Vermont Social Work Licensing Requirements

Vermont is a small state with a population of only 626,000.3 In fact, the capital city of Montpelier is the smallest state capital by population in the US with fewer than 8,000 residents.3 Therefore, there are many opportunities for both urban and rural Vermont social work jobs. There are two types of licensure in Vermont for clinical social work: licensed master’s social worker (LMSW) and licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW). The rules and regulations for Vermont licensure were recently updated by the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) in July 2017. Keep reading to learn about how to become a licensed social worker in the state of Vermont.

How to Become a Social Worker in Vermont

Educational Paths

Because generalist social work does not require a license, it is possible to practice with a variety of degrees. The minimum degree possible for social work jobs in Vermont would likely be an associate’s degree in a human services-related field. Pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) may provide more job opportunities, especially if you plan to practice social work in a different state. If you eventually want to practice clinical social work, a Master of Social Work (MSW) or Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) degree is the minimum requirement. These degrees will enable you to apply as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), the only type of licensure currently available for social worker jobs in Vermont.

Associate of Social Work (ASW)

An associate degree is typically available through community colleges and includes a variety of social science and human behavior courses. It may also require a practicum component. This degree may be either an Associate of Arts (AA) or an Associate of Science (AS) depending on how the school classifies human services. Both in-person and online study options are available in Vermont. This degree takes two years to complete and may qualify you for generalist social work jobs in Vermont. Often associate degrees can qualify for transfer credit if you choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree or MSW in the future.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

A bachelor’s degree in social work will provide you with a more in-depth look at social work theory, research, and practice. Completing a BSW typically requires four years of full-time study, or more if you complete the degree part-time. BSW courses cover topics such as psychology, sociology, human behavior, and research methods. You will be required to complete at least one supervised practicum to gain real-world practice experience. With a BSW, you will be eligible for generalist social worker jobs in Vermont and possibly generalist social work jobs in many more states compared to the associate’s degree. Currently, three bachelor programs in Vermont are accredited by the CSWE (Castleton State College, Champlain College and the University of Vermont).

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A Master of Social Work (MSW) degree focuses on advanced practice with individuals, families, and communities. It comprises a foundational year of study covering human behavior, policy, research and practice, and a second year of specialization. You may apply to the MSW program with a bachelor’s degree in any subject; however, if you have a BSW from a CSWE-accredited school, you may be eligible for “advanced standing,” allowing you to complete your degree in up to half the time. An MSW degree prepares students to work towards a career in either advanced generalist practice or in clinical social work. It is the minimum degree necessary to apply for Vermont social work licensure, and therefore clinical social work jobs in Vermont. The only CSWE-accredited MSW program available in Vermont is at the University of Vermont.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Vermont

As of July 1, 2017, Vermont licenses two types of social workers: the licensed master’s social worker (LMSW) and the licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW). Both licenses require a minimum of a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program and a passing score on the respective national Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam, in addition to other requirements. Once you have obtained a graduate degree in social work, you will need to follow the steps detailed below.

Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW)

To apply to be licensed as a licensed master’s social worker (LMSW) in Vermont, you will need an MSW or DSW from a CSWE-accredited program. This license will allow you to work in advanced generalist social work jobs in Vermont or begin accumulating clinical experience towards the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) designation. No prior experience is necessary.

1. Take and pass the Vermont Jurisprudence Examination.

Before you can be licensed as an LMSW in Vermont, you must take and pass the Vermont Jurisprudence Examination. You will need to complete the exam and send a copy in with your application. If you get more than six incorrect answers, you will be notified and will have to resubmit your answer sheet with the changes noted in red.

2. Submit your application to the OPR.

Using the online form, create an account and submit your application along with the $100 non-refundable application fee, Verification of Social Work Education form, and a completed Vermont Jurisprudence Examination. Note: if you are planning to use your LMSW as a pathway to getting your LICSW, you will need to register as a non-licensed and non-certified psychotherapist with the OPR before you can begin counting your hours of clinical experience. See #2 of the LICSW steps below for further information.

3. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

Register for the exam on the national ASWB website within five years of completing all the other licensure requirements. You will need to pay the $25 application fee and the $230 exam fee (as of July 2017). Once you have registered, you will schedule your test online and take it at a Pearson Professional Center of your choice.

4. Receive your LICSW license.

After passing the exams and submitting your complete application, you will receive your LICSW license in the mail.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

To be eligible for the current LICSW designation, which recently replaced the former LCSW license, applicants must have an MSW or DSW from a CSWE-accredited with significant supervised clinical experience. This license allows social workers to practice clinical social work, including psychotherapy, without supervision. To apply for the LICSW you must:

1. Take and pass the Vermont Jurisprudence Examination.

Before you can be licensed as a clinical social worker in Vermont, you must take and pass the Vermont Jurisprudence Examination. You should print, complete the exam, and include a copy with your application.

2. Register with the Roster of Non-Licensed and Non-Certified Psychotherapists.

Before you begin accumulating clinical experience, you must register as a non-licensed and non-certified psychotherapist with the OPR using the form or the eLicense system online. Submit this application with the non-refundable $75 fee. Failure to register so may nullify your clinical experience hours.

