Social Work Licensure in Connecticut

Social work licensure in Connecticut requires a master's degree earned at a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). To verify the applicant's educational background, the department requests a copy of their college transcript. Clinical social work applicants must submit proof that they possess at least 3,000 hours of postgraduate training during which they worked under the supervision of a licensed clinical social worker. The Connecticut State Department of Public Health requires at least 100 hours of supervised training.

In addition to a master's degree from a CSWE program and supervised training, applicants need to take and pass the Association of Social Work Board's (ASWB) master's-level exam.The ASWB also offers the clinical exam to master's-level graduates. Connecticut social workers can take either exam depending on the type of licensure they seek. The state department takes a unique approach to social work licensure by processing all applications online. They do not accept paper applications.

Social workers from out of state hoping to practice in Connecticut must submit school transcripts, ASWB examination results, and proof of a master's or clinical social worker license from another state to practice.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Connecticut

Social work programs in Connecticut offer bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees. To obtain licensure students must complete a master's-level social work program. A bachelor's program introduces students to social work through the study of psychology and sociology, preparing them to work either as case managers or in supportive positions. A master's degree gives students in-depth knowledge of government systems and therapy techniques that help them counsel clients. Many master's-level social workers become administrators and supervisors. A doctorate degree focuses on the research and analytical aspects of social work.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

A bachelor's degree in social work takes four years to complete. Students take prerequisites such as English and history during their first or second year in preparation for the rest of the program. Students learn about social work values and ethics and develop the knowledge and skills needed to understand culturally diverse populations. A basic understanding of social justice and human rights plays a major role in the bachelor's-level social work program. After graduation, students work in the community as case workers to help clients get the services they need.

Master's in Social Work

The master's degree in social work explores the principles and ethics taught at the bachelor's level, only it allows students to select specializations in subjects like mental health, children and families, or social justice. The program takes one to two years to complete and includes clinical training. At this level, instructors expect students to recognize certain medical conditions and help specialists diagnose clients. During clinical training, students work in healthcare and educational facilities to help employees with clients. They work directly with clients to understand their issues, and many go on to work as program organizers. Clinical social workers and program instructors monitor field education assignments.

Doctorate Degree in Social Work

For social workers with a master's degree and years of client experience, a doctoral degree in social work may count as the next step. Students can choose a doctoral program that focuses on research and academia or one that emphasizes clinical practice. Most programs adopt strict entry requirements and only accept applicants with high GPAs and GRE scores. Students develop the leadership skills needed to lead research assignments or a clinical practice. Candidates investigate the fundamental theories of social work and their significance in the development of modern-day programs and initiatives. Many of these graduates decide to work in public policy as advocates or researchers.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Connecticut

In Connecticut, social workers can become licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) or licensed master social workers (LMSW). To take the ASWB master's-level exam, applicants do not need any hours of clinical training. However, the ASWB clinical exam requires at least 3,000 hours of clinical practice. For both licenses, students pay an application and renewal fee. Although master's-level social programs feature a clinical training requirement, Connecticut does not require the ASWB master's exam to register as a LMSW. In 2015, the state enacted the Practice Act which states that all LMSWs providing clinical services must do so under the supervision of a LCSW or a physician.

Licensed Master Social Worker

  1. ASWB Master's-Level Exam: The ASWB offers four levels of examination, and LMSWs must register for the master's-level exam. The state board will only accept passing scores. If applicants fail the exam, they must retake it before applying for a license. The ASWB offers practice tests and study materials on its website.
  2. Master's Degree in Social Work: The state will not accept a degree from an associate- or a bachelor's-level program. At minimum, they accept master's degrees from CSWE-accredited programs. Online social work programs in Connecticut accommodate busy students with flexible schedules, and the CSWE website lists approved traditional and online social work programs.
  3. License Verification: As part of the examination process, the Connecticut Department of Health reviews all licenses. This requirement applies to applicants that hold licensure in a different field or specialty.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

  1. 3,000 Hours of Clinical Practice: Although students complete field training in a master's in social work program, the state requires 3,000 additional hours of training to receive Connecticut social work licensure. The state will ask employers to verify the amount of hours worked and the nature of the training.
  2. Graduate Degrees in Social Work: The state requires LCSW applicants to submit college transcripts that prove they attended and completed a master's or a doctoral program in social work. The program must hold accreditation from the CSWE, which enjoys recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
  3. ASWB Clinical Level Exam: State boards recognize the ASWB as the foremost authority in social work testing. Applicants must take and pass the ASWB exam before the state considers them for the state exam. The ASWB exam features 170 multiple-choice questions and takes four hours to finish. Students can take the exam at any time, provided they register with the ASWB.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Connecticut?

The road to licensure includes completing a master's degree and clinical training, which combined can take six to eight years. To receive a physical license to practice, applicants must submit personal documents that take months to process. The state will only allow applicants to take the exam after it confirms the applicant's eligibility. After the applicant passes the exam, it takes up to three weeks to receive their physical license. During this time, the applicant receives a 120-day permit to practice. If the applicant does not pass the exam, the state revokes the permit.

