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Licensed Social Worker


Licensed Social Worker

Frequently Asked Questions


Q.  What are the qualifications to become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW)?

A.  You need to have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree specifically in social work.  Degrees in other fields are not eligible to apply.  Bachelor’s and doctoral degrees need to have been earned from a school regionally accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  Master’s degrees need to have been earned from a social work program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).


Q.  Can I apply if I’m in the last semester of my social work program?

A.  Yes.  If you are currently enrolled in the final semester of your social work bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral program, you are welcome to apply at any time.


Q.  How do I apply for the LSW?

A.  Refer to the LSW Quick Links on this page, and click link #1. LSW Instructions.


Q.  How do I complete the BCI/FBI background checks required for this license?

A.  You can refer to the LSW instructions, or go directly to the BCI/FBI section of our website here:  http://cswmft.ohio.gov/BCIFBIBackgroundChecks/BCIFBIInstructions.aspx


Q.  If I have a criminal record, what additional information do I need to provide?

A.  Along with your online application, you will be required to provide a complete explanation of the underlying circumstances of the crime, with sufficient rehabilitation evidence, and a certified copy of the court documents (judgment entry) related to your conviction. Applicants are required under law to report all misdemeanor and felony convictions, with the exception of minor traffic violations (DUI/OVI charges are NOT considered traffic violations, and must be reported as criminal convictions). Failure to report any police record is falsification of an application and is grounds for denial.  Please be aware that if you have a conviction, your BCI/FBI checks may take up to 30 days for the Board to receive, and your file may also require additional review by the Board before the license can be issued (the Board meets every 60 days).


Q.  Does applying for the LSW also give me approval to take the exam?

A.  Yes.  Once you submit an application and the appropriate documentation, you will also receive an email with approval to take the social work exam you selected.  Allow 5-10 business days for processing.


Q.  How do I prepare for the exam?

A.  The Board contracts with an exam vendor called the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).  They are the ones who offer the exam.  Many answers to your questions about exam structure and content can be found on their website, www.aswb.org.  They do sell study guides and practice exams through their website, and there are many other providers of study material as well.


Q.  Aside from taking the exam, what else do I need to do to get licensed?

A.  Refer to the LSW Quick Links on this page, and click link #1. LSW Instructions.


Q.  Once I pass my test, is my license automatically issued?

A.  Your license will be issued once you have completed ALL the steps required for licensure.  See above.


Q.  On average, how long does it take to get licensed? 

A.  Mostly, that’s up to you.  Processing time on our end is usually not significant.  Once you complete everything and get it all sent in to us, licenses are generally issued within 5-10 business days.  Keep in mind, if you’re applying in your final semester, you can’t be licensed until you graduate.


Q.  Is there a temporary license available?  How do I get that?

A.  The Board acknowledges that many schools will take 1-4 weeks following graduation to post degrees to your transcript.  If you have completed all the steps required for LSW licensure except for having your official transcript sent, you may be eligible to apply for temporary licensure.  Under the LSW Quick Links, select “Temporary Application” for more information and instructions.


Q.  I have a Social Work Trainee (SWT) registration.  Can I keep working under that until I get my LSW?

A.  Your SWT is valid for 30 days after the end of each semester.  As long as you’re still performing work duties at your internship/field site, your SWT is valid during that time period at that site.   Once you’ve graduated, it can’t be renewed again.  And keep in mind, if you’re going to work somewhere else, your SWT is NOT valid at that site.  It’s only valid when you’re working at your internship site. 


Q.  Once my LSW is issued, how long is it good for?

A.  LSWs need to be renewed every two years.


Q.  How do I renew my license?

A.  Renewal information can be found on the Board’s website here:  http://cswmft.ohio.gov/Renewal.aspx  You will complete 30 hours of continuing education (including 3 hours in ethics), complete a renewal application through the Board’s website, and pay the renewal fee.


Q.  What are the continuing education requirements for renewal?  How do I find CEUs? 

A.  The requirement is 30 hours of continuing education every two years, including 3 in ethics.  The Board automatically accepts any CEUs approved by our Board, by ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards), by the national chapter of NASW (National Association of Social Workers), and by NASW-OH.  There are many other sources of continuing education as well, such as college coursework, teaching and presenting, and authoring peer-reviewed journal articles.  You can find information on CEU sources on our website here:  http://cswmft.ohio.gov/Renewal/ContinuingEducationRequirements.aspx  You can also find a list of Board-approved CEUs on this page.


Q.  What is the scope of practice for an LSW? 

A.  For information on the duties you’ll be able to perform with this license, see the rule here:  http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/4757-21-02