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Vermont Social Work Licensing Requirements

Vermont is a small state with a population of only 626,000.3 In fact, the capital city of Montpelier is the smallest state capital by population in the US with fewer than 8,000 residents.3 Therefore, there are many opportunities for both urban and rural Vermont social work jobs. Currently, there is only one type of licensure in Vermont for clinical social work; it is possible to practice generalist social work without a license, even at an advanced level. However, this process is currently under review by the governing body, the Office of Professional Regulation (the “Office”), so licensure changes are possible in the coming years.

How to Become a Social Worker in Vermont

Educational Paths

Because generalist social work does not require a license, it is possible to practice with a variety of degrees. The minimum degree possible for social work jobs in Vermont would likely be an associate’s degree in a human services-related field. Pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) may provide more job opportunities, especially if you plan to practice social work in a different state. If you eventually want to practice clinical social work, a Master of Social Work (MSW) or Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) degree is the minimum requirement. These degrees will enable you to apply as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), the only type of licensure currently available for social worker jobs in Vermont.

Associate of Social Work (ASW)

An associate degree is typically available through community colleges and includes a variety of social science and human behavior courses. It may also require a practicum component. This degree may be either an Associate of Arts (AA) or an Associate of Science (AS) depending on how the school classifies human services. Both in-person and online study options are available in Vermont. This degree takes two years to complete and may qualify you for generalist social work jobs in Vermont. Often associate degrees can qualify for transfer credit if you choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

A bachelor’s degree in social work will provide you with a more in-depth look at social work theory, research, and practice. Completing a BSW typically requires four years of full-time study, or more if you complete the degree part-time. BSW courses cover topics such as psychology, sociology, human behavior, and research methods. You will be required to complete at least one supervised practicum to gain real-world practice experience. With a BSW, you will be eligible for generalist social worker jobs in Vermont and possibly generalist social work jobs in many more states compared to the associate’s degree. Currently, three bachelor programs in Vermont are accredited by the CSWE (Castleton State College, Champlain College and the University of Vermont).

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A Master of Social Work (MSW) degree focuses on advanced practice with individuals, families, and communities. It comprises a foundational year of study covering human behavior, policy, research and practice, and a second year of specialization. You may apply to the MSW program with a bachelor’s degree in any subject; however, if you have a BSW from a CSWE-accredited school, you may be eligible for “advanced standing,” allowing you to complete your degree in up to half the time. An MSW degree prepares students to work towards a career in either advanced generalist practice or in clinical social work. It is the minimum degree necessary to apply for Vermont social work licensure, and therefore clinical social work jobs in Vermont. The only CSWE-accredited MSW program available in Vermont is at the University of Vermont.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Vermont

Currently, only clinical social work practice requires licensure in Vermont. This designation is called licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). However, the Office of Professional Regulation is currently reviewing the current social work licensure system and is proposing to eliminate the LCSW designation and replace it with “licensed master social worker (LMSW)” and “licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW)”. They are currently accepting public feedback on these proposed changes here or by emailing them at sos.socialwork@sec.state.vt.us.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

To be eligible for the current LCSW designation, applicants must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program or DSW with significant supervised clinical experience. This license allows social workers to practice clinical social work, including psychotherapy, without supervision. To apply for the LCSW you must:

1. Register with the Roster of Non-Licensed and Non-Certified Psychotherapists.

Before you begin accumulating clinical experience, you must register yourself as a non-licensed and non-certified psychotherapist with the Office using the form or the eLicense system online. Submit this application with the non-refundable $75 fee. Failure to register so may nullify your clinical experience hours.

2. Gain the necessary experience.

Once you are formally registered, you must accumulate at least 3,000 hours of clinical social work experience supervised by an approved clinical professional. Before beginning, confirm your supervisor is also registered with the Office as an approved supervisor by searching the Licensee Lookup. Failure to ensure your supervisor is registered may also nullify your clinical experience hours. You must receive at least one hour of face-to-face supervision for every 40 hours of clinical services you provide.

3. Submit the application form to the Office.

You may apply for the LCSW designation using either the online application system or a paper application. You must also submit a $100 non-refundable application fee, three professional references, a Verification of Social Work Education form, and a Supervision Report form. It should take three to five business days to process.

4. Pass the ASWB clinical exam.

After the Office has processed your application, you will be given permission to sit for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) clinical exam. The exam fee was $260 as of January 2016. You must pass the exam within 12 months or you will need to resubmit your application. Once you have passed the exam, your results should be sent to the Office.

5. Receive your LCSW license.

If you have sent all the necessary documents and passed the exam, your application will be approved and you will receive your license in the mail. You may now work in clinical social worker jobs in Vermont.

Proposed Changes to Vermont Social Work Licensure

The Vermont Office of Professional Regulation has proposed changes to social work licensure that would eliminate the LCSW designation and create two new licensure pathways – Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). Both licenses would require a passing grade on a new Vermont jurisprudence exam in addition to the appropriate ASWB exam. The proposed options are described below as of January 2016, although this information is subject to change as the Office continues to consult with social workers and the general public throughout the process.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

The Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) would likely require an MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited school or a DSW. This license would allow you to work in advanced generalist social work jobs in Vermont or begin accumulating clinical experience towards the new Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) designation. Once you have completed your degree, you would:

1. Submit your application to the Office.

The process would begin by submitting either a paper application or an online application through the eLicense system. No further information about the fee or necessary supporting documents is available yet.

