Students enrolled in Florida State University’s online MSW program make strides towards their career goals in social work. It is important for those aiming for clinical roles to know the requirements for the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential in the state in which they plan to practice. This article explores the role of an LCSW and highlights the licensure steps for the state of Virginia.
What Can I Do with an LCSW Designation?
While there are many paths one can take with graduate studies in social work, the designation is crucial for those who plan to pursue clinical roles in fields such as family therapy, marriage counseling, substance abuse counseling, or school social work. These professional paths are in high demand – the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) reports a more than 20% growth in jobs for marriage and family therapists alone by 2026 – and can yield both personal and financial satisfaction.
Do I need to hold an MSW degree to pursue LCSW licensure?
Yes – step one in the LCSW credentialing process is to complete your MSW degree with a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This accreditation, which Florida State University holds, is important because it ensures that the curriculum within the MSW program is consistent with others nationwide in preparing students for social work roles. The state of Virginia also stipulates that, in addition to this CSWE accreditation, your MSW program must include at least 600 hours of practicum experience before graduation.
Will I need more experience hours beyond the MSW practicum?
While practicum hours can give you ample opportunity to learn key concepts as you pursue your MSW degree, you will need to fulfill at least 3,000 additional supervised hours within clinical practice within a two to four-year consecutive time frame after graduation. The state of Virginia mandates that a minimum of 1,380 of these hours must involve in-person patient care, and at least 100 hours must be under the direct oversight of your LCSW-credentialed social work practitioner.
You’ll need your MSW degree completed to begin these hours, and you’ll also need official permission from the state: Virginia requires that all LCSW candidates complete an application through the Virginia Department of Health Professions to approve their selected supervisor and clinical location before commencing this component of their training.
What happens after I complete my supervision hours?
Once you complete your hours, you may submit your LCSW application to the Virginia Department of Health Professions. As part of this application, you will need your supervisor to submit a Verification of Clinical Supervision form to confirm completion of hours. Once your application is approved, you can register for the licensing exam.
The Association of Social Workers Board’s (ASWB) clinical level exam assesses the test taker’s facilities in key social work concepts across roughly 170 multiple-choice questions. Your results can be reported directly to the state to facilitate processing of your application.
If you don’t pass your ASWB exam, you can make plans to retake it. However, it is important to remember that you’ll need to pay the $260 exam fee each time. It’s also valuable to note that Virginia limits you to a two-year time frame to retake the exam. After passing the exam, you can submit the remaining portions of the application and pay the $165 fee, then your license will be approved. The state will notify you by email and will receive a hard copy of your license within 30 days. LCSW licenses must be renewed each year at a cost of $90. This can easily be done online with proof that you’ve completed the required continuing education credits.
How can I start to prepare for my LCSW?
The LCSW path is both rigorous and rewarding. Students can prepare by enrolling in a graduate program that is equipped to meet the needs of the licensure process. Florida State’s online MSW program is CSWE accredited, clinically-focused, and available to students nationwide.
Virginia students can take advantage of the Traditional or Advanced track, depending on their Bachelor’s degree. With a wide array of support and professional development services, students are prepared to bolster their career and work towards licensure after graduation.