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Utah Social Work License Requirements

Nearly three million people live in Utah, a 6% increase from 2010.1 The growing population signals the opportunity for more jobs for social workers. If you wish to become a social worker in Utah, you will need to understand the licensing requirements enforced by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing or DOPL. DOPL administers all social work licenses in the state. Continue reading to learn about the different social work licenses and certificates available in Utah and their respective requirements.

How to Become a Social Worker in Utah

Educational Paths

In 2015, legislation was passed to grant title protection to social workers in Utah, ensuring that individuals who use the title “social worker” must have earned a social work degree from an accredited college of social work and/or be licensed by the DOPL as a social service worker (SSW), certified social worker (CSW), or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

Social workers must possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) to practice in Utah. To practice clinical social work or to practice independently, you will need a master’s in social work (MSW). Continue reading below to learn the differences in the two social work degrees.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited school is necessary to practice social work in Utah. BSW programs expose students to professional social work practice through classroom and hands-on experience. Courses in human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy, research, social work practice and field education are typical courses in the BSW program. In Utah, students with a BSW may apply to become social service workers (SSWs).

Master of Social Work (MSW)

In Utah, you will need a master’s in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited school to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) or certified social worker (CSW). Programs accredited by the CSWE will share the core curriculum while having a unique focus area based on the skillset and research background of the professors or institution. Review each school carefully and check out the electives and field placement opportunities to ensure that you make the right decision for your career. Most MSW programs offer “advanced standing” for students who hold a BSW, allowing them to complete the graduate program in half the time it normally takes (one year versus two years). With an MSW, you will have the terminal degree for social work in Utah, meaning you will have the highest level of education necessary to perform all social work jobs in the state.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Utah

Social workers in Utah are required to be licensed in order to practice. DOPL administers three licenses and one internship license. Those include the social service worker, certified social worker, licensed clinical social worker, and certified social worker intern licenses. LCSWs are able to practice social work independently and can supervise other social workers after they meet a predetermined level of experience (two years). The text below outlines the four different licensure options in Utah and the requirements for each one:

Social Service Worker (SSW)

To become an SSW, you must meet the education requirement or experience requirement, pass an examination, and apply to the Utah Division of Professional Licensing. If you have an undergraduate degree in social work from an accredited school, you may skip Step 1 below. There are several ways you can satisfy the education requirement for an SSW; you can:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited school, OR
  • Have a master’s degree in any field (with DOPL approval), OR
  • Have completed your first year (two semesters) of an MSW program accredited by the CSWE, OR
  • Have a bachelor’s degree in any field if you have at least three credit hours in social welfare policy, human growth and development, and social work practice methods (with this option, you must accumulate experience.

Continue reading the remaining steps to become a licensed SSW.

1. Gain the required experience.

If your bachelor’s degree is not in social work but in another field, you will have to gain some experience in the field before applying to become an SSW. SSWs without at least a BSW must gain 2,000 hours of social work experience prior to applying to the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. This experience must be completed in a minimum of one year and must be supervised. Acceptable supervisors for SSWs are LCSWs or licensed mental health therapists who have been licensed and practicing for at least two years.

2. Take and pass the ASWB bachelors exam.

To become licensed in Utah, social workers must take an Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam prior to submitting an application. SSW candidates must register for and take the ASWB bachelor’s level exam. The $230* exam is designed to test the candidate’s knowledge of general social work practice. Candidates must correctly answer between 96 and 105 of the exam’s 170 questions to pass. SSW licensees must adhere to the ASWBs testing rules which state that applicants may retake the ASWB exam a maximum of three times per calendar year. Once you have passed the bachelor’s level exam, you can move to the next step in the licensure process. Candidates may also choose to take the ASWB exam during their last semester of school.

*As of December 2015.

3. Complete the application.

After gaining 2,000 hours of experience and passing the ASWB bachelor’s level exam, SSW candidates must apply to the DOPL to become licensed. As a part of the application process, you must answer the 12-question qualifying questionnaire and submit additional documentation for every “yes” answer recorded. In addition to paying the $85 application fee (as of December 2015), you must submit the following documents:

  • An official transcript from your college or university
  • A verification of post-graduate supervised experience form from each supervisor
  • Official ASWB exam score

4. Receive your SSW.

Once you have satisfied the above requirements, you will become a licensed SSW in Utah and can practice general social work under supervision.

Certified Social Worker Intern (CSWI)

Candidates who have received an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school may be eligible to apply for a certified social worker intern (CSWI) license. The CSWI allows individuals to practice social work while waiting to take and pass the ASWB exam. In order to apply, you must be pre-approved by ASWB to take the master’s level exam. Candidates should apply for pre-approval via ASWB’s website. Once you complete the pre-approval application and receive your authorization to test (from ASWB), you may apply for licensure as a CSWI. Along with the application, you must furnish:

  • An official transcript from your college or university
  • The $85 non-refundable fee*
  • Authorization to test form from ASWB

*As of December 2015.

The CSWI is a temporary, nonrenewable license; license holders must pass the master’s level ASWB exam within six months.

