Social Work License Requirements in South Carolina

Social workers in South Carolina are also known as Social Work Examiners. They are mental health professionals who are often responsible for direct counseling or administrative work, such as providing supervision and education services. South Carolina social work requires interested parties to obtain a social work license before they are allowed to practice. Individuals wondering how to become a social worker must obtain the education credentials necessary to qualify as a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), or Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) from an accredited program. Licensed Independent Social Workers are then further divided into Advanced and Clinical designations. When these qualifications are met, Social Work Examiners in South Carolina can be employed to work with children, families, schools, public health facilities, counseling centers, and other areas.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in South Carolina

Graduates holding a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) are eligible for LBSW licensure, while graduate students who have attained their master’s degree in social work (MSW) can apply for LMSW licensure. In both cases, degrees must have come from a college or university accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Each type of licensure also requires social workers to pass an exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

For those individuals who already possess LMSW licensure, acquiring the Licensed Independent Social Worker license with either clinical practice (LISW-CP) or advanced practice (LISW-AP) requires them to complete 3,000 hours of work experience and a separate exam.

Each of these three licenses opens up a variety of potential career paths. Social Work Examiners with LBSW licensure are qualified for general social work duties, including jobs as caseworkers and administrators. LMSW-level workers can engage in advanced case management and administrative duties but are not authorized to conduct clinical work. Clinical work is reserved for LISW-CP workers and may include diagnostic and mental health services. Finally, LISW-AP workers may be responsible for administering social service departments or even entire organizations.

License Baccalaureate Social Work

Obtaining a social work license is necessary to work in this field in South Carolina. In order to qualify for the LBSW, applicants should first ensure that their bachelor’s degree in social work was completed at an accredited college. In some cases, students in the final semester of their education may be allowed to apply for licensure in advance. If they meet this educational requirement, applicants can apply for a baccalaureate-level licensure online. The application process entails a non-refundable application fee, and applicants are also required to send their official college transcripts directly to the South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners. Without these materials, the Board will not permit applicants to sit for the baccalaureate level exam. It is only after the exam has been passed that social workers will be rewarded with LBSW licensure. Applicants can also check on the status of their pending applications by visiting the South Carolina social work website.

License Master Social Work

Students pursuing LMSW licensure to practice South Carolina social work must also meet a certain set of criteria in order to qualify. First, applicants must have obtained either a master’s or doctoral degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited university. In some situations, students in the final semester of their program may be permitted to apply for the exam at that time. The next step is to apply to take the exam for Master’s level licensure with the South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners.

This exam requires applicants to pay a single non-refundable fee, as well as send their official university transcripts are sent directly to the Board office. When these materials have been received, students will be permitted to sit for the master's level social work license exam. Students who have applied but are still waiting for the results of their application may check their current status at any time by visiting the Board’s website.

License Independent Social Work - Clinical Practice

In South Carolina, social work at the clinical level is performed by those with a LISW license. This is known as a LISW-CP and indicates that the individual is authorized to engage in Clinical Practice. Working independently with this qualification does require an individual to obtain the state’s most advanced social work license. Unlike those with an LBSW, LMSW, or LISW-AP, individuals holding LISW licensure will be permitted to work independently in a clinical setting to assess, diagnose, and treat their patients.

The first step in becoming a social worker at the clinical level is to ensure that all pre-testing requirements are met. Candidates must have a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited university, including 45 academic contact hours in the fields of psychopathology and psycho-diagnosis. Candidates must have completed 15-20 academic contact or continuing education contact hours in professional ethics, and they must complete a LISW Supervision Contract with their supervisor. Finally, applicants are expected to demonstrate that they have completed 3,000 hours of social work practice under clinical supervision. When these requirements are met, applicants will be allowed to pay the application fee and take the LISW licensure exam.

License Independent Social Work - Advance Practice

Candidates wondering how to become a social worker authorized to practice independently in South Carolina may want to consider applying for licensure as a LISW-AP. This type of social work license indicates that an individual is practicing independent work at an advanced level. Social Work Examiners with LISW-AP licensure can also work at the LMSW level. This is a different type of certification than the clinical license, with more limitations, but there are still many requirements that must be met before an applicant will be qualified for independent South Carolina social work.

Applicants must already hold a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited university, and they must demonstrate that they have completed 90 hours in advanced social work practice with communities and organizations. Another requirement is that candidates must complete 15-20 contact hours or continuing education contact hours in professional ethics. Applicants must also finish 3,000 hours of supervised social work and complete a Supervision Contract with their supervisor. Only when this supervision is complete and has been evaluated by the Board will students be permitted to pay the application fee and take the LISW-AP exam.

Social Work License Reciprocity in South Carolina

Individuals with a social work license in another state who are wondering how to become a social worker in South Carolina must follow a few steps in order to become licensed in the state. South Carolina does not have formal reciprocity with any other state. For example, this means that an LMSW from another state will not automatically be allowed to practice South Carolina social work at the Master’s level. However, the Board will generally grant an equivalent license if individuals have already passed a licensure test from another state. In order for this to happen, social workers must contact the ASWB to have an official copy of their test scores sent directly to the Board office. Upon receipt, the Board will evaluate their scores and determine whether an equivalent license can be granted.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

A social work license must be renewed every two years in South Carolina. Applicants must pay a fee in order to have their license renewed; an additional late fee may apply if the deadline has already passed. Similarly, if a former Social Work Examiner has allowed their license to lapse and would like to learn how to become a social worker again, they must reapply and pay a reinstatement fee. These renewals and/or reinstatement fees apply to anyone who wants to continue practicing South Carolina social work, regardless of whether they intend to practice at the LBSW, LMSW, or LISW level. Renewals can be processed directly on the Board’s website.