How to Become a Social Worker in New York

New York Social Work Licensing Requirements

Social work is a professional career path that is focused on providing social services and educations to communities. It is focused on social justice and improvement as well as fostering diversity and social, psychological and emotional wellness to individuals, families and groups. Those seeking to work in this field in the state of New York will want to pursue licensure from the state.

In New York, the State Office of the Professions offers two levels of licensure:

Licensed Master’s Social
Master’s Degree in Social Work


No supervised experience
requirement prior to
ASWB National Master Social
Work Examination
Licensed Clinical Social
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 New York

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LMSW Requirements in New York

Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSW) perform generalist and administrative duties in the field of social work. They may sometimes provide clinical services, but must do so only under the supervision of an LCSW.

  1. Education Requirements: A master’s degree is required from an institute of higher learning that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). In addition, training in mandated reporting of suspected child abuse is required.
  2. Work Requirements: There are no supervision requirements to obtain licensure as an LMSW, but you must be working as a social worker.
  3. Exam Requirements: This licensure requires passing the national ASWB social work exam at the master’s level. You will apply through the state board to take this exam.
  4. Application Package: Following the completion of the above requirements, submit an application package that includes the following elements:
    • Official academic transcripts
    • Completed application for licensure
    • $294 application fee
    • Proof of exam completion
    • Proof of coursework in identification of and reporting potential child abuse

LCSW Requirements in New York

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) are able to practice clinical social work, providing independent clinical assessment and treatment of psychosocial disorders as a therapist or other clinician.

  1. Education Requirements: A CSWE-accredited master’s degree is required for this level of licensure. Mandated child abuse reporter training is also required.
  2. Work Requirements: A minimum of three years of clinical work are required under the supervision of a board-approved clinical social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. 2,000 hours of client contract hours are required, which are spent in assessment, psychotherapy and diagnosis of psychosocial problems.
  3. Exam Requirements: Applicants must complete the ASWB master’s level clinical exam. The state board will help you register.
  4. Application Package: Following completion of these requirements, you will submit an application package which must contain:
    • Official academic transcripts
    • Completed application for licensure
    • $294 application fee
    • Documentation of supervised hours
    • Proof of exam completion
    • Proof of coursework in identification and reporting potential child abuse 

R Privilege

In New York, “R” privilege refers to a requirement that psychotherapy services you provide must be reimbursed by insurance companies. This is not a separate licensure, but a privilege that is added on to your LCSW licensure. Those social workers who wish to go into private practice must carry R Privilege.

  1. Additional Work Requirements: An additional three years of supervision beyond LCSW acquisition is required to obtain R privilege. This supervision requires a minimum of an extra 2,400 client hours in psychotherapy.
  2. Continuing Contact: To maintain R privilege, you must maintain a minimum of 400 contact hours every year.
  3. Application Package: Your application package will include proof of LCSW licensure, documentation of additional supervision and a $100 application fee.

The Importance of CSWE Accreditation

In order to practice social work in New York, you must have education through an accredited CSWE approved institute of higher learning. The Council of Social Work Accreditation 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.

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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 New York: