Social Work License Requirements in Kentucky

Social workers in the state of Kentucky work with a variety of populations to administer critical social services. Those who obtain their social work license provide direct counseling and support to vulnerable children and families and help connect people with the resources they need to improve their quality of life. Social work professionals can choose to specialize in many different areas including public health, family and child services, and mental health and addiction. They can work in a variety of settings, like hospitals, outpatient centers, and schools. Kentucky offers three different levels of social work licensure that students can obtain: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Certified Social Worker (CSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Check out our list of the best BSW programs in Kentucky.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Kentucky

In order to obtain a social work license in Kentucky, one must apply through the Kentucky Board of Social Work and complete educational requirements relevant to the level of certification that is being sought. At a minimum, anyone pursuing a career in social work will need to complete a Bachelor of Social Work program and a state-level exam. Although not required for every certification, it is recommended that students receive their degree from a college or university that is accredited by the Council of Social Work Accreditation (CSWE) in order to be sure they are prepared for the state exam. Students pursuing a social work degree should expect to take courses in psychology, sociology, human behavior, the history of oppressed or vulnerable populations, and conduct research. They may also be required to earn hands-on experience through supervised fieldwork or an internship.

Those who earn their LSW certification are able to provide non-clinical social work services without supervision. A CSW certification will allow practitioners to provide non-clinical services, as well as practice clinical social work under the supervision of an LCSW. LCSW certification allows for independent practice of the full range of non-clinical and clinical social work services in Kentucky.

Licensed Social Worker

To become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in the state of Kentucky, students must receive a bachelor’s degree in social work from a school or university accredited by the CSWE. Once they’ve earned their degree, candidates can submit an application for their LSW certification to the Kentucky Board of Social Work, which is the governing body for all Kentucky social work. The application requires an official transcript from the applicant’s college or university and three references who can speak to the applicant’s professional abilities. All candidates are required to pay a $25 application fee. Once the Board has reviewed and accepted the application, a temporary license may be issued that will allow applicants to practice for up to 240 days. During this time, candidates must schedule and prepare for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelors exam, which costs $230 in registration fees. Applicants who pass the exam must pay a $75 license fee to the Board, who will then issue an official LSW license that enables them to independently practice in the state of Kentucky.

Certified Social Worker

Those seeking a Certified Social Worker (CSW) license in Kentucky must have either a Master of Social Work or a doctoral degree in social work from an approved school. Once they’ve earned their MSW or doctoral degree, applicants must submit an application to the Kentucky Board of Social Work. The application must include an official transcript from the applicant’s college or university and three references who can speak to the applicant’s professional abilities. All Kentucky social work licensure candidates are required to pay a $25 application fee. Once the Board has reviewed and accepted the application, a temporary license may be issued that will allow applicants to practice for up to 240 days. During this time, students must schedule and prepare for the ASWB Masters exam, which costs $230 in registration fees. Students who pass the exam must then pay a $125 license fee to the Board. The Board will then issue an official CSW license, enabling students to independently practice in the state of Kentucky and provide clinical services if supervised by a LCSW. There are no clinical hours required for students to earn their CSW.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Those seeking a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) certification in Kentucky must first earn either a Master of Social Work or a doctoral degree in social work from an approved school. Before applying for their social work license, applicants must complete supervised clinical work experience — either two years of full-time post-graduate experience or three years of part-time postgraduate experience. Supervision must be performed by an LCSW who has been licensed for at least three years, and who has completed required Board-approved training on supervision practices and methods. Once they have completed the required supervised hours, candidates must submit an application for their LCSW to the Kentucky Board of Social Work. The application must include an official transcript from the applicant’s college or university, three references, and a supervised experience documentation form.

All Kentucky social work licensure applicants are required to pay a $25 application fee. Once the Board has reviewed and accepted the application, a temporary license may be issued that will allow applicants to practice for up to 240 days. During this time, students must schedule and prepare for the ASWB clinical exam, which costs $260 in registration fees. Students who pass the exam must then pay a $200 license fee to the Board. The Board will then issue an official LCSW license, enabling students to independently practice in the state of Kentucky and supervise other aspiring social workers.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Kentucky

The state of Kentucky does not have formal reciprocity for social work licenses with any other state. Those who are licensed in another state will need to go through the same process as all other applicants in order to obtain licensure and legally practice in Kentucky. Applicants will need to submit official transcripts and ASWB exam scores, as well as verification of social work licensure from the licensing state. Those applying for an LCSW will also need to provide documentation of either having completed 200 hours under supervision from a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, or proof that they hold a license at the clinical level and have been actively practicing clinical social work for at least five years.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

All Kentucky social work practitioners must renew their license every three years in order to legally practice. Renewal fees cost $75 for an LSW, $125 for a CSW, and $200 for an LCSW. In order to renew their license, social workers must complete an online renewal form from the Kentucky Board of Social Work. They must also complete a required number of continuing education hours each time they renew their license. LSWs must complete 15 hours of continuing education, while CSWs and LCSWs are required to complete 40 hours. Courses must be approved by the Board and cover topics like ethics and suicide prevention.