How to Become a Social Worker in Ohio
Ohio 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 as well as 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 the practice of it is strictly regulated.
In Ohio, there are two licenses available to those who have met the educational, examination, and experience criteria established by the State Board:
- Licensed Social Worker (LSW)—can do non-clinical work without supervision
- Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW)—mandatory for clinical practice
Both types of licensure come with their own requirements that qualify candidates to perform different levels of social work services. A Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in Ohio may perform counseling and psychological intervention without supervision. However, in order to perform social psychotherapy, they must be supervised by a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW), professional clinical counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist or registered nurse with a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing.
In Ohio, the path to becoming a Licensed Independent Social Worker who can perform clinical work includes first obtaining licensure as a Social Worker and completing the required hours of experience and supervision.
|LICENSE TYPE||EDUCATION REQUIREMENT||SUPREVISED EXPIERENCE||EXAM|
|Licensed Social Worker |
|BSW, MSW, DSW or |
|No supervised |
for initial licensure.
|ASWB exam, level |
depending on previous
education (until policy
change takes effect
|Licensed Independent |
Social Worker (LISW)
|Minimum of two |
years and 3,000 hours
post-MSW and post-
LSW experience and
150 hours of
|ASWB Clinical level |
Learn more about social work degrees in Ohio
LSW Requirements in Ohio
Per the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board, candidates must possess the following qualifications to apply for licensure:
- Degree in Social Work – All applicants must provide an official college transcript certifying completion of a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or Ph.D. in Social Work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
- ASWB Social Work Examinations – Currently, Ohio is one of only two states that allow candidates to sit for the ASWB Clinical-level examination before completing two years of supervised experience. Before June 30, 2016, a candidate currently holding a degree must complete either the Clinical or Advanced Generalist exam (depending on the applicant’s level of education) and report test scores before he or she can become a Licensed Social Worker. However, due to a Board change in policy, after June 30, 2016, social workers will no longer be able to sit for either the Clinical or Advanced Generalist Exam without completing the two-year supervised experience required. Therefore, applicants applying after June 30, 2016 may obtain licensure as a Social Worker sans examination, and the examination will become a requirement solely for the LISW.
- Experience – Supervised experience is not a requirement prior to applying to be a LSW in the state of Ohio.
LISW Requirements in Ohio
Per the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage & Family Therapist Board, candidates must possess the following qualifications to apply for licensure as a Licensed Independent Social Worker:
- Degree in Social Work – All applicants must provide an official college transcript certifying completion of at least a Master’s degree in Social Work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
- ASWB Social Work Examinations – If he or she had not already taken an ASWB exam for the LSW, a candidate must sit for either the Clinical or Advanced Generalist Examination.
- Experience – Applicants must have completed the supervision and requirements as a LSW before submitting LISW applications. This requirement stipulates that candidates must have completed two years of experience totaling 3,000 hours of clinical experience. 1 out of every 20 of those hours must be completed under individual or group supervision, totaling 150 hours of supervision. The training supervisor must submit the Professional Employment Reference as part of the application.
The Importance of CSWE Accreditation
In order to practice social work in Ohio, you must have education through an accredited Council of Social Work Education approved institute of higher learning. The CSWE provides standards and oversight to educational institutes, making sure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and meets current standards for training in the field. Without this accreditation, your education may not be viewed as valid for employment, and you will not be eligible for licensure.
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.