How to Become a Social Worker in Minnesota

Minnesota Minnesota Social Work License Requirements

Social work is a field involving the application of theories and practice of providing psychosocial services to a community. This can involve administrative duties such as the establishment, oversight and running of social programs, or it can involve direct clinical care and counseling. What you do with your degree depends on the level of licensure you gain. In Minnesota there are four levels of social work licensing:

  1. Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
  2. Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
  3. Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)
  4. Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

Individuals who are interested in pursuing a social worker’s license in Minnesota must complete specific required coursework as well as field work and post-graduate experience. Candidates must also take a state-level examination in order to become a social worker. Below is a general outline of the license requirements for the state of Minnesota. More in-depth information is available via the State of Minnesota Board of Social Work.

LICENSE TYPE
EDUCATION REQUIREMENT SUPERVISED EXPERIENCE EXAM
Licensed Social Worker (LSW) Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work Two to four years, full-time supervised experience. A minimum of 4,000 post-
degree hours.
ASWB National Bachelor Social Work Examination
Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW) Master’s Degree in Social Work No supervised experience requirement prior to licensure. ASWB National Master Social Work Examination
Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) Master's Degree in Social Work Two to four years, full-time supervised experience. A minimum of 4,000 post-
degree hours.
ASWB National Master Social Work Examination
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) Master’s Degree in Social Work  Two to four years, 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 Minnesota

LSW Requirements in Minnesota

An LSW is the entry-level Bachelor’s licensure in Minnesota. It allows you to work in administrative and basic levels of social work, applying the theory and practice of social work to the good of the community.

  1. Education Requirements: A Bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited institution is required for this level of licensure.
  2. Work Experience: A minimum of 4,000 hours of work experience in the field of social work is required. This work must be supervised by a practicing licensed social worker at any level. 100 hours of supervision is required per 160 hours of work, and 50 must be individual.
  3. Exam Requirements: The applicant will complete the ASWB social work exam at the Bachelor’s level. The state board of licensing will help to set up this exam.
  4. Application Package: Upon completion of supervision and the exam, the applicant submits a package to the state board that includes the following:
    • Completed state board application ($60 application fee)
    • College transcripts
    • Verification and documentation of supervised experience
    • ASWB exam results
    • Criminal background checks

LGSW Requirements in Minnesota

A General Social Work (GSW) licensure in Minnesota is the basic graduate-level social work license in this state. It allows for the practice of social work and the provision of social services at an administrative level. It is a prerequisite for higher level licensure.

  1. Education Requirements: A Master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited institution is required for this level of degree.
  2. Work Experience: As with other levels of licensure, this level requires 4,000 hours of supervised work experience under the guidance of a higher-level social worker (GSW, LISW or LCISW) at 100 hours per 160 hours of work, 50 of which must be individual.
  3. Exam Requirements: Applicant must complete the ASWB social work exam at the Master’s Level.
  4. Application Package: The application package is the same as for the LSW.

LISW Requirements in Minnesota

The Independent Social Work licensure allows for the practice of social work at a higher level of administrative and social levels, and is one of two career-level licensures. LISW social workers can pursue LICSW licensure at a later date by completing the necessary requirements for that license.

  1. Education Requirements: The LISW requires a Master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited institution.
  2. Prior Licensure: An GSW is required as a prerequisite for this license.
  3. Work Experience: 4,000 hours of supervision is required under the guidance of an LISW or LICSW, and must be in the LISW field. This level also requires 100 hours/160 hours of work, and 50 hours must be individual.
  4. Exam Requirements: The appropriate ASWB social work exam at the Master’s Level is required.
  5. Application Package: An application package will be submitted containing the same elements as for the LSW degree.

LICSW Requirements in Minnesota

Licensed independent clinical social workers provide direct clinical care and counseling services to those suffering from life difficulties or psychosocial disorders as well as filling an important role in providing community-based social services.

  1. Education Requirements: The LICSW requires a Master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited institution with at least 24 credit hours in clinical areas.
  2. Prior Licensure: In order to obtain an LICSW, the applicant must first hold a GSW.
  3. Professional Experience: A total period of supervised experience (including that obtained through GSW licensure) is 4,000 to 8,000 hours. An additional 200 hours of clinical supervision is required for this degree, and a total of 1,800 hours of work experience with direct client contacts is necessary.
  4. Exam Requirements: Completion of the ASWB social work exam at the clinical level is a requisite for this licensure.
  5. Application Package: The application package for this level has the same requirements as for the LSW license, including:
    • Educational transcripts
    • Application ($60 fee)
    • Criminal background check ($15 fee)
    • Documentation of supervised work experience
    • ASWB exam results

More information on the required education and field experience to become a social worker in the state of Minnesota is available via the Minnesota Statutes 148E.055.

Social Worker Career Outlook In Minnesota

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May of 2014, there were approximately 10,000 professional social workers employed in Minnesota. There were 6,110 child, family and school social workers in the state of Minnesota and 2,530 social workers in a healthcare setting. There were also 2,060 substance abuse social workers and 460 specialty social workers. Child, family and school social workers earned an average annual salary of $59,220 while those in a healthcare setting earned a average annual salary of $52,840. For more information on the state occupational employment and wage estimates, please visit the Minnesota Occupational Employment Statistics page with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Importance of CSWE Accreditation

In order to apply for any level of licensure in Minnesota, you must obtain your degree from an institute that is accredited by the CSWE, or Council on Social Work Education. 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 Minnesota: