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Licensure Steps

There are two levels of licensure in Illinois: licensed social worker (LSW) and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

TRANSFERRING YOUR LICENSE (Currently licensed in another state)

 

This section is for first-time LSW applicants.
ABOUT LICENSED SOCIAL WORKERS (LSWs)

LSWs are authorized to practice social work which includes social services to individuals, groups or communities in any one or more of the fields of social casework, social group work, a community organization for social welfare, social work research, social welfare administration or social work education. LSWs may engage in clinical social work practice, as long as it is under the direct supervision and control of a licensed clinical professional. LSWs may not create an independent private practice and engage in clinical social work. There are additional billing restrictions and fields that require an LCSW, so please consult your employer or billing entity if you have concerns.

 

DO I NEED TO TAKE THE ASWB EXAM?

As of January 1, 2022, the ASWB examination is no longer required for LSW licensure in Illinois. Therefore, if you are looking to practice with clients in the state of Illinois, you do not need to take the ASWB exam to become an LSW.

However, if you are looking to be moving to another state and/or you wish to get licensed in another state in addition to Illinois, that state may require an ASWB examination in order to practice. To find out whether the state in which you are planning to practice requires an ASWB exam, you must contact the licensing board of that state.  Every state will be different regarding their process and requirements.

DO I NEED CEUs?

You do not need CEUs to apply for licensure. You will need to accumulate CEUs for the SECOND renewal of your license.

STEPS TO OBTAINING YOUR LSW

You will need to apply to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) which licenses and regulates all licensed professions in the state.

First: You must fulfill/obtain the following LSW licensure requirements:

  1. Be of good moral character.

  2. A degree from a CSWE–approved graduate program of social work,

       OR

       A degree from a CSWE–approved undergraduate program of social work, AND

       3 years of supervised professional experience.

Second: Download the appropriate Licensee Application Form from the IDFPR website.

 

Licensed Social Worker Application

Complete the application in full. We have included a comprehensive list below of sections to complete within the application. Please note these fields are subject to change in the event that IDFPR updates their application.

Application for Licensure and/or Examination:

  • Part I, A | Check the box if you any of the options apply to you.

  • Part I, B | Profession Name: Licensed Social Worker / Profession Code: 150 / Licensure Method: Non-Examination / Fee: $50.00

  • Part I, C | Select the box that applies to you.

  • Part II | Complete your contact information. Please note if any of the supporting information you will be required to provide (like college transcripts) will be different than the name you provide in this section; you will also need to include in your application proof of your name change.

  • Part III | Complete sections 1–6 with your high school and college information. Skip section 7.

  • Part IV | List all previous licenses you have had including related licenses and the state where you acquired the license. If you have never previously had a social work license or related license, mark this section with “N/A.”

  • Part V | You must include all previous attempts and requested information in this section at this time. NASW-IL is currently advocating for this section to be removed for LSWs; however, until we receive guidance from the department, we recommend you still complete this section in full. If you have never taken the ASWB exam for the LSW, mark this section with “N/A.”

  • Part VI | Answer all questions regarding your personal history.

  • Part VII | Skip this section.

  • Part VIII | You must answer each question in this section.

  • Part IX | Sign and date the document.

  • Don't forget to write your name, social security number, and “Licensed Social Worker” on the right-hand border of your application where requested.

 

Supporting Documents:

NOTE: All supporting documents are included within the IDFPR application.

  • If your name differs on any supporting document from what you provided in Part II of the application, you must include proof of name change (marriage license, divorce, court orders, etc.).

  • If you selected yes to any question in Part V of the application, include signed written statements, supporting documents, and/or certificates as requested.

 

CCA – Health Care Workers Charged with or Convicted of Criminal Acts

  • Complete sections 1, 2, and 4.

  • Check the box next to “Licensed Social Workers”

  • Answer questions 1–4. If you select yes to any of these questions, you will need to provide the requested documentation.

  • Sign, date, and include your e-mail address.

 

ED – Certification of Education

  • Complete sections 1–8 (#5 = Licensed Social Worker, Code 150)

  • Sign and date the form.

