant work as an LCSW, I get paid 65 dollars an hour. I also work for the state and make $90,000 a year. I just received my license less than a year ago. LCSW is the best field for the money you put into grad school.

anon27977
Post 25

Hi Friends,

I received my MSW in 2000 and began working as a therapist in the mental health field. Three years later, I clocked 3200 supervision hours and was eligible to sit for the LCSW-LISW exam in the state I reside(New Mexico). I passed on the first try but the exam is very difficult.

As a LMSW out of graduate school I made about 30K per year and now I make about 55K

I live comfortably within my means and am able to chip away at student loans. My standard of living has not increased much since grad school so this is not the profession for you if you want material wealth.

Emotional, Spiritual, and the currency of love however is there in abundance.

tracywms
Post 24

I have a BSW. I have not worked in the field since 1987. I would love to get back in to it? What would be the best way? I am open to all ideas. I am currently unemployed.

anon25461
Post 23

I am set to graduate in May with my BSW this year. I will immediately start a one year program to earn my MSW. I live in NC and there are a lot of opportunities for social workers, I look on various online job websites and in the newspaper, with the economy people really need the services we provide. I believe that anyone who is graduating with me in May with a BSW will be okay with finding a decent job.

When it comes to salary, you have to think about your focus. Do you want a career where you will earn a lot of money? If so, look away from social work, it is not a "recognized" career in a lot of cases. Many people don't see the significance of having a social worker or the job a social worker has but we are desperately needed. Though jobs are scarce, I have been told by my academic advisor that the social work field has remained steady and that you will be able to find a job, maybe not your chosen one, with a BSW but if you are looking to make more money and have more job opportunities, it is best to continue your education which is what I plan to do.

I am an intern at a transitional housing facility in my state, I recently interned on the macro level for an agency centered around community organization. The opportunities are there, you just have to find them. To find an internship, visit your campus career center. Internships are not ideal but they *will* get your foot in the door. My current internship has offered me a job that I would happily take if I weren't continuing my education. In the long run, that is what is best for me and for my future clients.

Also how much money you make depends on where you live. For current salary information I suggest the Occupational Outlook Handbook, look it up online.

I aspire to be a school social worker and will make about $50-60,000 a year which is pretty good if you ask me and I will survive off of my MSW. I know that starting out it will be a little less weary but in the end it is definitely worth it in my opinion.

Let's be real here, medical social workers will make more money, as do most health related fields, than say a school social worker, who, depending on where you live, is seen as a teacher and/or counselor. Look up the information!

Social workers are privileged, we are needed and its something you have to decide whether or not you want to make it your life even when no one is looking, are you still going to do the right thing? And its never too late.

anon23360
Post 22

I am a 60 year old physician who has not practiced in 5 years because of multiple medical problems which prevent me from getting around easily in an exam room (bending, stooping, standing, etc.). I've also been fighting depression related to loss of my ability to practice. I've been thinking lately of trying to become a therapist, something I think I'd be good at after years of listening to patients and their problems. Would I want to look into LICSW programs or are there other ways to enter the field. (I already have a Ph.D. in research and don't want to do another dissertation.)

anon23354
Post 21

The best place to get your questions answered is the website of the National Association of Social Workers.

Whomever asked if its "too late", I am 48, mother of 4, grandmother of 1 and completing my BSW and will then start my MSW at Indiana University in Indianapolis (IUPUI)--its never TOO LATE to help others.

Whomever asked about pay--I'm currently getting by on next to nothing without my degree....so I'll be happy to get what I can WITH my degree-----BSW's in the 30's , Masters in the 40's and LCSW (Licensed Clinical figures on up)

Good luck everyone!

anon22372
Post 20

In Massachusetts, an LCSW and an LICSW are not the same thing but the terms are being used interchangeably. In MA, you may become an LCSW immediately out of grad school with your MSW. An LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker) is obtained after what I believe is 3500 or 3800-ish documented supervised hours. These are two different exams/credentials.

tpread6768
Post 19

I have recently decided that I would like to be a Social Worker. What are some good schools to look into for this line of work?

tbarber
Post 18

I don't believe it is all over for you. I know for the state of CT you have to have had so many supervision hours under someone who has an LCSW before being qualified to take the exam. It would be easier to find a job were you could easily be able to obtain supervision for free. The place I am going for an interview has a supervisor with an LCSW that would prepare me to be able to take the exam but I first need to be hired. Hopes this info helps

anon15281
Post 17

I pay my LCSW $150 per 45 minute session. In my eyes that adds up to a whole lot of money by years end.

JaneE
Post 16

Well now that I am old and I got my daughter through college on just being an MSW, is there any hope that I can finally get my LCSW or did I blow it???

tbarber
Post 15

I just received my MSW at Springfield College in Springfield, MA. I thought it would have been easy to find jobs but most jobs want individuals with experience. I have been a case manager for 3+ years. I do want to gain more clinical skills and obtain my LCSW. But how do I do this if I can't even find a position that will assist me with this process? Anyone live in the CT area that knows of agencies hiring. Please let me know!!!

BrittJ
Post 14

I am an undergraduate student and I have an AA in Social Work but I am currently finishing my BA in Sociology. I was just wondering how and where do I start to look for internships to hopefully get my foot in the door for a career in Social work?? Anyone has suggestions?? Also I was wondering, are there any entry level positions open to a person who has an AA in Social Work and will have a BA in Sociology!! Thanks

anu175
Post 13

I have done my Masters in Counseling Psychology from India and now living in California. I am interested in the helping relationship. What is the procedure to get one licensed so that i can get an entry level job in the mental health field or in the community?

