Social Work Licensure in Indiana

Those interested in social work licensure in Indiana should check with the Behavioral Health and Human Service Licensing Board for the most accurate information on educational requirements, supervised field experience, exams, and fees. Indiana currently offers three levels of licensing. First, the licensed bachelor social worker (LBSW) requires an undergraduate social work degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and a passing score on the bachelor's-level exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

Second, graduates of both bachelor's and master's programs who pass the ASWB master's-level exam may earn the licensed social worker (LSW) license. Graduates with only a bachelor's degree seeking the LSW license must also complete two years of supervised experience. Third, those with a MSW or doctorate in social work, a passing score on the the ASWB clinical-level exam, and 3,000 hours of supervised experience may apply for the licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). The Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA), which handles reciprocity between Indiana and other states, requires anyone seeking Indiana social work licensure to document that they hold a valid license from another state and earned a passing score on the ASWB exam at the level equivalent to the license requested.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Indiana

Students exploring traditional on-campus or online social work programs in Indiana can select one of several opportunities. The bachelor's degree credential provides an introduction to the field and serves as a stepping stone to advanced degrees and licensure. Holders of this degree can find employment in support positions in many social service settings. Students interested in clinical social work and licensure should pursue a MSW. For those with a passion for teaching or policy change, a doctorate, either the Ph.D. or a DSW degree, serves as the most advanced educational option available in social work.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

Students should seek out a bachelor's degree accredited by the CSWE. The degree can lead to entry-level positions in areas such as addiction counseling, juvenile residential facilities, or casework in social service agencies. Students planning on earning a MSW and clinical licensure must first finish a bachelor's in social work or a related field. Indiana offers both brick-and-mortar programs and online social work degrees at the undergraduate level. Students typically take four years to complete the bachelor's degree.

Master's in Social Work

Both private and public institutions in Indiana offer MSW programs, and schools make affordable online options available to students throughout the state and country. The degree counts as a requirement for anyone entering clinical social work or planning to establish a private practice. Licensed clinical social workers must complete a MSW and licensure requirements established by the ASWB. An on-campus master's may take two-to-three years of full-time study. The length of time to finish an online master's degree depends on the program requirements and the number of credits completed each term. The MSW serves as the most versatile social work degree, leading to leadership and supervisory roles in clinical settings like mental health and healthcare facilities and child welfare and family service agencies.

Doctorate Degree in Social Work

A doctorate in social work serves as the highest academic degree in the field. Students with a strong interest in academic work, teaching and research, or administrative leadership should consider this option. Universities that provide doctoral-level training may offer online programs in addition to traditional campus-based degrees. The practice-oriented DSW, or doctor of social work, prepares graduates for social work administration and supervisory roles in clinical practice. For teaching and training future social work practitioners, schools offer a Ph.D. that focuses on academic research. Both programs require five or more years of study, including coursework and a dissertation.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Indiana

Indiana offers three levels of licensing. Graduates with a bachelor's degree accredited by the CSWE may obtain either the LBSW or the LSW. Currently, the LBSW serves as the basic-level license. It does not require post-graduation supervised fieldwork, and holders can only take beginning or non-clinical positions. Holder's of a master's degree may not apply for the LBSW. The LSW mandates two years of supervised work experience for eligibility and opens up broader job prospects.

The third type of license, the LCSW, serves as the most advanced social worker license in Indiana. It requires a MSW or a doctorate from a CSWE-accredited program and at least 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience. Licensed clinical social workers enjoy greater career opportunities and provide clinical treatment and diagnostic services. All licensed social workers must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years to renew their licenses.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker

  1. Bachelor's Degree: The IPLA stipulates that all applicants for licensure meet and verify all educational credentials. Students need to complete a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program to apply for the LBSW license. The degree-granting institution should send an official, sealed transcript directly to the Behavioral Health and Human Service Licensing Board.
  2. ASWB Bachelor's-Level Examination: Applicants must pass the bachelor's-level exam administered by the ASWB. The ASWB sends the results of the exam directly to the licensing board in Indiana. The state may grant an exemption to social workers who can document two or more years of supervised experience in behavioral health and human services.
  3. Background Check: The IPLA requires that all candidates for licensure arrange for and pass a national criminal background investigation at their own expense. The background check requires all applicants to verify their identities, submit fingerprints, and disclose their social security numbers.
  4. Application Fees: The Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Service Licensing Board charges a $50 application fee for processing the license request. The ASWB bachelor's-level exam costs $230. Candidates need to notarize supporting documents and provide passport-size photographs at their own expense.

