Looking to become a social worker in Pennsylvania? You’ve come to the right spot!  While there are similarities in licensing requirements from state to state, each state is unique. In addition to providing the essentials below, you can click the link we have provided for Pennsylvania’s official licensing body. There you can find additional information on potential requirements like background checks, state-to-state license transfers, and continuing education requirements. We hope this handy guide assists in your efforts to become a certified social worker in your state!

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In Pennsylvania, it is possible to be licensed as a social worker with either a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an accredited institution. The designation Social Worker with a Provisional License (SWPL) is granted to social workers with Bachelor’s degrees. The designations Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) require education at at least the master’s level.

The Social Worker with a Provisional License (SWPL) must have a bachelor’s degree in social work from an accredited college or university whose social work program is approved or accredited by the Council on Social Work Education as well as three years’ experience under supervision from a master’s level social worker. The candidate for the SWPL licensure must pass an exam as prescribed by the Board, then the RBSW is prepared to assume the beginning level professional role in public and private social service agencies.

The Licensed Social Worker (LSW) must have a master of social work or a doctor of social work degree from a college or university approved or accredited by the CSWE. The candidate for licensure at the LMSW level must pass an exam as prescribed by the Board. An LMSW provides a wide range of services. An LMSW may provide preventive and treatment services pertaining to individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations.

The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) must have a master of social work or a doctor of social work degree from a college or university approved or accredited by the CSWE and hold a current LMSW license. The CSWA must have accrued 3,000 supervised work hours in a clinical setting. The LCSW candidate must then pass the clinical-level exam as prescribed by the Board. The LCSW may supervise Licensed Social Workers and Social Workers with a Provisional License.

The State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors protects the public from unprofessional, improper, unauthorized and unqualified practice of social work, licensed marriage and family therapy and licensed professional counseling. The Board regulates and controls individuals who call themselves a social worker and individuals who hold themselves out as being licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists and licensed professional counselors.

SWPL Requirements:

  • Education: Bachelor’s
  • ASWB Exam: Bachelor’s-Level
  • Supervision: 3 years

LSW Requirements:

  • Education: Master’s
  • Supervision: N/A
  • ASWB Exam: Master’s-Level

LCSW Requirements:

  • Education: Master’s
  • Supervision: 2 years
  • ASWB Exam: Clinical