Llk
Post 12

I have a Bachelors of Science and a Masters of Science in Rehabilitation Psychology from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Every job I am interested in requires an MSW. What additional education do I need to get those 3 letters after my name? I have been extremely frustrated because the positions are quite parallel. I've worked as a Casemanager for a County Dept., and as a Program Manager for a residential provider for developmentally disabled adults. I'd love to get into the school system or a hospital setting; preferably a school setting. Any ideas? Thanks!!

AntiNormalcy
Post 11

Posted by: Anonymous

I recently graduated with my BA in Social Work. I can't seem to find a job that will allow me to utilize my skills. I'm tired of having a job but I want a career I want to put my degree to use...Does anyone in the Sacramento area have any advice for me about where to find a career in my field?

AntiNormalcy
Post 10

i work for LA county, and am trying to find a direction to go in the Mental Health field. LCSW sounds more like what i want to do specially after reading this page. my question is, how long should i expect this to take approximately? what else can i do with LCSW certification? what should i look for in a college that can offer me the best education in LCSW? anyone know of a good college in the Los Angeles area?

anon5504
Post 9

I recently graduated with my BA in Social Work. I can't seem to find a job that will allow me to utilize my skills. I'm tired of having a job but I want a career I want to put my degree to use...Does anyone in the Sacramento area have any advice for me about where to find a career in my field.

ani1017
Post 8

Hey... I have a question... my current major is Child and Adolescent Development and I talked to my advisor and she said I can minor in Social worker or change my major completely to that to become LCSW... so I was wondering what degree do I need to become a LCSW and what kind of jobs are there and what are there professions? I really want to work with kids but not as a teacher or a nurse.

xty
Post 7

I recently graduated with my BA in Human Services and am currently working as a case manager for an EAP. I love working in the helping profession but my overall goal is to be a professor in this field. I want to get my Master's degree but am unsure if I should get it in counseling, social work, or maybe even psychology. I am not opposed to working as an MFT or LCSW to gain field experience and maybe even to do in addition to teaching. Still, the decision of what Master's degree to get is a difficult one. Any advice would be greatly appreciated...

anon3416
Post 6

I am a Medical Social Worker in Santa Clara County. My yearly income (after 2 years of work experience) was 70k last year. That includes on-call time which adds approximately 12k a year. Raise at my hospital are approximately 3-4% about $1/hr a year.

egoldber1
Post 4

It varies by state. To give you an example, I'm a social worker for California, LA County DCFS (CPS) and they pay me $75,000 a year and I've been there for 5 years. Right now, I think the max is $80,000 or so, but the union is always negotiating, so it can change. You have mileage money too and overtime to consider, also the pension plan and 401K matching are pretty good. The supervisors make a little bit more of course.

My friend is a school social worker and her pay scale is the same as a school psychologist, starting at $60,000 with pretty good raises, and they can go up to near six figures, especially if they work the year round schools with no huge summer vacation gaps. While in grad school, my internship supervisor who had an LCSW at a school site told me she made over $100,000.

My friend who is employed with a Foster Family Agency has a low income, she was complaining of finally reaching $50,000 or so but have been there for five years.

I heard medical social workers also make roughly that same amount. But you have to consider raises, starting pays might be low but it can go up, especially if you become a supervisor, do discharge planning instead, have overtime, etc.

If you have an LCSW and have your own private practice, you can charge like $150 per 50 min. session.

So, there are a lot of possibilties with this degree. You aren't going to be making megabucks but it can be pretty good.

And to answer the question of having an MSW from a non-accredited school, I don't think any state will allow you to take the LCSW exam. That exam has strict requirements and not that easy to pass in the first place. In California, about 6 out of 10 pass and for repeat takers, the stats just get worse.

anon2895
Post 3

I have a MSW from a non accredited school my state will not allow me to take the LCSW exam because of this. I have been in the field since 1982 from case manager to department supervisor at a community mental health center. Currently I am a school manager what should I do? Is there any state that will let me take the exam or do I start over.

anon2197
Post 2

I'm 26 with a BA in Sociology, and I hope to become a social worker someday, then maybe a LCSW too. I'm currently working on my MA in Psychology.

I just wanted to remind you that, like teachers, what you do has to be more important to you than how much you make or this may not be the right career for you. Currently $50k isn't so bad, but if you're looking for more money ASAP, you might want to change your focus. Or supplement your degree in Social Work with another one in Business Managment or Clinical Psychology. I worked for a large Hospital in Santa Barbara, CA, and most LCSWs were part-time and their income ranged from $20-40/hr (all with 5+ years' experience). I hear private-practice psychologists make a lot more.

Good luck!

anon1735
Post 1

I am an undergraduate student in a Social Work program. My goal is to one day become a LCSW; however,most everything I read about the field says that even after becoming a LCSW annual salary is still not that great. Is this entirely true? With all my time, investment, and hard work in school I would like the rewards of a decent paying (above 50,000) job. I have heard that with time in ones own practice a LCSW can make pretty good money. But how long would this take, and how much is "prety good money." Could you notify me with any current information regarding the annual salary of Licensed Clinical Social Workers and any other information regarding this topic?

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