How to Become a Social Worker in Wisconsin

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

Each type of licensure comes with its own requirements that qualify candidates to perform different levels of social work services. See these requirements broken down below:

LICENSE TYPEEDUCATION REQUIREMENTSUPERVISED EXPERIENCEEXAM
Certified Advance Practice
Social Worker
(CAPSW)
Master’s Degree in Social
Work 
No supervised experience
required for initial
licensure.
ASWB Master level exam
Certified Independent
Social Worker (CISW)
Master’s Degree in Social
Work 
Two years, full-time
supervised experience. A
minimum of 3,000 post
-degree hours.
ASWB Advanced
Generalist 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 hours, including
1,000 face-to-face hours
with clients.
ASWB Clinical level
exam

Learn more about social work degrees in Wisconsin

CAPSW Requirements in Wisconsin

The rules and regulations of the State of Wisconsin authorize a licensed Certified Advance Practice Social Worker to provide social work services only under appropriate supervision. CAPSWs 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) or a doctorate in Social Work.
  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 Wisconsin

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 2 years of full time supervised work (or the part time equivalent) totaling 3,000 hours of non-clinical experience.
  3. ASWB Advanced Generalist 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 Wisconsin

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 – LCSW candidates must have completed 2 years of full time work experience (or the part time equivalent) totaling 3,000 hours of supervised clinical practice in the state of Wisconsin, which includes at least 1,000 of face-to-face client contact that entails treatment of individuals and DSM diagnosis.
  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 Wisconsin: