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Missouri Social Work Licensing Requirements

Missouri has a population of over 6 million people and has the second-highest concentration of healthcare social work jobs in the US.1,2 If you are interested in becoming a social worker in Missouri, you will need to understand the requirements for the job and the various licenses offered in Missouri. Continue reading to learn more about the licenses, regulations and guidelines enforced by the Missouri Division of Professional Registration – Committee for Social Works, the governing body for social workers.

How to Become a Social Worker in Missouri

Educational Paths

The Missouri Committee for Social Work offers four licenses for social workers. The minimum education requirement to become a licensed social worker is a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) but advanced licenses require a master’s degree in social work (MSW). The following details the different educational options for individuals seeking licensure as social workers.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

To become a licensed bachelor social worker (LBSW), you must have a BSW from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). In Missouri, 15 schools are CSWE-accredited. BSW programs introduce students to the social work profession by exposing them to human behavior, social work theory, and research courses. Most BSW programs require field practice that allow students to gain hands-on social work experience.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

To practice advanced social work or to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in Missouri, individuals must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited college or university. This advanced degree must also be accredited by the CSWE. Seven universities and colleges in Missouri offer CSWE-accredited MSW programs. Most MSW programs offer advanced standing to students who already possess a BSW, enabling them to complete the graduate program in one year as opposed to the two years it normally takes.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Missouri

The Missouri Committee for Social Workers administers four licenses– the bachelor’s social worker (LBSW), master’s social worker (LMSW), clinical social worker (LCSW), and advanced macro social worker (LAMSW) license. Each license has its own set of requirements which will be detailed below. In Missouri, clinical social workers must be licensed; all other social workers may practice without a license, but possessing a social work license in Missouri may increase your job opportunities and lifetime earnings.

Licensed Bachelors Social Worker (LBSW)

To become a licensed bachelor’s social worker (LBSW), you must have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. After meeting the education requirement, LBSW candidates must:

1. Apply for licensure.

LBSW candidates must apply for licensure to the Committee. As a part of the application process, candidates must request that their college or university send an official transcript to the Committee to accompany their application. Candidates must also furnish their fingerprints, a background check, and three academic or professional references. As of November 2015, the LBSW application fee was $60.00.

2. Take and pass the ASWB bachelors exam.

LBSW candidates should register for and schedule the 170-question bachelor’s level ASWB exam. To pass, candidates must answer between 96 and 105 questions correctly. Candidates may retake the exam twice if they fail on their initial attempt. After that, LBSW candidates will have to wait one year to reapply and retest. The bachelor ‘s level ASWB exam is $230*. Graduates may take the exam up to 60 days before graduation with their BSW as long as they submit a letter from a program director confirming their graduation date and degree.

*As of November 2015.

3. Receive your LBSW license from the Missouri Committee.

After satisfying the above-stated requirements, you will become a licensed bachelors social worker. After two years of registered and supervised experience approved by the Committee, LBSWs may engage in independent practice.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

To become a licensed master social worker (LMSW), you must possess an MSW from a school accredited by the CSWE. After fulfilling that requirement, social workers hoping to become LMSWs must take the master ‘s level ASWB exam. The exam consists of 170 questions and candidates must answer between 64% and 70% of the questions correctly in order to pass. Much like the bachelor ‘s level ASWB exam, candidates have a maximum of three times to pass the exam. After that, candidates must wait 12 months to reapply to take the test. The fee for the ASWB examination is $230 (as of November 2015). Graduates may take the exam up to 60 days before graduation as long as they submit a letter from a program director confirming their graduation date and degree.

After passing the examination, applicants must apply to the Missouri Committee and pay the required fee of $60* (as of November 2015). In addition to submitting a completed application, LMSW candidates must have their school submit an official transcript and the candidate must submit fingerprints and a background check. Instructions for the background check are provided in the application packet. LMSW candidates must identify three professional or academic references as a part of the application process.

After taking the master ‘s level exam and gaining approval from the Missouri Committee, you will become a licensed master social worker in the state of Missouri. LMSWs may practice non-clinical social work indefinitely but they may practice clinical or advanced macro social work for a maximum of four years and under direct supervision. A social worker will have to hold an LMSW in order to apply for licensure as an LCSW or LAMSW.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

As in most other states, LCSWs in Missouri must have a master’s or doctorate in social work from a CSWE-accredited school. LCSW candidates must possess an LMSW in good standing in order to apply. Additionally, candidates must:

1. Register for supervision.

Clinical social workers’ experience must be supervised by a Committee approved supervisor. Supervisors must be licensed clinical social workers who have practiced as a clinical social worker for at least five years and completed at least 16 hours of supervisor training from ASWB, the National Association of Social Workers, or an accredited university. Prior to obtaining the required experience, LCSW candidates must register for supervision and pay the $25 registration fee (as of November 2015). Along with the registration application, LCSW candidates must supply an employment verification form and a copy of the supervisor’s certificate of training.

The Missouri Committee provides a listing of qualified supervisors that social workers can choose from.

2. Gain the required experience.

LBSWs and LMSWs are not required to have documented work experience prior to applying for licensure, but LCSWs must have 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work experience as an LMSW. The experience must be gained in no less than two but no more than four years to count towards licensure. Supervisors must be approved and registered by the Committee.

3. Apply to the Missouri Committee.

LCSW candidates must complete the clinical social worker application for Missouri and submit fingerprints, a background check, three professional references and a supervisor attestation form. Additionally, LCSW candidates must have their school send an official transcript confirming they have received an MSW from a CSWE school. As of November 2015, the application fee was $60.

2. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

The ASWB clinical exam is required to become a licensed clinical social worker in Missouri. LCSW candidates must register for the ASWB clinical exam and schedule an exam date. Passing scores range from 96 to 105 correct answers. An applicant who fails the exam may retake the exam twice, after which he or she will have to wait a year to restart the examination process. Most NASW chapters have study guides and groups that meet regularly to prepare for the exam. As of November 2015, the exam was $260.

4. Receive your LCSW license from the Missouri Committee.

After completing the above requirements, you will receive your LCSW license for the state of Missouri. LCSWs may practice clinical social work independently immediately after becoming approved by the Committee.

Licensed Advanced Macro Social Worker (LAMSW)

The process for becoming a licensed advanced macro social worker is very similar to that of a licensed clinical social worker. First, a candidate must hold an MSW and an LMSW in good standing. LAMSWs may practice social work independently but can only practice clinical social work under the supervision of an LCSW. To become an LAMSW, you must:

1. Register for supervision and acquire the necessary experience.

Supervision is required to become licensed as an advanced macro social worker. Supervisors may be either LAMSWs or LCSWs who have practiced as a social worker at that level for at least five years and have completed at least 16 hours of approved supervisor training. LAMSW candidates must register for supervision by completing the application and paying the $25 fee (as of November 2015). As a part of the registration process, LAMSW candidates must provide the committee with an employment verification form and a copy of the supervisor’s certificate of training.

LAMSWs must accumulate 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience in organizational systems, systematic and macrocosm issues, and other non-clinical social work services. The experience must be gained in no less than two but no more than four years.

2. Apply to the Missouri Committee.

LAMSW candidates must complete the advanced macro social worker application for Missouri and submit fingerprints, a background check, three professional references and a supervisor attestation form. Additionally, LAMSW candidates must have their college or university forward their official transcript. As of November 2015, the application fee was $60.

3. Take and pass the ASWB advanced generalist exam.

The ASWB advanced generalist exam is required to become a licensed advanced macro social worker in Missouri. LAMSW candidates must register for and schedule the advanced generalist exam. Passing scores range from 96 to 105 correct answers. An applicant may retake the exam twice, paying the application fee each time. After three attempts, candidates will have to wait 12 months to take the ASWB exam again.

4. Receive your LAMSW license from the Missouri Committee.

After completing the above requirements, you will receive your LAMSW license for the state of Missouri. LAMSWs may practice social work independently after becoming licensed, but they can only practice clinical social work under supervision.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Missouri

The Missouri Committee for Social Workers allows social workers from others states to apply for a social worker license by reciprocity if they furnish the necessary documentation. Reciprocity candidates will have to complete an application and show that he or she has met the same requirements as the license in question; this includes adhering to any educational and experience requirements, passing the ASWB exam, and paying the appropriate fees. As of November 2015, the fee for licensure by reciprocity was $60.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Missouri social workers must renew their license every two years. In order to renew, licensed social workers must have attained 30 hours of continuing education (CE) per renewal period with three hours in professional ethics. In Missouri, no more than 15 CE hours can be “self-study” hours, which are hours completed via audio or video recordings, computer, or interactive programs. Licensees may receive three CE hours for publishing a non-peer-reviewed article, five CE hours for publishing a peer-reviewed article, five CE hours for publishing a chapter in a professional book, 10 hours for publishing a book on social work in its entirety, and no more than five CE hours for the preparation of presenting at a workshop or conference.

The The National Association of Social Workers (NASW): Missouri Chapter provides a listing of continuing education opportunities available in different areas of the state along with opportunities at national conferences.

Missouri Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

In Missouri, social workers earn an average salary of $42,370 per year.3 Over 15,000 social workers are employed in the state with the majority being employed in child, family, and school social work (7,560).3 It’s projected that by the year 2022, social worker jobs in Missouri will increase by 18.5%.4 Healthcare and mental health and substance abuse social workers are projected to have the largest gains in employment at 26.8% and 22.8% respectively.4 Missouri’s cost of living is 9% lower than the national average and housing costs are 22% lower.5,1 With social worker salaries ranging from $34,490 to $47,490, Missouri is an affordable state to begin a social work career.3

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers7,560$34,490
Healthcare Social Workers4,810$45,290
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers2,480$42,210
Social Workers, All Other710$47,490

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.2

Social Work Associations in Missouri

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I begin practicing independently once I become registered as an Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?

Answer: Yes, once you complete the process outlined above to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Missouri, you are eligible to practice social work without any supervision.

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

Answer: Yes, as long the experience was acquired within two to four years after obtaining your LMSW.

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

Answer: Supervisors may be either LAMSWs or LCSWs who have practiced at that level for at least five years and completed at least 16 hours of approved supervisor training. Only LCSWs may supervise social workers applying for their clinical social worker license.

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

Answer: To practice social work in Missouri, you will need either a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited school.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Missouri: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/29
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Healthcare Social Workers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_tn.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Missouri: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_mo.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
5. Sperling’s Best Places, Missouri: http://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/missouri