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Oklahoma Social Work Licensing Requirements

With 10,410 social workers practicing in Oklahoma as of May 2017 and a cost of living 11% below the national average, this midwestern state is an excellent place to consider beginning a career in social work.1,2 The Oklahoma State Board of Licensed Social Workers is the state organization that oversees the licensure of social workers. If you are interested in practicing social work in the state of Oklahoma, you must become licensed through the Board. On this page, you will find information about the education required to become a social worker as well as the different options for licensure in Oklahoma.

How to Become a Social Worker in Oklahoma

Educational Paths

You will need to obtain a degree in social work to become licensed in Oklahoma. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) is required to become licensed as a Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA) in the state of Oklahoma. For more advanced social worker licensure, a master’s in social work (MSW) will be required. Those who hold a master’s degree or higher will usually have better job prospects and earn higher salaries than bachelor’s-level social workers. Whether you earn a BSW or an MSW, know that the Board requires that you complete your degree at a program approved by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

Oklahoma is home to five BSW programs that are accredited by the CSWE. BSW degrees typically take four years to complete and lay the foundation for a career in social work by providing a broad overview of the profession that includes social policy, family relations, and a fieldwork component. Once you have a BSW in Oklahoma, you can begin your career as an LSWA or go on to pursue an advanced degree in social work.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

An MSW is another degree option for those who are interested in a career in social work. While a BSW is not a requirement for entry into an MSW program, it will come in handy for prospective students, usually affording them the ability to enroll with “advanced standing” status, which can allow them to complete the graduate program in one year rather than two. The CSWE has accredited one MSW program in Oklahoma. In an MSW program, students will acquire a more specialized knowledge base, often choosing a specialty with a heavier emphasis on fieldwork compared to BSW programs. An MSW is required to become credentialed as a Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW), a Licensed Social Worker (LSW), a Licensed Social Worker with a Specialty of Administration (LSW-ADM), or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Oklahoma.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Board offers licensure for five different levels of social work: Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA), Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Social Worker with a Specialty of Administration (LSW-ADM), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Keep reading to learn more about the different types of licensure and the requirements for each.

For all levels of licensure, Oklahoma also offers provisional licenses to candidates who have mailed in their applications and completed all requirements for licensure except for the national exam. If issued, a provisional license will allow you to practice under supervision for up to one year until you pass the required exam and receive your full license.

Licensed Social Work Associate (LSWA)

In Oklahoma, individuals holding the LSWA license are able to provide basic generalist social work services under the supervision of a licensed independent social worker. To become an LSWA in Oklahoma, you must first complete a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program. Once this educational requirement has been met, the following steps are required to obtain your license.

1. Complete the application form.

The Board’s Application for Social Work Licensure is used for all types of social work applicants in Oklahoma. To begin the process of becoming an LSWA, submit a completed application to the Board along with an application fee of $150 (as of January 2019). You must also submit fingerprints for a criminal background check and ask your school to mail an official BSW transcript to the Board.

2. Receive provisional license from the Board.

Once the Board has processed and approved the application materials you have submitted, they will grant you a provisional license. This will allow you to practice under supervision while you study for the licensure exam. Before you begin working, however, the Board must approve your proposed supervision contract.

3. Pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam.

You will need permission from the Board to register for the ASWB Bachelor’s exam, which is required for LSWA licensure. Once the Board has notified you that you are eligible, you can register for the exam and pay the $230 fee (as of January 2019). There are 170 multiple-choice questions about bachelor’s-level social work on the exam, and scores are automatically sent to the Board after you complete the test.

4. Receive your LSWA license from the Board.

Once you have passed the ASWB exam, the Board will replace your provisional license with a permanent one. You will then be licensed to use the “LSWA” title and practice as an LSWA in the state. Note that you must continue to be supervised by an independent social worker under a Board-approved supervision contract.

Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW)

To become an LMSW in Oklahoma, you will first need a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. The LMSW license allows an individual to provide master’s-level, non-clinical social work services under the supervision of an LCSW. The process of becoming an LMSW in Oklahoma is described in more detail below.

1. Complete the application form.

First, complete the Board’s Application for Social Work Licensure. During this step, you must also have your fingerprints taken for a criminal background check, request that your MSW transcript be sent to the Board, and pay an application fee of $150 (as of January 2019).

