Social Work License Requirements in Arkansas

With an increased demand for healthcare and a growing population, social work positions in the state of Arkansas are expected to increase for the foreseeable future. Currently, all social work licenses in Arkansas are overseen and awarded by the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board. No matter what kind of social work graduates wish to pursue, it is important to understand the guidelines set forth by the ASWLB. Social workers help communities in any number of ways. They help people solve and cope with everyday problems; they diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral issues; and, more importantly, they help communities prosper and thrive. Aspiring social workers with a variety of levels of education and experience can serve local communities by obtaining the appropriate license in Arkansas.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Arkansas

To perform social work in Arkansas, there are three paths that can be taken: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), or Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW). An LSW allows licensees to work in entry-level social work jobs under supervision, but doesn’t allow them to do any clinical work. An LMSW is allowed to do clinical work but still requires supervision, while an LCSW allows licensees to do clinical work without supervision.

Classes typically associated with social work degree programs in Arkansas include Social Work Research and Technology, Human Diversity and Social Work, Social Welfare Policy and Human Development. With more advanced classes, students can expect to take courses that transition into internships, as well as fieldwork practice courses. Social work is a hands-on profession that requires real-world experience. To learn how to become a social worker, aspiring social workers should carefully review the requirements for each type of license.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW)

The application to become a licensed social worker (LSW) can be found and submitted online, or mailed in to the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board office. Either option requires a $100 fee, but there is an additional fee to submit online. After applying, aspiring social workers will also need to have an official transcript showing their bachelor’s degree from an accredited program sent to the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board. Once the application is submitted, the ASWLB will mail a fingerprint card to conduct a criminal background check. After providing fingerprints, applicants will be granted a provisional license. With this, applicants can practice as an LSW for up to one year and are allowed up to three tries to pass the licensing exam.

After the application is received by the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board, they will notify the candidate that they are approved to take the exam. Once approved, applicants take the ASWB Bachelors Exam which costs $230. The test consists of 170 multiple choice questions and must be completed in four hours. After the test is taken, applicants are notified on whether or not they passed within two weeks. If passed, the provisional LSW license will transition to a permanent LSW license.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

Those with an MSW degree from an approved college or university can apply to be an LMSW. With this credential, social workers can work in a clinical setting but still need to work under supervision. The application can be completed either online or by mail. The fee is $100, with an additional fee of $5.50 for filing online.

Applicants must complete a background check as part of the application process. When the application has been reviewed, candidates will receive a fingerprint card in the mail. Once the criminal background screening is complete, applicants will receive a provisional license for one year. During this year, applicants have three tries to pass the ASWB Masters Exam. The ASWB Masters Exam costs $230 and consists of 170 multiple choice questions that must be completed within four hours.

Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)

For social workers who want to work independently in Arkansas, an LCSW is required. With this license, graduates can do both nonclinical and clinical social work. To become an LCSW, applicants must have an MSW from an approved college or university. They must also complete 4,000 hours of supervised fieldwork in two years or less under the supervision of an approved LCSW. This experience can be detailed in a Supervision Plan form which can be found here.

The LCSW application can be printed and mailed in, or completed online. Both options have a fee of $100 (online submission also requires a convenience fee of $5.50). The LCSW-credentialed supervisor will need to submit an evaluation form, and applicants need to have their college or university mail in a copy of their transcript. After the application is received, applicants will be sent a fingerprint card so a criminal background check can be conducted. Then, candidates must take the clinical exam. The ASWB Clinical Exam, which costs $260, has 170 multiple choice questions that must be completed within four hours. Applicants should be notified of their score within three weeks of taking the test.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Arkansas

The state of Arkansas accepts social work licenses issued in other states without requiring the applicant to retake the test. There is an application form that needs to be submitted, either by mail or online. A Verification of Licensure in Other State form and a copy of the ASWB exam results must be included with the application. The application fee is $100, with an additional fee of $5.50 if the application is submitted online. Reciprocity licenses are only granted when the original licensing state has guidelines that are equal to or greater than Arkansas’ standards. Applicants may receive a provisional license that allows them to continue providing social work in Arkansas while awaiting the application and criminal background check results.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Social workers must renew their license every two years to continue practicing social work in Arkansas. Currently, the cost to renew a license is $80. Prior to renewing a social work license, professionals must complete 48 hours of continuing education courses. Ten hours may come from giving lectures, and only 20 may be completed through home study or online courses. For more information on renewing an Arkansas social work license, visit the Arkansas Social Work Licensing Board's website. More information on continuing education guidelines can be found at this link.