3. Gain the necessary experience.

It is not necessary to be licensed as an LMSW before working towards the LICSW; however obtaining this license first would decrease the number of necessary hours required to qualify for the LICSW. LMSWs need complete 2,000 hours of supervised psychotherapy, whereas unlicensed social workers need to complete 3,000 hours, with at least 2,000 hours providing psychotherapy. Before beginning, confirm your supervisor is also registered with the OPR as an approved supervisor by searching the Licensee Lookup. Failure to ensure your supervisor is registered may also nullify your clinical experience hours. These hours need to be completed in no less than two years and no more than five years. Applicants also require at least one hour of supervision for every 30 hours of practice through either face-to-face or electronic means. At least half of the supervision hours need to be completed individually, rather than through group supervision. Your supervisor should use the Report of Supervision form to record your hours and submit it to the OPR.

4. Submit your application to the OPR.

You may apply for the LICSW designation using the online application system. You must also submit a $100 non-refundable application fee, three professional references, a Verification of Social Work Education form, Supervision Report form, and the Public Disclosure form. It should take three to five business days to process once received by the office.

5. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

After the OPR has processed your application, you will be given permission to sit for the ASWB clinical exam. The exam fee was $260 as of January 2016, with a $25 non-refundable application fee. You must pass the exam within 12 months or you will need to resubmit your application. Once you have passed the exam, your results should be sent to the OPR.

6. Receive your LICSW license.

Once you have sent all the necessary documents and passed the exam, your application will be approved and you will receive your license in the mail. You may now work in clinical social worker jobs in Vermont.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Vermont

Vermont does offer reciprocity for out-of-state social workers. To be eligible, the requirements of the other state where you are licensed must be equivalent or similar to the current requirements in Vermont. There are two kinds of licensure via reciprocity under Vermont’s new rules.

Licensure by Endorsement

If you have a social work license from another state with similar or more challenging licensing requirements, you will follow the steps above in the application process for a LMSW or a LCSW. During the application process, rather than sending the Verification of Social Work Education and Supervision Report forms, you must send a Verification of Licensure/Certification form.

Licensure by the Five-Year Rule

If you have a social work license from a state that does not have similar or as challenging requirements compared to the proposed requirements in Vermont, you might still be able to acquire a license through reciprocity if you have no disciplinary action against you in any state where you have previously been licensed, you have practiced for at least 1,200 hours every year for at least five years, and the Director of the OPR determines that your experience compensates for the lesser licensure requirements. In this pathway, you are still required to pass the Vermont jurisprudence exam before being licensed.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education (CE) Information

Social work licenses in Vermont expire on January 31 of even numbered years. If your license was issued within 90 days of the next renewal date, you do not need to pay the renewal fee; however, if it was issued prior to 90 days you will need to renew by using the online eLicense system. LICSWs are required to complete and record 20 contact hours (including at least 15 hours of in-person training) of Continuing Education (CE) using the Continuing Education form, beginning in the first full two-year cycle of their license. At least 1.5 hours must be completed on social work ethics, and no more than five hours may be attributed to self-directed learning. LMSWs are required to complete 10 hours of CE, all of which must be in-person.

Vermont Social Work Jobs and Salary Information

According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,440 individuals are employed in Vermont social work jobs. Over half of these jobs are in the child, family and school social work field (55.3%).4 The average growth rate of Vermont social work jobs through 2022 is extremely promising at 18.5%.5 The highest growth is projected in healthcare social work at 24.9%.5 Additionally, mental health and substance abuse social work jobs in Vermont are likely to increase by 19.1% and child, family, and school social worker jobs in Vermont may increase by 16.3%.5 All other social work jobs are projected to increase by 13.8%.5 The average salary is currently $48,523; however, salary figures for healthcare social workers are not currently available and this average was skewed by lower salaries for child, family and school social workers ($41,680) and mental health and substance abuse social workers ($40,860) compared to all other social workers ($63.030).4

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers1,350$41,680
Healthcare Social Workers390N/A*
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers630$40,860
Social Workers, All Other70$63,030

*Data not currently available from the BLS.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.4

Social Work Associations in Vermont

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Who can provide clinical supervision for LICSW applicants?

Answer: A variety of professionals may provide appropriate supervision as long as they are registered as an approved clinical supervisor with the OPR. Be sure to use the Licensee Lookup to make sure your potential supervisor is approved.

Question: What is the Vermont Jurisprudence Exam?

Answer: The Vermont Jurisprudence Examination tests your knowledge of Vermont laws relevant to the practice of advanced generalist and clinical social work practice. More details will be released if the proposed licensure changes are approved.

1. Vermont Secretary of State, Office of Professional Regulation: https://www.sec.state.vt.us/professional-regulation/list-of-professions/social-workers.aspx
2. Vermont General Assembly, Social Workers: https://legislature.vermont.gov/statutes/chapter/26/061
3. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Vermont: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/vt
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Vermont: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_vt.htm
5. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm