Social Work Licensure in Vermont

Unlike many other states, Vermont does not require all social workers to hold a license. With just a bachelor's degree in social work, you can take on a number of entry-level positions in the field, such as human services assistant or community health worker. However, in order to qualify for supervisory and clinical roles, you will need a state license.

The Office of Professional Regulation oversees social work licensure in Vermont. In order to become a licensed master social worker (LMSW), you must have at least a master's degree in social work from an accredited institution. You must also pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) master's-level exam and the Vermont state jurisprudence exam.

To become a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW), you must hold a master's degree and pass both the ASWB clinical exam and the state jurisprudence exam. You must also complete between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.

Because Vermont's social work licensure requirements are less strict than other states, it is fairly easy for individuals with an out-of-state license to receive authorization to work in Vermont. If your home state's requirements resemble Vermont's, you can receive a license by submitting verification of your experience. If your home state's requirements are less strict than Vermont's, you may still be able to receive a license if you have practiced more than 1,200 hours per year for at least five years.

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Types of Social Work Degrees in Vermont

Students interested in earning a social work degree in Vermont can pursue a bachelor's, a master's, or a doctorate. Bachelor's degrees provide an introduction to the field of social work and qualify you for most entry-level jobs. Master's programs usually offer specialized training in a particular area, such as children and families. These degrees qualify you for initial licensure in the state. Doctoral programs include intensive coursework on research and social policy. These degrees prepare you for jobs in academia as well as leadership roles with community organizations and government agencies.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

In addition to general education courses in areas like science and the humanities, bachelor's programs in social work help students develop foundational knowledge and skills. These programs often include coursework on subjects such as human behavior, individuals and families, and social welfare policy. They also typically include a field experience or internship requirement. Most full-time students earn their bachelor's degree in four years, though they may be able to earn an online social work degree even faster.

In Vermont, a bachelor's qualifies you for most entry-level and intermediate jobs in the field. According to Payscale, a social worker with just a bachelor's degree earns, on average, approximately $43,000 per year.

Master's in Social Work

A master's degree in social work offers in-depth training in a particular specialization such as clinical practice or healthcare social work. Coursework may cover topics like diverse populations, substance abuse treatment, or psychopathology. Social work schools in Vermont usually require graduate students to complete field experiences or internships to prepare for professional practice.

Earning a master's in social work is necessary for licensure in Vermont, and can significantly increase your earnings. For example, Payscale estimates the average salary for LMSWs is $47,106. Clinical social workers can earn even more, with a median salary of $55,529.

Doctoral Degree in Social Work

If you plan to teach social work at a college or university, you will likely need a doctoral degree. These programs offer courses on advanced subjects like theoretical perspectives on social work practice and leadership models in complex social systems. Because they often require students to write a research-based dissertation, these programs also provide training in study design and data analysis.

Students usually take between four and seven years to complete a doctoral program. This time investment can lead to higher salaries and administrative positions. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a postsecondary social work teacher in 2017 was $64,370.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Vermont

As mentioned above, many social work jobs in Vermont do not require a license. However, for supervisory and more advanced positions, many employers prefer to hire LMSWs. In order to practice clinical social work, including diagnosing and treating mental health issues at a hospital or in private practice, you must first become an LICSW.

All applicants must pay a $100 fee and pass the Vermont jurisprudence exam. This test assesses applicants' understanding of the laws that govern social workers in the state.

Licensed Master Social Worker

  1. Education: To become an LMSW, you must have at least a master's degree from an accredited institution. Master's programs often feature advanced coursework in a particular area of study, along with in-depth field experiences or internships. Most full-time students earn their master's in about two years.
  2. Exams: In addition to the Vermont jurisprudence exam, all LMSW candidates must also pass the ASWB master's-level exam. The exam consists of 170 multiple choice questions covering subjects such as theories of human development, psychoanalytic approaches, concepts of gender identity, and methods used to assess trauma. Applicants have four hours to complete this electronic exam and must pay a $230 testing fee.
  3. Experience: There are no experience requirements for this level of Vermont social work licensure.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

  1. Education: To become a LICSW, you must have a master's or doctoral degree from an accredited institution. Two-year master's programs provide specialized training and field experiences for aspiring social work practitioners. Doctorate programs emphasize data collection, analysis, and interpretation, preparing students to write a research-based dissertation. Full-time students usually earn their doctorate in four to seven years.
  2. Exams: In addition to the Vermont jurisprudence exam, all LICSW candidates must also pass the ASWB clinical exam. The exam consists of 170 multiple choice questions assessing an applicant's knowledge of subjects like neurological disorders, the indicators of somatization, and the phases of intervention and treatment. Students have four hours to complete this electronic exam and must pay a $260 testing fee.
  3. Experience: If you are already an LMSW, you must complete 2,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, as well as 67 hours of consultation. If you are not an LMSW, you must complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience and 100 hours of consultation. Candidates must complete at least half of these consultation hours individually, rather than in a group setting.
  4. Additional Registration: Before beginning your supervised experience, make sure to register with the state's Roster of Non-Licensed Non-Certified Psychotherapists. Failing to do so may invalidate your hours of experience. Registering for this roster costs $75.

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

To become a licensed social worker in Vermont, you must have a master's degree. Most master's programs take full-time students about two years to complete. Coupled with an undergraduate social work degree, you will need roughly six years to meet the educational requirements for licensure in the state.

Becoming an LMSW requires no additional training or supervised experience beyond your education. Becoming an LICSW, however, requires between 2,000 and 3,000 hours of clinical experience under the supervision of a fully licensed LICSW. This usually requires two years of additional work.

Out-of-State Licensing Reciprocity in Vermont

Vermont has a comparatively simple path to reciprocity for out-of-state license holders. If your state has similar licensing requirements to Vermont, you only need to submit a completed verification of licensure form to the Office of Professional Regulation.

If your state has less stringent licensing requirements than Vermont, you may still be able to receive a master social worker license through the five year rule. If you have practiced for more than 1,200 hours per year for at least five years and have no disciplinary history in your home state, you can qualify for a license. This process is not available to clinical applicants.

All out-of-state applicants must pay a $100 fee and pass the Vermont jurisprudence exam.

License Renewal

All licensed social workers in Vermont must renew their license every two years. To be eligible for renewal, LICSWs must complete 20 hours of continuing education courses in subjects relevant to their professional practice. LMSWs only need to complete 10 hours of continuing education. For both levels, the state mandates at least 1.5 hours of continuing education in social work professional ethics.

Applying for license renewal costs $150, and the state charges increasing late fees if you do not renew your license by the deadline.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Vermont

To become a licensed social worker in Vermont, you must have a master's or doctorate degree from an institution that has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Because Vermont recognizes degrees from CSWE-accredited institutions in other states, there is no need to only apply to social work programs in Vermont. However, it may be easier to find a job if you develop a local professional network by attending an in-state school.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

Social workers play important roles in society. After earning a bachelor's degree in social work, you can take on entry-level jobs at community organizations, schools, hospitals, or government agencies. Completing a master's program can prepare you for supervisory positions in the public sector, as well as clinical social work or private practice. Regardless of the career path you choose, social work requires exceptional interpersonal, emotional, communication and problem-solving skills.

  • Child, Family, or School Social Worker: Child and family social workers coordinate social services for their clients. For example, they may help families apply for food stamps or find housing. School social workers develop plans to improve their students' academic performance and support their socioemotional development. For many of these positions, employers prefer candidates with a master's degree.
  • Healthcare Social Worker: Healthcare social workers help patients better understand and cope with their diagnoses. These social workers lead group counseling sessions, support lifestyle and living transitions, and coordinate access to treatment services. In Vermont, healthcare social workers in clinical positions must have a master's degree and a license.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist: Marriage and family therapists help couples and families address problems in their relationships. They may provide individual counseling or work with groups. While some may be employed by mental health or treatment centers, many work in private practice. Therapists must have a master's degree in a mental health field such as clinical social work.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor: These counselors provide individual and group support to people suffering from substance abuse, anxiety, eating disorders, or other mental and behavioral problems. Many counselors specialize in working with a particular population, such as veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of these positions require a master's degree.
  • Social or Community Service Manager: Social and community service managers direct social service programs and lead community organizations. They have far-reaching responsibilities, including hiring staff, managing budgets, raising money, and evaluating programs. While there are usually not minimum education requirements for these jobs, employers may prefer candidates with an advanced degree in a field like social work.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Vermont

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary across all occupations in Vermont was $48,840 in 2017. Entry-level social workers, usually those with only a bachelor's degree in the field, earn slightly less than the statewide average. However, individuals in certain fields, like healthcare, can earn significantly more. Many of the more lucrative positions in social work require a master's degree.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Vermont

Child, Family, or School Social Worker $45,780
Healthcare Social Worker $57,010
Marriage and Family Therapist $47,110
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, or Mental Health Counselor $47,450
Social or Community Service Manager $39,690
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Vermont

Especially if you attend an online social work program in Vermont, joining a professional organization can help you find a job and advance in your career. These groups provide networking opportunities through workshops and conferences. They also offer discounted or free continuing education and professional development resources. Some organizations promote job opportunities in the field. Many professional associations advocate on behalf of their members for more competitive salaries and better working conditions. Below are three organizations serving social workers in Vermont.

  • National Association of Social Workers - Vermont Chapter: NASW represents more than 132,000 social work professionals across the country. The Vermont chapter hosts an annual conference, provides continuing education courses and seminars, and monitors and influences state legislation. Its website also features a job board and a code of ethics for social workers.
  • Vermont Addiction Professionals' Association: An affiliate of the National Association for Addiction Professionals, VAPA serves individuals working to reduce substance abuse and addiction in Vermont. The association offers continuing education training seminars throughout the state. Members gain access to liability, life, dental, and medical insurance.
  • Vermont Mental Health Counselors Association: VTMHCA supports, educates, and lobbies on behalf of mental health professionals in the state. Members meet once per month in Montpelier to review legislation that affects the delivery of mental health services in the state. The association's website also includes resources on how to apply for licensure and a directory of therapists and counselors working in Vermont.