2. Receive provisional license from the Board.

If the Board reviews your LMSW application and determines that you meet all criteria for licensure except for completion of the licensing exam, they will issue a provisional license. This will allow you to practice as an LMSW for up to a year before passing the exam. If you plan to begin practicing under your provisional license, you must first establish a supervision contract with the Board.

3. Take and pass the ASWB Master’s exam.

Once your application is complete, the Board will notify you that you are eligible to register for the ASWB Master’s exam, which costs $230 as of January 2019. There are 170 multiple-choice questions on the test, though only 150 are scored. Your results will be sent to the Board within about two weeks of your test date.

4. Receive your LMSW license from the Board.

Once the Board receives documentation that you have met all requirements for LMSW licensure, they will replace your provisional license with a permanent one and you will be able to begin practicing under supervision.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW)

The process for becoming an LSW is very similar to that for becoming an LMSW, except that LSWs must have accumulated additional experience. LSWs in Oklahoma are able to independently practice non-clinical social work. In addition to having a master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited school, prospective LSWs must follow the process below to become licensed.

1. Accumulate the required experience.

Before you are eligible to become an LSW, you must acquire two years (4,000 hours) of supervised postgraduate experience in social work, which must include 100 hours of direct supervision. Your supervisor must be an LCSW, LSW, or LSW-ADM with at least five years of post-degree work experience and two years of post-degree supervisory experience. You must have a Board-approved supervisor and supervision contract before you can begin to accrue any hours towards this requirement. Your supervisor will need to submit forms throughout your training to track your progress and verify your hours. For more information about supervision requirements and links to relevant forms, visit the Board’s Forms and Applications page.

2. Complete the application.

After you have completed the 4,000 hours of supervised experience, you can submit an Application for Social Work Licensure to the Board, indicating you are applying for an LSW license. With this application, include the $150 application fee (as of January 2019) and provide fingerprints for a criminal background check. If the Board does not already have a copy of your MSW transcript, request that your school mail one to them.

3. Receive provisional license from the Board.

Once the Board has reviewed your application and approved it, they will issue you a provisional license. With this, you will be able to practice as an LSW under supervision for up to a year while you study for the ASWB exam.

4. Pass the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam.

The next step is to register for and pass the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam. You cannot register until the Board has granted you approval. As of January 2019, the test costs $260 and contains 170 multiple-choice questions.

5. Receive your LSW license from the Board.

Once you have passed the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam, the Board will replace your provisional license with a permanent one. After at least five years of practice and additional training in supervision, you will also be eligible to provide supervision.

Licensed Social Worker with Administration Specialty (LSW-ADM)

Licensed Social Workers with an Administration Specialty (LSW-ADMs) in Oklahoma are able to practice non-clinical, administratively-focused social work. To become an LSW-ADM, you will need a CSWE-approved MSW degree. Following this, you must carry out each of the steps below to earn your license.

1. Accumulate the required experience.

After receiving your MSW, you will need to acquire two years (4,000 hours) of postgraduate, full-time experience in the practice of administrative social work under the supervision of a Board-approved LSW-ADM. The Board must approve a supervision contract before you begin these hours, and your supervisor will need to periodically submit forms to verify your experience to the Board. For more information about supervision requirements and forms, visit the Board’s Forms and Applications page. During the time that you are accruing these hours, you must receive at least 100 hours of supervision.

2. Complete the application.

After you have finished the two years of supervised administrative experience, the next step is to complete the Application for Social Work Licensure and submit it to the Board with the $150 application fee (as of January 2019). You must also have your fingerprints taken for a criminal background check and have your school submit your MSW transcript to the Board if they do not already have it.

3. Receive provisional license from the Board.

Although you will still need to pass an exam to become fully licensed, the Board will issue a one-year, temporary license after they have processed your application. This will allow you to work as an LSW-ADM under supervision while studying for the licensure exam.

4. Pass the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam.

The Board will notify you when you are eligible to register for the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam, which is required for licensure as an LSW-ADM in Oklahoma. As of January 2019, registration fees are $260. The test contains 170 multiple-choice questions.

5. Receive your LSW-ADM license from the Board.

After you have passed the ASWB Advanced Generalist exam, the Board will send you your LSW-ADM license. This will replace your provisional license. After you have gained additional experience and have completed training in supervision, you will be eligible to supervise social workers seeking LSW-ADM licensure.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

If you are interested in practicing social work at the clinical level, which will allow you to assess and diagnose disorders as well as conduct counseling and psychotherapy, you will need to pursue the LCSW license in Oklahoma. A master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program is required to become an LCSW in the state. Once you have earned your MSW, follow the steps below to earn an LCSW license.

