How to Become a Social Worker in Arkansas

arkansasArkansas Social Work Licensing Requirements

Social work is a profession involving trained, credentialed social workers who provide their clients support, information and access to social support programs. A client of social work can include individuals, families, communities, social groups or other groups in need of guidance, education and support.

In Arkansas, there are three levels of social work licensure available to those who have met the requirements for education, training and experience as established by the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board:

Each license carries specific requirements to confirm that the licensee is capable of performing the corresponding level of social work service to a degree of acceptable competency. Read on for summaries of the basic eligibility requirements and board rules for licensure at each corresponding Arkansas social work credential level.

Individuals interested in pursuing a social worker’s license in Arkansas must obtain a degree accredited by the Council for Social Work Education, and in some cases, must gather a certain amount of field experience. All social worker candidates are required to take a state level examination. Below is a general outline of the requirements for obtaining a social worker’s license in Arkansas. More detailed information is available through the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board.

License Type
Education Requirement Supervised Experience Exam
Licensed Social Worker (LSW) Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work No supervised experience requirement prior to licensure. ASWB National Baccalaureate Social Work Examination
Master’s Social Worker (MSW) Master’s Degree in Social Work No supervised experience requirement prior to licensure. ASWB National Master Social Work Examination
Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) Master’s Degree in Social Work Two year, full-time supervised experience. A minimum of 4,000 post-
degree hours.
ASWB National Clinical Social Work Examination

Learn more about social work degrees in Arkansas

LSW Requirements in Arkansas

Arkansas’ social licensing law (A.C.A. 17-103-101) requires any individuals engaged in the practice of social work or who wish to represent themselves to the public as a “social worker” to be licensed according to the state’s requirements. An LSW is the minimum level of required licensure, although the difference between the position eligibility and position responsibilities between an LMSW and a LSW will often vary on a case-by-case basis. Eligibility requirements for LSW licensure are as follows:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work– Graduating from a CSWE-accredited social work program is required for initial LSW eligibility. Candidates must supply proof of program completion in the form of an official certified transcript copy.
  2. Application and Criminal Background Check – An application to the LSW licensing program. is needed before the state board will grant the candidate permission to sit on the ASWB exam. A comprehensive criminal background check is also performed, confirming that the candidate has not been found guilty or has plead guilty/nolo contendere to any offenses listed in A.C.A. 17-103-307(f).
  3. ASWB Baccalaureate Social Work Examination – A minimum scaled passing grade is needed in order to confirm knowledge attainment and eligibility for LSW candidates. Upon successful completion of the exam, LSW candidates become officially licensed and eligible to practice social work in Arkansas.

LMSW Requirements in Arkansas

The state regulations of Arkansas authorize a fully licensed Master’s Social Worker to provide counseling, evaluations, interventions and prevention services to families, individuals, couples, organizations and groups. Candidates wishing to achieve licensure must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Master’s Degree in Social Work – All applicants must complete a Master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited program and provide an official certified college transcript to the board.
  2. Application and Criminal Background Check – An application to the LMSW licensing program is required in order for the board to grant permission for the candidate to sit on the ASWB exam. Applicants also undergo a comprehensive criminal background check in order to confirm that the candidate has not been found guilty or has never plead guilty/nolo contendere to any offenses listed in A.C.A. 17-103-307(f).
  3. ASWB Master Social Work Examination – Upon successful filing of the LMSW application and the receipt of permission of the board, applicants may sit on the ASWB exam. A minimum passing grade is needed in order to achieve all the requirements of LMSW licensure.

LCSW Requirements in Arkansas

In Arkansas, a Licensed Certified Social Worker is the equivalent title to Licensed Clinical Social Workers in other states. These individuals are able to conduct their own private practice or clinics offering social work services. In order to obtain a LCSW credential in Arkansas, candidates must satisfy the following:

  1. CSWE-Accredited Master’s Degree in Social Work – Applicants must hold a Master’s in Social Work degree (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited program that is fully accredited or is in candidacy for accreditation at the time the degree was granted.
  2. Supervised Experience – LCSW candidates must document a minimum of two years and 4,000 hours of full-time post-degree supervised experience. During this time, they will need to have an average of no less than one hour of direct contact with their supervisor per week. Group supervision is acceptable for supervisor groups of four or less in order for the candidate to satisfy up to half of their total supervised hours. Learn more about Arkansas’ LCSW supervision requirements on the Arkansas LCSW Supervision Guidelines document.
  3. Application and Criminal Background Check – An applicant must first submit for approval to the board before being permitted to sit on the ASWB licensing exam. Additionally, the board will perform a criminal background check on the applicant to determine whether the candidate has ever been found guilty or has ever pleaded guilty/nolo contendere to any offenses listed in A.C.A. 17-103-307(f).
  4. ASWB Clinical Social Work Examination – Candidates who successfully meet the supervised experience requirements and receive permission from the board may then sit for the ASWB’s National Clinical Social Work exam. Achieving a successful minimum scaled passing grade allows the candidate to officially offer a full range social work services in settings that can include their own private practice.

The Importance of CSWE Accreditation

The Council of Social Work Accreditation oversees and develops accreditation standards to ensure that social work license candidates will have the knowledge, ethics and critical thinking skills needed to practice their profession effectively. Nearly all of the 50 U.S. states require CWSE-accredited programs as a prerequisite for professional social work licensure. Applying for an exemption to the state board in order to have non-CSWE-accredited degree credentials honored is possible, but these exemptions are typically granted only to individuals who are already licensed and practicing medicine or psychology.

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Additional Resources for Social Workers in Arkansas: