How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in New Jersey

By Maura Deering

Since the late 2000s, New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families has prioritized workforce development and child and family well-being. May 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data ranks New Jersey as the highest-paying state for child, family, and school social workers, along with mental health and substance abuse social workers. These factors indicate that New Jersey offers an environment where social workers can thrive.

Discover how to become a social worker in New Jersey with this helpful guide, which features information on education, licensing, and salary potential.

In This Article

Education Required to Become a Social Worker in New Jersey

State-level agencies maintain social worker rules and regulations, and in New Jersey, the State Board of Social Work Examiners (SBSWE) fills that role. The SESWE licenses certified social workers (CSWs), licensed social workers (LSWs), and licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs).

A CSW can become licensed with a bachelor of social work (BSW) or a non-social work bachelor’s degree and, when required, 1,600 post-degree clinical hours. LSWs and LCSWs need master of social work (MSW) degrees.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

Earning a BSW typically takes four years and requires 120 credits of general education with social work-specific content. The BSW curriculum includes coursework in case management, cultural diversity, human behavior, and social welfare. Students may also complete supervised fieldwork experiences at community organizations or agencies.

In New Jersey, BSW degree-holders gain eligibility for their CSW licenses, allowing them to offer clients non-clinical social work services. Licensure requires graduation from a BSW program with Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation.

CSWs also qualify to apply to MSW degree programs and prepare for their LSW or LCSW credentials.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

New Jersey’s SBSWE requires LSWs and LCSWs to hold master’s degrees or doctorates in social work from CSWE-accredited programs. MSW admission requires a bachelor’s degree in any field. Applicants often major in psychology, sociology, social science, and related fields. A BSW, however, may lead to advanced standing admission status, which can accelerate the time to earn an MSW.

MSW programs typically take two years to complete and include courses in assessment and diagnosis, couples and family therapy, services for older adults, and substance abuse. MSWs specialize and target their fieldwork experiences in concentrations like child welfare, healthcare social work, and mental health.

MSW degree-holders can continue their studies in social work doctoral programs, which take 3-6 years to complete and include thesis or dissertation requirements.

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Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in New Jersey

This section details the three different social work licensure levels offered in New Jersey. Explore duties and responsibilities each type of license allows, the requisite education and experience, and whether an examination is part of the licensing process. In addition to practicums, some licensure candidates must log supervised post-bachelor’s or post-master’s field experience hours.

Certified Social Worker

CSW licensees hold BSWs and can provide non-clinical social work services. These include client advocacy, assessment, counseling, and mental health consultation, along with community organizing and planning, public policy, and research.

CSW candidates do not need to take an exam to become licensed. Each aspiring CSW must submit an application and a $75 fee, criminal background check, and an official transcript evidencing a BSW earned at a CSWE-accredited program. Alternatively, an applicant can submit transcripts showing completion of a bachelor’s degree in a related field earned before Apr. 6, 1995, and, if the SBSWE requires it,1,600 post-degree supervised social work experience.

Each CSW pays an initial $70 license fee, which the state also requires for renewal.

Licensed Social Worker

Graduates of CSWE-accredited MSW (or social work doctoral degree) programs can opt for LSW credentials. LSWs provide the same services as CSWs and can offer clinical social work services under the supervision of an LCSW.

LSWs qualify and apply for licensure following these steps:

  • Complete a BSW or bachelor’s in a related field and an MSW.
  • Register to take the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB)’s master’s level examination and pay the $230 exam fee.
  • Provide proof of a passing score on the master’s exam to the SBSWE.
  • Submit an application, $75 license fee (unless waived), official MSW transcripts, and criminal background check to the SBSWE.
  • Pay a $120 license fee.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

LCSWs can independently perform clinical and non-clinical social work functions and supervise LSWs training to become LCSWs.

To obtain their licenses, LCSW candidates complete the following steps:

  • Complete the steps outlined for LSWs.
  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised post-master’s social work.
  • Register to take the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB)’s clinical-level examination and pay the $260 exam fee.
  • Provide proof of a passing score on the clinical exam to the SBSWE.
  • Submit an application, $75 license fee (unless waived), official MSW transcripts, and criminal background check to the SBSWE.
  • Provide documentation to the SBSWE showing completion of the requisite 3,000 hours of post-master’s supervised experience, along with a copy of their supervisor’s SBSWE-approved 20-hour supervision course.
  • Pay a $160 license fee.

Social Work License Reciprocity in New Jersey

While New Jersey does not have formal reciprocity agreements with any states, out-of-state LCSWs can apply individually for New Jersey social work licensure. The procedure requires each candidate to complete an online LCSW application, upload a resume that details work experience within the previous five years, and submit ASWB clinical exam scores.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

New Jersey social work licenses renew every two years, and the SBSWE mandates continuing education requirements during each biennial period.

CSWs complete at least 20 continuing education credits, while LSWs must log 30. CSW and LSW credits must include five ethics credits and three social and cultural competence credits.

LCSWs complete 40 continuing education credits, with 20 in clinical practice content, five in ethics, and three credits of social and cultural competence included.

