The purpose of licensing and certification in social work it to assist the public through identification of standards for the safe professional practice of social work. Each state defines by law what is required for each level of social work licensure. Typically, there are four categories of practice that states may legally regulate.

BASIC: Baccalaureate social work degree upon graduation.
INTERMEDIATE: Master's degree in social work (MSW) with no post-degree experience;
ADVANCED: MSW with two years post-master's supervised experience; and
CLINICAL: MSW with two years post-master's direct clinical social work experience

Social work degrees must be obtained from programs of social work that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or other nationally recognized accrediting agencies. Non-social work degrees are accepted in some instances at the Basic level. Some states regulate only one of these practice levels, while most states regulate two or more levels of social work practice.

Association of Social Work Boards This is one of the best sites for summary information and links to licensing information throughout the country.

Social Work Examination Services has been a leader in providing on-site review courses and home study programs specifically designed to prepare social workers for license examinations throughout the United States. Their web-site provides links to most state boards.

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