How to Become a Social Worker in Indiana

Indiana Social Work License Requirements?

Social work is an important field which focuses on improving, establishing and providing vital social services for a community. Social workers can work with individuals, families or entire communities in an administrative, referral or clinical capacity providing for the psychosocial needs of the community.

Exploring the field of social work requires a road of education, supervision and experience, and the degree you achieve will eventually affect what kinds of work you can do. The road begins with, at minimum, a Bachelor’s degree, though the work you can do with a Bachelor’s in Social Work will be somewhat limited. To pursue licensure as a social worker in Indiana, you will want to achieve a Master’s in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited institution. The different levels of social worker in Indiana are:

The path to achieve either of these levels is relatively straightforward, but requires diligence and hard work. 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. Read on for a summary of the basic eligibility requirements and board rules for each stage of licensure.

License Type
Education Requirement Supervised Experience Exam
Licensed Social Worker (LSW) Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work 3,000 hours of professional work. No supervised experience requirement prior to licensure. ASWB National Master Social Work Examination
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Master’s Degree in Social Work   Three years, full-time supervised experience. A minimum of 3,000 post-
degree hours.
ASWB National Clinical Social Work Examination

Learn more about social work degrees in Indiana.

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LSW Requirements in Indiana

  1. Educational Requirements: The first step on your road to a career in social work is to pursue a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) degree from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  2. Work Experience: Next, you must put in a minimum of two years, or 3,000 hours, of professional experience. The State of Indiana further specifies that all field experience must be completed "post-baccalaureate, paid, full-time, and supervised" to meet the minimum requirement. To view specific application instructions, see the social work licensure packet provided by the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Service Licensing Board.
  3. Master’s Level Exam Requirement: Finally, you must complete the ASWB National Master Social Work Examination. You should approach the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (PLA) to arrange to take this exam. This is an important distinction: while the ASWB offers a Bachelor’s Examination, only the Master’s Examination is acceptable for licensure in Indiana.
  4. Submit Application Package: Applying for licensure requires you to put together an application packet that includes the following:
    • College transcripts
    • Proof of completion of the ASWB exam
    • Criminal background check information
    • Proof of work experience
    • Completed application (with $50 application fee)

LCSW Requirements in Indiana

An LCSW is a more advanced licensure which allows you to provide clinical, diagnostic and treatment services in the complete range of social services and counseling. It shows that you have put a great deal of commitment and time into your career and are not only a qualified social worker, but also qualified to instruct and supervise other social workers.

  1. Education Requirements: The minimum education for an LCSW is a Master’s of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited institution.
  2. Licensure Requirements: You also must have an LSW before you can begin the process of seeking an LCSW.
  3. Supervised Work Experience: The LCSW requires at least 2 years or 3,000 hours of professional post-degree and full-time work in a supervised capacity. This includes at least four (4) hours per month of face-to-face supervision and evaluation under an LCSW. This supervised work experience need not be consecutive, but it must be completed within five years of your graduation.
  4. Clinical Exam Requirements: Finally, you will need to pass the ASWB National Clinical Social Work Examination, which can be arranged by contacting the Indiana PLA.
  5. Application Package: Upon successful completion of these preliminary requirements, submit to the state an application package that includes the following:
    • College transcripts
    • Verification of LSW
    • Proof of completion of the ASWB exam
    • Proof of work experience
    • Proof of supervision
    • Criminal background check information
    • Completed application (with $50 application fee)

Social Worker Career Outlook In Indiana

In May of 2022, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gathered employment and salary information in all industries in Indiana, including social work. The BLS reported that there were 6,960 child, family and school social workers and 4,550 social workers in a healthcare setting. There are also about 1,600 substance abuse social workers and another 430 specialty social workers employed in Indiana. The child, family and school social workers earned a average annual salary of $47,940 while those in a healthcare setting earned a average annual salary of $57,150. For more information on the occupational data and wage estimates in this state, please visit the Indiana occupational employment statistics page provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why CSWE Accreditation Is Vital

There is no understating how vital it is that your degree comes from a CSWE-accredited institution. The CSWE, or Council on Social Work Education, is a national nonprofit professional association which has over 2,500 individual members. This organization creates standards for education in the field of social work and oversees member institutes to ensure that they are providing a certain level of quality in education and ethics. If your degree comes from an institution that is not accredited by the CSWE, it likely will not be viewed as valid for professional work in the field. This is true of all fifty states. When you pursue education as a social worker, make sure before anything else that your institute is accredited by the CSWE, who maintain a list of accredited institutes and programs on their website.

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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 Indiana:

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.