How to Become a Social Worker in Missouri

MissouriMissouri Social Work License Requirements

Practicing social work is founded upon providing services to the most underserved and vulnerable populations in a social worker’s community. These services can be as simple as guiding clients as they seek access to governmental services or as complex as assessing, diagnosing and/or treating mental and physical disabilities. Because of the complexities inherent in the practice of social work, most states require their social workers to be licensed. In Missouri, licensure to practice social work is only required for those practicing at the clinical level or those wishing to identify themselves as licensed social workers.

Below are the four types of social work licenses that are available in Missouri:

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.  Below is a summary of the basic eligibility requirements and board rules for each stage of licensure. More detailed information can be found via the Missouri Division of Professional Registration.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW) Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work Two Years Supervised Experience When Seeking Independent Practice Designation. Passing score in ASWB Bachelor’s Exam
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) Master’s Degree in Social Work No Experience Required for Licensure. Passing score in ASWB Master’s Exam
Licensed Advanced Macro Social Worker (LAMSW) Master’s Degree in Social Work or a Doctorate Degree 3,000 Hours Supervised Macro Level Experience. Passing score in ASWB Advanced Generalist Exam
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Master’s Degree in Social Work or a Doctorate Degree 3,000 Hours Supervised Clinical Experience. Passing Score in ASWB Clinical Exam

Learn more about social work degrees in Missouri

LBSW Requirements in Missouri

  1. Education: Applicants seeking to become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW) in Missouri must have completed a bachelor’s degree in social work from a college or university program that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Degree verification in the form of a transcript must be sent from the awarding institution directly to the Missouri Committee of Social Workers (MCSW).
  2. Experience: To be granted the designation for Independent Practice alongside becoming a LBSW, the applicant must have completed two years of registered, approved baccalaureate experience.
  3. Exam: Licensure will only be granted upon receipt of a passing grade in the bachelor’s level exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). The exam may only be scheduled and taken after the application for licensure has been reviewed and approved by the MCSW.

LMSW Requirements in Missouri

  1. Education: Those applying for licensure in social work at the master’s level need to have completed a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited institution. Proof of degree must be submitted to the MCSW for examination and approval.
  2. Exam: A passing grade in the ASWB master’s level exam is required before being licensed as a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). The ASWB exam may only take place after notification of application approval by the MCSW.

LAMSW Requirements in Missouri

  1. Education: There are two possible methods of meeting the education requirement necessary to become a Licensed Advanced Macro Social Worker (LAMSW):
    • Complete and provide proof of a master’s degree in social work obtained from a CSWE accredited university or college
    • A doctorate degree in social work that has been deemed acceptable by the MCSW
  2. Experience: Prior to licensure, applicants seeking to become a LAMSW must have completed supervised experience at the advanced macro level under the direction of a MCSW approved supervisor. The advanced macro experience must total 3,000 hours and take place over no less than 24 months and no more than 48 months. Consult the Guide for Supervision provided by the MCSW for information on supervision requirements.
  3. Exam: After application review and approval by the MCSW, applicants must receive a passing grade in the ASWB advanced generalist level exam.

LCSW Requirements in Missouri

  1. Education: The education requirement to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) can be completed in the same method as the requirement for a LAMSW: a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited school or a doctorate degree from a MCSW approved social work program.
  2. Experience: To obtain a license in clinical social work, applicants must have completed 3,000 hours of clinical work experience that is acquired over a 24-48-month period. The clinical work experience must take place under the supervision of a qualified supervisor as regulated by the MCSW.
  3. Exam: Receiving a license in clinical level social work is contingent on a passing grade in the ASWB clinical level exam, which may only be taken after application approval by the MCSW.

Background Check

Applicants seeking to become licensed social workers, at any level, must submit to a fingerprint background check at both the state and federal level. Instruction on providing a fingerprint is included with the application for licensure.

Social Worker Career Outlook In Missouri

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics is responsible for collecting data regarding employment and wages in every state. As of May of 2014, according to the data collected, Missouri was home to more than 13,000 professional social workers. The vast majority of those social workers are the 7,560 child, family and school social workers while there are also 4,810 social workers employed in a healthcare setting. In addition there are more than 2,400 substance abuse social workers and another 710 specialty social workers. Child, family and school social workers earned an average annual salary of $34,490 and those in healthcare earned an average annual salary of $45,290 and substance abuse social workers earned an annual average salary of $42,210. For more information on the state occupational employment data and wage estimates, please visit the Missouri Occupational Employment Statistics page with the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Importance of Accreditation by the CSWE

Because social work is primarily centered around dealing with vulnerable populations, the proper level of training is paramount in assuring effective practice of social work. Accreditation of a university or college by the Council on Social Work Education guarantees that future social workers have received the highest training in areas such as ethics and critical thinking skills that are necessary to provide support services to people and communities.

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 Missouri: