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Licensed Independent Social Worker FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) license in Ohio, including supervision and exam requirements.

The Clinical Exam is designed for applicants who have knowledge and experience in a clinical setting, and the Advanced Generalist covers more generalist social work practice.  You can take either exam to earn your LISW.  Additional information on the content of each exam can be found on ASWB’s website here: https://www.aswb.org/exam/measuring-social-work-competence/content-outlines/

 A higher level of license brings more possibilities.  For information on the duties you’ll be able to perform with this license, see the rule here: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/4757-21-03v1​​​​​​​

The requirement is at least two full years of supervised experience.  It’s okay if it takes you longer.  If you are only practicing part-time, you may not credited with more than 1,500 hours of experience during any 12-month period. If you have more than 1,500 hours during your first 12 months, the excess cannot be carried over to the next 12 month period. On the other hand, if you have not completed your first 1,500 hours within the first 12 months, then the time period to complete those hours is extended until you do complete 1,500 hours. You can then begin the second 1,500 hours, which can take over a year but must be for a minimum of 12 months.

LISWs need to be renewed every two years, from the date of issuance.

Once your LISW is issued, your LSW is closed out and does not need to be renewed.  Your LISW will be due for renewal two years after the date it’s issued.

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

The LISW requires two FULL years, 24 months, of supervised social work experience.  How you schedule your supervision is mostly up to you (once a week, twice a week, every other week…), but you do need to be supervised regularly over the course of two full years.  It should be roughly an average of one hour of supervision for twenty hours of work.  And remember, 3000 hours of work also means at least 1500 hours per year.  If you only complete 1000 hours of work in a given calendar year, it’s going to take you longer to earn your supervised experience (see below).

You do need to earn an LSW license before you can start supervised experience toward the LISW.  The LSW must come first.  If you’re not licensed and working in an exempt setting, you can be supervised according to the rules of your agency, but if you’d like to earn an LISW, you need to hold an LSW and be receiving training supervision from an LISW-S. 

If you hold an out-of-state license and you work for an exempt federal employer, you may be eligible to earn supervised experience in Ohio without an LSW.  Contact the Board staff for more information.

To work toward the LISW, you first need to have earned an LSW, as well as a master’s degree in social work from a program accredited by CSWE (Council on Social Work Education).  You would then complete two years (24 FULL months) of post-LSW, post-MSW supervised social work experience, during which time you complete at least 3000 hours of work in a social work setting, and at least 150 hours of face-to-face training supervision with an LISW-S. 

The LISW application will ask you to attach a statement and court documents related to any crimes of which you’ve been convicted.  If there are no new convictions since your LSW was issued, you can simply attach a statement indicating that all convictions have been previously reported to the Board, and there’s nothing new to disclose.  If you HAVE been convicted of a crime since your LSW was issued, you will be asked to attach a statement of explanation and copies of the certified court documents.

BCI/FBI checks are required for all LISW applicants.  An upgraded license brings increased responsibilities, and the Board needs to verify whether there are any recent convictions on your record.  And remember, background checks are only valid for one year once the Board receives them.

Renewal information can be found here. 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.

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.

Refer to the LISW Instructions.

For active-duty military and their spouses, there may be exemptions to the normal supervisory rules.  Contact the Board staff for more information.

Yes. Once you submit an application and the appropriate documentation, you will also receive an email with approval to take either the Clinical or Advanced Generalist exam, whichever you’ve selected.  Allow at least 10 business days for processing.

You do need to hold an LSW first. The LISW requires two years of supervised experience in a social work setting, and you need an LSW in order to practice social work.

Supervised experience that is completed in another state according to that state’s laws and rules can most often be accepted for Ohio licensure.  Contact the Board if you have questions about your specific situation.

Please refer to the LISW Instructions.

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