Students in Florida State University’s online Master of Social Work (MSW) program can start working towards licensure after graduation. Requirements for the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) designation are state-specific, yet when met, the credential can broaden your scope of practice. This article offers an overview of LCSW roles and dives into the requirements to achieve licensure in the state of New Jersey.
What is the LCSW designation?
The LCSW grants professional ability to deliver individual and group treatment (e.g. mental health and psychotherapy services) in the state of New Jersey. With your LCSW, you will be clinically-focused and can operate independently through private practice, or work in various settings such as schools, hospitals, or nonprofit organizations. Many LCSWs become experts in family therapy, marriage counseling, substance abuse counseling, or school social work.
What education do I need for my LCSW?
The minimum education requirement for a New Jersey LCSW is an MSW degree from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). CSWE accreditation is essential because it serves as confirmation that the program has met quality assurance standards. Florida State’s online MSW program is accredited by the CSWE.
The New Jersey State Board of Social Work Examiners also requires that your MSW transcript reflect a minimum of 12 graduate-level semester hours covering clinical social work practice and methodology. These areas might include classes that examine diagnosis, psychotherapy models, clinical consultations, or intervention techniques.
How do I start working towards LCSW requirements?
In the final semester of your MSW program, you can start working towards LCSW requirements by applying for your Licensed Social Worker (LSW) designation first. The LSW credential is a preliminary requirement by the state before submitting your LCSW application. To achieve this initial credential, you need to:
- Submit a pre-approval form to the New Jersey State Board of Social Work- this lets you register for the Master’s exam through the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB)
- Successfully pass the ASWB exam
- Submit a completed application, along with your transcripts, to the New Jersey State Board of Social Work
- Complete a background check
Completing these steps should put you well on your way to LSW licensure. When approved, the LSW credential will allow you to practice social work, earning supervised experience hours as you work towards LCSW requirements. Keep in mind though, that you can sit for the ASWB exam during the last semester of your online MSW program- so being proactive during graduate school shortens the amount of time you will have to wait in earning your LSW credential.
What are New Jersey LCSW requirements for work experience?
With your online MSW degree complete and your LSW credential attained, you will then need to complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in no less than two (but no more than four) years. While this work experience requirement is relatively standard across state licensure boards, New Jersey’s LCSW requirements are distinct in that they mandate a minimum of 1,920 of these hours be documented as face-to-face work with clients and patients. Additionally, half of the 1,920 hours – or 960 hours total – should be conducted in a psychotherapeutic setting. These hours need to be logged by a licensed supervisor and accompanied by a certification document; your supervisor will submit this document as a part of your New Jersey LCSW application.
Do I need to take an LCSW exam?
Yes, an exam for licensure is required. One of the final steps after you complete your work experience hours is to pass the ASWB Clinical exam, which is similar to the ASWB Master’s exam that allowed you to earn your LSW credential. The ASWB clinical exam is the standard LCSW exam, assessing your knowledge of core principles in the field of social work across roughly 170 multiple choice questions. You will need to submit an application prior to registering for the exam and wait for approval by the board.
After you are notified and approved, you can register to take the ASWB Clinical exam. Out of the 170 questions you will answer, 150 questions will be scored (20 are non-scored, “pretest” questions mixed in.) To pass the exam, you will need to answer within a range of 93 to 107 questions correctly. These are called “pass points” and the number varies depending on the version of the test you’re taking. The same pass-point requirement is recognized within the jurisdiction that administers ASWB exams. For more information, contact your state board directly.
If you do not pass the exam, you will be provided with the diagnostic information outlining your performance. You can take the test again after 90 days, but there may be limits to how often you can retake it. Contact your jurisdiction directly for steps to retake the exam within your state.
I’ve passed my ASWB Clinical exam. Now what?
After you are notified that you have passed the exam, you can contact the New Jersey State Board of Social Work Examiners for a license application. Following approval of your application, you will receive your LCSW license. Once you have your new LCSW credential, take some time to celebrate your success. Not only have you navigated the New Jersey LCSW process, but you’ve officially set yourself on course for a rewarding career in clinical social work.
Starting your journey with Florida State University’s online MSW program helps you establish a clinically-focused foundation. With over 100 years of coursework and a robust curriculum, students apply knowledge gained directly to the field- making a difference in the communities they serve.