Social Work License Requirements in Texas

Texas social work is overseen by the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners, a governing body that is appointed by the state’s governor and which is part of the Texas Department of State Health Services. Social workers in the state of Texas work in a variety of communities and settings to provide critical social services. Texas social work is carried out in many different sectors, including schools, hospitals, community centers, municipal buildings, and private homes.

There are three levels of licensure that applicants can pursue in the state of Texas: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (BSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Independent Practice Recognition (IPR) is available to LMSWs and LBSWs.

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

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Texas

The minimum required education that candidates must complete in order to obtain a social work license in Texas is a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). Depending on the level of licensure candidates are pursuing, some may be required to complete a Master of Social Work (MSW). Both the BSW and MSW degrees must be completed at a school that offers a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and curriculum for both degrees must cover topics like working with clients in individual and group settings, psychology, addiction, counseling and community relations. Many bachelor's and master's programs in social work require an internship or field experience as part of the curriculum.

LBSWs are licensed to practice general Texas social work and can fill roles like a case manager, community organizer, or family and youth specialist. Those who hold the credential of Master of Social Work can practice advanced, nonclinical social work. Both LBSWs and LMSWs can upgrade their licenses in order to practice without the requirement of being supervised by an agency. LCSWs can perform the full range of clinical and nonclinical social work services, including diagnosis.

Licensed Bachelor of Social Work

The first step in becoming a Licensed Bachelor of Social Work in Texas is to complete a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program. The next step is to apply for an LBSW license through the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners. The application must include an associated fee, college transcripts verifying completion of the bachelor's degree, a full history of social work employment, a copy of a photo ID and proof of completion of the online jurisprudence exam. Candidates must also submit to and pass a criminal background check.

Once the Board approves the application, candidates will be allowed to sit for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Bachelors Exam. A registration fee is required to take the AWSB exam. Since no practical experience is required for this licensure, upon passage of the ASWB exam, the Board will issue the LBSW social work license and candidates can begin supervised Texas social work.

Licensed Master Social Worker

Candidates wishing to earn this credential must complete a Master of Social Work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited program. The next step is to apply for a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) license through the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners. The application must include the associated fee, college transcripts verifying completion of the MSW, a full history of social work employment, a copy of a photo ID, and proof of completion of the online jurisprudence exam. Candidates must also submit to and pass a criminal background check.

Once the Board approves the application, candidates will be allowed to sit for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Masters Exam. There is a registration fee associated with the ASWB exam. Since no practical experience is required for this licensure, upon passage of the ASWB exam, the Board will issue the LBSW social work license and candidates can begin supervised Texas social work. LMSWs who want to advance their practice can apply to upgrade their license to LMSW – Advanced Practitioner. Candidates will need to complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience and submit an application for licensure upgrade.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is the only social work license in Texas that allows practitioners to provide clinical social work services. The first step in obtaining this degree is to complete an MSW or a Doctorate degree in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program. Next, candidates must receive an LMSW license as a prerequisite to their clinical license. Once the candidate has their LMSW, they will need to create a supervision plan that details how they will carry out their required 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work experience.

Once the Board approves their supervision plan, candidates can begin earning their 3,000 hours, 100 of which must be supervised. All hours need to be completed in no less than 24 months and no more than 40 months. Once the hours are complete, applicants will need to pass the online jurisprudence exam and then apply for their LCSW through the Board’s website. There is a fee associated with the application, and complete applications must include proof of clinical experience and passage of a criminal background check. Once approved by the Board, the candidate will sit for the ASWB's Clinical Exam or its Advanced Generalist Exam, for which there is a registration fee. Candidates who pass the exam and meet all other requirements will receive their LCSW and can begin practicing clinical Texas social work.

Independent Practice Recognition

LBSW and LMSWs who want to practice Texas social work independently can apply for Independent Practice Recognition (IPR). IPR relieves practitioners of the requirement to be supervised by an agency or clinical social worker while providing services. Any social worker who plans to bill clients directly for services is required to obtain this recognition, with the exception of LCSWs who are already licensed to practice independently. In order to receive LBSW-IPR or LMSW-IPR recognition, the first step is accruing the proper amount of full-time experience in a social work position. All candidates must submit a Supervision Plan to the Board for approval, which they will prepare with their supervisor.

They must then complete 3,000 hours of work at the appropriate level within 24 months, 100 hours of which must be supervised. Once the hour requirements are met, candidates must submit their application for their social work license specialty recognition. The application must be sent to the Board along with verification of supervised hours, a history of social work employment, proof that the jurisprudence exam was passed, and an application fee. License recognition will be granted once the Board approves all materials.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Texas

Texas does not offer social work licenses by reciprocity. Candidates who hold a social work license in another state and want to practice Texas social work need to apply through the Board and meet all of the licensure requirements. Applicants will need to follow all of the steps outlined above for obtaining a social work in Texas and will need to include verification of licensure in any other jurisdiction where they practiced. There are certain circumstances where the Board may allow licensure by endorsement, but those situations are determined on a case-by-case basis. In order for candidates to be eligible for licensure by endorsement, the requirements of the state where they currently hold a social work license need to meet the minimum requirements for Texas social work.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Texas social workers must renew their license every two years. Social work licenses in the state expire in the month of the practitioner’s birth. Renewal forms can be submitted by mail and must be postmarked by the last day of the candidate’s birth month. Fees are associated with renewing licenses, and amounts vary depending on which type of social work license is being renewed. f All Texas social work licensees must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years to be eligible for license renewal. Six of the 24 hours must be completed in ethics and values related to social work.