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Utah Social Work License Requirements

Just over three million people live in Utah and the state’s population has been steadily increasing, growing by 14.4% between 2010 and 2018.1 This population growth signals good opportunities for social workers in the state. If you wish to become a social worker in Utah, you will need to understand the licensing requirements enforced by the Utah Board of Social Work, which oversees social work licensing in the state. Continue reading to learn about the different social work licenses available in Utah and their respective requirements.

How to Become a Social Worker in Utah

Educational Paths

Legislation grants title protection to social workers in Utah, ensuring that individuals who use the title “social worker” must have earned a social work degree from an accredited college of social work and be licensed by the Board as a Social Service Worker (SSW), Certified Social Worker (CSW), or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Social workers must possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) to practice in Utah. To practice clinical social work or to practice independently, you will need a master’s in social work (MSW). Continue reading below to learn the differences between these two social work degrees.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited program is one option for becoming eligible to practice social work in Utah. BSW programs expose students to professional social work practice through classroom and hands-on experience. Courses in human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy, research, social work practice, and field education are typical courses in a BSW program. In Utah, students with a BSW may apply to become licensed as Social Service Workers (SSWs).

Master of Social Work (MSW)

In Utah, you will need a master’s in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited school to receive a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or Certified Social Worker (CSW) license. Programs accredited by the CSWE will share similar core curricula and may provide a unique focus area based on the skillset and research background of the professors or institution. Review each school carefully and check out the electives and field placement opportunities to ensure that you make the right decision for your career. Most MSW programs offer “advanced standing” for students who hold a BSW, allowing them to complete the graduate program in half the time it normally takes (one year versus two years). With an MSW, you will have the terminal degree for social work in Utah, meaning you will have the highest level of education necessary to perform all social work jobs in the state.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Utah

Social workers in Utah are required to be licensed in order to practice, and the Board issues three different licenses: the Social Service Worker, Certified Social Worker, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. The sections below outline the three different licensure options in Utah and the requirements for each.

Social Service Worker (SSW)

In Iowa, an individual with a Social Service Worker (SSW) license is able to practice non-clinical social work under the supervision of an LCSW or mental health therapist. There are several ways to satisfy the educational prerequisite for an SSW license:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited school
  • Have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, psychology, or counseling
  • Have completed your first year (two semesters) of an MSW program accredited by the CSWE
  • Have a bachelor’s degree in any field if you have at least three credit hours in social welfare policy, human growth and development, and social work practice methods (with this option, you must accumulate supervised experience)

Once you have met one of these four criteria, you can begin the process of becoming licensed as an SSW.

1. Gain supervised experience (if required).

If your bachelor’s degree is in a field other than social work, you will have to gain 2,000 hours of social work experience prior to applying to the Board to become an SSW. This experience must be completed over at least two years and you must be supervised by a licensed mental health therapist such as an LCSW. If you have a BSW, an MSW, or a master’s degree approved by the Board, you can skip this step.

2. Pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam.

To become licensed in Utah, prospective social workers must take the required Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) licensing exam prior to submitting an application to the Board. SSW candidates must apply through the ASWB for permission to take the ASWB Bachelor’s exam. The $230 (as of January 2019) exam is designed to test the candidate’s knowledge of general social work practice through 170 multiple-choice questions. You may be able to request permission to take this exam when you are in the final semester of your program; contact the ASWB for more information.

3. Submit an SSW application to the Board.

After passing the ASWB Bachelor’s exam, SSW candidates must submit an application to the Board. You can complete the application online or mail in a completed SSW application form. In addition to paying the $85 application fee (as of January 2019), you must submit your official ASWB exam score, a transcript (if you completed the exam prior to finishing your degree), and a form documenting your supervised experience (if applicable).

4. Receive your SSW license.

Once you have satisfied the above requirements, the Board will grant your SSW license. After this, you can practice general social work under supervision in Utah.

Certified Social Worker (CSW)

A Certified Social Worker (CSW) license allows a Utah social worker to provide master’s-level non-clinical social work services and to practice clinical social work under supervision. CSW candidates must have a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited school to become licensed. To become a CSW, complete the following steps.

1. Apply for a CSW Intern license (optional).

As for all social work licenses in the state, Utah requires that CSW applicants complete an ASWB licensure exam. However, CSW applicants have the option of first applying for a CSW Intern (CSWI) license, which allows an individual to work for up to six months while they are preparing to pass the licensing exam. To be eligible, you must have already completed your MSW and have received permission from the ASWB to take the exam. To apply, complete an application online or mail a paper application to the Board. As of January 2019, applying for a CSWI license costs $85.

2. Pass the ASWB Master’s exam.

CSW candidates must pass either the ASWB Master’s or Clinical exam before becoming licensed. If you are planning to eventually become an LCSW, it may be helpful to take the Clinical exam, as that is the test required for LCSW licensure. If you did not already request permission to take one of these exams as part of a CSWI application, you must begin by applying to take one of these exams through the ASWB. As of January 2019, the Master’s exam costs $230 and the Clinical exam costs $260. Both exams contain 170 multiple-choice questions, 150 of which are scored. CSW candidates may request to take the exam in their last semester of graduate school.

