Social Work License Requirements in Iowa

Iowa social workers provide a variety of services to their communities, from general counseling to the assessment and treatment of mental and physical problems. The clients they interact with range from school-aged students to bedridden hospital patients. In Iowa, there are three levels of certification that students can work towards: Licensed Bachelor of Social Work (LBSW), Licensed Masters of Social Work (LMSW), and Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW).

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Iowa

To obtain a social work license in Iowa, candidates must apply through the Iowa Board of Social Work and complete educational and professional requirements relevant to the level of certification they are seeking. At a minimum, they must complete a CSWE-accredited Bachelors of Social Work program and pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Examination.

Social work students should expect coursework that involves topics such as psychology, human behavior, and trauma. Depending on their target licensure level, candidates may also need to complete supervised hours or field work. A social worker's licensure level determines the type of work he or she can perform. Those who hold an LMSW can take on management roles, whereas independent social workers with an LISW certification can conduct direct clinical work.

Licensed Bachelor of Social Work

To receive a Licensed Bachelor of Social Work certification in Iowa, applicants must first complete a Bachelors of Social Work program that is accredited by the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE). Applicants can then apply online for the LBSW license, from the Iowa Board of Social Work. This application requires a $120 fee, along with an official university transcript. Once the Board approves the application, the candidate will qualify to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Bachelors Examination. Passing candidates will be issued an LBSW license.

Licensed Master of Social Work

To receive a Licensed Master of Social Work certification in Iowa, applicants must first complete a CSWE-accredited Masters of Social Work program, or a doctoral degree in social work. Applicants can then apply online for the LMSW license, from the Iowa Board of Social work. This requires a $120 application fee, along with an official school transcript. The Board will review the application and decide if the prospective social worker qualifies to take the ASWB Masters Examination, which has a registration fee of $230. Those who pass the exam will be issued their LMSW license.

Licensed Independent Social Worker

An Iowa Licensed Independent Social Worker can provide independent and clinical social work services. To earn this level of licensure, applicants must first complete a CSWE-accredited Masters of Social Work program, or a doctoral degree in social work. This is followed by an application to the Iowa Board of Social Work. Applications must include a $120 fee, official school transcripts, and a Supervision Plan. The latter should show that the 4,000 required hours of post-masters supervised experience was completed (in no less than two years and no more than six years). Applicants must be supervised by an LISW who has been licensed for at least three years. After this application is approved, candidates must register for the ASWB Clinical Exam, which has a $260 fee. Those who pass the exam will be issued their LISW license.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Iowa

Professional social workers who are licensed in other states can apply for a social work license in Iowa by submitting an application for Licensure by Endorsement to the Iowa Board of Social Work. This application requires a fee, as well as evidence that the candidate was licensed in a state that had social work requirements similar to Iowa's. Applicants must also provide official transcripts and a copy of their passing ASWB scores. If the Board deems it necessary, applicants may also need to provide proof of supervised social work hours. Upon approval, applicants will receive the appropriate credentials needed to practice in Iowa.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

All Iowa social workers must renew their social work licenses every two years. The renewal fee varies based on the credential and will cost LBSWs $72, LMSWs $120, and LISWs $144. Applicants must complete 27 hours of continuing education prior to renewing their license, with the exception of newly-licensed practitioners going through their first renewal. Practicing LISWs who supervise others must complete three hours of continuing education in supervision as a part of their 27 total hours.