Social Work Licensure in Ohio

Students interested in providing intervention, resources, education, and counseling to underserved populations should consider a degree in social work. This diverse field employs professionals with varying education levels. Educational social work programs in Ohio include an associate of social work (ASW), bachelor of social work (BSW), and master of social work (MSW).

Ohio social work licensure includes a registered social work assistant (SWA) license and a social work trainee (SW-T) license, in addition to more traditional licenses such as licensed social worker (LSW), licensed independent social worker (LISW), and LISW with supervisor designation (LISW-S). All social workers in Ohio must be licensed and hold at least a BSW from an accredited program. Practitioners with a license from another state may submit a verification form to the Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board (CSWMFT) to prove that their education meets Ohio standards, as there is no formal reciprocity agreement with any other state.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Ohio

When researching social work schools in Ohio, it is helpful to identify the most appealing job titles in order to choose an educational path. A BSW exposes students to social work's foundational elements and qualifies them for jobs such as advocacy specialist. MSW practitioners build upon general social work knowledge and explore specialty areas. MSW graduates can work in roles such as program director. Students can continue their education with a doctorate in social work (DSW), which prepares them for roles such as clinical director.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

Students gain foundational knowledge through BSW programs, focusing on human behavior, social welfare policy, and research methods. A field-work practicum is mandatory, and upon graduating, emerging professionals must obtain hours of experience to qualify for licensure. A BSW prepares graduates to begin a career at the generalist level. Practitioners qualify for many roles, such as behavioral management aide, adoption agency administrator, juvenile court liaison, or mental health assistant.

Master's in Social Work

Students interested in an advanced degree in social work should consider an MSW. Typically this program can be completed in two years, although accelerated programs can be completed in one year. Students focus on social work from a macro level and examine specialty areas such as mental health. This degree prepares students to become a licensed social worker (LSW) in roles including therapists and clinical social workers if the proper license is obtained. An MSW is ideal for students interested in taking on more responsibility in a specialty area or pursuing an advanced social work degree in Ohio.

Doctoral Degree in Social Work

A DSW is the most advanced degree in the field and can be completed in two to six years. Coursework focuses on theory, advanced research methods, behavioral science, teaching, and policy. DSW practitioners are subject matter experts who advance the practice of social work through clinical research and leadership. Potential career titles include clinical director, executive director, and human services director. Ideal candidates are practitioners who want to innovate and educate in the field of social work.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Ohio

Social worker licensure in Ohio is required of all professionals in the field. The four types of licenses include a licensed bachelor social worker (LBSW), a licensed graduate social worker (LGSW), a licensed certified social worker (LCSW), and a private independent practice certification (PIP). Prospective students should identify the requirements for desirable positions to determine the appropriate license. Students should note that certification is not the equivalent of licensure. An LBSW is qualified for general practice. LGSW and LCSW practitioners qualify for clinical practice if they take the exam. A PIP can be obtained by any practitioners with an MSW or DSW.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker

  1. Bachelor's Degree: To apply for licensure, students must have a bachelor's degree in social work from a regionally accredited university or one accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  2. LSW Application: Graduates must apply for the license on the Ohio eLicense website, and pay the $80 fee. Applicants must also watch the online laws and rules video.
  3. Association of Social Work Boards Exam: Graduates must pass the ASWB exam at the bachelor's level. ASWB creates and updates all licensure exams, which include 170 questions that evaluate minimal competencies. The fee is $230.
  4. Background Check: To obtain licensure, professionals must participate in a background check.

Licensed Graduate Social Worker

  1. Master's Degree: To apply for licensure, students must have a master's degree in social work from a regionally accredited university or one that is accredited by the CSWE.
  2. Educational Experience: Qualified candidates must have 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience. The supervisor must be a licensed CMSW with no disciplinary cases against them within the last five years. During this time, applicants can obtain a provisional license until they are ready to apply for licensure, which is $80.
  3. Association of Social Work Boards Exam: Graduates must pass the ASWB exam at the bachelor's level. ASWB creates and updates all licensure exams, which include 170 questions that evaluate minimal competencies. The fee is $230.
  4. Background Check: To obtain licensure, professionals must participate in a background check.

Licensed Certified Social Worker

  1. Bachelor's Degree: To apply for licensure, students must have a bachelor's degree in social work from a regionally accredited university or one that is accredited by the CSWE.
  2. Background Check: To obtain licensure, professionals must participate in a background check.

Private Independent Practice Certification

  1. Master's Degree: Applicants need a master's degree in social work from a regionally accredited university or one that is accredited by the CSWE.
  2. Educational Experience: Practitioners need 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience completed within the last two years.
  3. LISW: Candidates must obtain an LISW license and pay the $80 fee, which can be done on the Ohio eLicense website. Applicants must also watch the online laws and rules video.
  4. Background Check: To obtain licensure, professionals must participate in a background check.
  5. Professional Reference: All candidates must obtain a reference from the supervisor who trained them.

