Those who plan to seek a position as a licensed social worker in a clinical setting following completion of Florida State University's online Master of Social Work (MSW) degree can already be ahead of the game given the program’s dynamic and comprehensive curriculum. Beyond academic preparation, however, MSW graduates need to know the steps to professional licensure for the state in which they plan to practice. This article reviews the requirements in the state of South Carolina to become a Licensed Independent Social Worker-Clinical Practice (LISW-CP), that state’s equivalent of the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) designation seen in many other states.
CSWE-Accredited MSW Degree
In addition to the minimum requirement of 45 academic contact hours of coursework in the fields of psychodiagnostics and psychopathology, South Carolina also mandates that LISW-CP applicants complete their MSW degree with a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Attending a CSWE-accredited MSW degree program, like that offered by Florida State University’s online MSW program, is crucial as this organization sets the standards for social work curricula across the country. Accordingly, attending a CSWE-accredited program ensures that you can be at the cutting edge of the profession with classes that incorporate new methodologies and advances in the field.
Current State LMSW License
Applicants for the LISW-CP designation need also to have already achieved the Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) credential. To accomplish this licensure, candidates must apply to the South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners along with the associated fee. In addition, they must submit an official transcript reflecting their completion of their MSW degree. Finally, these candidates must also successfully pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Masters level exam.
3,000 Hours of Professional Practice
To further develop the skills learned in the classroom, South Carolina’s LISW-CP requirements also mandate that LMSW licensed professionals must accomplish 3,000 hours of supervised work experience in a clinical environment. These hours can be completed in no less than two years but no more than four years immediately after the LMSW designation is achieved. Of these hours, a minimum of 100 should be designated as direct contact hours, which are those in which the candidate is under direct supervision by the licensed clinical practitioner. It is possible, however, that the state licensing board will allow up to half of those hours to be group hours, meaning those acquired among a small handful of other prospective candidates.
Passing ASWB Clinical Exam Score
When these hours are complete, applicants can then register for the ASWB Clinical level exam, which includes 170 multiple choice questions that test on concepts and skills necessary for success in the field of social work. A passing score is achieved by answering at least 96 of the 170 questions correctly. According to the Association of Social Work Boards’ 2017 statistics, roughly 81% of people taking the ASWB at the Clinical level passed the exam on their first attempt. A failing grade on this exam means that you’ll need to take it. It is is important to keep in mind that LISW-CP candidates in South Carolina are only allowed to attempt the ASWB exam three times in a calendar year period.
With these steps accomplished, applicants can complete the associated paperwork, pay the application fee, and await hopefully good news from the South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners. Remember to check with the Board regularly for relevant updates. It is an exciting journey that can begin with Florida State University’s online MSW program and that can end with you as a licensed independent social worker with the freedom to follow wherever your career dreams might lead.