3. Submit a CSW application to the Board.

After you have passed one of the two accepted ASWB exams, you can apply for licensure through the Board. To do this, apply online or send a completed paper application to the Board. The application fee (as of January 2019) is $120. If you applied to take the ASWB exam before your degree was conferred, you will also need to submit an official transcript along with your application.

4. Receive your CSW license.

Once you pass the ASWB exam and your application is approved by the Board, you will receive your CSW license. If your career goals include practicing clinical social work or practicing social work independently, your CSW license is a prerequisite to beginning to accrue the supervised experience for LCSW licensure.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

To become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in Utah, you must first possess a current CSW license or the equivalent in the state where you are working. Clinical social workers provide mental health therapy to clients through assessment and diagnosis, treatment planning, and case management and by making referrals. To become an LCSW, you must complete the following steps.

1. Gain the required experience.

LCSW candidates must acquire 4,000 hours of clinical social work and mental health therapy training experience after obtaining their CSW (supervised CSWI hours cannot be counted). The experience must be gained in no less than two years. Supervised experience should include training in crisis intervention, short-term therapy, and long-term therapy and incorporate practice with individuals, groups, and families. Of the 4,000 hours, at least 1,000 should be specifically related to mental health treatment and you must complete two hours of training in suicide prevention. While accruing your supervised experience, you must work under an LCSW who has been practicing social work for at least two years.

2. Pass the ASWB clinical exam.

If you did not already take the ASWB Clinical exam for CSW licensure, you will need to complete it before applying to become an LCSW. You must apply for permission to take it through the ASWB. The 170-item Clinical exam tests an applicant’s knowledge of clinical social work practices, methods, and interventions and costs $260 (as of January 2019).

3. Submit an LCSW application to the Board.

After passing the exam, LCSW candidates must apply to the Board to become licensed. You can submit the application online or mail a paper application to the Board. The fee is $120 (as of January 2019). You must also have your supervisor(s) complete the Verification of Post-Graduate Supervised Experience form included in the application.

4. Receive your LCSW license.

After completing the steps above and passing the ASWB Clinical exam, the Board will notify you when they have granted your LCSW license. This will allow you to practice clinical and nonclinical social work independently. After two years of licensed practice, you will be eligible to supervise SSWs and CSWs.

Social Work Licensure by Endorsement in Utah

Utah does not have formal reciprocity with any other state in the US. If you were a licensed social worker in another state, you must apply for social work licensure by endorsement. To qualify, you must meet the criteria for licensure under Utah’s laws. If you are applying for a Utah LCSW license, you must also have been practicing under your current license for at least 4,000 hours (1,000 of these hours must be in mental health treatment). To apply, complete the application for the level of licensure you are seeking. Note that you will need to provide documentation of passing ASWB exam scores and verification of your current license.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Utah social workers must renew their licenses every two years; the number of continuing education (CE) hours required depends on the license you hold. LCSWs must complete 40 CE hours and SSWs must complete 20 CE hours; both types of social workers must complete three hours in professional ethics and two in suicide prevention. CSWs are not required to complete any CE before renewing their licenses.

Fees to renew a social work license in Utah also vary based on level of licensure. As of January 2019, LCSWs and CSWs must pay $93 and SSWs must pay $78 to renew. Social workers can renew licenses online or by mail.

Utah Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

4,850 social workers were employed in the state of Utah in 2017, with an average annual salary of $48,230.2 The number of social work jobs in Utah is expected to grow substantially between 2016 and 2026. An overall increase of 37.2% in social work employment is projected for Utah during this timeframe, which is considerably higher than the 16% growth for social workers expected nationwide during this time period.3 Given the competitive annual salaries for Utah social workers and the expected growth in the field, Utah is an excellent place to consider a career as a social worker.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers2,420$42,320
Healthcare Social Workers1,140$58,590
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers800$42,210
Social Workers, All Other490$49,800

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

Social Work Associations in Utah

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Answer: Yes, once you meet the requirements for an LCSW and your license has been granted by the Board, you may begin practicing clinical and nonclinical social work independently.

Question: For the 4,000 hours of work experience required, can I count experience I gained years ago to become an LCSW?

Answer: Yes. As long as the social work experience was completed in no less than two years and you held a CSW license (or its equivalent, if you completed the experience in another state).

Question: What kinds of qualifications are required of the person supervising my experience to become an LCSW?

Answer: Supervisors must be LCSWs who have practiced social work for at least two years after becoming licensed.

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

Answer: To practice social work in Utah, you need a BSW or MSW from a CSWE-accredited program, a bachelor’s degree in a field other than social work plus experience, or a master’s degree in a related field such as counseling or psychology. Any of these will allow you to become an SSW in Utah. Note that for the other Utah social work licenses, you must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program.

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