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Vermont Social Work Licensing Requirements

Of Vermont’s approximately 626,000 citizens, just under 3,000 are employed as social workers.1,2 You are currently not required to hold a license to practice general entry-level social work in Vermont, but social workers hoping to provide advanced or clinical services must become licensed through the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR). Continue reading to learn more about becoming a social worker in the state of Vermont.

How to Become a Social Worker in Vermont

Educational Paths

Because entry-level generalist social work does not require a license in Vermont, it is possible to practice with a variety of degrees. The minimum degree possible for social work support jobs in Vermont is typically 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. You must hold a CSWE-accredited bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) to call yourself a “social worker” in Vermont. If you eventually want to practice more advanced or clinical social work, a master’s degree in social work (MSW) or a doctoral degree in social work (DSW) is required. These degrees will enable you to apply for the Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credentials in Vermont.

Associate of Social Work (ASW)

An associate degree in human services or a related field typically 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 the school you attend. Select schools may offer an Associate’s in Social Work (ASW). Both in-person and online study options are available in Vermont. An associate’s degree usually takes two years to complete and may qualify you for generalist social work jobs in Vermont. Associate degree coursework can often qualify for transfer credit if you choose to pursue a BSW in the future.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) 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 may 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 most other states. You can use the title “social worker” in Vermont if you practice social work and hold a BSW from a program accredited by the CSWE. As of March 2019, three BSW programs in Vermont are accredited by the CSWE.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A master’s in social work (MSW) focuses on advanced practice with individuals, families, and communities. An MSW program typically comprises a foundational year of study covering human behavior, policy, research, and practice followed by a year of study concentrating on specialization. You may apply to most MSW programs 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 as little as one year. An MSW degree prepares students to work towards a career in either advanced generalist practice or in clinical social work and is the minimum degree necessary to apply for Vermont social work licensure. As of March 2019, there is one CSWE-accredited MSW program in Vermont. However, you can earn an MSW from an accredited MSW program in any state to become licensed in Vermont.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Vermont

The OPR issues two types of social work licenses: Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW) and 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 described below.

Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW)

To become licensed as a Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW) in Vermont, you will need an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program or a DSW. This license will qualify you to apply for advanced generalist social work jobs in Vermont. Below are the steps required for an LMSW license.

1. Submit an LMSW application to the OPR.

The first step to LMSW licensure is to submit an application through the OPR online licensing system. You must submit the $100 application fee (as of March 2019) with your application. During this step, you should also ask your school to send your official transcript to the OPR.

2. Pass the ASWB Master’s exam.

The Board must review your application before you will be given permission to register for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Master’s exam, which is required to become an LMSW. As of March 2019, the fee for this exam is $230. There are 170 multiple-choice questions on the test; 150 of these are counted towards your final score. The OPR will receive your scores within two weeks of your test date.

3. Pass the Vermont Social Worker Jurisprudence Exam.

The OPR also requires that all social work licensure applicants complete a jurisprudence examination. The test contains 20 multiple-choice items covering the rules and regulations for social workers in the state. You must correctly answer at least 70% of the questions to pass. The OPR will allow you to revise any incorrect answers and resubmit your exam if you do not pass.

4. Receive your LMSW license.

After you have passed both exams and the OPR has received all materials required for licensure, they will issue your LMSW license. This will allow you to apply for non-clinical master’s-level social work positions.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

To be eligible for the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) designation, applicants must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program or a doctoral degree in social work (DSW). This license allows social workers to practice clinical social work, including psychotherapy, without supervision. Although you may already hold an LMSW license when you begin the process of LICSW licensure, it is not a prerequisite. To apply for the LICSW, you must complete the steps below.

1. Register with the OPR as a non-licensed psychotherapist.

Before you begin accumulating clinical experience, you must register as a non-licensed and non-certified psychotherapist following the OPR’s instructions. You will need to submit an application fee of $75 (as of March 2019). This step is very important, as failure to register may nullify your clinical experience hours.