Certified Social Worker (CSW)

A certified social worker (CSW) in Utah is the equivalent of a licensed master social worker (LMSW) in other states. Possessing a CSW license allows you to practice advanced generalist social work and gain experience that may be applied toward becoming an LCSW. CSW candidates must have a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited school to become licensed. CSW candidates must also:

1. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

CSW candidates must register for and take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) master’s level exam. As of December 2015, the exam was $230. Of the 170 exam questions, between 96 and 105 questions must be answered correctly to pass. If a candidate fails the exam, he or she may retake it two more times within a twelve month period. CSW candidates may take the master’s level exam in their last semester of graduate school.

2. Complete the application.

Candidates must then apply to DOPL for licensure as a CSW. The application includes 12 qualifying questions and requires the following be submitted:

  • An official transcript from your college or university
  • The $120 non-refundable fee*
  • Official ASWB exam score

*As of December 2015.

3. Receive your CSW.

There is no experience requirement for CSWs. Once you pass the ASWB exam and your application is approved by DOPL, you will receive your CSW license. If your career goals include practicing clinical social work or practicing social work independently, you will need to first obtain your CSW license.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

To become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in Utah, you must first possess a current CSW license. Clinical social workers provide mental health therapy to clients through assessment and diagnosis, treatment planning, case management, and by making referrals. To become an LCSW, you must meet the following criteria:

1. Gain the required experience.

LCSW candidates must have acquired 4,000 hours of clinical social work and mental health therapy training experience after obtaining their CSW. The experience must be gained in no less than two years. Supervised experience should include:

  • Crisis intervention
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Intermediate and long-term treatment

LCSWs must be supervised by an LCSW who has been practicing social work for at least two years.

2. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

LCSW candidates must take and pass the ASWB clinical level exam. The clinical level exam tests an applicant’s knowledge of clinical social work practices, methods, and interventions. The exam costs $260* and consists of 170 questions. Candidates must answer between 96 and 105 questions correctly to pass. Candidates who fail the ASWB exam may retake it after 90 days for a maximum of three times in 12 months.

*As of December 2015.

3. Complete the application.

After passing the exam, LCSW candidates must apply to the Utah Division of Professional Licensing to become licensed. Candidates must pay the $120 application fee (as of December 2015) and submit the appropriate documents:

  • An official, sealed transcript
  • Verification of post-graduate supervised experience form (provided in the application packet)
  • Official ASWB scores for your clinical exam

4. Receive your LCSW.

After completing the steps above and passing the ASWB clinical exam, you will become a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Utah. LCSWs can practice clinical and nonclinical social work independently. After two years of licensed practice, you will be eligible to supervise SSWs and CSWs.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Utah

Utah does not have formal reciprocity with any other state in the US. If you were a licensed social worker in another state, you must apply for a social work licensure by endorsement. SSW and CSW licensure candidates must provide official verification of their current social work license from another state, plus their official ASWB exam score. LCSW endorsement candidates must submit official verification of licensure from their home state, official ASWB exam score, and verification of completing 4,000 hours of social work experience (with 1,000 hours in mental health therapy). All endorsement candidates must pay the required licensure fees.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Utah social workers must renew their licenses every two years; the number of continuing education (CE) hours required by social workers depend on the license you hold. LCSWs must complete 40 CE hours, three of which must be in ethics and/or law. SSWs must complete 20 CE hours, three of which must be in ethics and/or law. There is no continuing education requirement for CSWs.

Fees to renew a social work license in Utah also vary. LCSWs and CSWs must pay $93* and SSWsmust pay $78* to renew. Social workers can renew their license online.

*As of December 2015.

Utah Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

4,370 social workers were reported employed in the state of Utah in 2014, and the highest social work salary in the state was earned by healthcare social workers ($57,030).2 Southwestern Utah has the third-highest number of social worker jobs for a non-metropolitan area (60) in mental health and substance abuse.3 Utah Department of Workforce Services projects that by 2024, social worker jobs in Utah will increase by 3.53% and the largest gains will be in mental health and substance abuse (4%).4 Based on the annual median salary of social workers and the projected job growth, Utah would be a great state to begin a career in social work.

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 1,280 $46,510
Healthcare Social Workers 910 $57,030
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 1,690 $43,040
Social Workers, All Other 490 $48,330

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.2

Social Work Associations in Utah

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I begin practicing independently once I become registered as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?

Answer: Yes, once you meet the requirements for an LCSW and gain approval by the Board, you may begin practicing clinical and nonclinical social work independently.

Question: For the 4,000 hours of work experience required, can I count experience I gained years ago to become an LCSW?

Answer: Yes. As long as the social work experience was completed in no less than two years.

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

Answer: Supervisors must be LCSWs who have practiced social work for at least two years after becoming licensed.

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

Answer: To practice social work in Utah, you will need either a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited school. To practice independently, you need a master’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Utah: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/49
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Utah: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ut.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211023.htm
4. Utah Department of Workforce Services, Utah Occupational Report for
Occupational Code 21-1023: https://jobs.utah.gov/jsp/wi/utalmis/reempfullrept.do?soccode=211023&oititle=Mental%20Health%20and%20Substance%20Abuse%20Social%20Workers