How to Become a Social Worker in Colorado

What Social Work Licenses Are Available in Colorado?

There are two licenses for social workers in Colorado:

1)  Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
2)  Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

To become a social worker in Colorado, you are required to obtain a Master's degree in social work (MSW) from a regionally accredited university, fulfill exam requirements administered by the Association of Social Work Boards, and work in a supervised clinical environment for a minimum of 3,360 hours over a minimum of 24 months.  For detailed licensing information, please visit the Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners or read below.

What Are the Degree Requirements for a Social Worker in Colorado?

Both social work licenses in Colorado are for qualified graduates with a Masters in Social Work (MSW). There is no license for Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) level social workers.

Colorado Social Work Licenses
Education Requirements Education Length Available Programs
LSW (Licensed  Social Worker) Master's 6 Years Online or Campus
LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) Master's +3,360 Clinical Hours 7-8 Years Online or Campus
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 How Do I Get My LSW in Colorado?

Candidates for an LSW in Colorado must graduate with a Master's of Social Work (MSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. After receiving a master’s degree, candidates for licensure must complete an application with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) and pass the open-book Colorado Jurisprudence Exam.  Once your application is processed by DORA, there are three exams offered by the ASWB to become a Licensed Social Worker:

1)  Association of Social Work Board’s (ASWB) Masters
2)  Advanced Generalist (Accepted for LSW and LCSW)
3)  Clinical Level (Accepted for LSW and LCSW)

Note:  If you pass the Advanced Generalist of Clinical Level Exam for your LSW you do not have to re-take the exam after completing your required experience and supervision hours.

Read more about social work degrees in Colorado.

How Do I Get My LCSW in Colorado?

Once you have your LSW license, you may begin to count experience and supervision hours.  To qualify for a LCSW you must accumulate a total of 3,360 hours, over a minimum of 24 months, with at least 96 concurrent hours, under the supervision of a clinical supervisor who holds a current LCSW from the State of Colorado.  If you have already passed the Advanced Generalist or Clinical Level exam, you may apply for your LCSW.  If you took the Master’s level exam to earn your LSW, you will have to take and pass the Advanced Generalist or Clinical Level exam.

What Volunteer Programs Will Help Me Gain Practical Experience?

Working for a volunteer program is a great way to gain practical experience and to learn more about the day-to-day responsibilities of your desired career field.  See below for links to some fantastic Colorado volunteer organizations to consider:

University of Colorado Hospital Volunteers
Jefferson County Human Services

Social Work Careers and Employment in Colorado

Aspiring social workers in Colorado may want to start for applying to membership to the Colorado chapter of the National Association of Social Workers primarily because of the benefits membership offers. Members get access to career services, industry journals, continuing education opportunities, volunteer opportunity resources and consultation opportunities. The chapter also offers everything someone would need to know about licensure rules and regulations.

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Colorado is one of the largest employers in the Western part of the country according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of May of 2022, Colorado was home to more than 14,000 professional social workers. More than half of those social workers are child, family and school social workers (7,740) but there are also more than 3,000 healthcare social workers and another 3,600 substance abuse and specialty social workers in the state as well. On average, the annual salary for a social worker in Colorado ranges between $55,000 and $58,930 depending on specialty, which is slightly above the national average and makes Colorado an appealing state for aspiring social workers looking to start the career.

Research Additional Psychology Professional Licenses Granted by Colorado:

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for child, family, and school social workers, healthcare social workers, mental health and substance abuse social workers, and social workers (all other) are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed July 2023.

Schools with Master's Programs Accepting Students in Colorado