All Things Licensing

Many is us are in the process of figuring out next steps in our careers, and getting your license (either LMSW or LCSW) usually comes with lots of questions and research to do. On our FB group, some of you have asked very good questions and other have shared amazing advice and feedback. Here we are compiling some of the information and tips shared to make it easier to refer back and share. This post is divided in 3 main sections: 
1- AZ Social work license requirements and process
2- Study materials and tips 
3- Frequently asked questions and answers (by members of the group) 

1) Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Arizona

The Arizona Board of Examiners offers three licenses for social workers, we will focus on the LMSW and LCSW process in this post, if you are interested in learning about Bachelor level licensure, follow the link below. 
Each license has a specific set of requirements which are detailed below. 

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

LMSW candidates must have a master’s degree in social work from a regionally or CSWE-accredited school in the state of Arizona. Similar to the process to become an LBSW, LMSW are not required to have documentation of supervised social work experience. To become an LMSW, candidates must:

1. Complete the application.

LBSW candidates must submit the social work application to the Examiners Board in addition to submitting an official transcript. As of October 2015, the application fee for an LMSW was $250.

2. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

To qualify for licensure, LMSW applicants can take the ASWB masters, advanced generalist, or clinical exam. Candidates must register and schedule their exam online and pay the appropriate fee*. LMSW candidates must answer between 96 and 105 answers correctly in order to pass. All licensure applicants can attempt to pass the exam a maximum of two times within 12 months; after that, they must re-apply to take the exam and pay all associated fees.
*As of October 2015, the master’s level exam was $230 and the advanced generalist and clinical exams were $260.

3. Receive your LMSW license from the Board.

After meeting the education requirement and passing the exam, candidates will become LMSWs in the state of Arizona. LMSWs may practice non-clinical social work independently after becoming licensed but they must practice clinical social work under direct supervision.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

An LCSW is another license you can hold in Arizona. To qualify, you must have at least a master’s degree in social work from a regionally or CSWE accredited college or university. The requirements for an LCSW differ from that of an LMSW and LBSW in that a specific amount of supervised work experience is required by the Arizona Board to become licensed. The steps for licensure are as follows:

1. Obtain the required work experience.

LCSW candidates must have 3,200 hours of supervised work experience in two years or more prior to applying for licensure. This cannot include experience acquired while in an MSW program. The experience gained must be in the practice of clinical social work, which includes using psychotherapy assessments and diagnosing and treatment of individuals, families, couples, and groups. Half of the experience, 1,600 hours, must consist of direct client contact and at least 100 hours must be supervised. Supervision must be carried out by a licensed clinical social worker in Arizona.

2. Complete the application.

LCSW candidates must submit the social work application to the Arizona Board along with the required documents. LCSWs must submit an official transcript and the supervisor verification form, provided by the Board. As of October 2015, the application fee for an LCSW was $250.

3. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

To qualify for licensure, LCSW applicants must take the ASWB clinical exam. Candidates must register and schedule their exam online and pay the appropriate fee*. To pass the clinical exam in Arizona, LCSW candidates must answer between 96 and 105 answers correctly. All licensure applicants can attempt to pass the exam two times in (up to) 12 months. If they fail to pass in both attempts, they must re-apply to take the exam and pay the examination fee again.
*As of October 2015, the clinical exam fee was $260.

3. Receive your LCSW license from the Board.

After meeting the education and experience requirements, applying to the Board, and passing the exam, candidates will receive their LCSW. LCSWs may practice independently immediately following licensure. The license fee is $250 (as of October 2015).