Renewal fees are $70 for CSWs, $120 for LSWs, and $160 for LCSWs.

BSW Programs Available in New Jersey

  • Centenary University — Hackettstown, NJ (On Campus)
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $18,318 per semester
  • Georgian Court University — Brookdale, NJ (On Campus, Online)
    • Available Concentrations: Gerontology
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $17,680 per semester
  • Monmouth University — West Long Branch, NJ (On Campus)
    • Available Concentration: Criminal Justice Dual Degree
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $22,049 per semester
  • New Jersey City University — Jersey City, NJ (On Campus)
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $6,692 per semester
  • Ramapo College — Mahwah, NJ (On Campus)
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $480 per credit hour in-state; $783 per credit out-of-state
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey — Camden and University College, NJ (On Campus)
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $6,450 per semester in-state; $15,300 per semester out-of-state
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Newark Campus — Newark, NJ (On Campus)
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $12,900 per semester in-state; $30,600 per semester out-of-state
  • Saint Elizabeth University — Morristown, NJ (On Campus)
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $914 per credit hour
  • Seton Hall University — South Orange, NJ (On Campus)
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $23,190 per semester
  • Stockton University — Galloway, NJ (On Campus)
    • Available Concentration: Child Welfare
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $6,370 per semester in-state; $10,237 per semester out-of-state
  • William Paterson University — Wayne, NJ (On Campus)
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $7,096 per semester in-state; $11,596 per semester out-of-state

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MSW Programs Available in New Jersey

  • Fairleigh Dickinson University — Teaneck, NJ (Online)
    • Available Concentrations: Advanced Generalist
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time, Advanced Standing, Weekends and Evenings
    • 2023 Tuition: $857 per credit hour
  • Kean University — Union, NJ (On Campus, Online)
    • Available Concentrations: Clinical or Direct Practice
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time, Advanced Standing
    • 2023 Tuition: $8,113 per semester in-state; $10,668 per semester out-of-state
  • Monmouth University — West Long Branch, NJ (On Campus)
    • Available Concentrations: Advanced Generalist, Families and Children, Global and Community Practice
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time, Advanced Standing
    • 2023 Tuition: $2,190 per credit hour
  • Montclair State University — Montclair, NJ (On Campus)
    • Available Concentrations: Children, Youth, and Families, Clinical or Direct Practice
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time, Advanced Standing
    • 2023 Tuition: $763 per credit hour
  • Ramapo College — Mahwah, NJ (On Campus)
    • Available Concentrations: Advanced Generalist
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time, Advanced Standing
    • 2023 Tuition: $819 per credit hour
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey — Camden; New Brunswick, Newark, NJ (On Campus, Online)
    • Available Concentrations: Clinical or Direct Practice, Management or Administration
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time, Advanced Standing, Multiple Cohorts Per Year, Weekends and Evenings
    • 2023 Tuition: $760 per credit hour in-state; $1,292 per credit out-of-state
  • Seton Hall University — South Orange, NJ (On Campus)
    • Available Concentrations: Health, Mental Health
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time, Advanced Standing
    • 2023 Tuition: $1,450 per credit hour
  • Stockton University — Galloway, NJ (On Campus)
    • Available Concentrations: Advanced Generalist
    • Enrollment Type: Full Time, Part Time
    • 2023 Tuition: $797 per credit hour in-state; $1,162 per credit out-of-state

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New Jersey Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

Projections Central anticipates employment for New Jersey healthcare social workers to increase by 9.5% from 2020-2030 and mental health and substance abuse social worker employment to grow by 13.9%. These rates far outpace the averages for all occupations.

New Jersey is also the highest-paying state for child, family, and school social workers and for mental health and substance abuse social workers, as detailed in May 2021 BLS data.

The BLS reports these New Jersey social worker salaries in various specializations:

  • Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary: $83,050
  • Child, Family, and School Social Workers: $75,410
  • Healthcare Social Workers: $71,310
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: $93,390
  • Social Workers, All Other: $69,440

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Work Licenses in New Jersey

How long does it take to become a social worker in New Jersey?

Earning a BSW and becoming a CSW can take about four years, on average. LSWs need about two years to earn MSWs and pass the master’s-level exam. LCSWs also need MSWs, two years of supervised experience as an LSW, and additional time to prepare for clinical exams.

What degree do you need to become a social worker in New Jersey?

New Jersey licenses bachelor’s-level and master’s-level social workers. A CSW can earn their credentials with a BSW, while LSWs and LCSWs need MSW degrees. Individuals interested in academia and advanced leadership pursue doctorates.

What can you do as a social worker in New Jersey?

Social worker duties and responsibilities vary by licensing level. CSWs can perform non-clinical services, while LSWs can provide non-clinical services and clinical services under the supervision of LCSWs. LCSWs can deliver all clinical and non-clinical social work services independently and supervise LSWs.

What is the fastest way to become a social worker in New Jersey?

The fastest way to become a CSW is to earn a BSW through a self-paced or accelerated program. BSWs can then qualify for advanced standing and complete their MSWs in about half the time.