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

Social work licenses have varying completion timeframes. The higher the degree, the more time it takes to complete. A BSW is typically a four-year program if students attend full-time. Some programs, especially online social work programs in Ohio, offer coursework at accelerated rates. BSW graduates or students with a bachelor's degree in another field should consider an MSW if they want to become clinically licensed, which can be completed in two years. Some programs are accelerated and can be completed in one year. MSW graduates interested in teaching or influencing social work practices can complete a DSW in two to six years.

Out-of-State Licensing Reciprocity in Ohio

Each state has its own regulatory board for licensing, so social work licenses are not valid outside of the state in which they were obtained. However, practitioners can apply for reciprocity. Ohio has no formal reciprocity established with any other states. Therefore, out-of-state practitioners seeking licensure in Ohio should provide documentation of their experience and education to the CSWMFT. The verification application is $25 and can be applied for online. The Ohio verification process examines the type of license, license status, disciplinary history, supervised hours, and licensure method. Applicants must have active and continuous practice of social work for at least one year in the last three years. Applicants must also submit their ASWB exam scores and complete a BCI and FBI background check.

License Renewal

In Ohio, all social work licenses must be renewed every two years. Part of the renewal process includes hours of continued education for LSW and LCSW professionals. Practitioners cannot begin acquiring new hours until their renewal date has passed. Hours completed outside of the two-year mark will not be accepted. The Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) offers continuing education coursework that is widely accepted and approved. Renewal fees are $60 for SWAs, $80 for LSWs, and $100 for LISWs. Renewal notices are issued 90, 60, 30, and 15 days prior to the renewal date. Licenses that are not renewed become inactive, and a penalty fee is issued unless it is due to active military service.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Ohio

Social work conversations in Ohio surround climate change, immigration, and inequality. Social work programs teach students how they can foster adequate development for youth, close health gaps, stop household violence, advance lifespans, or even create social responses for changing communities.

Ohio has experienced an increased demand for social workers. However, prospective professionals should examine what job role is most appealing as some specialty areas are growing faster than others.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

Social workers uncover solutions to problems of underserved populations. These professionals often work in hospitals, nonprofit organizations, government facilities, or private practices. Students should consider if they are passionate about a particular population such as adolescents or the elderly.

  • Child, Family, and School Social Worker: These practitioners provide assistance to children and their families. The child's well-being is a primary objective. Practitioners might develop intervention plans or educate parents on rearing skills. This role requires an MSW at minimum.
  • Healthcare Social Workers: This specialty is in high demand due to a growing elderly population and a lack of understanding regarding specific needs. Practitioners must educate clients and their families on strategic methods to provide quality care and cope with terminal illnesses. An MSW is required to practice.
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Practitioners provide counseling sessions that educate clients on effective treatments regarding mental illness and addiction. Work settings include residential treatment centers and outpatient clinics. Practitioners typically work with families and court officers. Clinical licensure is helpful for this role; an MSW is mandatory.
  • Social and Community Service Managers: This role includes much planning and organization for outreach activities. Practitioners develop creative ways to engage with clients while adhering to budget requirements and policies. Practitioners work under supervision unless licensed clinically and must have an MSW at minimum.
  • Medical and Health Service Managers: Improving the efficiency of healthcare services is a primary objective. This might be achieved by examining the impact of new laws and regulations on a facility. Professionals manage other administrators and finances.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Ohio

Compensation in social work is dependent upon a professional's level of education. An MSW and DSW are considered advanced degrees, which qualify professionals for more lucrative opportunities. Certificates are also available, which enhance a practitioner's marketability. Social work salaries are also impacted by the demand of the specialty area. Healthcare social workers earn more than social workers who specialize in child, family, and school social work. Median salaries are listed below.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Ohio

Child, Family, and School Social Workers $43,180
Healthcare Social Workers $54,170
Mental Healthcare and Substance Abuse Social Workers $42,940
Social and Community Service Managers $42,770
Medical and Health Service Members $41,250
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Ohio

Social work is an ever-changing field that is valuable on a global scale. Practitioners can join organizations that provide resources, educational courses, seminars, and campaigns. Members also have access to a vast network systems, allowing them to become part of a community that understands their needs.

  • NASW-Ohio Chapter: The NASW is a U.S. organization boasting more than 120,000 members. Its primary mission is to uncover and support elite professional standards. Members have access to career services, consultation opportunities, and cutting-edge information in social work.
  • Ohio School Social Work Association (OSSWA): Through building collaborative relationships with state, local, and national organizations, OSSWA provides resources to welfare entities in the greater Ohio community. OSSWA also advocates for school social work services. Practitioners who join OSSWA receive professional development and access to a vast network.
  • Northeast Ohio Community and Neighborhood Data for Organizing (NEOCANDO): NEOCANDO provides innovative tools and research related to population trends, poverty, education, housing, employment, and crime. The organization partners with relevant community stakeholders to share technology and data.
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