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  • NASW-IL Staff

Spring 2021 FAQ for Graduating Illinois Social Work Students

The below FAQ was developed to answer a lot of the questions the NASW-Illinois Chapter was receiving from graduating social work students across the state. As the largest membership association in Illinois advocating on behalf of social workers, consider adding your voice to our efforts and join/renew your NASW membership today.

Getting Licensed: An FAQ for IL Social Work Students

Update on Pre-Approval for Exam

Last spring, we spoke about an amendment to The Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act (Senate Bill 1888), that allowed Illinois social work students currently enrolled in their last semester of a master’s level social work program to sit for the ASWB Masters exam (for LSW) without pre-approval.

While the law remains in effect, the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) continues to ignore Illinois law and is not allowing students to take the exam before graduation. Instead, they are currently trying to push the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to allow for them to handle pre-approval—at a cost to students. We are strongly opposed to ASWB and their refusal to adhere to Illinois law and will continue working with IDFPR to identify a fix that won’t shift more costs in becoming licensed to the social work graduate.

When can I get my license?

While ASWB continues to not observe Illinois law regarding last semester testing for MSWs, we are still strongly encouraging all graduating, masters-level social work students to begin filling out their licensing application now for submission immediately after graduation. Wait times for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) traditionally take longer this time of year. By applying as soon as possible, you reduce the time between application and when you can sit for the test.

How much does getting licensed cost? To become a licensed social worker (LSW), there are two associated fees:

  • The ASWB Testing Service Administration Fee, Masters Examination: $230.00

  • The IDFPR Application Fee: $50.00

Do I need to disclose sealed or expunged records when applying for licensure? No! Individuals applying for a license, certification, or registration under an act administered by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are not obligated to disclose sealed or expunged records of a conviction or arrest. From the IDFPR website: "Effective January 1, 2017, previously barred health care workers and first time applicants may become eligible for a license. Under the Department’s new process, a health care worker who was permanently revoked or denied due to a forcible felony may file a Petition for Review, which is currently available on the Department’s website. The review process does not apply to a forcible felony requiring registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act, involuntary sexual servitude of a minor, or a criminal battery against any patient in the course of patient care or treatment that is a forcible felony. Information about applying for licensure are available on the Department's website."

Can I work as a social worker without a license?

Unlike other states, social work graduates in Illinois MAY work as a social worker while working toward your LSW/LCSW license. During this time, you must be collecting supervision hours and you must identify yourself with a title that makes clear you are a social worker in training.

How can I get help preparing for the exam?

The NASW-Illinois Chapter is hosting four sessions of our live virtual LSW/LCSW Review Course. This 2-day, 4-hour course will cover the format and structure of the LSW/LCSW examination as well as the most current content areas as determined by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) for licensure. Practice questions will be reviewed to illustrate test-taking strategies and reinforce content material. The course also includes 6-month access to a digital version of the NASW-IL–proprietary manual which includes selected readings and handouts designed to complement the lecture. All classes will take place over two days from 8:00am to 12:00pm. To register, click the links below:

NOTE: Registration closes ten days out from event date.

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