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


Clinical social workers enjoy respect among their peers due to the nature of their work. They employ holistic approach in providing emotional support, mental health assessments and therapy to people suffering from psychological, medical and social challenges. This post will provide a comprehensive guideline on how one can become a clinical social worker.

Educational Requirements

Aspiring social workers must first obtain a bachelor’s degree, preferably Bachelors of Social Work (BSW). Individuals who graduate with sociology and psychology degrees may also be considered for job positions. A BSW degree enables students to acquire the basic knowledge they need to provide more specialized services in clinical social work. Students study topics such as social analysis, culture and race, social work in healthcare, psychology, human biology, child development, community mental health, conflict resolution, social justice and many others.

In addition to a BSW, aspiring licensed clinical social workers need a masters degree to improve their job prospects and increase their earning potential. Many organizations nowadays prefer those who have masters and doctorate degrees over those with undergraduate degrees when shortlisting candidates. Common classes for graduate degree students may include foundations of social work practice, clinical practice with adult trauma and clinical practice with individuals, groups or families.

Training Requirements

In most states, students cannot get a license immediately after graduating with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. Instead, they are required to complete an extended period of work experience under close supervision by a licensed clinical social worker.

Individuals are advised to contact career centers at their graduate universities to help them find supervised positions. They can also search the National Association of Social Workers’ website or government online platforms for open positions. All supervised work must have a minimum of 900 contact hours.

Licensing Requirements

Once they have attained the minimum contact hours working under supervision, candidates must sit for and pass a licensing exam issued by the state’s Association of Social Work Board (ASWB). There four types of exams offered by the board. There is the exam for bachelors, masters, clinical and advanced generalists. The fee for bachelors and masters exams is $230 per person. The fee for clinical and advanced generalists is $260.

The licensure exam covers 170 multiple-choice questions and takes four hours to complete. Most states require candidates to score between 70 and 75 percent to pass. The credentialing board offers a number of resources candidates can use to prepare for the exam.

Essential Skills

Apart from strong academic credentials and proof of licensure, clinical social workers must possess certain skills to enable them to work effectively. They should be able to communicate effectively with their clients, both orally and in writing. They must also show empathy and provide moral support to patients. Other essential attributes include patience, good interpersonal skills, ability to make quick decisions and genuine interest in helping people.

Salary for Licensed Clinical Social Workers

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, licensed clinical social workers earn an average salary of $56,060 per year. Those who have been in the field for some time earn up to $100,000.

Clinical social work is a rewarding career that gives you the chance to help others live happier and more fulfilling lives. The items highlighted above will provide you with the insights you need to become a successful licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

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