Licensed Social Worker

  1. Bachelor's Degree or Higher: Eligibility for this license requires that candidates complete at least a CSWE-accredited BSW degree. Graduates of a CSWE-accredited MSW program may also apply for this license.
  2. ASWB Master's Level Examination: The master's-level exam, conducted by the ASWB, is required for this level of licensing. LSWs must register for the exam through the ASWB and pass with a minimum of 95 correct answers. Applicants who fail the exam must wait three months before they can retake it.
  3. Supervised Experience: BSW graduates must perform two years of supervised social work experience after they complete their degree. The supervisor must work as a licensed social worker or a licensed clinical social worker. Supervisors must document the experience. Applicants with MSW degrees do not need to provide evidence of supervised social work experience.
  4. Background Check: All candidates for licensure must undergo extensive identity and background checks and send results directly to the IPLA. They must disclose their social security numbers, arrange for fingerprinting, and complete a criminal background investigation at their own expense. The Board must receive all materials within one year of applying for licensure.
  5. Application Fees: Total application fees for processing and examinations will run over $300, not including additional expenses for notarized documents and passport photographs. The Behavioral Health and Human Services Board requires a $50 fee to initiate the application process. The ASWB requires a fee of $230 for the master's-level exam.

Licensed Certified Social Worker

  1. MSW or DSW Degree: Almost all jurisdictions authorized by the ASWB require the LCSW credential for clinical work and for independent practice. Candidates for this license need a MSW or a DSW from a CSWE-accredited program that focuses on direct clinical or client health services.
  2. ASWB Clinical Level Examination: The LCSW license requires a passing score on the clinical-level exam. A passing score requires at least 96 correct answers. Applicants who fail to pass the exam after three attempts must wait a year to re-apply.
  3. Supervised Experience: Supervised clinical experience distinguishes those who hold this license from others. Applicants must complete two years, or 3,000 hours, of supervised clinical experience after completion of their graduate degrees. They must compete the social work experience requirement within two years following their graduation date.
  4. Background Check: The state highly regulates those with the LCSW designation. Candidates seeking the LCSW must disclose their social security numbers, and arrange for fingerprinting and a criminal background check.
  5. Application Fees: As of 2017, LCSW applicants must pay a $50 processing fee and a $25 temporary license fee to the IPLA. The ASWB clinical exam requires a $260 examination fee. Applicants will also incur other costs for required notarization of supporting documents, official transcripts, and passport-quality photographs.

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

Becoming a licensed social worker can take several years. Earning a bachelor's degree serves as the first step; it typically takes four years plus the time needed to study for the ASWB bachelor's-level exam required for Indiana's LBSW credential. An MSW usually adds two to three more years of schooling. The licensed clinical social work designation requires two years of supervised experience after finishing the MSW in addition to the amount of time you devote to prepping for the ASWB clinical exam. Overall, license seekers spend five-to-seven years finishing their bachelor's and MSW along with the necessary credentials for licensing.

Out of State Licensing Reciprocity in Indiana

Reciprocity requirements governing the transfer of social work licenses vary from state to state. The IPLA holds to strict reciprocity regulations for social workers coming from another state to practice. Applicants must hold a valid license from another jurisdiction. They cannot have any pending disciplinary proceedings lodged against them, and they must pass a criminal background investigation. They must also provide evidence that they passed the ASWB exam at the their license level. The LBSW corresponds to the bachelor's-level exam, and the LSW corresponds to the master's-level exam. The application costs $50. In addition, all applicants approved for the LSW and LCSW must pass a 30-question exam administered by the Indiana Behavioral Health and Human Services Licensing Board.

