Social Work License Requirements in Arizona

Arizona social workers are important behavioral health professionals on the front lines of mental health in the state. With over seven million residents, an Arizona social worker is tasked with utilizing the fundamentals of social work to conduct psychotherapy. Their overall goal is to achieve an increase in social function and improve mental health for community members. Arizona social workers fall into one of three categories recognized by the state: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). The highest social work license available, the LCSW, allows social workers to diagnose and treat mental disorders, as well as asses the severity of an illness. The state requires supervised clinical practice at multiple levels throughout a social worker's career. At every level, social workers should hold some form of degree or certification, or should have passed an examination that demonstrates the requirements necessary by the state.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Arizona

To qualify for any type of social work licensure in Arizona, an individual should hold — at a minimum — a Bachelor of Social Work, or BSW. The state’s highest licensure levels require a master’s degree, so continuing education is encouraged throughout one’s career.

Social workers in Arizona will need to determine which level of licensure applies to their education level and pass a test administered by the state. Candidates must file an application with the state that includes personal information (required for maintaining contact with licensees) and supply official transcripts with educational information.

The state also requires a background questionnaire and the individual’s work history from the previous seven years.

This application must be signed, notarized and include a self-query from the Federal Data Bank. Applicants must receive a passing score on either of four tests to be licensed: Bachelor’s, Master’s, Advanced Generalist or Clinical examination.

Licensees must pay a $100 fee for their license upon passing the examination.

Licensed Bachelor of Social Work

Bachelor's level social work programs typically include coursework that is geared toward both children and adults. Students usually study human behavior, policy, practice, and social welfare. Once coursework is completed at the bachelor level from a college or university program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), the individual has two choices. The first is to enter into the field of social work with the potential aim of increasing education over time. The second is to enter directly into a master’s level program. Those who pursue the latter option are typically aiming for clinical work and/or supervisory roles.

Arizona has no work hour requirement for baccalaureate or master's level social work, the two lowest levels of licensure. However, those with a license at these lower levels should consider supervised work experience that meets the requirements the state has outlined for clinical social work. This supervised work allows for independent licensure in the future.

Licensed Master of Social Work

Those enrolled in a Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate program take more advanced courses. They may study a broader understanding of human behavior, and they tend to earn higher salaries than those with a BSW. The MSW is also a requirement for any clinical work.

If the individual chooses to pursue MSW coursework at a CSWE-accredited university and earns the degree, the next step is an application and examination to obtain Arizona licensure. This step is similar to the bachelor level with some important differences.

To obtain LMSW licensure, an MSW can test into the following disciplines: Advanced Generalist or Clinical Examination. The $250 application fee applies, along with a $100 fee once testing has been completed with a passing grade.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

For those seeking LCSW licensure, Arizona carries a supervised work hour requirement in addition to MSW coursework from a CSWE-accredited university. Once the application has been completed and the candidate has successfully passed the examination for clinical social work, the licensee enters the next phase.

Clinical social workers are required to fulfill at least 3,200 hours of clinically supervised work in a time span of no less than 24 months. A minimum of 1,600 of these hours must involve direct client contact and the use of psychotherapy. No more than 400 of these hours can be spent on psychoeducation. Additionally, those seeking supervised experience will need to complete 100 hours of clinical supervision and no more than 1,600 hours of psychotherapy that is indirectly related to clients. Arizona requires a minimum of one hour of clinical supervision for any month where a clinical social worker applicant has direct contact with patients.

Independent Practitioners

Independent practitioners in Arizona must hold a BSW, an MSW, or a doctoral degree from a college or university that is accredited by the CSWE. Upon submission of the application and payment of the $250 fee, the applicant must take one of two approved exams:

  1. International Certification Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse
  2. Examinations from the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors that are level II or above

Once the examination is passed and the $100 fee is paid, the licensee can move onto the next phase. If the licensee is at the bachelor level and wishes to practice nonclinical social work, he or she must complete a minimum of 3,200 supervised work hours as outlined for the “Clinical Social Worker” level. Those at the master’s level can become an independent social worker immediately after passing the examination.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Arizona

Those who hold a current social work license from another state or jurisdiction can practice social work in Arizona under some conditions. First, the applicant must hold the license from the other jurisdiction for at least three years. Master’s level coursework is required for independent practitioners.

Additionally, as of January 12, 2019, the state of Arizona requires that applicants complete the “Arizona Statutes/Regulations” tutorial that is available on the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners website.

Those who do not meet the minimum three-year requirement will need to complete the licensure process as though they were a home resident. A 90-day temporary license is available for active license holders from another jurisdiction.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Arizona social work license renewal requires submission of a renewal application along with a renewal payment every two years. Licensees must also complete 30 hours of continuing education that meets the requirements outlined for coursework of their level. Excess hours are not carried over, but credit is allotted for hours spent in continuing education activities.

The committee may also require other documents that must be furnished within 90 days, or applicants may face a late fee or license expiration.