  • Give this form to your school to complete, sign, and return to you. Then include in your application.

 

VE-SW Form – Verification of Employment/Experience (Only complete this form if your highest social work degree is a BSW.)

  • Complete sections 1–10 (#5 = Licensed Social Worker, Code 150)

  • Have your supervisor complete the rest of the document, sign it, and return to you to include with your application. If you had more than one job during your 3 years of supervised work, you will need to get a signed form from each job.

 

CT Form – Certification by Licensing Agency/Board (Only complete this form if you have a license in social work in another state and wish to transfer it)

Finally, submit your forms to IDFPR. Once you have completed the application and forms with ALL supplementary documentation and have the application fee*, mail everything to IDFPR (see mailing address in application). IDFPR should notify you within 4 to 6 weeks if your application is accepted. Processing times may vary greatly with the department. If you want to find out the status of an application, the best way to check is to contact IDFPR about the status of your application. Additionally, you can go to the IDFPR website and use the License Look Up feature. After selecting “Social Worker” for License Type, type in your first and last name. If you are licensed, you should see your name with your license number.

 

*Announced in April 2022, Governor Pritzker granted a one-time fee waiver for the IDFPR application/renewal applications received  between July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024. However, if you are an applicant with the means to pay for the application fee (currently $50.00), the NASW-Illinois Chapter does not recommend waiting to apply for licensure after July 1, 2023, to receive the fee waiver; applicants who apply now and do not use the waiver will still be able to waive the fee for 2023 renewal instead. Read more here. Please note the fee waiver applies only to the IDFPR application/renewal application fees, not the ASWB exam costs.

This section is for applicants who have not been licensed as an LCSW in Illinois before (or in another state) nor taken and passed the ASWB Clinical exam.

ABOUT LICENSED CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKERS (LCSWs)

LCSWs are authorized to independently practice clinical social work in Illinois under the auspices of an employer or in private practice.

DO I NEED CEUs?

You do not need CEUs to apply for the LCSW. You will need to accumulate CEUs for the SECOND renewal of your license.

STEPS TO OBTAINING YOUR LCSW

You will need to apply to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) which licenses and regulates all licensed professions in the state.

Step One: Fulfill the Requisites

To become an LCSW in Illinois, you must first fulfill/obtain the following LCSW licensure requirements:

  1. You must be of good moral character, and

  2. You must obtain a degree from a CSWE–approved graduate program of social work, OR a degree from a CSWE–approved doctoral program of social work.

Step Two: Earning Supervised Clinical Professional Experience

Once you have obtained a degree from a CSWE–approved graduate or doctoral program of social work, you can begin acquiring hours of supervised clinical professional experience :

  • If you obtained a degree from a CSWE–approved program of social work, you must complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical professional experience.

  • If you obtained a degree from a CSWE–approved program of social work, you must complete 2,000 hours of supervised clinical professional experience.

 

Of these hours, the required number of hours may be obtained in one of the following manners:

  • For full-time experience, a minimum of 30 hours per week but not more than 40 hours per week.

  • For part-time experience, a minimum of 15 hours per week but not more than 29 hours per week.

For more information about supervision for the supervisee and supervisor, including the NASW-Illinois Chapter Supervisor Registry, check out our Supervision page.

 

 

 

Step Three: Complete LCSW Application for Licensure

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Application

Once you have obtained the above requisites, you can apply for licensure. The application for licensure can be downloaded from the link above or from the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) website. IDFPR’s Division of Professional Regulation licenses and regulates over 1 million professionals and firms in Illinois, including social work professionals.

We have included a comprehensive list below of sections to complete within the application. Please note these fields are subject to change in the event that IDFPR updates their application. See also our note further below re: a one-time waiver of the IDFPR application/renewal application fee.

 

Application for Licensure and/or Examination:

  • Part I, A | Check the box if you any of the options apply to you.

  • Part I, B | Profession Name: Licensed Clinical Social Worker / Profession Code: 149/ Licensure Method: Examination / Fee: $50.00

  • Part I, C | Select the box that applies to you.

