Mississippi Social Work Licensing Requirements
Mississippi includes the major waterways of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico, rural areas, and major cities such as Jackson and Biloxi. The state is home to just under three million residents, who enjoy the lowest cost of living in the country.1,2 The Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists licenses all social workers in the state. On this page, you will find more information about the educational requirements for these licenses, the types of practice they allow, and salary information for Mississippi social workers.
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How to Become a Social Worker in Mississippi
Individuals wishing to become licensed social workers in Mississippi must obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), which will qualify them to apply for LSW licensure. To become an LMSW or LCSW, a master’s degree in social work (MSW) is required. Although earning a BSW is a shorter path to a social work career, continuing on to complete an MSW can lead to more job opportunities and increased independence. Keep reading for more information about each of these degrees.
Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)
Earning a BSW will allow you to apply for the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) credential in Mississippi. To be eligible, you must earn your degree from a program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). There are 11 CSWE-accredited BSW programs in Mississippi as of February 2019. Students in BSW programs take a wide variety of classes in sociology, psychology, economics, and other areas. In addition, they often perform fieldwork to gain hands-on social work experience.
Master of Social Work (MSW)
Mississippi candidates for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) credentials must have received an MSW from a program accredited by the CSWE. MSW programs provide advanced courses in areas such as human behavior, substance abuse and addiction, and diversity in social work. In addition, MSW students in CSWE-accredited programs receive hands-on social work experience through fieldwork placements. As of February 2019, four universities in Mississippi offer CSWE-accredited MSW programs. MSW programs typically take two years to complete. However, if you enter the program with a BSW, many MSW programs will grant you “advanced standing,” potentially allowing you to complete the degree in just one year.
Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Mississippi
The Board oversees three types of social work licenses: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW). Candidates for all levels of social work licensure in Mississippi must hold a Board-approved degree in social work, be at least 21 years old, and submit to a criminal background check. Each license requires a different set of steps. The sections below describe each of these processes in more detail as well as the types of social work services that are permitted under each license.
Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
The Board’s Licensed Social Worker (LSW) credential allows an individual to practice general social work under the supervision of an LMSW or LCSW. Services an LSW can provide include performing basic assessments, leading educational groups, and developing problem-solving interventions. To become an LSW, you must have graduated from a CSWE-accredited BSW program. The steps below describe the process of earning an LSW license in Mississippi.
1. Submit your initial LSW application to the Board.
To apply for your LSW, you will need to pay a $25 initial application fee (as of February 2019) and submit a completed Initial License Application form to the Board. You will also need to include a passport-style photograph of yourself and have your BSW program complete the Verification of Education form.
If you are still enrolled in your BSW program you can submit the application if you are within 15 credit hours of graduation. You will need to include a signature from the chair of your program verifying your expected graduation date. This will allow you to take the required licensure exam while you are still a BSW student, which can be helpful if you would like to begin practicing shortly after you graduate.
2. Pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam.
After the Board receives your application and has verified your education, they will authorize you to take the ASWB Bachelor’s exam. The fee for this exam is $230 as of February 2019. There are 170 multiple-choice questions on the test, 150 of which are scored. Your approval to take the exam expires after one year, so if you do not take it during that time you will need to submit a new application to the Board.
3. Complete the criminal background check.
After you have passed the ASWB Bachelor’s exam, you will need to submit fingerprints to the Board so that a criminal background check can be conducted. To do this, you will first need to mail the Request for Fingerprint Card form to the Board along with a $50 processing fee (as of February 2019). The Board will mail you a fingerprint card and you can have your fingerprints taken at a law enforcement agency near you. When you have done this, mail the card back to the Board.
4. Receive your LSW license from the Board.
After the Board receives your passing ASWB exam scores and completes the background check, you will be eligible for licensure. You must pay a $70 fee (as of February 2019) to receive your license from the Board. Once it is issued, you can begin practicing as an LSW in Mississippi under the supervision of an LMSW or LCSW.
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
To qualify for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) credential, you must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program or a doctoral degree in social work. The LMSW license allows a social worker to practice general social work as part of an agency or organization, providing services such as case management, psychosocial assessment, and program development. LMSWs are also able to practice clinical social work under the supervision of an LCSW or other independently licensed mental health professional. To become an LMSW, complete each of the steps below.
1. Submit your initial application to the Board.
To begin the application process, submit the Initial License Application form to the Board along with the application fee of $25 (as of February 2019). For this application, you will need to include a passport-style photograph of yourself and have your program send the Verification of Education form to the Board.
2. Pass the ASWB Master’s exam.
The Board will notify you when you are cleared to take the ASWB Master’s exam, which is required for the LMSW. As of February 2019, the exam costs $230. Like all ASWB exams, the Master’s exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions and only 150 are scored. The ASWB will transfer your scores to the Board within approximately two weeks of your test date.
3. Complete the criminal background check.
All applicants for Mississippi social work licensure must pass a criminal background check before becoming licensed. After you have passed the ASWB exam, request a fingerprint card from the Board; as of February 2019, the fee for this is $50. Once you receive it, have your fingerprints taken at a local law enforcement agency and return the card to the Board.
4. Receive your LMSW license from the Board.
After the Board is notified of your passing ASWB exam scores and your criminal background check has been completed, the Board will issue your LMSW license. To receive it, you must pay a fee of $100 (as of February 2019). Once you have your license, you can provide services within the scope of practice for an LMSW.
Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)
The Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) credential is the highest level of social work licensure in Mississippi. This license allows a social worker to provide either clinical or macro (administrative) services without supervision. Before applying for an LCSW license, you will need to know which of these two areas you plan to practice. You will also need to hold an LMSW license prior to beginning the steps below, as this will allow you to gain the supervised experience required to become an LCSW.
1. Acquire two years of supervised experience.
All aspiring LCSWs must complete two years of supervised work under a Board-approved LCSW supervisor. This supervisor’s area of practice should correspond with the type of advanced social work (clinical or macro) you plan to specialize in. The Board provides a list of approved supervisors, though any LCSW can apply for Board approval if they meet the criteria described in the LMSW supervision guide.
Once you have identified a supervisor, you will need to file a supervision contract (with a processing fee of $75) and a supervision plan with the Board. You cannot begin accruing supervised hours until the Board has approved these documents. Once you begin working under supervision, you must spend at least 1,000 hours in direct client contact (if practicing macro social work, the client may be an organization or group). You will need to receive at least 100 total hours of supervision with at least one hour per week. This supervised experience cannot be completed in fewer than 24 months and may not take longer than 36 months. When you have finished your experience, your supervisor must complete the Termination of Supervision and Verification of Face-to-Face Client Contact forms to document that you have completed this requirement.
2. Apply for your LCSW license.
After completing your supervised hours, you must submit an Initial License Application and pay the $25 fee (as of February 2019). You must also have your program complete the Verification of Education form.
3. Pass the ASWB Advanced Generalist or Clinical exam.
All aspiring LCSWs are required to take one of the ASWB licensure exams; the exam you must take will depend on your intended area of practice. Individuals intending to practice clinical social work must pass the Clinical exam, while macro social workers must take the Advanced Generalist exam. The Board will notify you when you can register for the test. As of February 2019, both the Clinical and Advanced Generalist exams cost $260. There are 170 questions on the test and scores are automatically transmitted to the Board.
3. Complete the criminal background check.
You will need to complete another criminal background check (for a fee of $50, as of February 2019) for your LCSW license. To do this, request a fingerprint card, have your fingerprints taken at a local law enforcement agency, and return the card to the Board.
4. Receive your LCSW license.
After you have completed all the steps above, the Board will issue your LCSW license. To receive it, you will need to pay a license fee of $30 to upgrade your LMSW license to an LCSW license. Once you have earned your license, you can practice either macro or clinical social work independently in Mississippi.
Social Work License Reciprocity in Mississippi
The Board offers licensure by reciprocity for individuals who are licensed and in good standing in other states. To receive a license by reciprocity, you must meet all criteria for the Mississippi social work license for which you are applying, including completion of the required ASWB exam and supervised experience for LCSW licensure. To apply, complete an Initial License Application and include all supplemental documentation listed in the Reciprocity Application Checklist. Total fees vary based on the level of licensure and are outlined on the Board’s checklist.
Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Mississippi social work licenses must be renewed every two years. License renewals can be completed on the Board’s website. As of February 2019, renewal fees are $70 for the LSW and $100 for the LMSW and the LCSW. The Board also requires all individuals with social work licenses in Mississippi to complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each two-year renewal period. These 40 hours must include four hours of ethics and two hours of cultural diversity. Visit the Board’s continuing education page for details about types of qualifying activities and approved CE providers.
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Mississippi Social Work Jobs and Salary Information
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 4,860 social workers employed in Mississippi as of 2017, the greatest number of whom worked in the subfield of child, family, and school social work (2,530).3 The average annual salary for social workers in Mississippi is $43,598, though salaries vary based on the type of practice.3 The highest-paid social workers in Mississippi are those in the “all other” category, with an average salary of $53,280; the lowest-paid are those in child, family, and school social work, with an average salary of $34,930.3
According to Projections Central, it is expected that the number of Mississippi social work jobs will increase by 7.9% between 2016 and 2026.4 Although projections suggest there will be growth in all subfields of social work in Mississippi, the fastest growth is expected in healthcare social work (11.2%).4
|Type||Number Employed||Average Annual Salary|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||2,530||$34,930|
|Healthcare Social Workers||1,170||$47,540|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||800||$38,640|
|Social Workers, All Other||360||$53,280|
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.3
Social Work Associations in Mississippi
- National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Mississippi Chapter: Provides information on licensing, continuing education, and other resources for social workers in the state.
- Mississippi Public Health Association (MPHS): Provides information and advocacy for Mississippi citizens employed in the field of public health, including social workers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: May social work students in Mississippi in their last semester of their BSW programs take the ASWB exam before graduation?
Answer: Yes. Students wishing to take the exam in their last 15 credit hours of school may submit an application for licensure and be approved to take the exam. However, they will still need to provide verification of their final degree before they can receive an LSW license.
Question: May social workers in Mississippi who receive a Licensed Master Social Work (LMSW) license operate independently?
Answer: Mississippi LMSWs do not need to receive supervision if they are providing non-clinical services, but must be employed by an agency or organization. LMSWs must be supervised if they are practicing clinical social work.
Question: How much supervised experience is required for the Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) license?
Answer: To become an LCSW, you must complete two years of supervised experience. This must include 1,000 hours of face-to-face client contact and 100 hours of supervision with an LCSW.
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Mississippi: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/ms
2. Sperling’s Best Places: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/mississippi
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Mississippi: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ms.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm