Social Work License Requirements in South Dakota

South Dakota social work is governed by the South Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners. This administrative body has determined that any social worker in the state must be licensed, regardless of what level of work they are practicing. Requiring that practitioners obtain a social work licensure helps to ensure they are working responsibly in the sensitive fields of counseling, legal assistance, and other types of social work. Students wondering how to become a social worker should first understand that there are four types of licensure in the state: Social Work Associate, Social Worker, Certified Social Worker (this is similar to an LMSW in other states), and Certified Social Worker in Private or Independent Practice. Each license has its own set of requirements, but at minimum applicants must possess a Bachelor’s degree.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in South Dakota

In order to practice in South Dakota, a social work license is required. The only exceptions are for professionals in related fields who do not identify as social workers (such as doctors, psychologists, and clergy). All others should ensure that they understand the steps involved in becoming a social worker by considering which license is most appropriate for the type of work they wish to conduct.

To become a Social Work Associate, students must graduate with a Bachelor’s degree, although a major in social work is not required. To become a Social Worker, students must have a Bachelor’s degree from a social work or social welfare program. Certified Social Workers in the state are equivalent to Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSW) in other states; as such, they must have a Master’s or Doctoral degree in a social work program. Finally, Certified Social Workers in Private or Independent Practice must start by becoming a Certified Social Worker and practicing under that license for at least two years. All four types of licenses also require that applicants pass an examination prepared by the Board in order to practice social work in South Dakota.

Social Worker

There are two types of licenses which are appropriate for baccalaureate-level graduates who want to practice South Dakota social work. First is the Social Work Associate license. Candidates for this social work license must earn a bachelor’s degree from a college approved by the Board. However, this degree does not have to be in a social work field or discipline. The second path to licensure is to become a Social Worker; an official title for a licensed social worker with a bachelor’s degree from a social work or social welfare program.

There is a fee associated with each application, and licenses will only be granted after candidates have provided official college transcripts and passed an exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Individuals can apply for both types of license (along with the LMSW-equivalent Certified Social Worker license) on the state’s website.

Certified Social Worker

In South Dakota, however, licensure at the master's level leads to the official title of Certified Social Worker. As a result, the first step in how to become a social worker in this capacity will be to earn a master’s degree or doctoral degree from an accredited university. This degree must be in social work or social welfare. Graduates must verify their education by having official university transcripts sent directly to the state’s Board of Social Work Examiners. An application fee must also be paid before licensure to practice South Dakota social work will be considered. Finally, applicants must take and pass an exam administered by the ASWB. When candidates are ready to apply, they can visit the state’s website and download the application form electronically.

Certified Social Worker - Private or Independent Practice Worker

Only one type of social work license is granted in the state of South Dakota for practitioners who are engaged in independent social work. This title is known as a Certified Social Worker in Private or Independent Practice, and it represents the highest level of South Dakota social work license. As such, it involves more complicated requirements than other types of licensure. Applicants must first earn the LMSW-equivalent Certified Social Worker license and practice at this level for at least two years. Applicants must also demonstrate two years of supervised experience, taking place in their chosen field of specialization.

Applicants must provide official university transcripts to the Board and pay the associated application fee. They must also pass an exam from the ASWB before they will be granted licensure. Candidates who meet these requirements can begin by accessing the application form on the Board’s website.

Social Work License Reciprocity in South Dakota

Professionals who have already obtained a social work license in another state may be eligible for reciprocity in South Dakota. This means that they would be allowed to earn the South Dakota social work license that is most similar to their current license.

Interested parties must complete the "Verification of Licensure in Other State" form. Sections of this form must be completed by both the applicant and the state board which originally granted licensure. Applicants will also have to demonstrate that they have achieved the appropriate level of education by providing college transcripts. They will also be required to show that they have passed the relevant ASWB exam by providing their score. If candidates are applying to become a Certified Social Worker in Private or Independent Practice, they must complete a Verification of Out of State Experience Form For Licensure as a CSW-PIP.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Each type of social work license lasts for two years in South Dakota, and the deadline to renew each license is July 1st. To understand how to become a social worker with a new license, individuals should determine which fee is appropriate, as fee amounts differ for each individual license type. If a renewal application is received after the July 1st grace period deadline, a late fee will be applied before applicants are allowed to continue practicing South Dakota social work. Renewals are processed through the state’s website.