Out of State Licensing Reciprocity in Connecticut

To practice clinical work in Connecticut, out-of-state candidates need clinical licensure or a master of social work in the state from which they come. The commissioner of the board reviews these cases and issues licenses at his discretion. Connecticut does not opt into any state reciprocity agreements. To obtain licensure in Connecticut, you must provide the same documentation as new applicants. Applicants with complaints and pending investigations in other states cannot receive a license to practice in Connecticut.

Out-of-state candidates follow the same exam requirements as in-state applicants and pay the same fee. Currently, the LCSW application costs $315 and the LMSW $220. Candidates can substitute three years of clinical social work experience for the 3000 hours of clinical training as long as their supervisor submits a letter providing dates of employment. Applicants from another country must first go through the CSWE's International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service to validate their credentials. If approved, they must adhere to the new applicant exam requirements.

License Renewal

LCSWs and LMSWs must complete continuing education to renew their licenses. The Department of Public Health requires 15 hours of continuing education each registration period. Social workers must renew their license at least 60 days before the yearly expiration date. The department considers courses, workshops, and training conferences suitable forms of education. Similarly, all continuing education classes or seminars must earn approval from the ASWB, CSWE, or the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

Social workers can only complete six hours of continuing education online. The department requires at least two hours of direct training on mental health conditions for veterans and their families. Social workers must know how to identify symptoms of depression and post traumatic stress disorder. Workers must also receive an hour or more of cultural competency training.

To show completion of continuing education courses, licensees must obtain a certificate from their instructor and send it to the board. Licensees need to keep a copy of the certificate for at least three years after the date of completion for their records.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Connecticut

Due to state's strict social work requirements, completing a degree at one of the social work schools in Connecticut will make it much easier for graduates to apply for licensure and practice. Most in-state programs boast instructors with experience as social workers in Connecticut. These professionals understand state regulations and statutes and can help students by verifying training or educational records. Most of the state's public and private colleges and universities offer a CSWE-accredited social work program. Schools also help students secure field and job placement. Connecticut social programs qualify students to take the bachelor's, master's, or clinical ASWB exams. The list below highlights the state's top social work programs.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

A licensed social worker can take on many different roles in the industry. For example, master's in social work programs (MSW) equip students with a skillset they can use with different populations. Graduates work with children, students, families, the elderly, and clients suffering from mental illness or substance abuse. Depending on their occupation, a typical day for a social worker includes meeting with clients to discussing issues with healthcare providers or legislators. Many graduates create initiatives to help local residents. A student with a bachelor's degree in social work should consider an MSW if they want to advance their career.

  • Social and Human Service Assistants: Assistants work closely with social workers to determine the appropriate course of action for a client. They help find resources for clients that need help with basic living and finances. Usually, this position goes to workers with an associate or a bachelor's degree.
  • Counselors: These workers help a broad spectrum of clients, including those with addiction problems or mental disorders. They focus on psychosocial development and recovery and help clients improve their quality of life.
  • Social Workers: Social workers aim to serve both individual residents and whole communities. They track client progress by talking with clients and maintaining case files. They also report instances of abuse to law enforcement officials and help victims get treatment or remove them from the home.
  • Social and Community Service Managers: Social workers interested in community organizing gravitate towards this position. Community service managers use data and statistics to create and manage social service programs. Managers enlist the help of local legislators to secure funding for programs. This position requires a bachelor's or a master's degree.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors work with clients with special needs struggling to live on their own. Counselors help these clients gain a sense of independence by counseling them and working with other health professionals to develop a treatment plan. They also work with employers to encourage support for disabled client populations.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Connecticut

Social workers enjoy modest-to-high salaries depending on their education and experience level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ranks Connecticut as one of the top-paying regions for social workers. On average, healthcare social workers make $69,840 per year. Mental health and substance abuse social workers earn $62,800. These projections surpass national averages for the same occupations. The following table showcases some of the common jobs in the industry. With an advanced social work degree, students can expect to earn higher salaries and enjoy higher-level roles in the community.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Connecticut

Social and Human Service Assistants $40,810
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $62,800
Social Workers $61,000
Social and Community Service Managers $47,370
Rehabilitation Counselors $47,950
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Connecticut

Joining a professional organization at the local, state, or national level gives social workers the chance to connect with like-minded workers and develop a network of colleagues and friends. Professional organizations offer a wealth of information and resources, including scholarships, continuing education courses, and employment opportunities. Members also get to interact at conferences and galas held annually by the organization. Many organizations extend membership to students enrolled in social work programs.

  • Association of Social Work Boards: The ASWB provides social workers with detailed information regarding each jurisdiction. Through their website, examenes can learn about license and continuing education requirements in each state. The ASWB regulates the practice of social work in the U.S. and regularly holds meetings and trainings for members.
  • National Association of Social Workers-Connecticut Chapter: The Connecticut chapter of the NASW dedicates itself to local social workers and social work students by staying ahead of state regulation and developing specialty caucuses to deal with concerns. They also advocate for local communities and try to expand social services.
  • Council on Social Work Education: The CSWE improves and promotes social work educational programs across the U.S. They work with colleges and universities to evaluate their social work programs and help their faculty members develop better teaching methods.
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