1. Accumulate the required experience.

The LCSW license requires two years (4,000 hours) of full-time, postgraduate, supervised clinical social work experience. You must work under a Board-approved LCSW and have an approved supervision contract in place before beginning. Of the 4,000 required hours, at least 3,000 must involve direct contact with clients and 100 must be spent in supervision. Your supervisor will need to submit periodic evaluations to the Board to verify your hours. Visit the Board’s Forms and Applications page to learn more about supervision requirements and to find the required forms.

2. Complete the application.

As with all other Oklahoma social work licenses, you will submit the Application for Social Work Licensure to the Board to initiate the LCSW licensure process. If the Board does not already have a copy of your transcript, you must request that your school send them one. In addition to the application, include $150 for the application fee (as of January 2019) and have your fingerprints taken for a criminal background check.

3. Receive provisional license from the Board.

Once the Board has approved your application, you will receive a provisional license. With this, you can practice for up to a year under supervision while you study for the ASWB exam.

4. Take and pass the ASWB Clinical exam.

When the Board issues your provisional license, they will also give you permission to register for the ASWB Clinical exam. As of January 2019, the exam costs $260. Scores are automatically transferred to the Board about two weeks after your test date.

5. Receive your LCSW license from the Board.

Once the above steps have been completed, you will receive your LCSW license from the Board. This will replace your temporary license and you will be able to practice independently. Once you have gained the required additional experience and received training in supervision, you will be eligible to provide social work supervision.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Oklahoma

The Board allows those licensed in a different state and with a current license in good standing to apply for an Oklahoma social work license. If the Board has an established agreement with the state in which you are currently licensed, they may grant you a license by reciprocity. Even if your state does not have an agreement with the Oklahoma Board, however, you can apply for licensure by endorsement. This means that you may be eligible for an Oklahoma social work license if your previous license was granted under equivalent or more stringent requirements than those mandated by the Oklahoma Board.

To apply for licensure by one of these methods, you must complete the Application for Social Work Licensure. In addition, you must to contact the jurisdiction of your current license to complete the Verification of Licensure form and send it to the Board. You will also need to contact the ASWB to request that your exam scores be transferred to the Board. Once your application has been approved by the Board, you will be eligible to practice social work in the state of Oklahoma.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

All Oklahoma social workers must renew their licenses every two years, providing evidence to the Board at that time of the completion of at least 16 hours of continuing education (CE) hours per specialty, with three of those hours being in ethics. You can find a full list of Board-approved CE providers here The license renewal fee is $100 (as of January 2019), with a $50 late fee for those who do not renew on time.

Oklahoma Social Work Jobs and Salary Information

The average salary for the 10,410 social workers in Oklahoma is $43,888, and projections suggest that the number of social work jobs here will continue to increase.2,3 The majority of Oklahoma social workers (5,970) are currently employed in areas of child, family, and school social work; in fact, Oklahoma boasts the second-highest concentration of these types of jobs in the country.4 The number of all types of social work jobs in Oklahoma is expected to increase by 8.2% between 2016 and 2026.3 The most growth is expected in the subcategory of healthcare social work, with projected growth of 14.8% during this time period.3

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 6,970 $37,350
Healthcare Social Workers 1,830 $46,690
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 1,210 $37,320
Social Workers, All Other 400 $54,190

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

Social Work Associations in Oklahoma

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I practice social work before I receive my license in Oklahoma?

Answer: No; you cannot practice social work in Oklahoma without a social work license. However, the Oklahoma Board grants applicants a provisional license if they have met all requirements for licensure except the exam. This will allow you to practice social work while studying for the ASWB exam.

Question: What degree do I need to become licensed to practice social work in Oklahoma?

Answer: All licensure levels in the state require a minimum of a BSW, but most require an MSW. An MSW will prepare you for more advanced social work positions and is necessary if you are interested in practicing independently or in a clinical capacity.

Question: How do I maintain my licensure in the state?

Answer: You are required to renew your license every two years to keep it current. Along with your renewal application, you are also required to document a minimum of 16 hours of continuing education each renewal period.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Oklahoma: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ok.htm
2. Sperling’s Best Places, Oklahoma: https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/state/oklahoma
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Child, Family, and School Social Workers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211021.htm