Social Work License Requirements in Louisiana

Social workers in the state of Louisiana work with individuals and families in different communities to provide important social services. Louisiana social workers help to establish or improve existing social services, and can diagnose and treat psychosocial problems. They help link people to the resources and services they need, and conduct research related to their work and the communities they serve. Louisiana social workers also contribute to policy and administration and can help with community events. There are three different levels of social work licensure in Louisiana: Registered Social Worker (RSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Louisiana

To become a social worker in Louisiana, one must have social work credentials issued by the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners. Students are required to have, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree in social work from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited program. Students in social work degree programs in Louisiana should expect their curriculum to cover topics like human behavior, social environment, social welfare policy, research, and social work practice. They may also incorporate field education. Once students have completed a degree, they can apply for Louisiana state licensure. Students who practice social work without a license are subject to fines and legal action.

A Bachelor of Social Work allows students to become licensed as a Registered Social Worker and provide general social work services. Most people with this licensure work in case management and advocacy. A Master of Social Work (MSW) allows students to practice social work independently as an LMSW. At this level, social workers can practice clinical services under supervision and can perform advanced non-clinical social work. To receive a clinical social work license in Louisiana, candidates must have an MSW and apply for an advanced license. Licensed Clinical Social Workers can practice independently or with an agency, and can assess and diagnose behavioral disorders, conduct treatment planning, manage cases, and make referrals to physicians.

Registered Social Worker

To become a Registered Social Worker in Louisiana, students must obtain at least a Bachelor of Social Work from a school accredited by the CSWE. There are seven BSW programs available in Louisiana for students interested in social work. The curriculum covers social work topics in medical and health care, social policy, family agencies, military social work, corrections and criminal justice, and community agencies and organizations. There are no supervised experience or exam requirements for this level of social work license. To apply for RSW licensure from the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners, students must submit transcripts from their educational institution, a criminal background check at both the state and federal level, a current passport-style photo, a Rap disclosure form, and an application fee of $53. The application can be submitted online and applicants will need to submit their materials to the Board seven days prior to the Board meeting date, which is held every five to six weeks.

Licensed Master of Social Work

Students who obtain a Licensed Master of Social Work certification in Louisiana will be allowed to practice advanced methods and interventions for a variety of communities in need, including clinical social work under the supervision of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This level of social work license requires that students earn a Master of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited program. Once the degree is obtained, those pursuing LMSW licensure can apply online through the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners. Applicants will need to pay a $78 application fee and submit a current professional passport-style photo, undergo a criminal record check, and submit an official transcript verifying the receipt of a master’s degree in social work.

After the Board determines that the applicant has met all of the requirements, they will be issued a Certified Social Worker (CSW) credential, which is a temporary permit that allows students to practice for up to six months while they prepare for the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) exam. The fee to take the exam is $230. The exam is designed to test the candidate’s knowledge of master’s-level social work. After the ASWB notifies the Board that a student has passed the Masters exam, they will receive their LMSW license.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The highest level of certification for Louisiana social work is the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Those who achieve this certification can practice independently or as part of an agency and can provide clinical services, like diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders. Applicants must have a Master of Social Work degree from a CSWE-accredited program and an LMSW social work license. They also must complete 5,760 hours of supervised social work practice; at least 3,840 of these hours must be supervised by a Board-approved clinical supervisor (LCSW-BACS). To apply for LCSW certification, candidates apply online through the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners. Applicants will need to pay a $103 application fee and submit a current professional passport-style photo, a criminal record check, an official transcript verifying the receipt of a master’s degree in social work, and verification of professional social work experience.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Louisiana

Many people in the field of social work face the obstacle of earning their social work license in one state and eventually needing to relocate and validate their certification in another state. Louisiana does not have formal reciprocity for students who originally received their social work license in another state, but the Board offers licensure by endorsement when appropriate. Applicants for Louisiana social work licensure who received their license in a state with equivalent or more stringent requirements are eligible for licensure by endorsement. Applicants will need to submit an application to the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners and pay an application fee ranging from $53 to $103, depending on the level of certification they are seeking. They will also need to submit verification of their current certification and ASWB exam scores, if relevant.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Social workers in the state of Louisiana need to renew their license each year and complete 20 hours of continuing education prior to renewal. All social workers are required to obtain three hours of continuing education in the area of social work ethics every two years. Renewal can be completed online once all of the requirements have been met. Louisiana social work licenses that have not been renewed by August 31st will lapse; individuals with a lapsed license are not authorized to practice. Lapsed licenses can be renewed between September 1st and November 30th without an additional fee, or between December 1st and February 28th with an additional fee.