2 ) Study Material 

The exams provided by the Association of Social Work Boards are used in every U.S. state. 
ASWB develops and maintains four categories of social work licensure examinations: Bachelors, Masters, Advanced Generalist, and Clinical. Not every jurisdiction uses all four categories, so candidates must be sure to check with their individual boards to find out which examinations are appropriate for the jurisdiction in which they are seeking licensure.
Each examination contains 170 four-option multiple-choice questions designed to measure minimum competencies at four categories of practice. Only 150 of the 170 items are scored; the remaining 20 questions are pretest items included to measure their effectiveness as items on future examinations. These pretest items are scattered randomly throughout the examination. Candidates have four hours to complete the test, which is administered electronically.
Study Guides

Taking sample practice tests is a great way to assess your areas of strengths and those that need improvement. Here are useful sites where you can take FREE practice tests: 

Academic Review
SWES Daily Quiz Question
Socialworkexam Practice Test
Social Work Exam Zone 

Helpful Study Guides/Tools

DSM-5 List of Mental Disorders – a nice cheat sheet Psychology Charts put together of the primary mental disorders.

LMSW flashcards – are helpful for quick reviews; there are tons of free flashcards for all the content areas covered in the social work licensure exams.

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development – Erik Erikson’s theory and a quiz to test your knowledge of it.

LCSW Study Buddy blog – covers the ego defense mechanisms with easy-to-understand examples, and provides nice comparison charts of Erikson’s vs. Freud’s stages of development

Studying for the Clinical Social Work Exam blog – jessbp provides very thorough posts that follow the content areas in the ASWB “Content Outlines & KSAs” booklet.

Social Work Podcasts – excellent podcasts covering some of the subject areas covered on exam

How to Avoid Choking Under Pressure to Perform – podcast to listen to to address test anxiety


Social Work Career 

3) Frequently Asked Questions:

(Asked and answered by members of the AZ Social Workers Group) 
Q - What study materials do you recommend to use before taking the LMSW exam? 
A- "Online practice test from ASWB very helpful. After you take it it tells you exactly which areas you need to study to pass. It's a bit pricey at $85 but very worth it, especially if you don't want to waste time cramming for things that may or may not be on the exam. Its the only thing I used to study (and I passed with flying colors). You can find it at "
A - "The Dawn Apagar book up until about a week before, then do the ASWB practice exam to figure out where your final weak spots are and to get used to the format of the exam"
A - "There are several apps designed to assist with exam prep. ASWB Exam Prep 2018 is a top rated one, but there are several you can browse to fit your needs. Good luck!"
A -I used The key to studying is learning how to take the test.
A -I did the practice exam before studying, to see where I was the most weak in what I already knew. I then used their recommendations for what to study based off my practice exam. I felt the practice exam was actually harder than the actual exam.
Q - Did the LMSW exam focus on mental health, policies, medications..etc? 
 A-  "For LMSW, very minimal diagnosis/medication was on my exam in Oct 2017. Situational questions that had some common themes like importance of patient self-determination and staffing with supervisor. Basic theory questions were also on mine. I studied with LEAP materials and also paid for the practice test on the AZ Behavioral Health Board website (worth the money). Good luck!!"
Q - I currently have my LMSW but I'm not offered supervision at this time, I really want to get my LCSW. Is there a way to clinical hours through somebody else? Should I attempt to find another job? Look per diem? Thank you for your help!
  A-   You could get your supervision from a different person, but you would have to pay them a fee. They will ask to be paid hourly and it could be high. If you have the extra cash stay at your job, but if you don't find a job that will do it for free.
  A-  Some places do hire contracted/ per diem counselors, you can try to get your hours that way too. It will take a lot longer though so you probably will want to change jobs so you can get the supervision hours with an agency that offers it. You would make less money though, I believe dialysis social workers get paid like hospital social workers do?
A - Community Bridges does offer supervision and will also reimburse you for licensure costs, but I can guarantee it'll be a significant pay cut
A - Terros offers supervision and it's not a pay cut.
A -Crisis recovery preparation offers supervision
Q - Can anyone give me an estimate on about how long it took to hear back from the state board about approved for lmsw testing once you sent in your application. Is it more like a couple weeks or more like a couple months? Thank you
A -"Dropped off my stuff at the office on May 23rd, got my letter on June 10th, first available test date was July 18th, license was issued August 1st."
Useful links:
AZ state board of behavioral health examiners
Licensing exam preparation services
Association of social work boards

If you have any useful tips and info we can add to this post, please share with us at

Thank you for reading! 

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