How to Become A Social Worker in West Virginia

Social Work Licensing Requirements in West Virginia

The West Virginia Board of Social Work considers social work, at the basic level, to be the application of “social work theory, knowledge, methods, ethics and the professional use of self in social work practice including assessment, planning, intervention, counseling, evaluation and case management supervision.” Qualified social workers will interact with their communities and perform services that can include client advocacy, mental health evaluation and providing guidance in the acquisition of needed services.

In West Virginia, there are four separate types of social work license available:

LICENSE TYPEEDUCATION REQUIREMENTSUPERVISED EXPERIENCEEXAM
Licensed Social Worker
(LSW)
Bachelor’s Degree in
Social Work 
None.Passing grade in ASWB
Basic level exam
Licensed Graduate Social
Worker (LGSW)
Master’s Degree in Social
Work 
NonePassing grade in ASWB
Intermediate level exam
Licensed Certified Social
Worker (LCSW)
Master’s Degree in Social
Work
Two-years post degree
practice work experience.
Passing grade in ASWB
Advanced Generalist
exam
Licensed Independent
Clinical Social Worker
(LICSW)
Master’s, Ph.D., or
Doctoral Degree in Social
Work
3,000 hours or two years
of post-degree supervised
clinical experience.
Passing grade in ASWB
Clinical level exam

Learn more about social work degrees in West Virginia

LSW Requirements in West Virginia

  1. Education: Applicants seeking to become a licensed social worker (LSW) in West Virginia must possess a bachelor’s degree in social work from a social work program that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Proof of degree in the form of an official academic transcript must be provided to the West Virginia Board of Social Work Examiners (WVBSWE) for approval prior to licensure.
  2. Exam: Prior to granting of licensure, applicants must have received a passing grade in the basic level exam that is designed and administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
  3. Responsibilities: Upon becoming a licensed social worker, the licensee is permitted to practice social work in a number of areas. The scope of a licensed social worker can include, but is not necessarily limited to: social advocacy for clients, tasks related to community organizing and training activities that help to increase a client’s social function and standard of living.It should also be noted that a candidate who has received their social work degree through an alternative educational path may apply for a provisionary license as a social worker, but they are not allowed to practice social work independently.

LGSW Requirements in West Virginia

  1. Education: The ability to practice as a licensed graduate social worker in West Virginia is dependent on the applicant having completed a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited social work program and submitting proof of said degree to the WVBSWE in the form of an academic transcript.
  2. Exam: Upon completion of degree, applicants must sit for and pass the ASWB intermediate level exam before licensure will be granted.
  3. Responsibilities: In addition to performing all the duties of a licensed social worker, licensed graduate social workers may also teach social work classes to bachelor’s and master’s level students, as well as perform certain psychotherapeutic services under the guidance of a behavioral health specialist.

LCSW Requirements in West Virginia

  1. Education: The licensing requirements for social work in West Virginia to become a licensed certified social worker (LCSW) include the prerequisite of completion of a master’s level degree in social work. Said degree must have been attained from a social work program that has been granted accreditation by the CSWE.
  2. Experience: After the LCSW has completed their master’s degree, they must complete at least two years of post-graduate social work experience that should take place before the applicant applies for examination.
  3. Exam: Candidates seeking licensure as a LCSW in West Virginia must receive a passing grade in the Advanced Generalist exam that is administered by the ASWB.
  4. Responsibilities: In addition to performing the duties of both a licensed social worker and a licensed graduate social worker, licensed certified social workers can apply social work theory in diagnosing and treating certain mental disorders. Additionally, licensed certified social workers may also perform behavioral health services that are related to social work.

LICSW Requirements in West Virginia

  1. Education: The educational requirement for receiving licensure as a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) can be completed in three separate ways. Firstly, the applicant can have a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited social work program. Secondly, the applicant may have a Ph.D. Finally, the candidate may have a doctoral degree in social work from a university that has been accredited by the CSWE.
  2. Experience: Over a period not to exceed two years a candidate seeking licensure as a LICSW must have completed 3,000 hours of clinical work experience.  100 of these hours must have come under the direct supervision of a qualified clinical licensed social worker; 60 of the 100 hours must have taken place in either a face-to-face or group situation. Additional supervisory requirements can be found by consulting the West Virginia Board of Social Work Examiners.
  3. Exam: Upon completion of clinical work experience, candidates for licensed clinical social work licensure must receive a passing grade in the ASWB Clinical level examination.
  4. Responsibilities: In addition to performing the same duties as the previous three license types, licensed independent clinical social workers provide assessment and treatment for psychological disorders in a clinical setting. Treatment can include solutions ranging from psychotherapy and group counseling.

Limited License Types in West Virginia

In West Virginia, there are two types of limited licenses related to social work: Emeritus Status License and Inactive Status License.

An Emeritus Status License is for licensed social workers who have retired but who possess twenty years’ social work experience and whose license is still in good standing. Becoming an emeritus license entitles the possessor to practice social work for twenty hours a week.

An Inactive Status License is for licensed social workers in good standing who have stopped practicing social work for an indeterminate period of time. Inactive status protects a social workers license from expiration and allows them to more easily transition back to active status when they are ready to being practicing again.

The Importance of CSWE Accreditation

The Council of Social Work Education provides accreditation standards to colleges and university in almost all 50 states. Accreditation, which takes place over a multi-step process, ensures that potential social workers are properly trained in such areas as critical thinking skills and social work theory so that they can effectively perform social work with communities and individuals upon their graduation. Due to the fact that social workers primarily serve vulnerable populations, accredited training provides protection for both the social workers and their clients. It is possible to have the accreditation requirement waved in some circumstances, but a waiver is typically granted solely to medical professionals and licensed psychologists.

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

For additional information from Programs that offer Social Work Degrees and Human Assistance Programs request information below.