2. Pass the required exams.

Once your application is received, you would need to pass the ASWB master’s level exam and the Vermont jurisprudence exam within five years. The exam fee for the ASWB master’s level exam was $230 as of January 2016, but the cost of the jurisprudence exam is still unknown.

3. Receive your license.

Once your exam results and application package are received, you would receive your LMSW in the mail.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

The Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) designation would replace the current LCSW license. The license would require either an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school or a DSW degree and significant supervised clinical experience. This license would be required to practice in clinical social worker jobs in Vermont without supervision. After completing your degree, you would:

1. Register to be on the Non-Licensed and Non-Certified Psychotherapists roster.

All social workers providing clinical services must register with the Office to be on the roster before beginning to accumulate clinical experience. If you do not register, your clinical experience may be denied.

2. Gain the necessary experience.

It will not be necessary to be licensed as an LMSW before working towards the LICSW; however obtaining this license first would decrease the number of necessary hours required to qualify for the LICSW. LMSWs would need complete 2,000 hours of supervised psychotherapy, whereas unlicensed social workers would need to complete 3,000 hours, with at least 2,000 hours providing psychotherapy. These hours would need to be completed in no less than two years and no more than five years. Applicants would also require at least one hour of supervision for every 30 hours of practice through either face-to-face or electronic means. At least half of the supervision hours would need to be completed individually, rather than through group supervision.

3. Submit your application to the Office.

After accumulating the necessary experience, you would submit your application package to the Office either using a paper form or the online eLicense system. No further details about the proposed application package are available yet.

4. Pass the ASWB clinical exam and the Vermont jurisprudence exam.

Once the Office received your package, you would be approved to sit for the ASWB clinical exam and the newly-created Vermont jurisprudence exam. You would need to pass both exams within five years or else your application would expire.

5. Receive your LICSW license.

After passing the exams and submitting your complete application, you would receive your LICSW license in the mail.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Vermont

Vermont does offer reciprocity for out-of-state social workers. To be eligible, the requirements of the other state where you are licensed must be equivalent or similar to the current requirements in Vermont. During the application process rather than sending the Verification of Social Work Education and Supervision Report forms, you must send a Verification of Licensure/Certification form.

The Office has also proposed changes to the current reciprocity system, which may impact how out-of-state social workers apply for licensure in Vermont in the future. There would be two possible options for both the LMSW and LICSW licenses:

Licensure by Endorsement

If you have a social work license from another state with similar or more challenging licensing requirements, you would follow the steps above in the application process. However, you would still be required to pass the new Vermont jurisprudence exam before obtaining your license.

Licensure by the Five-Year Rule

If you have a social work license from a state that does not have similar or as challenging requirements compared to the proposed requirements in Vermont, you might still be able to acquire a license through reciprocity if you have no disciplinary action against you in any state where you have previously been licensed, you have practiced for at least 1,200 hours every year for at least five years, and the Director of the Office determines that your experience compensates for the lesser licensure requirements. In this pathway, you would still be required to pass the Vermont jurisprudence exam before being licensed.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education (CE) Information

Social work licenses in Vermont expire on January 31 of even numbered years. If your license was issued within 90 days of the next renewal date, you do not need to pay the renewal fee; however, if it was issued prior to 90 days you will need to renew by using the online eLicense system. LCSWs are required to complete 20 contact hours of Continuing Education (CE) beginning in the first full two-year cycle of their license. At least 1.5 hours must be completed on social work ethics, and no more than five hours may be attributed to self-directed learning.

With the proposed changes to licensure, LICSWs would be required to complete 20 hours of CE including at least 15 hours of in-person training. LMSWs would be required to complete ten hours of CE, all of which would need to be in-person.

Vermont Social Work Jobs and Salary Information

According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,440 individuals are employed in Vermont social work jobs. Over half of these jobs are in the child, family and school social work field (55.3%).4 The average growth rate of Vermont social work jobs through 2022 is extremely promising at 18.5%.5 The highest growth is projected in healthcare social work at 24.9%.5 Additionally, mental health and substance abuse social work jobs in Vermont are likely to increase by 19.1% and child, family, and school social worker jobs in Vermont may increase by 16.3%.5 All other social work jobs are projected to increase by 13.8%.5 The average salary is currently $48,523; however, salary figures for healthcare social workers are not currently available and this average was skewed by lower salaries for child, family and school social workers ($41,680) and mental health and substance abuse social workers ($40,860) compared to all other social workers ($63.030).4

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 1,350 $41,680
Healthcare Social Workers 390 N/A*
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 630 $40,860
Social Workers, All Other 70 $63,030

*Data not currently available from the BLS.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.4

Social Work Associations in Vermont

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: When will the proposed changes to licensure come into effect?

Answer: Unfortunately there is no set date for the proposed changes to take effect. The Office of Professional Regulation is still in the consultation process with social workers and the general public.

Question: Who can provide clinical supervision for LCSW applicants?

Answer: A variety of professionals may provide appropriate supervision as long as they are registered as an approved clinical supervisor with the Office of Professional Regulation.

Question:What is a jurisprudence exam?

Answer: This exam will test your knowledge of Vermont laws relevant to the practice of advanced generalist and clinical social work practice. More details will be released if the proposed licensure changes are approved.

References:
1. Vermont Secretary of State, Office of Professional Regulation: https://www.sec.state.vt.us/professional-regulation/list-of-professions/social-workers.aspx
2. Vermont General Assembly, Social Workers: http://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/chapter/26/061
3. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Vermont: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/50
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Vermont: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_vt.htm
5. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm