Are Social Work License Requirements Different From State to State?

Social Work License Requirements

Passing the social worker licensing exam is the final step towards becoming a social work, but social work license requirements differ from state to state, so candidates should know what they need to do in their own state or the state in which they plan to work. Here are the details you need to help you fulfill your career goals.

Social Work License Exam

The social worker licensing exam, also known as Association of Social Work Board or ASWB exam, is the final step in an individual’s goal to become a licensed social worker. The SWB offers licensing exams in four different categories: bachelor’s, master’s, advanced generalist and clinical. The exam that the individual takes has to do with his or her level of study as well as what’s required in that state.

This part is vital because the individual must take the correct exam based on where he or she plans to practice. The electronic exam is a multiple-choice test that consists of 170 questions, but only 150 of the questions are scored. The exam must be completed in four hours.


Before an individual can take the ASWB exam, he or she must register with the ASWB and pay the registration fee. Here is where it becomes very important to know his or her state’s licensing requirements to avoid registering to take the wrong exam or getting some other detail wrong. Candidates can check their state’s requirements at Once the candidate is familiar with the state’s requirements, he or she can register with the ASWB and schedule to take the exam at a Pearson VUE testing site.

Candidates registering to take the exam may also be required to show proof that they completed an approved program. Social work regulatory boards typically require that candidates earn degrees from social work programs accredited by nationally recognized accrediting agencies like the Council on Social Work Education.

Checking Your State

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that while all states require licensure, their licensing requirements are different from state to state. For instance, a candidate in Wisconsin who has a bachelor’s degree can be licensed as a Social Worker (SW) or an Advanced Practice Social Worker with a master’s degree. Social workers in California, on the other hand, must all have at least master’s degrees as well as supervised work experience. The importance of knowing the state’s requirements can’t be emphasized enough.

Related Resource: The Top 10 Best Online Social Work Degree Programs

After what seems like years of study and finally earning the degree, taking the ASWB exam and being licensed will be the final touch. Don’t let it all be in vain by taking the wrong exam or getting some minor detail wrong. Social work requirements are different from state to state so know your state.