Delaware Social Work License Requirements

Delaware has a population of nearly 940,000 people and that population has increased by over 4% since 2010.1 A growing population usually signals growing job opportunities and that includes jobs for social workers. If you wish to become a clinical social worker in Delaware, you will need to understand the requirements for the license and the experience needed to apply. The Delaware Board of Clinical Social Work Examiners regulates clinical social work licenses in the state. Continue reading to understand more about social worker jobs in Delaware and the specific requirements of the clinical social work license.

How to Become a Social Worker in Delaware

Educational Paths

Social workers interested in working in Delaware will need either a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate in social work to practice social work. The text below describes the three social work degrees and the benefits of each one.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

Most states, including Delaware, require social workers to have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This accreditation ensures that all social work programs adhere to the same standards and that students are learning the basic requirements to practice social work across the country. BSW programs prepare students for the social work field through a combination of classroom education and field practice or exposure. Most BSW students will take courses in human behavior, social work policy, professional ethics, and practice methods. The Delaware Board of Examiners does not regulate the practice of social workers with a bachelor’s degree, but it is a first step in obtaining the education necessary to become a licensed clinical social worker.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

If you wish to practice independent or clinical social work in Delaware, you will need to obtain at minimum a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Research various MSW programs to determine which ones have a focus area that interests you and offers electives relative to your career goals. MSW students typically take courses in social work policy and social welfare, social work research, crisis management, and intervention, and practice with different audiences such as individuals, families, and communities. All MSW programs will have a required fieldwork component that gives students real-world experience. If you previously completed your BSW from a CSWE-accredited school, you may be eligible for “advanced standing” in the MSW program, decreasing the duration of the graduate-level program from two years to one year.

Doctorate of Social Work (DSW)

Some social workers may choose to go on to obtain the terminal degree in the field, which is a doctoral degree in social work. With a DSW or PhD in social work, you can apply to be an LCSW. Although a master’s degree is the minimum required for licensure, a PhD in social work in Delaware may open up more job opportunities. Many doctoral students eventually focus their careers on research, working in colleges and universities and teaching social work to undergraduate and graduate students. PhD program coursework may include quantitative research methods, data analysis, research practicum, and theory.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Delaware

Bachelor’s and master’s level social workers do not need to be licensed to practice social work in Delaware. Only clinical social workers are required to be licensed in order to practice. They are also the only social workers who can practice independently. The steps outlined below will tell you how to become a licensed clinical social worker in the state.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Clinical social workers apply methods and theories learned through education and experience to treat behavioral or mental problems and disorders. To become a licensed clinical social worker in Delaware, you must have either an MSW from a school accredited by the CSWE or a doctorate in social work. In addition to meeting the education requirement, you must:

1. Gain the required experience.

The Delaware Board of Clinical Social Work Examiners requires LCSW candidates to have supervised experience prior to becoming licensed. LCSW candidates must have at least two years of post-graduate experience (a minimum of 3,200 hours). Half of the experience (1,600 hours) must be supervised by a licensed clinical social worker. If you cannot find an LCSW to supervise your work experience, you may have a master’s-level degree social worker, a licensed psychologist, or a licensed psychiatrist supervise your social work experience. If your experience is supervised by someone other than an LCSW (but listed above), you will need to submit the documentation of attempts to secure LCSW supervision form to the Board when you complete your application.

2. Complete the application.

After the experience requirement is met, LCSW candidates must apply for licensure to the Delaware Board of Examiners and include the following:

  • The $163 application fee (as of January 2016)
  • An official transcript sent directly from your college or university
  • Supervisor reference form or documentation of attempts to secure LCSW supervision form (included in application packet)

All clinical social workers must have state and federal criminal background checks on file and must be fingerprinted. You must complete and submit the criminal history records check authorization form and FBI criminal background check form (both included with the application) to either address listed on the form plus the $69 fee (as of January 2016). You will be fingerprinted at the facility when you submit your background check forms. If you are out-of-state, you can be fingerprinted at any police agency in your jurisdiction; they will put your fingerprints on a fingerprint card. You must then mail the forms, fingerprint card, and a (certified) check or money order to the Delaware State Police (address listed on form).

3. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

You will need to take and pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) clinical level exam to become licensed. After receiving notification from the Delaware Board of Examiners you may register for the exam at the ASWB website. The $260* exam tests the candidate’s knowledge of social work and clinical practice. The 170-question multiple-choice exam requires between 96 and 105 correct answers to pass. LCSW candidates have two years from the date of their application to pass the ASWB exam; if a candidate has not passed the exam within two years, he or she will have to reapply for licensure.

4. Receive your LCSW license.

Once you have completed the steps listed above and passed the ASWB clinical exam, you will become a licensed clinical social worker in Delaware. LCSWs can practice clinical and nonclinical social work independently and may supervise other social workers.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Delaware

Delaware does not have formal reciprocity with any other state. If you wish to practice clinical social work in Delaware, you must meet the same qualifications stated above and apply using the same process discussed here. Out-of-state social workers will have to provide a statement from their licensing Board certifying that there are no outstanding or pending disciplinary actions against them via the verification form provided in the application packet. Out-of-state social workers who are applying for licensure by reciprocity need not include the supervisor reference form or the documentation of attempts to secure LCSW supervision form. Applicants must pay the $163 application fee and $69 criminal records check fee (fees are current as of January 2016).

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Clinical social worker licenses in Delaware expire on January 31 of odd years, so the next expiration date will be January 31, 2017. LCSWs must pay the $40 renewal fee (as of January 2016) and have 45 continuing education (CE) hours. Licensees may request an additional 120 days to meet their continuing education requirement if they were unable to satisfy it during the biennial license period.

Delaware Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

Over 2,000 social workers are employed in Delaware and they earn an annual salary of $50,225 on average.2 Social workers in other categories earn $62,490, but average social work salaries in the state range from $39,480 (child, family, and school social workers) to $62,490 (social workers, all other).2 Social worker jobs in Delaware are projected to increase by 11.4% between now and 2022, amounting to about 70 jobs openings annually.3 The largest job growth is projected for healthcare social workers (16.1%).3 Considering the projected job growth and the range of salaries, Delaware would be a great place to start a career in social work.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers1,120$39,480
Healthcare Social Workers500$48,810
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers360$50,120
Social Workers, All Other90$62,490

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.2

Social Work Associations in Delaware

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Answer: Yes, once you meet the requirements for an LCSW and gain approval by the Board, you may begin practicing 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 social work experience was acquired after receiving your an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school and your experience amounts to 3,200 hours (completed in at least two years), you can count experience from any time period.

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

Answer: Supervisors must be either an LCSW, a master’s-level degree social worker, a licensed psychologist, or a licensed psychiatrist. If your supervisor is not an LCSW, you must submit the documentation of attempts to secure LCSW supervision with your application.

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 to practice social work in Delaware.

1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Delaware: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/de
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Delaware: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_de.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm