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Indiana Social Work Licensing Requirements

With a population of about 6.5 million, Indiana is a good market for individuals hoping to become social workers.1 Indiana is the fifth-highest paying state for social workers in non-metropolitan areas, specifically in southern Indiana.2 Overall, the average annual salary for social workers is $45,467.3 If a career in social work interests you, then continue reading this guide to understand the various licensure paths in Indiana and the associated requirements of each. Social workers in Indiana are regulated by the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency – Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board. Continue reading for details on the educational paths required for Indiana social workers and the license options.

How to Become a Social Worker in Indiana

Educational Paths

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is required to become a licensed social worker in Indiana. The terminal degree for social workers is considered the master’s in social work degree (MSW); with this degree, you would be eligible for both licenses administered by the Board. Though it is possible to get a doctorate in social work (DSW), it is not needed for jobs in most states.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

The minimum degree requirement to become a licensed social worker in Indiana is a bachelor of social work (BSW) from a school that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or is in candidacy to become CSWE-accredited. BSW programs introduce students to the social work field; students learn to practice social work with different audiences like individuals, families, groups, and communities. BSW programs prepare students for entry-level, professional social work practice and provide the foundation for graduate education. With a BSW, you can work to become an LSW in the state of Indiana.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A master’s degree in social work (MSW) will be a requirement if you wish to practice clinical social work and it may also boost your salary outlook. MSW candidates must attend a social work program that is CSWE-accredited. Most MSW programs will offer courses in human behavior, social work policy and ethics, methods and interventions, and a fieldwork component. If you have a BSW, you may qualify for “advanced standing” in an MSW program, decreasing the duration of the program from two years to one year. Once you have obtained your MSW, you will be on your way to becoming either an LSW with an MSW or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Indiana

Now that you understand the education requirements, we will explain the different licenses available and the specific requirements for each one. The Board offers two social work licenses: licensed social worker (LSW) and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). You may apply for an LSW with a BSW or MSW, but you can only apply to become an LCSW if you hold an MSW. Only licensed social workers can apply to become an LCSW. Keep reading to learn more about the requirements for Indiana social workers.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW) with a BSW

LSW candidates must have at least a BSW from a CSWE-accredited school. In addition to meeting the education requirement, potential license holders must satisfy the following:

1. Gain the required experience.

LSW candidates with a BSW must accrue 3,000 hours of full-time, supervised social work experience in no less than two years after obtaining their degree. LSW candidates must receive four hours of direct supervision for each month of experience they gain. Valid experience includes assessment and evaluation of clients and 50% of the experience be providing direct services to clients.

Eligible supervisors include LSWs or LCSWs. If your experience was gained prior to November 1, 2003, supervisors may include licensed psychologists and licensed physicians with training in psychiatric medicine, in addition to LSWs and LCSWs.

2. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

An examination is required for all social work licenses in Indiana. If you have a BSW and are seeking to become an LSW, you must take the ASWB masters exam. Indiana DOES NOT accept the bachelor’s-level exam. Exam candidates must register and subsequently schedule their exam online at the ASWB website. Exams are offered six days a week throughout the state.

Passing scores will range from 96 to 105 correct answers. If the applicant fails the exam, he or she must wait 90 days to apply to retake the exam. After three attempts, there is a one-year waiting period to reapply for examination. As of October 2015, the cost of the exam was $230.00.

3. Apply to the Board and submit required documents.

LSW licensees must complete the baccalaureate license application and submit the required documents. Along with a completed application, LSW candidates must submit the following documents:

  • An official transcript sent directly from your college or university*
  • ASWB exam scores sent directly from ASWB*
  • Supervisor verification form (provided in the application packet) for both years of experience
  • Notarized experience and employment verification form provided in the application packet
  • A standard, 2×3 (passport style) picture
  • Finger prints and the criminal background check authorization form
  • $50 application fee**

*The Board does not accept any supporting documentation sent directly from applicants. All required documentation, including verification forms, must be mailed directly from the source to the Indiana Licensing Board.
**As of October 2015

If all supporting materials are not received by the Board within one year of originating the application, the application will be considered “abandoned” and will not be reviewed by the Board. Candidates will have to reapply and submit the required documentation if their application has been abandoned.

4. Receive your LSW license from the Board.

Once your application is approved, you will receive an email from the Board confirming that your license has been issued. A link with a temporary license will be sent to you along with directions to purchase a license card. At this point, you will be an LSW in Indiana.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW) with an MSW

LSWs may also hold a master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited college or university. An LSW-MSW may command a higher salary than an LSW-BSW. Additionally, LSW-MSWs do not have to meet an experience requirement. Once the education requirement is met, LSW candidates must fulfill the other requirements:

1. Apply to the Board and submit required documents.

LSW licensees must complete the master’s license application and submit the required documents. Along with a completed application, LSW candidates must submit the following documents:

  • An official transcript sent directly from your college or university
  • ASWB exam scores sent directly from ASWB
  • A 2×3 passport quality picture
  • Finger prints and the criminal background check authorization form
  • $50 application fee*

When all supporting materials are not received by the Board within one year of the application submission, the application is considered “abandoned” and will not be reviewed by the Board. Candidates will have to reapply and submit the required documentation if their application has been abandoned.

