Human Services Guide
North Carolina

Social Work Licensure in North Carolina

North Carolina has many distinctions but perhaps its most famous is that it is home of the legendary University of North Carolina Tar Heels college basketball team. In fact, Michael Jordan himself went to UNC and won a national championship with them in 1982 by hitting the game winning shot. There is no question that North Carolina is great place to live. North Carolina is also a great state to start your licensed Social Work career in. It is important to remember that there can always be updates or changes to a state’s rules and regulations. Remember, that the best way to stay informed with current regulations is the state’s website on licensure. Here is the website for the State of North Carolina:

There are five different levels of social work licensure in North Carolina: Certified Social Worker (CSW), Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Social Worker Manager (CSWM).


Certified Social Worker (CSW)

The first step towards getting your CSW license is to get a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited university or college. Then follow these steps to become a CSW in North Carolina:

  • First complete the NCSWCLB application packet.
  • Once approved, you will need to pay a fee of $40.00 and complete the exam request form.
  • You may wish to review the ASWB Examination Candidate Handbook for information on the exam. You will need to select a testing center and schedule your exam with them. You may request to re-take the exam for an additional $40.00 fee after a 90-day waiting period.
  • Once you have passed the exam you will be awarded your CSW license from the NCSWCLB.

Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM)

To become a Certified Social Work Manager in North Carolina you will first need a BSW, MSW, DSW or PhD in social work from a CSWE-accredited school. Once you have the appropriate degree you will need to:

  • Show proof of 3,000 hours of post-degree paid employment. These hours must be completed in no less than two years and no more than six years. This requires a minimum of 100 hours of supervision of which no more than 50 hours can be via group supervision. To meet the supervision requirement, the administrator must be board certified with at least five years administration experience in a mental health or social work setting.
  • You will then need to apply with NCSWCLB for certification via the application packet found here.
  • When you are ready you can request permission to take your exam from the NCSWCLB on their website along with a $40.00 exam fee
  • Finally you will need to request permission to take the advanced generalist exam for a fee of $260.00. Upon completion you will receive your CSMW license from the board.

Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW)

To become a Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW) in North Carolina, you must first get your Master or Doctorate of Social Work degree from a CSWE accredited university or college. Then follow these steps to become a CMSW in North Carolina:

  • You will first need to complete the NCSWCLB application packet.
  • Once you have been approved, you will need to pay the fee of $40.00 and complete the exam request form.
  • Finally, you will need to pass the ASWB masters exam or the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) exam.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA)

You must become licensed by the NCSWB to practice Licensed Social Work in North Carolina. If you have not qualified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA) is an excellent first step. LCSWA licensure requires you to renew your LCSWA license every two years. All practice must occur under proper supervision until you earn the LCSW license.

The first step towards becoming a LCSWA is to get your MSW, DSW or PhD in social work from a CSWE-accredited school. Once you have your degree you will be ready to take the next steps to become licensed as a LCSWA:

  • To start, you will need to notify the Board of your interest in obtaining a license. Here is the link to the application form.
  • Next you will need to find a clinical supervisor including emergency clinical consultation. As part of this procedure you must create an emergency crisis plan which you will submit to the board. You can find the North Carolina emergency crisis Plan form.
  • After arranging for proper supervision and submitting your emergency crisis plan you will need to take and complete the ASWB clinical level exam within two years of receiving your associate license. If the exam is not passed, you must wait 90 days to re-take the exam.
  • In order to move on to the LCSW license, or to renew your LCSWA license, you will need to log 40 hours of continuing education credits every two years.
  • Every six months you are required by law to submit proof of practice and supervision to the board. You can find the required LCSWA 6 month Review form.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Once you have become a LCSWA, you may then complete the following steps to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in North Carolina:

  • To gain the title of Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in North Carolina, you must first get a MSW or DSW degree from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited university or college.
  • To qualify for your license you must accrue 3,000 hours of professional Social Work supervised practice. You will need to log these hours over not less than two years, with 100 hours of supervision. Of those 100 hours no more than 25 hours may be group supervision.
  • When applying for your license, you must provide the board with documentation showing your 40 hours of continuing education. This is also required every two years at renewal.
  • Once you have completed the short-form application as well as the LCSW Application Packet, you may apply with the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) for their Clinical Level exam.
  • Then you will need to pass the ASWB Clinical exam. You can learn more about the ASWB exam from the ASWB Examination Candidate Handbook.
  • Once you pass the exam, you will be eligible to receive your new title of Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of North Carolina.
  • Learn about The Bachelors Degree in Social Work (BSW)
  • Learn about The Doctorate Degree is Social Work (DSW)