Social Work Licensure in California

Find Education Requirements in California for the following:

California is one of the legendary states in the union. With Hollywood and Los Angeles, the Bay Area and Southern California, no other state is as glamorous as California. With beautiful pacific beaches, great weather and the mighty red woods there is so much to do and see in the state. California is a great state to get your social work license and start your career. It is important to check in with each state’s Social Work board to get accurate and up to date information on the states licensing process. Here is the website for the State of California:

There is only one type of license in California and that is the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Although, one needs to be registered as an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW) with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to gain the required experience to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

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Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

If you wish to hold the title of Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW) in California, you must first get a Master of Social Work or Doctorate of Social Work degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited university or college.

Once you have the appropriate degree you will need to take the following steps to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in California:
You must apply for your license and pass a criminal background check. You will then need to complete the following additional requirements and pre-examination coursework:

  • Apply to become an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW) with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences here and pay the $75 fee. You will also need to pass a comprehensive criminal background check
  • If you received your degree in a state other than California you will need to complete an 18 hour course on California law and professional ethics which covers the following topics:
    • Contemporary professional ethics and statutes, regulations, and court decisions that delineate the scope of practice.
    • The therapeutic, clinical, and practical considerations involved in legal and ethical practice, including family law.
    • The current legal patterns and trends in the mental health professions.
    • The psychotherapist – patient privilege, confidentiality, dangerous patients, and the treatment of minors with and without parental consent.
    • A recognition and exploration of the relationship between a practitioner’s sense of self and human values, and his or her professional behavior and ethics.
    • Differences in legal and ethical standards for different types of work settings.
    • Licensing law and process.
  • Upon received your ASW registration you will have 6 years to complete your course work, experience and supervised clinical social work.
  • You will need to complete the following experience which you can find in a table on the California Behavioral Sciences website here.

You will need to:

  • Submit a supervisory plan to the Board with the application found here.
  • Complete 3,200 of supervised work experience.
  • Complete 104 weeks of experience total, of which 52 must be individually supervised weeks with 13 overseen by a Licensed Clinical Supervision.
  • 2,000 of those hours are required to be in the areas of clinical psychological diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and counseling
  • 750 of those 2,000 hours must be spent performing face-to-face individual or group psychotherapy.
  • You will then need to complete the following additional requirements and pre-examination coursework:
    • Human Sexuality 10 hours,
    • Substance Abuse and dependency 15 hours,
    • Spousal Abuse Assessment and reporting 15 hours for those who entered degree program after 1/1/2004; Course can be any length for those who entered a degree program from 1/1/1995 to 12/31/2003)
    • Aging and Long Term Care (10 Hours only for those who entered a degree program on or after 1/1/2004; For all others this is not a pre-licensure requirement,
    • California Law and Professional Ethics.
  • You will need to take and pass the California Laws and Ethics examination, which you can register for here.
  • Register with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences for your Licensure and Examination
  • Apply for the ASWB clinical exam here, pay the $260 fee, pass the exam within 3 attempts during the 12 months after your application.
  • After you have passed both the California Ethics exam and the ASWB Clinical exam above you may apply with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences for your LCSW here paying the $100 fee.
  • Once you have completed these steps, you can now get your official Licensed Clinical Social Worker title and license in the state of California.