Are you interested in getting a Washington state Social Work license? Washington is in the Pacific Northwest region of the US. Nicknamed the Evergreen State, Washington is known for its green landscapes and also its environmentally friendly “green” mindset. The state is the thirteenth most populated state, with an estimated 7.8 million residents in 2021. Washington also maintains a robust economy and is well known for its world-class higher education system.
In addition, there are over 13,500 Social Workers employed in the state. If Washington appeals to you and you are interested in becoming a social worker in Washington, read on to find out the state social work license requirements. You can also check out best Social Work schools in Washington.
What Are the Social Work Education Requirements in Washington?
The minimum education needed to earn a Social Work license in the state of Washington is a Master’s degree in Social Work. In addition, the MSW degree should be from a CSWE accredited school.
Even though an undergraduate degree will not make you eligible for a Social Work license, it is useful. Students with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work often receive advanced standing in a master’s level program. Therefore, a BSW may help you complete an MSW faster than another undergrad degree.
Social Work Degrees in Washington
In Washington state, individuals with a Social Work degree can qualify for many jobs. Entry-level positions are available for graduates with a BSW or Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. The roles include both caseworkers at government agencies and nonprofits. BSW graduates can also work in both schools and child & family services.
The master’s degree in social work is the first degree that qualifies Washington social workers for licensure. Because of this, many BSW holders go on to earn an MSW. With a master’s degree and experience, licensees can pursue more advanced positions and also work in clinical settings. A doctoral degree can expand job opportunities even more.
Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)
A Bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW) in Washington will not lead you directly to a license. However, a BSW can shorten your path compared to another undergraduate degree. Therefore, a BSW is an excellent choice for individuals already planning to get a Master’s degree in Social Work. Undergraduate Social Work programs provide a broad education base and also prepare students for a generalist, nonclinical roles. There are seven CSWE accredited BSW programs in Washington state.
Master of Social Work (MSW)
A Master’s degree in Social Work is a two-year graduate program. The first year is typically core classes, while the second year differentiates. Students can choose different electives and focus areas during the second year of a master’s program and work with diverse populations. Once a student completes an MSW in Washington, they can apply for a Social Work license. There are 0 CSWE accredited MSW programs in Washington state.
Doctoral Degrees in Social Work
Doctoral Social Work programs in Washington state include both a Doctorate of Social Work (DSW) and a PhD in Social Work. The doctoral degree is not tied to any license in Washington. However, obtaining one will increase job prospects. In addition, most Social Workers with postgraduate degrees enter the education or research sectors of Social Work.
What Are the Social Work Licensing Requirements in Washington?
For clinical practice, Washington social workers must hold a license. Before an individual can earn a Social Work license in Washington, they must have a Masters degree in Social Work or a doctoral degree in social work. The Washington Health Department issues Social Work licenses. There are two types of permanent licenses available and two temporary licenses (associate) for individuals working on a clinical license. The permanent licenses are the Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW) and the Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).
Licensed Social Worker Associate-Advanced (LSWAA)
This license is specifically for students in the process of earning an LSWA. While students are working on the required hours for the LSWA, they must obtain this license.
Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW)
LASWs can practice both clinical and nonclinical Social Work. However, they must practice under supervision. They can be supervised by a Licensed Independent Social Workers or other approved entity. The minimum education required to become a LASW in Washington is a master’s degree. Applicants can also qualify with a doctoral degree in Social Work. All degrees must be from CSWE accredited Social Work programs. In addition, applicants take the ASWB advanced generalist exam and must complete 3200 hours of clinical training.
Licensed Social Worker Associate-Independent Clinical (LSWAIC)
This license is specifically for students in the process of earning a LICSW. While students are working on the required hours for the LICSW, they must obtain this license.
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
Social Workers can practice on their own in Washington after they become Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (LICSW). This designation is also the highest license a Social Worker can hold in Washington state. Candidates must hold a master’s or doctoral degree in Social Work. In addition, they are required to complete 4000 clinical hours and pass the ASWB Clinical exam.
|LSWAA||Master or Doctorate||4 hrs HIV||NA|
|LSWA||Master or Doctorate||3200 hrs||ASBW Adv Gen|
|LSWAIC||Master or Doctorate||4 hrs HIV||NA|
|LICSW||Master or Doctorate||4000 hrs||ASBW Clinical|
Can You Get A Social Work License by Endorsement In Washington?
Washington state does not have a formal process for Endorsement or Reciprocity. However, Social Workers who have a license in another state and passed an ASWB exam can apply for reciprocity. Washington state social work license reciprocity is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Washington State Department of Health.
Out-of-state license holders with a BSW will need to earn an MSW to qualify for a Washington license. In addition, all applicants must meet the supervised experience requirements. However, the state may accept documentation from a prior employer to fulfill this requirement.
Social Work License Compact
The ASWB is currently in the process of creating a social work licensing compact. The compact will allow licensees to quickly obtain a license to practice in a state other than where they hold a license. Stay tuned for more information.
Additional Licensing Renewal And Continuing Education Information
All Washington Social Workers are required to renew their license every year before their birthday. In addition, both LASWs and LICSWs need to complete thirty-six hours of Continuing Education (CE) every two years. Six of these credits must be on legal and ethical topics. In addition, all licensees must complete six hours of suicide prevention training.
While the licensee has an Associate status, the continuing education requirement is different. Associates must complete eighteen hours of CE every year and thirty-six total hours before earning a permanent license.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Social Worker In Washington?
Both several years of education and additional years of training are needed to become a licensed Social Worker in Washington. Because applicants must first hold at least a master’s degree before applying for a license, the minimum time it takes to become a Social Worker in Washington is about six years. The timeframe will be different depending on each candidate’s prior education.
A BSW typically takes four years to earn. Social Work students can earn a master’s degree in one to two years. After graduating earn an MSW, candidates for licensure need to complete 3,200 to 4,000 hours of training. An LCSW must supervise them. After the supervised hours, students can apply for a permanent license.
How Much Do Social Workers Make In Washington?
Social Workers in Washington state earn between $45,000 to $85,000. An individual’s salary will depend on education, experience, and also geographic location. Social Workers in more urban areas can earn more than rural areas. For example, licensees in the Longview area average $61,310 annually.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics report from May 2020 gives the Social Work career categories in Washington along with the average salary for the job.
- Child, family, and school social workers – $58,340
- Healthcare social workers – $65,760
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers – $55,880
- Social workers, all other – $76,440
Resources For Social Workers in Washington
More information about how to earn a degree in Social Work in Washington is available from the organizations below.
- Washington State Department of Health
- The Washington State Society for Clinical Social Work (WSSCSW)
- The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Washington Chapter
- Society for Clinical Social Work (NCSCSW)
- Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
Your Social Work Career In Washington
Washington state is a great place to begin a career in Social Work. If you are interested a Social Work Career in Washington, we have some of the best Social Work schools and programs listed for you.