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Fact Sheet

Chapter 4757 of the Ohio Revised Code established licensure for social workers in October 1984. It also created a Counselor and Social Worker Board to issue these licenses and to regulate the practice of social work. The information contained in this fact sheet is summarized from that law and from the Board's rules, copies of which can be downloaded from this site and are available in print upon request.

THE PRACTICE OF SOCIAL WORK: The law defines social work as "the application of specialized knowledge of human development and behaviors and social, economic, and cultural systems in directly assisting individuals, families and groups to improve or restore their capacity for social functioning including counseling and the use of psychosocial interventions and social psychotherapy for a fee, salary, or other consideration."

Social workers licensed by the Board have a large scope of practice including administration, hospice, nursing homes, hospitals, mental health, etc. see rules 4757-21-01 through 4757-21-03. Each social worker has a personal competency within the license's scope of practice, which is determined by their education, training and practice as defined within the board’s ethics rules in paragraph (A) of rule 4757-5-02 of the Administrative Code.

WHO MUST BE LICENSED AND WHO IS EXEMPT: Persons using the title of "social worker" or persons performing social work "for a fee, salary, or other consideration" must be licensed by the Counselor and Social Worker Board, except for the following catagories of people who are exempt from the licensure requirements:
  1. Persons certified by the State Board of Education who perform social work as a school employee or in a program for training developmentally disabled persons;
  2. any other professionals licensed or certified by the State of Ohio while performing services within the recognized scope, standards and ethics of their professions;
  3. clergy and other religious practitioners and persons participating with them in pastoral counseling as part of their ministerial duties and under the auspices of a federally recognized church or auxilliary,
  4. persons employed in the civil service as defined in section 124.01 of the Ohio Revised Code;
  5. students from accredited educational institutions who are performing supervised activities as part of their prescribed course of study;
  6. certified alcoholism or drug abuse counselors;
  7. American Red Cross employees providing services to military families, veterans, and disaster relief;
  8. counselors from labor organizations who hold union counselor certificates while performing in that official capacity;
  9. hospital or nursing home employees who perform social services other than counseling, psychosocial interventions or social psychotherapy.

SOCIAL WORKER: Performs counseling, psychosocial interventions and social psychotherapy under supervision. Social Workers cannot be private practitioners. If they are employees of a private practitioner or group practice, their social work must be supervised by a Professional Clinical Counselor, a psychologist, an Independent Social Worker, a psychiatrist or an RN with a masters degree in psychiatric nursing.

Eligibility Requirements: A Social Worker must have at least a bachelors degree in social work or in a field related to social work from an accredited educational institution. If the degree is in a related field, the degree must have been awarded on or before October 10, 1992. Fields related to social work are degrees in which the applicant has coursework totaling at least 30 quarter hours (20 semester hours) in three of the following areas: (1) Human Development and Behavior - The social, psychological and physiological growth of an individual, and effects on the growth of a personality in a social environment; (2) Methods of Social Intervention - Casework, groupwork, community organization and practice, social research and administration; (3) Social Welfare and Policy - The history of social welfare and policy; (4) Social Work Theory - The study of the principles which demonstrate various types of socio-psychological interventions. Applicants must also have a course in Field Work - Not less than four hundred hours of supervised practicum and/or field experience, with a primary focus on social intervention, structured or regulated by a department or program in the behavioral or social sciences. All necessary coursework must have been completed prior to October 10, 1992 and have a passing score of "C" or higher. All related degree applicants must pass the "Bachelor" examination required for Social Worker.

Application Procedure: You have to apply online at license.ohio.gov in order to receive pre-approval to take the licensure examination. You may sit for the examination once you are approved by the board. You may apply prior to graduation with a letter from your school stating that you are scheduled to graduate in the current term, if you have completed an application. Related degree applicants will have to apply for a license in order for the board to review their qualifications; please remember that you must have graduated with your related degree prior to October 10, 1992 to be eligible. Go here for more information Related Degree Application Instructions.

INDEPENDENT SOCIAL WORKER: Performs counseling, psychosocial interventions and social psychotherapy without supervision in an agency setting, as a private practitioner, or as an independent contracter.

Eligibility Requirements: To obtain this license you must have a masters or doctoral degree in social work from an accredited educational institution. In addition, you must have two years (3000 hours) of social work experience obtained after your graduate degree under the supervision of an Independent Social Worker. Applicants for this license who receive their experience in Ohio will need to work as a Licensed Social Worker while they acquire the qualifing experience for independent licensure. Applicants must pass the "advanced" or "clinical" examination required for Licensed Independent Social Worker.

Application Procedure: You have to apply online at license.ohio.gov in order to receive pre-approval to take the licensure examination unless you are currently licensed by the Board.

  • If you were licensed with a MSW send a letter or email requesting approval to take the examination.
  • If you were licensed with a BSW, then submit your transcript for your MSW and a request to take the examination.
  • If you are in your last term and provide a letter from your school that you will graduate that term and are a licensed LSW, send a request to take the examination with proof of imminenet graduation.
You may sit for the examination once you are approved by the board. You may apply prior to completing your two years of supervised experience.