  • Part II | Complete your contact information. Please note if any of the supporting information you will be required to provide (like college transcripts) will be different than the name you provide in this section; you will also need to include in your application proof of your name change.

  • Part III | Complete sections 1–7 with your high school and college information.

  • Part IV | List all previous licenses you have had including related licenses and the state where you acquired the license. If you have never previously had a social work license or related license, mark this section with “N/A.”

  • Part V | You must include all previous attempts and requested information in this section at this time. If you have never taken the ASWB exam for the LCSW, mark this section with “N/A.”

  • Part VI | Answer all questions regarding your personal history.

  • Part VII | Skip this section as it is not applicable for LCSWs .

  • Part VIII | You must answer each question in this section.

  • Part IX | Sign and date the document.

  • Don't forget to write your name, social security number, and “Licensed Clinical Social Worker” on the right-hand border of your application where requested.

Supporting Documents:

NOTE: All supporting documents are included within the IDFPR application.

  • If your name differs on any supporting document than what you provided in Part II of the application, you must include proof of name change (marriage license, divorce, court orders, etc.).

  • If you selected yes to any question in Part V of the application, include signed written statements, supporting documents, and/or certificates as requested.

 

CCA – Health Care Workers Charged with or Convicted of Criminal Acts

  • Complete sections 1, 2, and 4.

  • Check the box next to “Licensed Social Workers”

  • Answer questions 1–4. If you select yes to any of these questions, you will need to provide the requested documentation.

  • Sign, date, and include your e-mail address.

 

ED – Certification of Education

  • Complete sections 1–8 (#5 = Licensed Social Worker, Code 150)

  • Sign and date the form.

  • Give this form to your school to complete, sign, and return to you. Then include in your application.

 

VE-SW Form – Verification of Employment/Experience

  • Complete sections 1–10 (#5 = Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Code 149)

  • Have your supervisor complete the rest of the document, sign it, and return to you in a sealed envelope to include with your application. If you had more than one job, have every supervisor complete this form for each job totaling your required hours.

  • Part II, Section D of the Supervisor section asks how many hours per week your supervisor met with you—let your supervisor know to put in at least 1 hour per week. While the state requirement is at least 4 hours per month, the question is worded as such that it may cause issues if you did all 4 hours at one time every month.

Step Four: Submit Completed Forms and Fees to IDFPR and Take the ASWB Clinical Exam

Once you have completed the IDFPR application for licensure with ALL supplementary documentation and have the applicable application fee (currently $50.00)*, mail everything to IDFPR (see mailing address in application). IDFPR should notify you within 4 to 6 weeks if your application is accepted for pre-approval to sit for the ASWB Clinical exam).

Once you’ve received notice from IDFPR, you will need to go to the ASWB website to register and pay (currently $260.00) for the Clinical exam.

When you pass the exam, your test results will automatically be sent to IDFPR who will complete processing your licensure application. Processing times may vary greatly with the department. If you want to find out the status of an application, the best way to check is to contact IDFPR about the status of your application. Additionally, you can go to the IDFPR website and use the License Look Up feature. After selecting “Social Worker” for License Type, type in your first and last name. If you are licensed, you should see your name with your license number.

 

*Announced in April 2022, Governor Pritzker granted a one-time fee waiver for the IDFPR application/renewal applications received  between July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024. However, if you are an applicant with the means to pay for the application fee (currently $50.00), the NASW-Illinois Chapter does not recommend waiting to apply for licensure until after July 1, 2023, to receive the fee waiver; applicants who apply now and do not use the waiver will still be able to waive the fee for 2023 renewal instead. Read more here. Please note the fee waiver applies only to the IDFPR application/renewal application fees, not the ASWB exam costs.

Test Preparation for the ASWB Examination

For those who are interested in a course to help them prepare for the ASWB examination, the NASW-Illinois Chapter Social Work Licensure Test Review Course (formerly LSW/LCSW Review Course) is the longest running review course in the state. Highly rated by our participants, this fast-paced, 8-hour course covers the format and structure of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) clinical examination as well as the most current content areas as determined by the ASWB for licensure. Participants can expect this course to be an interactive, discussion-led review of testing topics, case studies, and additional reading materials that will help you identify areas you may need to review in your knowledge base before taking the ASWB exam rather than a complete overhaul of everything learned in school. Practice questions will be reviewed to illustrate test-taking strategies and reinforce content material. Access to the NASW-IL–proprietary manual is available to course registrants only.

 

For a list of upcoming review course dates, check out our Licensure Review Course page.


DISCLAIMER ABOUT THE ASWB EXAM & OUR LICENSURE REVIEW COURSE: In light of the recent ASWB disclosures regarding disparities caused by a biased test, the NASW-Illinois Chapter has transitioned our licensure review course to a zero budgeted profit event similar to our annual Advocacy Day by reducing fees nearly in half. Additionally, if you have taken our course and are unable to pass the ASWB exam, please reach out to the chapter to work with us on an individualized plan to help you pass. These new rates and updated policies will hopefully aid applicants in passing a clearly flawed exam. Preparation courses like the NASW-Illinois Chapter Social Work Licensure Test Review Course cannot replace the fact that the ASWB test is inherently biased and discriminatory. While we will continue to offer this course as the ASWB exam is still required for licensure, it is essential to note that your test results do not reflect your knowledge and future performance as a social worker, nor do we believe that the ASWB exam should be used for such purposes. In Spring 2023, the NASW-Illinois Chapter plans to also implement a scholarship program to further reduce barriers to access to our course.

This section is for applicants who currently hold an equivalent social work license in another state.

If you are licensed in another jurisdiction and are looking to obtain the equivalent LSW or LCSW credential in Illinois, you may apply for either license by following most of the steps listed above for either the LSW or LCSW licenses, save the exceptions listed below:

For BOTH LSW & LCSW applicants:

IDFPR Application:

  • Endorsement: One difference for applicants already licensed in another jurisdiction is that you may utilize the “Endorsement” option for your Licensure Method on the IDFPR licensure application (see Part I, B, #3). The licensure application fee for this option is $200. You can find more information about the Endorsement option on page 2 of the IDFPR application.

  • Proof of Examination: Additionally, if you hold an equivalent license in another state, you do not need to provide proof of passage of the ASWB examination on the IDFPR application. Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act, Section 12.5 Endorsement

LCSWs Applicants ONLY:

If you are “licensed at the independent level in another United States jurisdiction for 5 consecutive years without discipline,” you do not need to submit proof of completion of education and supervised clinical professional experience. Instead, you must submit certified verification of licensure from the jurisdiction in which you practice as well as comply with all other licensing requirements and pay all required fees.

While we understand that extenuating circumstances make it so that it's difficult for people to fulfill requirements for licensure renewal, we at the NASW-Illinois Chapter ultimately do not recommend letting your license lapse. This is due to the excessive costs and effort required to restore a license after it has lapsed.

However, if you have let your license lapse, there are steps for REINSTATING or RESTORING your license:  

You must REINSTATE your license if you have let your license lapse or put your license on hold for less than 5 years. To reinstate your license:

  • Download the IDFPR Request for Reinstatement of Illinois License application here and complete it.

  • Call the DPR call center (800.560.6420) to inquire about any fees and additional documentation that may be required for your specific reinstatement.

You must RESTORE your license if your license has lapsed for more than 5 years. To restore your license, you must contact the IDFPR call center (800.560.6420) or e-mail fpr.lmu@illinois.gov to request instructions, forms, and fees (as stated in IDFPR licensee application). Please note restorations CANNOT be completed on IDFPR's online portal. It may take as many as 6 to 8 weeks to get your customized restoration form which will list out all of your restoration requirements and fees.

NOTE: IDFPR is currently waiving restoration fees for LCSWs until January 1, 2028. Click here to learn more.

 

For more details on seeking restoration of a license (LCSW or LSW), review the Social Work Rules (Section 1470.80 Restoration).

About LSWs
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About LCSWs
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LCSW App
LCSW IDFPR
Transfer
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