The path to becoming a licensed social worker may seem long, but the journey is well-worth it. Social work is an expanding field, with many opportunities. The process of getting a license to practice social work in Florida is similar to other U.S. states, though there are some differences that candidates should understand. Consider the specifics pertaining to the state you plan to practice in, and talk with career counselors or admissions staff to further detail this protocol.
Social work licensure in Florida
The rules and regulations that govern the field of social work in Florida are quite straight-forward and outlined online and through academic institutions across the state. These guidelines are put in place to ensure safe practice of social work, and to recognize practitioners from other regions that come to the state to work. The basic process of obtaining a Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) involves:
- A degree from an accredited social work program.
- Background check and health screenings.
- Permission from the state board to sit for the clinical examination.
- A specified number of practice hours, including placements, internships, and practicums.
- A specified amount of clinical supervision.
- Documentation and fees.
Common social work guidelines
Social work candidates will see many commonalities with other states in terms of obtaining their LCSW in Florida. The state is clear about the regulations prior to and following the clinical examination. Many of the similar guidelines pertain to southern states, which offer reciprocal recognition of LCSW licensure when practitioners relocate to and practice from another region.
- A similarity among southern states is the need for a two-year probationary period, often referred to as a conditional licensure. This conditional licensure, LCSW-cc in most regions, has its own set of requirements before graduates are permitted to take the test to become fully-licensed in their state.
- License reciprocity for other states, which makes it easier for practitioners to pick-up and begin practicing in other regions while obtaining their LCSW for that particular state.There is relative ease in obtaining licensure in more than one state, often requiring only a form, fee, and documentation. Florida does not have reciprocity with other states. In other states, such as Texas, you might be able to get a waiver for the licensing exam if you are licensed in another state that required the ASWB exam.
- Another commonality is the need to obtain approval to sit for the exam after taking all required coursework from a recognized social work program. This permission comes from the state board of the state you are applying to practice in.
The licensure distinctions among states seems most prominent when moving from southern states to northern regions. The main difference among neighboring states in the southern U.S. seems to revolve around supervision requirements. For example, North Carolina requires one hour of supervision for every 30 hours of practice, while Florida mandates one hour of supervision for every 15 hours of psychotherapy attended or provided by the candidate. By contrast, Virginia requires 100 hours of supervision with a licensed practitioner per 3,000 required hours of practice during the licensure process. Florida State University offers professional development resources aimed at helping students through the licensure process.
Although there are many similarities, there are enough differences that students should consult with their own state laws to determine if they are eligible for licensure, renewal, or clinical practice. Accredited online degree programs, such as the Master’s of Social Work at Florida State University, will be able to help prepare you for the examination and licensure application that will lead you toward autonomous practice as a social worker.
For further reading, check out this blog post: MSW Spotlight: Q&A with Craig Stanley, Ph., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs