Delaware Social Work License Requirements

Delaware has a population of just under one million which has been growing steadily since 2010, signaling an ongoing need for social workers.1 If you plan to become a social worker in Delaware, you will need to understand the state’s requirements for licensure. Delaware’s Board of Clinical Social Work Examiners issues clinical social work licenses and will begin requiring licenses for non-clinical social workers in June 2019. Continue reading to learn more about social work licensure in Delaware and educational paths to social work careers in the state.

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How to Become a Social Worker in Delaware

Educational Paths

As of June 2019, you will need a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in social work to become a social worker in the state. A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) prepares an individual to practice general, non-clinical social work. Earning a master’s degree in social work (MSW) or a doctoral degree in social work (DSW) can allow for more advanced practice, including clinical social work. Below is more information about each of these degrees.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

Bachelor’s-level social workers are not currently required to be licensed in Delaware and may practice non-clinical social work in various settings. In June 2019, however, the Board will begin requiring all social workers to hold licenses and will start issuing a bachelor’s-level social work license. To be eligible for this, you will need a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This accreditation ensures that participating social work programs adhere to a core set of educational standards and provide sufficient training in the general practice of social work. BSW programs prepare students for entry-level social work employment through a combination of classroom education and fieldwork. Most BSW students will take courses in human behavior, social work policy, professional ethics, and practice methods. BSW programs generally take four years to complete.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A master’s degree in social work (MSW) is required to become a licensed clinical social worker in Delaware, and beginning in June 2019 will also be required for the Board’s new non-clinical master’s-level license. For licensure, you must earn your MSW from a CSWE-accredited program. MSW students typically take courses in social work policy and social welfare, social work research, crisis management, and intervention. They also gain hands-on social work experience through field placements. If you previously completed your BSW from a CSWE-accredited school, you may be eligible for “advanced standing” in your MSW program, allowing you to complete it in one year instead of the two years it usually takes.

Doctorate of Social Work (DSW)

Some social workers may choose to obtain a doctoral degree in social work (DSW). This degree is not required for licensure in Delaware but can be used to apply for a clinical social work license. Many DSW students eventually focus their careers on research, working in colleges and universities and teaching social work to undergraduate and graduate students. Doctoral-level social work coursework may include quantitative research methods, data analysis, research practica, and theory.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Delaware

Non-clinical bachelor’s- and master’s-level social workers are not currently required to hold a license to practice; however, the Board will begin requiring licensure for these social workers in June 2019. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential is required to practice clinical social work and will remain in place after the June 2019 changes. Below are the steps to LCSW licensure in Delaware as well as information about the upcoming licensing changes.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Clinical social workers apply social work methods and theories to diagnose and treat behavioral and emotional disorders. To become credentialed as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Delaware, you must have either an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program or a doctorate in social work. After you have obtained one of these degrees, follow the steps below to apply for an LCSW license.

1. Gain the required experience.

The Board requires LCSW candidates to complete two years (3,200 hours) of supervised post-degree clinical experience prior to becoming licensed. At least 1,600 hours should be under the supervision of an LCSW, though the Board may approve exceptions (such as psychologists or psychiatrists) if you were unable to find an LCSW to work under. You must receive at least one hour of supervision per week. At least half of your total supervision hours must be in person, but any portion of the remaining half can be through video conferencing.

2. Submit an LCSW the application.

After you have met the supervised experience requirement, you must apply for an LCSW license by submitting the Application for Licensure as a Clinical Social Worker packet to the Board. Your supervisor(s) must complete the Supervisory Reference Form and you will need to submit the Documentation of Attempts to Secure LCSW Supervision if you could not be supervised by an LCSW. The application contains instructions for completing a criminal background check. In addition to these forms, you must have an official transcript from your MSW program sent to the Board. As of February 2019, the LCSW application fee is $183 and the background check fee is $65. Your application must be notarized before you submit it.

3. Pass the ASWB Clinical exam.

The Board reviews applications monthly at their scheduled meetings. During their next meeting following submission of your application, they will review your materials and determine whether you are eligible to register for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Clinical exam required for LCSW licensure The $260 (as of February 2019) exam tests knowledge of social work and clinical practice. It contains 170 multiple-choice questions, 150 of which are used to calculate your final score. The ASWB will send your results to the Board within the two weeks following your test date.

4. Receive your LCSW license.

After you have passed the ASWB Clinical exam, the Board will issue your LCSW license. Once you have earned this, you can begin practicing clinical social work in Delaware without supervision.

Non-Clinical Social Work Licenses

Beginning in June 2019, the Board will require non-clinical social workers to become licensed. They will be offering two new licenses, one for bachelor’s-level social workers and one for master’s-level social workers. To earn the new bachelor’s-level social work license, you will need to hold a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program. Social workers who hold this license will be able to practice non-clinical social work under supervision. To earn the new master’s-level social work license, you will need an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program. This license will allow a social worker to independently practice non-clinical social work and to provide clinical services under supervision. There will be a one-year “grandfathering period” following these licensure changes, allowing current Delaware social workers who meet minimum education and experience requirements to become licensed without having to fulfill additional criteria. For more information about the upcoming licensure changes, contact the Board.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Delaware

Delaware offers licensure by reciprocity to clinical social workers licensed in other states. To be eligible, you must hold a current clinical social work license in another state and have not had any disciplinary actions against you. This license must have been issued under requirements equivalent to Delaware’s or you must be able to provide documentation that you have been actively practicing for at least five of the past seven years. To apply for LCSW licensure by reciprocity, complete the application packet. You will need to provide verification of your current license and past ASWB scores. As of February 2019, reciprocity applicants must pay must pay a $183 application fee and $69 criminal background check fee.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Delaware LCSW licenses expire on January 31 of every odd year. The renewal fee is $40 (as of February 2019). You will receive an email reminder in the weeks leading up to the renewal date. To be eligible for renewal, licensees must complete 45 hours of continuing education (CE) during each renewal period. At least three of these CE hours must be in ethics, and no more than 10 hours can come from self-study activities.

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Delaware Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,100 social workers were employed in Delaware as of May 2017, earning an average annual salary of $52,255.2 Average salaries for specific subfields of social work in Delaware ranged from $39,870 (child, family, and school social workers) to $60,570 (“all other” social workers).2 310 new social work jobs are projected to be created in Delaware between 2016 and 2026, amounting to a 13.5% increase in positions.3 The fastest growth is expected in healthcare social work positions, which are projected to increase by 14.8% during that 10-year period.3

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers1,130$39,870
Healthcare Social Workers540$55,560
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers390$53,020
Social Workers, All Other120$60,570

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

Social Work Associations in Delaware

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I begin practicing independently once I become licensed as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?

Answer: Yes, once you meet the requirements for an LCSW and receive your license from the Board, you may begin practicing clinical social work independently.

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

Answer: Yes, as long as your supervised experience was acquired after receiving your an MSW or DSW, was completed in no fewer than two years, and meets the Board’s other supervised experience requirements.

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

Answer: Supervisors must be either an LCSW, a master’s-level social worker, a licensed psychologist, or a licensed psychiatrist. If you are unable to be supervised by an LCSW for at least half of your hours, you will need to submit a form attesting to this when you apply for licensure.

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

Answer: Clinical social workers need a master’s degree in social work (MSW) or doctorate in social work (DSW) to practice social work in Delaware.

1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Delaware:
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Delaware:
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: