Social Work License Requirements in Alabama
The state of Alabama has three levels of social work licensure: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). A master’s degree is the highest level of education required to obtain any license in the state. Social workers handle a range of community, family and individual-focused mental health needs. Depending on the level of education and licensure, they may engage with planning or administration of treatment. Those with the highest levels of licensure tend to diagnose and treat disorders and illnesses or supervise at the clinical level.
Check out our list of the best BSW programs in Alabama.
Social Work Licensure Requirements in Alabama
The first step toward a career in social work in the state of Alabama is to obtain a degree from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The most opportunity for career advancement exists at the master’s or doctoral level, but those with a bachelor’s degree can begin work once they have passed the proper exams.
The Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW) is the basic licensure level and allows for general practice in social service agencies. The LBSW must work under the supervision of an LMSW or an LCISW for a minimum of two years. The LBSW works with individuals, families or communities by gathering and assessing information, developing and implementing a care plan, and providing follow-up treatment.
The Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) may provide a range of social services to individuals, families or communities and is able to provide supervision to Licensed Bachelor Social Workers (LBSW). The LMSW can practice in social or clinical work, community organizations, and social work research and administration.
The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) should be prepared to operate independently and display expertise in skill and treatment with at least one client group (individual, family or communities). They may supervise Licensed Bachelor Social Workers (LBSW) and Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSW).
An Alabama social worker must be at least 19 years old, and must have paid for and passed the state licensing board's examination requirement. Students have one year from the date an application is approved by the Alabama state licensing board to take the exam. The examination fee is $230 for bachelor and master level exams and $260 for the clinical exam. The expiration of approval will be on the letter received from the state licensing board. Should an applicant fail the exam and wish to retake it, he or she can complete the re-examination process online. The same exam fee must be paid each time the test is taken. Exam dates must be at least 90 days apart, which allows applicants to retake the test up to four times per year.
Licensed Bachelor of Social Work
Once the candidate has received a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from a college or university accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the next step involves applying for the state licensing board's approval to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Bachelors Exam. Applicants are advised to review all application requirements thoroughly and to provide documentation of a baccalaureate degree with transcripts. Alabama allows applicants to fill out the form online or mail in the documents. Upon approval, prospective social workers have up to one year to receive a passing grade on the ASWB Bachelors Exam. This exam is available at any Pearson View testing center and costs $230.
Those who hold a BSW and are seeking state licensure must also complete an acknowledgment of supervision. New license holders must receive four hours of licensed supervision each month. This supervision must last for a total of 96 hours across 24 months, and must be completed within 36 months of licensure. After this initial period ends, those with a Licensed Bachelor of Social Work (LBSW) licensure are no longer required to receive supervision from an LMSW or a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).
Licensed Master of Social Work
To become an LMSW in Alabama, a candidate must hold a master’s or doctoral degree from a CSWE-accredited university and take an exam for the master’s level. This process begins with an application for eligibility to take the ASWB Masters Exam. The Alabama state licensing board requires transcripts and documentation of a degree, along with a $75 fee for the application. Once a candidate is deemed license eligible, the next step is to schedule and pass the examination.
The Masters Exam cost $230 and may be taken at any Pearson View testing center. The state licensing board will automatically receive the results of an exam and will grant licensure with a passing score. LMSW holders can practice independently or pursue clinical work.
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
The LICSW is the highest level of licensure available for Alabama social work. This role requires a master’s or doctoral degree in the field of social work from a CSWE-accredited university and a current LMSW license. Additionally, candidates must have two years of post-graduate social work experience before eligibility can be sought.
This licensure process begins with acquiring 24 months of work experience supervised by an LICSW, which must be fulfilled within 36 months. Potential LICSWs must also receive four hours of supervision each month throughout this process. Once the work experience has been acquired, candidates can apply for eligibility to take the ASWB Clinical Exam. Upon approval, candidates have one year to complete the exam and receive a passing grade. This clinical level exam costs $260 and is available at any Pearson View testing center.
LICSWs who wish to operate or practice in an independent clinic must also receive a Private Independent Practice license. This license is optional and carries additional requirements beyond the LICSW. Candidates must have two years of full-time or three years of part-time work experience in specified social work under a PIP-certified LICSW. Once this work requirement is met, the LICSW can apply for PIP licensure and pay the $75 fee. No further testing is needed.
Social Work License Reciprocity in Alabama
To practice social work in Alabama, professionals with out-of-state licensure must apply for reciprocity in Alabama. They must also hold a current license in good standing with all qualifications met. The licensure requirements of the home state must be equivalent to Alabama’s requirements. Applicants must pay the $75 fee and apply online or through the mail. The board also requires out-of-state applicants to provide a Verification of License form used to review licensing in the previous state.
Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Alabama social workers must fulfill 30 hours of continuing education every two years to renew their license. Twenty of these hours may be completed through self-study or home-study programs. Three hours are required to be in ethics and three hours must be in clinical social work education. Supervisors are also required to have three hours in supervision education in order to fulfill their requirements for renewal.