Social Work License Requirements in New York

Getting a social work license in New York allows graduates to work in a number of fields throughout the state, from children and families to seniors and healthcare. Aspiring social workers can choose a hands-on job or opt for a career in developing programs and policy. A social worker in New York can take one of two paths to become licensed, each with different licensing requirements. Reciprocity agreements are also important to understand for professionals moving to New York social work from another state, as well as continuing education requirements for the renewal process.

Check out our lists of the best BSW programs and best MSW programs in New York.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in New York

There are two distinct pathways to become a social worker in New York. The first option is as a licensed master of social work (LMSW), which requires a master’s degree in social work. In New York, there are currently more than 29,500 LMSWs practicing. The second option is become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), a credential which requires an MSW as well as substantial post-graduate work experience in a supervised setting. There are now just over 28,000 practicing LCSWs.

Licensing goes through the New York State Education Department’s Office of the Professions; an agency which ensures the authenticity of all application credentials. Because of this, documentation must be sent directly from the organization where each particular requirement was met, such as the applicant’s university, testing agency or employer. As long as the MSW is from a program approved by the CSWE, students can choose their own electives and concentration to suit their own career goals.

Licensed Master of Social Work

A master’s in social work (MSW) is required to qualify as an LMSW, and the program must be accredited by the CSWE. Aspiring social workers must then submit an application, which is available online through the New York State Education Department’s Office of the Professions. There is a fee incurred with the application, which covers processing, and registration.

LMSW candidates are required to take training related to child abuse. The state offers a list of approved training providers so applicants can complete this course. Finally, applicants need to pass the ASWB’s master’s exam to qualify for the LMSW. However, the exam should be taken after submitting the application and fee.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Before becoming an LCSW, applicants need an MSW with at least 12 semester hours of clinical coursework. Graduates also need to complete post-graduate training. New York requires three years of supervised postgraduate training in diagnosis, psychotherapy and assessment-based treatment. Next, an application for licensure must be filled out, which can be completed online. Applicants must also pay fees for the application and the first registration period, as well as complete required coursework. To practice New York social work as an LCSW, applicants need to complete the child abuse training through a state-approved provider. Once the application and fees have been received, graduates can take the ASWB clinical examination. This must be passed in order to get licensed as an LCSW.

Social Work License Reciprocity in New York

Reciprocity for social work licenses from other states varies depending on the license type. Unfortunately, LMSWs don’t benefit from any reciprocity agreement, but out-of-state licensees can still apply for licensing if all the same qualifications required by the state are met. As an LCSW from another state, social workers can practice New York social work through reciprocity if they’ve practiced for at least 10 years. Applicants still need to submit an application, as well as documentation verifying the degree, clinical exam scores and other details regarding the current licensing and practice. Both of these processes require a fee to submit an application and gain licensure in the state of New York.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Social work licenses in New York must be renewed every three years. Both LMSWs and LCSWs must complete 36 hours of formal continuing education during the three-year period. New social workers do not, however, need to complete continuing education during the first three-year registration period since the licensing requirements were just completed. The courses taken must be administered by a provider approved by the New York State Education Department and the subject matter must focus on the professional practice of social work. Social workers may also earn continuing education hours for activities such as teaching a course or making a technical presentation at certain professional conferences.