License Renewal

Social workers must renew their licenses every two years through the IPLA. Social workers at all license levels must document completion of 40 hours of continuing education hours (CHEs). Although the number of hours vary, most states require CHEs for renewal to ensure that practitioners stay current in their specialty. For renewal in Indiana, social workers must complete 20 CEHs in formal education coursework and 20 hours in self-directed courses. Two of the 40 hours must focus on ethics. Social workers earn CHEs through many kinds of courses offered by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the ASWB, or an approved Indiana provider. Social workers applying for renewal should contact the IPLA directly for the most up-to-date information on CHE requirements and renewal fees.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Indiana

Students who want to pursue a social work degree in Indiana should pay close attention to accreditation. Look for programs approved by the CSWE. CSWE accreditation establishes program quality and assures employers that you earned a solid education. According to the CSWE, 15 Indiana schools offer accredited social work degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Understanding licensing requirements helps in deciding what degree works for you. Indiana offers three levels of licensing: the LBSW, LSW, and LCSW. You may apply for an LBSW or an LSW with a bachelor's degree. An LCSW requires a MSW, and it leads to more advanced employment prospects in clinical settings and private practice.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

A social work degree in Indiana leads to rewarding employment opportunities in a variety of settings, including clinics and healthcare facilities, schools, and private agencies. Students drawn to the helping professions display a concern for the welfare of others. They need patience, empathy, resourcefulness, and organizational skills to work with people of all ages and all backgrounds. While a bachelor's degree allows for a number of entry-level and support positions, a MSW and corresponding licensure open up opportunities in clinical practice and managerial roles.

  • Clinical Social Worker: Clinical social workers need a MSW and a license issued by the state where they practice. Many different organizations employ them, including hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes and hospices, and private agencies. A typical workday for a clinician might involve providing one-on-one counseling, running a group therapy session, or conducting client assessments and evaluations.
  • Medical Social Worker: Medical social workers coordinate patient care to ensure that their clients receive appropriate services. Their daily duties include taking medical histories, administering initial screenings, and setting up further testing. A bachelor's in social work or counseling serves as the minimum educational requirement for most medical social work placements.
  • Hospice Social Worker: These social workers offer emotional and logistical support to patients and their families going through the end of life process. In addition to interpersonal skills, palliative care specialist to handle paperwork related to insurance, Medicaid/Medicare, and non-medical issues. Hospice social workers typically need a master's degree in social work and specialized hospice certifications.
  • School Social Worker: School social workers reach out to students with behavioral and emotional issues. They routinely confer with teachers and staff members to identify students who need help; they also provide counseling and arrange for referrals to outside professionals if needed. These workers typically need a bachelor's degree and state certification in school social work.
  • Case Manager, Social Services: Case managers maintain patient records for admission, treatment, and follow-up. Their duties include attending staff meetings to monitor patient care, keeping current with best practice, and using technology for the upkeep of case files. Caseworkers need a bachelor's in social work or a related field; some healthcare facilities require a master's or previous experience.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Indiana

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16% increase and a mean salary of $47,980 for all social workers from 2016 to 2026. Clinical social workers enjoy the largest salary and usually hold both a MSW and licensing. Hospice social workers earn the second largest sum, and school social work positions earn about $35,000 per year in Indiana. Case managers, although not the highest paid among social work occupations, find employment in many settings; they need only a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field to occupy this position.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Indiana

Clinical Social Worker $68,784
Medical Social Worker $46,752
Hospice Social Worker $49,499
School Social Worker $35,423
Case Manager, Social Services $35,694
Source: PayScale

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Indiana

Joining an organization helps social workers stay connected with other professionals and keep informed about changes in the field. Benefits of membership include information about licensure, certification, and professional development. These organizations may offer discounts on continuing education coursework and other career-enhancing resources. Many social work associations sponsor job banks, internships, and networking events. They monitor policy and legislative developments, publish journals, and sponsor conferences that highlight the newest advances in the field.

  • National Association of Social Workers, Indiana Chapter: This organization provides important resources for social workers in Indiana. It administers programs for licensure, advance practice specialty certifications, and online continuing education workshops. It also offers license exam preparation courses. Members receive discounts on license application fees, certification, and other professional development opportunities.
  • Indiana School Social Work Association: ISSWA promotes the professional development of school social workers in Indiana. Membership benefits include workshops on best practices and an annual conference. It sponsors a job bank and offers information about licensing requirements in Indiana. In addition to networking and professional development opportunities, the association also offers grants and scholarships.
  • Indiana Society for Social Work Leadership in Healthcare: This organization brings together social workers and social work health care administrators dedicated to improving healthcare services across the state of Indiana. Their focus includes all areas of healthcare, including case management, community engagement, and public health policy. The association provides information on licensing and sponsors professional development opportunities. It also monitors legislation that impacts healthcare social workers and advocates on their behalf.
FIND A PROGRAM
Sponsored Schools
usc msw