Social Work License Requirements in Colorado

Pursuing a career in Colorado social work comes with a range of possibilities. Whether students wish to work in schools, run a clinic or even draft policy, a social work licensure can help aspiring social workers achieve their goals. The Colorado Board of Social Workers, which sets parameters for licensure, and oversees applications; offers a choice between becoming a licensed master of social work (LMSW) or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Understanding these two licensing paths helps students learn how to become a social worker in Colorado. Additionally, the CBSW also allows current license holders from other states the opportunity to apply for a Colorado state social work license and assists in navigating the renewal process.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Colorado

There are two paths to practicing social work in Colorado. The first is by becoming an LMSW, which requires a Council for Social Work Education (CSWE) approved master’s degree. Currently, there are three approved master of social work (MSW) programs available in Colorado, which are offered at Colorado State University, MSU Denver and University of Denver. While students do not necessarily need a BSW to qualify for one of these programs, completing an undergraduate program can shorten the amount of time it takes to earn an MSW. Once enrolled in an approved MSW program, students can choose a concentration in a specific area of interest. Common concentrations include aging services, children and youth, health and wellness, and mental health. For students wishing to become a social worker with a clinical focus, this can be accomplished in Colorado by becoming a licensed clinical social worker. In addition to obtaining an MSW, applicants will need to complete supervised experience in the field.

Licensed Social Worker

In order to become a LSW and pursue a career in Colorado social work, applicants need a CSWE approved master's degree, as well as other required credentials. First, aspiring social workers must pass an examination from the ASWB, as well as the Colorado Mental Health Profession's Jurisprudence Examination. Applicants are also required to answer a series of screening questions and complete a Healthcare Professions Profiling Program. Once the ASWB exam has been passed, applicants can apply for licensure directly online. The application requires extensive personal information including social security number, Affidavit of Eligibility, name change documentation and a list of any other licenses held that are related to psychotherapy or social work, along with verification.

The review process is performed by an application specialist, and application status can be monitored by logging onto Colorado's Online Services.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Becoming an LCSW in Colorado requires transcripts from a masters degree program that is approved by the CSWE. Applicants must pass a number of exams to practice Colorado social work in a clinical setting. Aspiring social workers must pass the ASWB Clinical Exam, answer screening questions from the state of Colorado and complete the Healthcare Professions Profiling Program. By the time the application is submitted, applicants are required to have documented 3,360 hours of experience and 96 hours of supervision over a two-year period. Once the necessary experience has been completed and the relevant materials have been compiled, applicants are ready to submit an online application. Applicants are required to submit an Affidavit of Eligibility, a social security number, name change documentation, and verification of any other licenses held related to social work. Applicants can track the progress of their application by accessing their account via Colorado's Online Services. After their application has been approved by a specialist, new social workers will receive their license from the Colorado Board of Social Work.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Colorado

For social workers who are licensed in other states and wish to practice social work in Colorado, licensure can be applied for by endorsement as long as an equivalent license is already held. If students wish to practice at the master’s level, or are still in the process of finishing their post-degree supervised study, they may apply for LSW by endorsement to finalize their social work license. To figure out how to become a social worker in Colorado, applicants can first choose either an LSW or LCSW application. The application can be completed online and requires an application processing fee. Aspiring social workers will also need to pass Colorado’s Mental Health Profession’s Jurisprudence Examination, which can be completed online.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

All social work licenses expire in odd years on August 31st. In order to maintain a Colorado social work license, it is important for social workers to renew their license on time. LSW's can begin the renewal process up to six weeks in advance of the expiration date. To double check the next license expiration date, social workers can access their online account with the CSWE at any time. Social workers seeking license renewal must complete 40 hours of continuing education through the Continuing Professional Development Program. A professional practice survey, self-assessment, learning plan and self-evaluation must also be completed.