2. Gain the necessary experience.

After you have registered as an unlicensed psychotherapist with the OPR, you can begin accruing supervised clinical experience. You must complete a total of 3,000 hours of clinical work, with 2,000 of these hours spent providing psychotherapy. Your supervisor must be an LICSW or other licensed mental health provider (such as a mental health counselor or psychologist) who has no less than 4,500 hours and three years of post-licensure experience. Your supervised hours need to be completed in no fewer than two years and no more than five years. You must also receive at least one hour of supervision for every 30 hours of practice and at least half of the supervision hours need to be individual, face-to-face supervision. HIPAA-compliant methods of electronic communication can be used to fulfill the face-to-face supervision requirements. Your supervisor should use the Supervision Report form to record your hours and submit it to the OPR.

3. Submit your application to the OPR.

After completing the required supervised experience, you should apply for an LICSW license using the OPR online licensing system. You must also submit a $100 non-refundable application fee (as of March 2019) and request that your school send your transcripts to the OPR.

4. 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 is $260 as of March 2019. It consists of 170 multiple-choice questions about clinical social work theory and practice. The ASWB will send your scores to the Board within two weeks of your test date.

5. Pass the Vermont Social Worker Jurisprudence Exam.

Applicants for social work licensure in Vermont must also pass a jurisprudence exam. The 20 items on the test cover rules and regulations relevant to social workers in the state. If you do not score the required 70% on the test, the OPR will return it to you and allow you to revise any incorrect answers.

6. Receive your LICSW license.

After you have submitted all required documentation and passed both exams, the OPR will issue your license. As an LICSW, you can practice clinical social work in Vermont without supervision.

Social Work License by Endorsement or Five-Year Rule in Vermont

The OPR offers options for out-of-state social workers hoping to become licensed in Vermont. Individuals who hold an active license in another state with requirements at least equal to Vermont’s can apply for licensure by endorsement. Individuals who hold a license that does not meet Vermont’s requirements can apply under the “five-year rule” if they have been practicing at least 1,200 hours per year for the past five years and have no disciplinary actions against them. Applicants seeking licensure through either of these methods should submit an application through the online license portal, pay the $100 application fee (as of March 2019), and submit the jurisprudence exam and Verification of Licensure form. The online application will provide instructions for additional documentation you must submit, which will likely include past ASWB exam scores.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education (CE) Information

Social work licenses in Vermont expire every two years and can be renewed using the OPR licensing system. During each renewal period, LICSWs are required to complete 20 hours of continuing education (CE). 15 of these hours must be completed in person and one-and-a-half hours must be in ethics. LMSWs are required to complete 10 hours of CE, all of which must be in-person, with at least one-and-a-half hours in ethics.

Vermont Social Work Jobs and Salary Information

According to May 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,970 people were employed as social workers in Vermont.2 The majority of these individuals worked in child, family, and school social work (1,320) or mental health and substance abuse social work (1,230).2 The average annual salary for Vermont social workers at that time was $47,927.2 It is projected that social work jobs in Vermont will increase 12.3% between 2016 and 2026, with the highest growth (17.8%) expected in the subfield of healthcare social work.3

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 1,320 $45,780
Healthcare Social Workers 420 $57,010
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 1,230 $40,990
Social Workers, All Other 70* $63,030*


Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.
*Data from 2014.2

Social Work Associations in Vermont

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Who can provide clinical supervision for LICSW applicants?

Answer: Licensed clinical social workers, clinical mental health counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists are all eligible to provide supervision for LICSW applicants in Vermont as long as they have at least three years and 4,500 hours of post-licensure experience.

Question: What is the Vermont Jurisprudence Exam?

Answer: The Vermont Social Worker Jurisprudence Examination tests your knowledge of Vermont laws relevant to the practice of advanced generalist and clinical social work practice. A score of at least 70% is required to earn a Vermont social work license.

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