LSW candidates with an MSW may apply for a temporary permit from the Indiana Board. Applicants may apply for a temporary permit by completing the LSW-MSW by exam application and submitting an additional $25 fee*. The permit allows LSW candidates to practice social work while they pass their exam. The permit expires 180 days from the date of issuance or if the original LSW application is not approved by the Board. LSWs have one year from the time they submitted their application to take the ASWB exam, but the temporary permit expires in 180 days. The temporary permit may be renewed no more than three times.

*As of October 2015

2. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

The master’s level ASWB exam is required for LSW-MSWs in Indiana. Candidates must first register for the exam. Passing scores will range from 96 to 105 correct answers. If the applicant fails the exam, he or she must wait 90 days to apply to retake the exam. After three attempts, there is a one-year waiting period to reapply for examination. As of October 2015, the cost of the exam was $230.00.

3. Receive your LSW license from the Board.

Once your application is approved, you will receive an email from the Board that your license has been issued and you will have become an LSW in Indiana.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

To practice clinical social work independently, an LCSW is required. Requirements for an LCSW differs from the LSW license primarily by the type of experience required. LCSW candidates must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school and the program must include at least 24 credit-hours in theory and research of human behavior, social environment, and practice methods. Other LCSW requirements are listed below:

1. Gain the required experience.

LCSW candidates are required to complete 3,000 hours of supervised, clinical social work experience in no less than two years after acquiring their MSW. LCSWs must have four hours of direct supervision from an LCSW for every month of experience. If your supervision started prior to November 1, 2003, your clinical social work supervision could be carried out by a licensed physician with psychiatric medicine training, a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, or a licensed mental health counselor.

Note that if you graduated after July 1, 2009, you must obtain your LSW BEFORE starting your clinical social work experience.

2. Apply to the Board and submit required documents.

LCSW licensees must complete the application packet and submit the required documentation. In addition to completing the application, LCSW candidates must submit the following documentation:

  • An official transcript*
  • ASWB exam scores*
  • Supervisor verification form (provided in the application packet) for both years of experience*
  • Notarized experience and employment verification form provided in the application packet*
  • MSW clinical coursework form that lists course titles from the applicant’s MSW program and the course catalog or syllabus for the corresponding courses.
  • One passport quality picture
  • Finger prints and the criminal background check authorization form
  • $50 application fee plus $25 for a temporary permit**

*This document must be sent from the source directly to the Board.
**As of October 2015

If all supporting materials are not received by the Board within one year of the application submission, the application is considered “abandoned” and will not be reviewed by the Board. Candidates will have to reapply and submit the required documentation if their application has been abandoned.

After starting the application and making a payment, LCSW candidates will be given a temporary permit from the Indiana Board allowing them to practice social work while awaiting their license. The permit expires 180 days from the date of issuance and can be renewed up to three times.

3. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

The clinical-level ASWB exam is required for LCSW candidates in Indiana. Candidates must register for and schedule the ASWB clinical exam. To pass, candidates must answer between 96 to 105 questions correctly. If the applicant fails the exam, he or she must wait 90 days to apply to retake the exam. After three attempts, there is a one-year waiting period to reapply for examination. As of October 2015, the cost of the exam was $260.00.

4. Receive LSW license from the Board.

After completing the steps above, you will be a licensed clinical social worker in Indiana.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Indiana

Indiana does not offer formal reciprocity for social workers from other states, but they can apply for licensure by endorsement to become LSWs and LCSWs. Out-of-state social workers will have to complete the application and submit the same required documents that an LSW or LCSW would have to submit. Candidates applying for licensure by endorsement will have to take a 30-question jurisprudence exam and must answer at least 75% of the true/false questions correctly.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Licensed social workers must renew their license every two years and complete at least 20 hours of continuing education (CE) hours per year, which is 40 hours for the entire renewal period. LSWs and LCSWs can visit the The National Association of Social Workers (NASW): Indiana Chapter for continuing education opportunities.

Indiana Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

11,760 social workers were employed in Indiana in 2014; most of whom worked in child, family, and school social work (5,320) followed by healthcare social workers (3,830).3 Projections Central reports that social worker jobs in Indiana should increase by 18.2% between 2015 and 2022.4 The largest increase in jobs is projected to be for mental health and substance abuse social workers (27.8%).4 Social workers in Indiana earn an average of $19.06 to $27.05 per hour or about $45,467 per year.3

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 5,320 $39,640
Healthcare Social Workers 3,830 $56,160
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $46,010
Social Workers, All Other 600 $56,160

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.2

Social Work Associations in Indiana

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I begin practicing independently once I become licensed as a clinical social worker (LCSW)?

Answer: Yes, once you have met the qualifications required for an LCSW in Indiana and receive your license from the Board, you may begin practicing independently.

Question: For the 3,000 hours of work experience required, can I count experience I gained years ago?

Answer: Yes, in Indiana LCSWs can count experience gained any number of years ago as long as the experience was acquired in no less than two years.

Question: What kinds of qualifications are required of the person supervising my experience?

Answer: Supervisors for LSWs may be an LSW or LCSW; however, only an LCSW may supervise an LCSW candidates.

Question: What kind of degree do I need to practice social work in Indiana?

Answer: To practice in the state of Indiana, social workers need at minimum a BSW from a CSWE-accredited school. Social workers will need an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school to become an LCSW in the state.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Indiana: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/18
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Social Workers, All Other: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211029.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Indiana: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_in.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm