Connecticut Social Work Licensing Requirements

Founded as one of the original colonies in 1636 and boasting four signers to the Declaration of Independence, Connecticut is rich in history, and visitors may trace Connecticut’s anti-slavery past on the Freedom Trail which winds through fifty towns. Connecticut is home to 3.6 million people who live in its cities or rural towns. This state is located in the southernmost part of New England. For newly-minted social workers with advanced degrees or for more experienced social workers wishing to relocate, Connecticut is a good place to start a career in helping others and making a difference.

How to Become a Social Worker in Connecticut

To obtain a Connecticut social work license, the applicant must apply to the Department of Public Health (the “Department”), the organization that oversees social worker licensure in Connecticut. The Department of Public Health acknowledges two categories of licensed social workers, including licensed master level social workers (LMSW) and licensed clinical social workers (LCSW).

Educational Paths

Social workers who wish to receive a Connecticut social work license must have graduated with a master’s degree program in social work. Some social workers go on to earn advanced degrees, such as a doctoral degree in Social Work (DSW or PhD), and they may also apply for licensing as either an LMSW or LCSW.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Anyone who wishes to be licensed as a social worker in Connecticut must obtain an advanced degree in social work. Obtaining an MSW usually takes about two years. Having a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) may give an individual advanced standing status in an MSW program, thus shortening the length of the program. In Connecticut, there are three programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) for an MSW, including the following: Southern Connecticut State University, the University of Connecticut, and the University of St. Joseph. In November 2015, Quinnipiac University was also a candidate for accreditation for an MSW.

Coursework in different MSW programs vary, but may include classes in human behavior, social work research methods, gerontology, substance abuse, child maltreatment, family therapy, and many other options. Fieldwork is also performed in the MSW program, and in some programs, fieldwork is performed in other countries for several weeks. The purpose of fieldwork is for the student to receive practical real-world experience. Independent study may also be an option for some credit work.

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Some students may go on to pursue a doctorate in social work (or DSW). Since the minimum degree needed to practice social work in Connecticut is a master’s degree, students who are interested in teaching at the university level may have an interest in pursuing a DSW. Doctoral programs offer a more in-depth look at the field of social work, take around two years to complete, and tend to focus on advanced clinical practice, leadership, and theory. DSW programs are not accredited by the CSWE.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Connecticut

There are two types of licensed social workers in Connecticut, including the licensed master’s social worker (LMSW) and the licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

Master’s Level Social Worker (LMSW)

This pathway to licensure in Connecticut was approved in 2014. According to the Practice Act in Connecticut state law, the LMSW may practice clinical social work only under the supervision of a licensed individual, such as a clinical social worker. The person with an LMSW may also provide a mental health diagnosis only if this diagnosis is provided in consultation with a physician or other licensed professional designated by state law. A person with an LMSW may not be in private practice. To receive this social work license, the individual must have at least an MSW degree. After the educational requirement has been met, the following steps must be completed to become an LMSW:

1. Submit your application to the Department.

The first step to becoming a master level social worker in Connecticut is to apply online for the LMSW license here. Your application will include: verification of any social work licenses granted in other states, official college transcripts, and an application fee of $220 (as of November 2015).

2. Take and pass the ASWB masters examination.

The next step in the process is to sign up for the Association of Social Work Boards master’s level exam. You will need to schedule a time to take the exam, and then your scores will be forwarded to the Department.

3. Receive your LMSW license from the Department.

After the above steps have been completed, you will receive your LMSW license from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

If you are interested in practicing social work at the clinical level, you must have an MSW or a doctorate and experience in social work as well as supervised clinical experience. Here are the steps leading to an LCSW in Connecticut:

1. Accumulate the required experience.

Before you are ready to apply to be an LCSW, you will need to acquire experience in social work. A minimum of 3,000 hours of documented, post-master’s experience in social work is required by the Department. A minimum of 100 hours of documented, supervised experience by a licensed clinical or certified independent social worker is also required. Three years of licensed work experience in the practice of clinical social work may be a substitute for the preceding requirement.

2. Complete the application.

First, you must submit the application to become an LCSW. https://www.elicense.ct.gov/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=/Activities/Listing.aspx&ID=10. The application must be notarized, contain a photograph of the applicant, and include a fee of $315 (as of November 2015). Applications may be submitted online. Once the application has been approved, the Department will notify you that you are eligible to sit for the ASWB exam.

3. Take and pass the ASWB clinical examination.

Examinations are given at different sites in Connecticut. Every candidate for the LCSW must take and pass this examination.

4. Receive your LCSW license from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Connecticut

As of October 20, 2015, if an individual has obtained a social work license in another state with practicing requirements that are similar to or greater than those in Connecticut, and the individual has also successfully passed the ASWB examination required for a specific license, then the person may be granted a license in Connecticut. However, the state first will verify that the individual is in good standing with the other state and that no disciplinary actions have been taken against him or her. You will need to complete a master’s level verification of licensure/ certification form or a clinical level verification of licensure/ certification form and submit it to the Department.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

The Connecticut social work license is renewed annually. As of November 2015, the initial application fee for the LCSW is $315 and the renewal fee is $195. For the LMSW, the initial application fee is $220, and the renewal fee is $195. LCSWs and LMSWs are required to complete at least 15 hours of continuing education each year. In addition, as of January 1, 2016, each licensed social worker in Connecticut must complete at least two hours of education or training on mental health conditions common among military veterans and the families of military veterans. They must also complete at least one hour of education or training on cultural competency.

Connecticut Social Work Jobs and Salary Information

The outlook is generally favorable for social work jobs in Connecticut. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 9,610 social workers working in Connecticut in May 2014.4 Healthcare social workers were paid the highest, earning an average of $64,540 per year, followed closely by child, family, and school social workers, who earned an average annual salary of $63,020.4 According to the Projections Central predictions through the year 2022, there will be an average growth rate of 16.6% for all social workers (or 360 new jobs per year).5 This projection is not quite as high as the average of growth rate of 18.55% for social workers in the US.5 Possibly the higher educational demands for Connecticut social workers may factor into this slightly lower rate, although the reasons are unknown. Among the primary subcategories of social workers, the greatest growth rate was predicted in the subcategory of mental health and substance abuse social workers, with a 19.3% increase projected.5 The next highest subcategory of social workers when predicting growth, or 18.3% anticipated growth was in the “all other social workers” subcategory.5

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers5,320$63,020
Healthcare Social Workers1,900$64,540
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers2,100$59,300
Social Workers, All Other290$56,580

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.4

Social Work Associations in Connecticut

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: May individuals who received their social work degrees in other countries obtain a social work license in Connecticut?

Answer: Yes, under some circumstances. If an individual has obtained a social work education outside the United States that is deemed equivalent to a master’s program with the United States by the Council on Social Work Education, then that education will be accepted by Connecticut. However, the individual also must pass the master’s level examination administered by the ASWB.

Question: May individuals with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution become licensed as social workers in Connecticut?

Answer: No, they may not. They may be able to find employment in Connecticut, but only individuals with a master’s degree or higher may become licensed social workers in Connecticut.

Question: May individuals with a master’s level in social work license engage in clinical social work without supervision in Connecticut?

Answer: No. A person with a master’s level in social work may only perform clinical social work under professional supervision in Connecticut, according to the Practice Act, which is part of Connecticut state law. Professional supervision refers to supervision by a licensed physician, an advanced practice registered nurse, a licensed psychologist, a licensed marital and family therapist, a licensed professional counselor, or a licensed clinical social worker.

1. Connecticut Department of Public Health: https://portal.ct.gov/dph
2. Council on Social Work Education: https://www.cswe.org/
3. Association of Social Work Boards: https://www.aswb.org/
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Connecticut: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ct.htm#21-0000
5. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm