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Indiana Social Work Licensing Requirements

With a population of about 6.6 million people, Indiana is a good place for individuals hoping to become social workers.1 The average annual salary of the 14,400 social workers employed in the state is $47,915.2 If a career in social work interests you, continue reading this guide to understand the various licensure paths in Indiana and the requirements for each. Social workers in Indiana are regulated by the Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board. Below are details on the educational paths required for Indiana social workers and the license options.

How to Become a Social Worker in Indiana

Educational Paths

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is required to become a licensed social worker in Indiana. With a master’s in social work degree (MSW), applicants are eligible for all three licenses issued by the Board. Though it is possible to earn a doctorate in social work (DSW), it is not needed for jobs in most states.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

The minimum degree requirement to become a licensed social worker in Indiana is a bachelor of social work (BSW) from a school that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or is in candidacy to become CSWE-accredited. BSW programs introduce students to the social work field as they learn to practice social work with individuals, families, groups, and communities. BSW programs prepare students for entry-level, professional social work practice and provide the foundation for graduate education. With a BSW, you can become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW) in the state of Indiana.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A master’s degree in social work (MSW) will be a requirement if you would like to practice clinical social work; it may also boost your earning potential. To become licensed with an MSW in Indiana, you must attend a program that is CSWE-accredited. Most MSW programs will offer courses in human behavior, social work policy and ethics, methods and interventions, and a fieldwork component. If you have a BSW, you may qualify for “advanced standing” in an MSW program, decreasing the duration of the program from two years to one year. Once you have earned an MSW, you will be able to pursue licensure as a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Indiana.

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

A doctoral degree in social work, or DSW, is another educational path that is an option for individuals hoping to become LCSWs in Indiana. To be eligible for licensure with a doctoral degree in Indiana, you must complete your DSW at an institution that is accredited by a federally-recognized agency. DSW programs are typically comprised of coursework emphasizing research, leadership, innovation, and advanced management practice.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Indiana

The Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board offers three social work licenses: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). There are different education and training requirements for each of these licenses, and they allow for different types of social work practice. Below is more information about these three social work licensure options and how to apply.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)

Once you have earned a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program, you can apply to become an LBSW. This license will allow you to practice bachelor’s-level, non-clinical social work in Indiana. Below are the steps to earning an LBSW license.

1. Submit an application to the Board.

The first step is to complete the Board’s Application for Licensure as a Social Worker. You must also request that your school send an official transcript to the Board. As of January 2019, the fee for this application is $50. You can pay an additional $25 to apply for a temporary permit, which will allow you to practice for up to one year while you are working to pass the exam required to receive your full license.

2. Complete the criminal background check.

After the Board has notified you that they have received your application, you can complete the required criminal background check. This can be completed out-of-state if you do not live in Indiana. You will need to pay a fee to have your fingerprints taken and submitted to the Board, though the amount may vary based on the location that you visit to have this done.

3. Pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam.

Before becoming an LBSW, candidates must pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Bachelor’s exam, which costs $230 as of January 2019. The test consists of 170 multiple-choice questions about bachelor’s-level social work practice. You can register after the Board has reviewed your licensure application and notified the ASWB that you are eligible to take the test. If you are working under a temporary license while waiting to pass the exam, keep in mind that temporary permits are valid for one year and cannot be renewed. If you do not pass the exam during that year, you will not be able to continue working as an LBSW until you have completed the exam and received your full license.

4. Receive your LBSW license from the Board.

Once the Board has received notification from the ASWB that you have passed the Bachelor’s exam, they will email you to inform you that LBSW license has been granted. In this email, they will provide a link for you to download and print a license card.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW)

To receive an LSW license in Indiana, you must hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program (or a CSWE-accredited BSW earned before July 1, 2019). An LSW is able to practice non-clinical social work in the state of Indiana. Once you have earned the required degree, you can become an LSW by following the steps below.

1. Submit an application to the Board..

The first step towards earning an LSW license is to submit the Application for Licensure as a Social Worker to the Board. As of January 2019, the fee for this is $50. You can pay an additional $25 to request a one-year temporary permit that will allow you to practice until you complete the licensure exam. In addition to the application, you will also need to have your school send a copy of your transcript to the Board.

2. Complete the criminal background check.

All social work licensure applicants in Indiana are required to complete a criminal background check. The fees for this will vary depending on the location where you have your fingerprints taken. You must wait to complete this step until the Board has notified you that they have received your licensure application.

3. Pass the ASWB Master’s exam.

The ASWB Master’s exam is required for LSW applicants in Indiana. You will be able to register for this test once the Board has processed your licensure application. As of January 2019, the fee for this test is $230. If you are working under a temporary license until you complete the exam, know that the license is valid for one year and cannot be renewed. If you do not pass the Master’s exam during that time frame, you will no longer be licensed and cannot work as an LSW until you have passed the exam and received your full license.

4. Receive your LSW license from the Board.

After you pass the licensing exam, the ASWB will automatically notify the Board of your scores. When the Board has received documentation that you have completed all requirements for LSW licensure, they will issue your license and notify you by email. They will include a link you can follow to download a copy of your license.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

To practice clinical social work independently in Indiana, you must become licensed as an LCSW. LCSW candidates must hold a DSW or an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program that emphasized direct clinical or client health services. Part of the LCSW licensure process involves completing two years of supervised experience (see Step 1 below). If you are completing this experience in Indiana, you must first become licensed as an LSW before accruing any hours. Once you hold an LSW license (or hold a qualifying degree and are working outside Indiana), follow the steps below to become an LCSW.

1. Gain the required experience.

LCSW candidates are required to complete two years (3,000 hours) of full-time, supervised clinical social work experience before becoming licensed. This experience will generally need to be gained after you earned your graduate degree in social work. However, if you completed a doctoral internship that included clinical social work you can apply those hours to this requirement. While you are earning your hours, you must meet with an LCSW at least four hours per month for supervision.

2. Submit an LCSW application to the Board.

Before becoming licensed as an LCSW, you must complete the Application for Licensure as a Clinical Social Worker and submit it to the Board. One page of this application must be given to your supervisor(s) for them to verify that you have completed your supervised experience. You must also have your school send a copy of your MSW or DSW transcript to the Board. As of January 2019, the LCSW application fee is $50. You can pay an additional $25 to request a temporary permit that is valid for 180 days.

3. Complete the criminal background check.

All applicants for Indiana social work licensure must submit to a criminal background check before becoming licensed. You cannot initiate this until the Board has notified you that they have received your LCSW application. You can complete this step in Indiana or another state. The fees required will vary based on where you have your fingerprints taken.

4. Pass the ASWB Clinical exam.

The ASWB Clinical Exam is required for LCSW licensure in Indiana. You can register for the exam once the Board approves your application and notifies the ASWB that you are eligible to take the test. As of January 2019, the fee for this exam is $260, and it consists of 170 multiple-choice questions about clinical social work.

5. Receive your LCSW license from the Board.

After you have completed the steps above, the Board will issue your LCSW license. They will send you an email to notify you when your license has been granted, which will include a link to download your license card.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Indiana

Individuals who hold a social work license in another state can apply for licensure in Indiana by reciprocity. To be eligible, you must hold a valid social work license in another state, have no disciplinary actions against you, and have previously passed the ASWB exam required for the level of licensure you are seeking. To apply, complete the application for the Indiana license that corresponds with the one you currently hold and pay the application fee. You will need to provide verification of any social work licenses you hold and have ASWB exam scores transferred to the Board. If the Board determines you meet the criteria for licensure by reciprocity, they will send you instructions for completing a jurisprudence exam that must be passed before you can receive your full license.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Licensed social workers must renew their licenses every two years and complete at least 20 hours of continuing education (CE) hours per year, for a total of 40 hours during each renewal period. At least 10 hours per year must come from Category I activities, which the Board defines as “formal programming” (e.g., workshops, seminars, courses). Up to 10 hours each year can come from Category II activities, which encompasses self-directed learning activities (e.g., journal reading, case conferences). At least one CE credit each year must come from a Category I activity in ethics and professional topics. Social workers in Indiana can visit the The National Association of Social Workers (NASW): Indiana Chapter for continuing education opportunities.

Indiana Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

14,400 social workers were employed in Indiana in 2017.2 The largest subfield of social work employment in the state was child, family, and school social work (6,740); the next largest subfield was healthcare social work (5,260).2 Projections Central reports that social worker jobs of all types in Indiana are expected to increase by 16.6% between 2016 and 2026.3 The largest increase in jobs is projected for the subfield of mental health and substance abuse social workers (22.5%).3 Social workers in Indiana earn an average of $47,915 per year.2

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers6,740$39,560
Healthcare Social Workers5,260$50,000
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers1,980$40,560
Social Workers, All Other420$61,540

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

Social Work Associations in Indiana

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I begin practicing independently once I become licensed as a clinical social worker (LCSW)?

Answer: Yes, once you have met the qualifications required to become an LCSW in Indiana and receive your license from the Board, you may begin practicing independently.

Question: For the two years or 3,000 hours of work experience required for the LCSW, can I count experience I gained years ago?

Answer: It depends. If you earn your hours in Indiana under an LSW license, they never expire and can be used at any time for an LCSW application. Hours earned under a temporary license expire after four years. If you completed your supervised experience outside Indiana, contact the Board to ask if the hours need to be applied to an application within a certain period of time.

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

Answer: While you are completing your supervised clinical social work experience, you must work under an LCSW.

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

Answer: To practice in the state of Indiana, social workers need at least a BSW from a CSWE-accredited school. Social workers will need an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school or a DSW to become an LCSW in the state.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Indiana: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/in
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Indiana: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_in.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm