How to Become a Social Worker in Massachusetts

MassachusMassachusetts Social Work License Requirements

Social workers are an important part of every community’s social services and clinical needs. They perform a broad range of work to individuals and groups. This work includes establishing new social programs, improving on existing ones, and maintaining the administration of social programs in a community, as well as diagnosing, referring and treating psychosocial disorders.

There are four different levels of licensure in this state:

Complete details on obtaining any of these four levels of licensure can be found at the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Social Workers website. Each licensure stage holds specific requirements that permit the licensee to provide clients different levels of social work service and to publicly declare themselves official social workers. Read on for a summary of the basic eligibility requirements and board rules for each stage of licensure.

LICENSE TYPE
EDUCATION REQUIREMENT SUPERVISED EXPERIENCE EXAM
Licensed Social Worker Assistant (LSWA) Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work No supervised experience requirement prior to licensure. ASWB National Bachelor Social Work Examination
Licensed Social Worker (LSW) Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work Three years, full-time supervised experience. A minimum of 3,000 post-
degree hours.
ASWB National Bachelor Social Work Examination
LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) Master’s Degree in Social Work Three years, full-time supervised experience. A minimum of 3,000 post-
degree hours.
ASWB National Master Social Work Examination
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) Master’s Degree in Social Work Three years, full-time supervised experience. A minimum of 3,000 post-
degree hours.
ASWB National Clinical Social Work Examination

Learn more about social work degrees in Massachusetts

LSWA Requirements in Massachusetts

  1. Educational Requirements: Educational requirements for an LSWA include a bachelor’s degree in social work or human services, or a bachelor’s degree in any field with an associate’s degree in social work or human services. A minimum of 60 college credits in human services can be substituted for the associate’s degree requirement. In addition, you will need to complete 1,000 hours of education in social work methods or theory in board-approved courses or programs.
  2. Exam Requirements: You will then have to complete the appropriate ASWB social work examination, which requires pre-screening by the state board.
  3. Application for Licensure: Following completion of this exam, submit an application packet which includes:
    • College transcripts
    • Criminal background check
    • ASWB exam results
    • Completed application ($173 fee)
    • Three professional references, at least one of which has an LCSW or LICSW
    • Current photograph

LSW Requirements in Massachusetts

A Licensed Social Worker (LSW) is a more advanced bachelor’s level licensure that requires more experience and supervision.

  1. Education Requirements:This level of licensure requires a CSWE-accredited bachelor’s degree.
  2. Professional Supervised Experience: At this level the licensure requires either ten years of professional experience or two years of professional experience (3,500 hours) under the supervision of a professional with an LCSW or LICSW license. For every 35 hours of professional experience, you are required to complete one hour of face-to-face supervision. Other levels of experience and supervision can be substituted. These are outlined in detail at the website for the Board of Registration.
  3. Exam Requirements: To obtain an LSW, you will need to successfully pass the ASWB bachelor’s level exam
  4. Application for Licensure: Following completion of these requirements, you will need to include an application packet which includes:
    • College transcripts
    • Criminal background check
    • Proof of supervision
    • ASWB exam results
    • Completed application ($173 fee)
    • One professional supervisory reference
    • Two professional references
    • Current photograph

LCSW Requirements in Massachusetts

The LCSW is a master’s level licensure in Massachusetts, which allows you to perform certain clinical and treatment functions.

  1. Educational Requirements: A Massachusetts LCSW requires the completion of a master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program.
  2. Supervised Work Experience: To obtain an LCSW, you will need to complete 3,500 hours of professional, full-time work in the field under the supervision of a professional who holds an LCSW or LICSW.
  3. Exam Requirements: You must arrange with the state board to complete the ASWB National Master Social Work Examination.
  4. Field Placement: A second-year professional field placement is required as a prerequisite for this license.
  5. Application Package: Upon completion of these requirements, submit an application package that includes:
    • College transcripts
    • Criminal background check
    • Proof of supervision
    • ASWB exam results
    • Completed application ($173 fee)
    • One professional supervisory reference from your field placement
    • Two professional references
    • Current photograph

LICSW Requirements in Massachusetts

This, the most advanced of the social work licenses in Massachusetts, allows you to function as an independent clinical social worker in private practice, engaging in counseling, treatment and diagnosis of psycho-social issues as well as providing a full range of supervisory, consulting and social services to those in need.

  1. Education Requirements: A CSWE-accredited master’s degree is required.
  2. Prior Licensure: At this level you will need to first possess a current LCSW license.
  3. Supervised Clinical Experience: In addition, you will need to have at least two years or 3,500 hours of documented clinical experience after receiving your LCSW including at least 50 face-to-face supervisory hours under an LICSW in each of those two years.
  4. Exam Requirements: At this level you will need to complete the ASWB National Clinical Social Work Examination, which you will schedule through the state board of licensing.
  5. Application Package: Upon completion of these requirements, submit to the state an application package which includes the following:
    • College transcripts
    • Criminal background check
    • Proof of supervision
    • ASWB exam results
    • Completed application ($173 fee)
    • One professional supervisory reference
    • Two professional references from licensed individuals
    • Current photograph

Social Worker Career Outlook In Massachusetts

In May of 2014, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics gathered data for employment and wages in Massachusetts for all industries, including social work. The report showed that Massachusetts was one of the largest employers of social workers in the country. There were more than 25,000 professional social workers in Massachusetts as of May of 2014. 8,660 of the social workers fall under the category of child, family and school social workers and 11,090 social workers were employed in a healthcare setting. There were also more than 5,000 substance abuse social workers and 750 specialty social workers employed across the state.

These social workers earned an annual average salary between $47,520 for substance abuse social workers and $57,740 for healthcare social workers. For more information on the state occupational employment and wage estimates, please visit the Massachusetts Occupational Employment Statistics page with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers runs one of the cleanest and nicest websites of any chapter across the country. It is an excellent resource for new professionals looking for resources to help jump start their careers in Massachusetts.

The Importance of CSWE Accreditation

CSWE is the Council on Social Work Education. They are a professional, nonprofit association that sets the standard and oversight for educational institutes in the field. All fifty states require CSWE accreditation for a program to be considered valid. Before you begin your education, make sure that your chosen institute is accredited by this organization, or you may find that your degree is not considered valid in the field.

Persons without a CSWE-accredited degree could potentially apply with their respective state board for an exemption. However, the majority of exemptions are typically granted to individuals already licensed to practice other related disciplines like medicine or psychology.

Search Accredited Social Work Programs

Additional Resources for Social Workers in Alaska: