Getting Your Clinical Level Social Work License (LCSW) in Pennsylvania

Getting Your Clinical Level Social Work License (LCSW) in Pennsylvania

The State of Social Work in Pennsylvania

The field of Social Work is crucial in the state of Pennsylvania, providing support and assistance to various groups in need. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 22,000 Social Workers employed in the state. The majority of these individuals work in areas such as child welfare, family support, and school-based social work, while a considerable number are specialized in healthcare, mental health, and substance abuse.

Despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Work profession in Pennsylvania has continued to expand and evolve, with a high demand for skilled and compassionate professionals who are dedicated to serving the needs of their communities.

In 2021, a total of 20,657 Social Workers took the Clinical Level ASWB exam and it’s estimated that close to 700 of those social workers were from the state of Pennsylvania, though this exact breakdown is not released by the ASWB.

Prerequisites for Clinical-Level Licensure (LCSW) in Pennsylvania

Clinical-Level Licensure candidates need:

  1. An MSW or DSW degree from a CSWE-accredited institution
  2. To complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience, 150 hours of direct supervision, and 1,500 hours of face-to-face supervision
  3. To pass the Clinical Level ASWB exam
  4. To complete the LCSW application for the State of Pennsylvania
  5. To complete fingerprinting and a background check

Additional information about licensing requirements and rules for licensure can be found on the ASWB website. The fee in Pennsylvania for the LCSW license is $90.

Steps to Get Your Clinical License (LCSW) in Pennsylvania

1. Complete Your Masters or DSW Degree in Social Work

Your Masters degree or DSW degree in Social Work must be from a CSWE-accredited institution. See a list of accredited institutions here.

A Masters degree or DSW degree in Social Work is required because it provides the necessary education and training including coursework in areas such as human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, and research methods.

Additionally, many programs often include a supervised field placement, where students can apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting and gain hands-on experience. This combination of classroom education and practical experience is necessary to prepare individuals for the complex and challenging work of being a licensed Social Worker.

2. Complete 3,000 Hours of Supervised Experience, 150 Hours of Direct Supervision, and 1,500 of Face-to-Face Supervision

In Pennsylvania, 3,000 hours of supervised experience is required for obtaining Clinical level licensure in the field of Social Work. This requirement is in place to ensure that individuals who are seeking licensure have the necessary level of practical experience to work effectively and competently as professional Social Workers.

Supervised experience provides an opportunity for individuals to apply the knowledge and skills learned in their Masters degree program in a real-world setting. Additionally, it allows individuals to gain experience working with a diverse range of clients and develop the ability to use professional judgment in complex and challenging situations.

The supervisor’s role is to provide guidance and support, to help the individual to develop their professional judgment and to ensure that the work done is ethical and in line with professional standards. The 3,000 hours requirement is set to ensure that individuals have adequate supervised experience to meet the competencies required of a licensed Social worker in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, 150 hours of direct supervision and 1,500 hours of face-to-face supervision are also required to be eligible for your LCSW license. Learn more about Pennsylvania supervision requirements here: Pennsylvania Supervision Requirements

3. Register for and Pass the Clinical Level ASWB Exam

Before you take your exam, make sure to review our Pre-Test Checklist and ensure that you are ready to take your Clinical Level exam!

Register for your exam here with the ASWB

4. Complete the Application for Your Pennsylvania LCSW License

Learn more about how to apply for your Pennsylvania LCSW license here.

To apply for your Pennsylvania LCSW license, you will use the state’s online licensing system.  This system allows the user to apply for the license and upload any required first-person documentation.

5. Complete Your Background Check + Fingerprinting

Upon submission of your LCSW application, you will be sent information from the Pennsylvania Department of State on fingerprint submission. The fingerprinting is done electronically and in locations throughout the state.

Sources: ASWB, Pennsylvania Department of State


► Learn more about the Agents of Change course here:

About the Instructor, Meagan Mitchell: Meagan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has been providing individualized and group test prep for the ASWB for over five years. From all of this experience helping others pass their exams, she created the Agents of Change course to help you prepare for and pass the ASWB exam!

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Disclaimer: This content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment