How to Become a Social Worker in Tennessee

tennessee

Tennessee Social Work Licensing Requirements

Social work is an academic discipline that leads to a specialized profession in which credentialed individuals provide assessment, counseling, intervention and support services to various individuals or groups. Those who obtain social work services, for example, include people undergoing psychological issues and others who need help obtaining social and health services. Since the practice of social work deals directly with the health, wellness and safety of individuals receiving assistance, the process of becoming licensed and practice of it is strictly regulated.

In Tennessee, there are three licenses available to those who have met the educational, examination and experience criteria established by the State Board:

These types of licensure come with their own requirements that qualify candidates to perform different levels of social work services. See these requirements broken down below:

LICENSE TYPE EDUCATION REQUIREMENT SUPERVISED EXPERIENCE EXAM
Licensed Master Social
Worker
(LMSW)
Master’s Degree in Social
Work 
No supervised experience
required for initial
licensure.
ASWB Master level exam
Licensed Advanced
Practice Social Worker
(LAPSW)
Master’s Degree in Social
Work 
Two years, full-time
supervised experience. A
minimum of 3,000 post-
degree non-clinical hours,
including 100 supervised
hours.
ASWB Master or Clinical
level exam
Licensed Clinical Social
Worker
(LCSW)
Master’s Degree in Social
Work
Two years, full-time
supervised experience. A
minimum of 3,000 post-
degree clinical hours,
including 100 supervised
hours.
ASWB Clinical level
exam

Learn more about social work degrees in Tennessee

LMSW Requirements in Tennessee

The rules and regulations of the State of Tennessee authorize a licensed Master’s Social Worker to provide social work services only under appropriate supervision. LMSWs are not authorized to practice clinical work. To apply for licensure, all candidates must possess the following qualifications:

  1. Master’s Degree in Social Work – All applicants must provide an official college transcript certifying completion of a Master’s degree in Social Work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  2. ASWB Master Social Work Examination – All candidates must have passed the national exam prior to licensure and submit their scores as part of the application.

LAPSW Requirements in Tennessee

Licensed Advanced Practice Social Workers are permitted to practice non-clinical social work in an unsupervised capacity as defined by the board. To apply for licensure, all candidates must possess the following qualifications:

  1. Master’s Degree in Social Work – All applicants must provide an official college transcript certifying completion of a Master’s degree in Social Work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  2. Supervised Experience – LAPSW candidates must have completed two years of full time work experience (or the part time equivalent) totaling 3,000 hours of non-clinical experience, which includes at least 100 hours of recorded supervision.
  3. ASWB Social Work Examination – All candidates must have passed the national exam appropriate to their education level prior to licensure and submit their scores as part of the application.

LCSW Requirements in Tennessee

Licensed Clinical Social Workers are permitted to practice clinical social work in a private office or under the umbrella of public or voluntary institutions. To apply for licensure, all candidates must possess the following qualifications:

  1. Master’s Degree in Social Work – All applicants must provide an official college transcript certifying completion of a Master’s degree in Social Work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  2. Supervised Experience – LAPSW candidates must have completed 2 years of full time work experience (or the part time equivalent) totaling 3,000 hours of non-clinical experience, which includes at least 100 hours of recorded supervision.
  3. ASWB Clinical Social Work Examination – All candidates must have passed the national exam prior to licensure and submit their scores as part of the application.

The Importance of CSWE Accreditation

The Council of Social Work Education has developed standards that post-secondary and graduated level programs must meet via multistep process in order to obtain CSWE accreditation. Every state across the U.S. requires licensed social workers to attend a CSWE-accredited program. This ensures that licensees have obtained the proper critical thinking skills and knowledge that are necessary to practice Social Work.

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 Tennessee: