Licensing Information

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Advanced social worker and independent clinical social worker

The Washington State Department of Health requires that only the applicant or licensee may complete an attestation for an application, or for continuing education. This is a legal attestation. Completion of the attestation by anyone other than the applicant may constitute a reportable felony offense. The Department of Health can take action against people for perjury or for making a false statement they know to be false.

For further information please see:

Washington State law authorizes the Department of Health to obtain fingerprint-based background checks for licensing purposes. This check may be through the Washington State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We may require this if you have lived in another state or if you have a criminal record in Washington State. This would be at your own expense.

You must pay the application fee at the time you apply. You may use a credit or debit card with a VISA or MasterCard logo, or pay by ACH/E-Check. Please make sure your address on the payment information screen matches the address your financial institution has on file for you. This fee is non-refundable. There is a convenience fee to apply online.

If we need additional documentation, we'll notify you by email.

There are additional items you may need, in addition to your application:

If you have questions, contact our Customer Service staff at 360-236-4700.

Getting started

Online Application Instructions

See the online application video.

Online application instructions are on our website. Online applications are accessed through SecureAccess Washington (SAW) security portal. You'll need to add the Department of Health Online Application Portal service to access the online applications. The first time you add the service, you'll be prompted to answer several questions to verify your identity. The questions will match the name and address you provide with the existing public record information. Because the questions come from public record, you need to provide a complete address and your full legal name as it appears on your driver's license or birth certificate. You may find you have to enter a former address, especially if your address has changed recently (within the past one or two years) to get the right questions that pertain to your identity. If don't have sufficient information in the public record to verify your identity and aren't currently credentialed by the Department of Health, then you will need to submit a paper application, as you won't be able to access the Online Application Portal.

Once you have completed the process you will receive an email with your pending credential number, or you can look on Provider Credential Search. Refer to this credential number any time you contact Department of Health or submit paperwork.

Advanced social worker associate/independent clinical social worker associate

The Washington State Department of Health requires that only the applicant or licensee may complete an attestation for an application, or for continuing education. This is a legal attestation. Completion of the attestation by anyone other than the applicant may constitute a reportable felony offense. The Department of Health can take action against people for perjury or for making a false statement they know to be false.

For further information please see:

Washington State law authorizes the Department of Health to obtain fingerprint-based background checks for licensing purposes. This check may be through the Washington State Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We may require this if you have lived in another state or if you have a criminal record in Washington State. This would be at your own expense.

You must pay the application fee at the time you apply. You may use a credit or debit card with a VISA or MasterCard logo, or pay by ACH/E-Check. Please make sure your address on the payment information screen matches the address your financial institution has on file for you. This fee is non-refundable. There is a convenience fee to apply online.

If we need additional documentation, we'll notify you by email.

There are additional items you may need, in addition to your application:

If you have questions, contact our Customer Service staff at 360-236-4700.

Getting started

Online Application Instructions

See the online application video.

Online application instructions are on our website. Online applications are accessed through SecureAccess Washington (SAW) security portal. You'll need to add the Department of Health Online Application Portal service to access the online applications. The first time you add the service, you'll be prompted to answer several questions to verify your identity. The questions will match the name and address you provide with the existing public record information. Because the questions come from public record, you need to provide a complete address and your full legal name as it appears on your driver's license or birth certificate. You may find you have to enter a former address, especially if your address has changed recently (within the past one or two years) to get the right questions that pertain to your identity. If don't have sufficient information in the public record to verify your identity and aren't currently credentialed by the Department of Health, then you will need to submit a paper application, as you won't be able to access the Online Application Portal.

Once you have completed the process you will receive an email with your pending credential number, or you can look on Provider Credential Search. Refer to this credential number any time you contact Department of Health or submit paperwork.

Apply on paper

The following forms are required for completing the application process. Please download and print forms.

Advanced social worker and independent clinical social worker
Advanced social worker associate/independent clinical social worker associate

Fee Schedule

Advanced social worker and independent clinical social worker

WAC 246-809-990 Fees

Non-Refundable Fee Type Fee Amount
Application
Initial License
$116*
$100
For a total of $216
Renewal $116*
Late Renewal Penalty $50
Expired Reissuance $72.50
Renewal Retired Active $81
Late Renewal Retired Active $30
Duplicate License $10
Verification of Credential $25

* Includes the fee to access the University of Washington (UW) HEAL-WA website.

WAC 246-12-340 – Refund of fees

Fees submitted with applications for initial credentialing, examinations, renewal and other fees associated with the licensing and regulation of the profession are nonrefundable.

Advanced social worker associate/independent clinical social worker associate

WAC 246-809-990 Fees

Non-Refundable Fee Type Fee Amount
Application - Advanced Social Worker Associate $35
Application - Independent Clinical Social Worker $51*
Renewal - Advanced Social Worker Associate $25
Renewal - Independent Clinical Social Worker $41*
Late Renewal $25
Expired Reissuance $40
Duplicate Certificate $10
Verification of License $25

* Includes the fee to access the University of Washington (UW) HEAL-WA website.

WAC 246-12-340 – Refund of fees

Fees submitted with applications for initial credentialing, examinations, renewal and other fees associated with the licensing and regulation of the profession are nonrefundable.

Licensing Requirements

Associate-Advanced and Independent Clinical Social Worker

Education

Graduation from a master's or doctorate social work educational program accredited by the council on social work education. To verify your official education you'll need to provide an official transcript with degree and date posted, received directly from applicant's program. Transcripts not in English must have an official translation.

State license verification

Applicants must list all states where they do or did hold credentials. This list must also include when the applicant has applied for a credential, even if a credential was not granted. The jurisdiction where the applicant is or was credentialed must complete and submit the submit the verification form (PDF). The jurisdiction must send the completed form directly to directly to the department.

Personal data questions

Each applicant must answer the personal data questions. If there is a positive answer to the professional liability claims history question, the applicant must send an explanation of the nature of the case, data and summary of care given, copies of the original complaint, and the settlement or final disposition. If the case is pending, applicant must indicate status.

Additional information/documents required

  • If an applicant has already taken the ASWB, Advanced, verification of scores must be sent directly to the department from the testing company or be verified by another state in which the applicant was credentialed.
  • Applicants who obtained the Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work from the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (ABECSW) or the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) or Qualified Clinical Social Work (QCSW) from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) are considered to have met the education and postgraduate experience requirements to be eligible for Washington State licensure examination.

Documentation of DCSW or QCSW must be sent directly to the department from NASW.

Process for approving/denying applications

We finish final review for approval after a credentialing specialist verifies that the application is fully complete, and complies with requirements in chapter 18.225 RCW and chapter 246-809 WAC. We complete background checks and make sure applicants have submitted required fees. Credentialing supervisors and lead workers have the authority to approve routine applications. The disciplining authority may conduct further review if the credentialing supervisor can't verify the applicant meets all requirements. We'll formally notify applicants of a denial. Those applicants may request a hearing to appeal the decision.

Renewal and continuing education requirements

Social workers must renew their license every year on or before their birthday. Eighteen hours of continuing education (CE) is due annually. Social workers are required to submit the appropriate fee, renewal card and an affidavit of compliance with the continuing education requirement.

Beginning with the first full CE period after January 1, 2014, social workers must complete six hours of training in suicide assessment, treatment and management. The training must be repeated once every six years.

Licensed Advanced Social Worker

Education

Applicants must have a master's or doctorate social work degree from an educational program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Applicants must provide an official transcript with degree and date posted to verify their official education. The transcripts must be received directly from applicant's program. Transcripts not in English must have an official translation.

Supervised postgraduate experience

Applicants must have a minimum of 3,200 hours of postgraduate, supervised experience. Eight hundred hours must be in direct client contact. Ninety hours must be supervision by a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) or licensed advanced social worker (LASW) who has been licensed for at least two years. Of the 90 hours:

  • Fifty must include direct supervision by a LASW or LICSW; the 50 hours may be in one-to-one supervision or group supervision.
  • Forty hours may be with an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner; the 40 hours must be in one-on-one supervision.

Distance supervision is limited to 40 supervision hours.

The verification form must be completed by supervisors. Supervisors must also make a statement about their qualifications.

If you have been licensed in good standing and without a disqualifying criminal history in another state for over five years the department does not require you to obtain proof of supervision hours. If you have been licensed for less than five years or if you have disciplinary or criminal history then you would be required to have your previous supervisor(s) sign our forms to verify your supervised experience. If you are an Advanced Social Worker Associate you must submit your supervised hours to obtain full licensure.

Experience Credit for Practice as a Substance Use Disorder Professional Licensee

If an applicant for licensure as an Advanced Social Worker has practiced as a Substance Use Disorder Professional for three years within the past ten years, the department will reduce the total number of supervised experience hours required under RCW 18.225.090 by 10%. Since an Advanced Social Worker is required to obtain 3,200 hours of experience you would now be required to obtain 2,880 hours of supervised experience for full licensure if you can claim this credit.

Continuing education

Applicants must complete 36 hours of continuing education, six of which is in professional law and ethics. Applicants must attest on the application that they've met this requirement.

Exam requirements

The American Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam is required for licensing. The advanced exam is required to be a LASW.

When applying to be a licensed advanced social worker, applicants must take the advanced generalist exam. The advanced generalist is for social workers with an MSW and at least two years of post-degree experience in non-clinical settings.

Applicants may not register for the exam until the department has approved their application, experience and education.

Once approved, the department will send applicants information on how to register for the exam. The exams are administered by appointment at test centers; there are no set test dates. Applicants must schedule a time to take the exam. For more information on the tests, including practice exams, see ASWB's website.

Verification of exam scores must be sent directly from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

State license verification

Applicants must list all states where they do or did hold credentials. This list must also include when the applicant has applied for a credential, even if a credential was not granted. The jurisdiction where the applicant is or was credentialed must complete and submit the verification form (PDF). The jurisdiction must send the completed form directly to the department.

Licensure Reciprocity Program/Probationary Licensure

The reciprocity program, for behavioral health professions, established by Washington State as of July 1, 2020 (Senate Bill 5054) uses substantial equivalency to other states' Advanced Social Worker licenses based on their scope of practice. If the state where you currently have a license, or have held a license in the past twelve months, is considered by the department to be substantially equivalent on a scope basis, you can apply for a temporary probationary license to work as a Washington state Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW) through this reciprocity program. The applicant must not have a disciplinary history or disqualifying criminal history to apply for a probationary license. The Department maintains a list of approved states, where applicants from are eligible to apply for a probationary license under the reciprocity program. For LASWs, the list can be found below:

The probationary license is a temporary license that can be issued to an individual who is licensed in another state and applies for Washington's reciprocity program. The probationary license is issued for one year and can be renewed one time for another year, and requires that the license holder practice in a behavioral health agency (no independent practice is permitted). The purpose of the probationary license is to see if there are differences in education, experience, or examination between the other state's license requirements and Washington's requirements, and allows applicants to practice while working to make up those differences. Applicants will need to meet the full licensure requirements for an Advanced Social Worker in Washington.

Please note that the reciprocity program is a new option which does not eliminate other options for out of state applicants, including those options where an applicant can easily qualify for full licensure based on substantial equivalency of licensure standards (if the state is substantially equivalent on that basis).

For some out of state applicants, an associate licensure path working toward full licensure may be the best option. Ultimately, each applicant makes the decision which pathway represents the best fit for their situation.

Additionally, anyone who is working under a probationary license can only practice as an Advanced Social Worker in a licensed or certified service provider as defined in RCW 71.24.025.

Personal data questions

Applicants must answer the personal data questions. If there is a positive answer to the professional liability claims history question, applicants must send an explanation of the nature of the case, data and summary of care given, copies of the original complaint, and the settlement or final disposition. If the case is pending, applicants must indicate status.

Additional information/documents required

If an applicant has already taken the ASWB, Advanced, verification of scores must come from the testing company or verified by another state in which the applicant was credentialed

Applicants who obtained the Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work from the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (ABECSW) or the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) or Qualified Clinical Social Work (QCSW) from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) are considered to have met the education and postgraduate experience requirements to be eligible for Washington State Licensure examination. Documentation of DCSW or QCSW must be sent directly to the department from NASW.

Process for approving/denying applications

We finish final review for approval after a credentialing specialist verifies that the application is fully complete, and complies with requirements in chapter 18.225 RCW and chapter 246-809 WAC. We complete background checks and make sure applicants have submitted required fees. Credentialing supervisors and lead workers have the authority to approve routine applications. The disciplining authority may conduct further review if the credentialing supervisor can't verify the applicant meets all requirements. We'll formally notify applicants of a denial. Those applicants may request a hearing to appeal the decision.

Renewal and continuing education requirements

Social workers must renew their license every year on or before their birthday. Thirty-six hours of continuing education (CE) with six hours in law and ethics, is due every two years. Social workers are required to submit the appropriate fee, renewal card and an affidavit of compliance with the continuing education requirement.

Beginning with the first full CE period after January 1, 2014, social workers must complete six hours of training in suicide assessment, treatment and management. The training must be repeated once every six years.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

Education

Applicants must have a master's or doctorate social work degree from an educational program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Applicants must provide an official transcript with degree and date posted to verify their official education. The transcripts must be received directly from applicant's program. Transcripts not in English must have an official translation.

Supervised postgraduate experience

Applicants must have a minimum of 4,000 hours of postgraduate, supervised experience over a minimum three-year period. One thousand hours must be in direct client contact supervised by a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW). One hundred and thirty hours must be direct supervision by a LICSW or equally licensed mental health practitioner.

Of the 130 hours:

  • Seventy hours must be with a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW).
  • Sixty hours may be with an equally qualified licensed practitioner.
  • Sixty hours of the 130 hours of direct supervision must be in one-to-one supervision. The remaining 70 hours may be one-to-one or group supervision.

Supervisors must complete the verification form. Supervisors must also make a statement about their qualifications.If you have been licensed in good standing and without a disqualifying criminal history in another state for over 5 years the department does not require you to obtain proof of supervision hours. If you have been licensed for less than 5 years or if you have disciplinary or criminal history then you would be required to have your previous supervisor(s) sign our forms to verify your supervised experience. If you are an Independent Clinical Social Worker Associate you must submit your supervised hours to obtain full licensure.

Experience Credit for Practice as a Substance Use Disorder Professional Licensee

If an applicant for licensure as an Independent Clinical Social Worker has practiced as a Substance Use Disorder Professional for three years within the past ten years, the department will reduce the total number of supervised experience hours required under RCW 18.225.090 by 10%. Since an Independent Clinical Social Worker is required to obtain 4,000 hours of experience you would now be required to obtain 3,600 hours of supervised experience for full licensure if you can claim this credit.

Continuing education

Applicants must complete 36 hours of continuing education, six of which is in professional law and ethics. Applicants must attest on the application that they've met this requirement.

Exam requirements

The American Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam is required for licensing. The clinical examination exam is required to be a LICSW. Applicants may not register for the exam until the department has approved their application, experience and education. Once approved, the department will send applicants information on how to register for the exam. The exams are administered by appointment at test centers; there are no set test dates. Applicants must schedule a time to take the exam. For more information on the tests, including practice exams, see ASWB's website. Verification of exam scores must be sent directly from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).

Licensure Reciprocity Program/Probationary Licensure

The reciprocity program, for behavioral health professions, established by Washington State as of July 1, 2020 (Senate Bill 5054) uses substantial equivalency to other states' Clinical Social Worker licenses based on their scope of practice. If the state where you currently have a license, or have held a license in the past twelve months, is considered by the department to be substantially equivalent on a scope basis, you can apply for a temporary probationary license to work as a Washington state Licensed Independent Clinical Social (LISCW) through this reciprocity program. The applicant must not have a disciplinary history or disqualifying criminal history to apply for a probationary license. The Department maintains a list of approved states, where applicants from are eligible to apply for a probationary license under the reciprocity program. For LICSWs, the list can be found below:

The probationary license is a temporary license that can be issued to an individual who is licensed in another state and applies for Washington's reciprocity program. The probationary license is issued for one year and can be renewed one time for another year, and requires that the license holder practice in a behavioral health agency (no independent practice is permitted). The purpose of the probationary license is to see if there are differences in education, experience, or examination between the other state's license requirements and Washington's requirements, and allows applicants to practice while working to make up those differences. Applicants will need to meet the full licensure requirements for a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Washington.

Please note that the reciprocity program is a new option which does not eliminate other options for out of state applicants, including those options where an applicant can easily qualify for full licensure based on substantial equivalency of licensure standards (if the state is substantially equivalent on that basis).

For some out of state applicants, an associate licensure path working toward full licensure may be the best option. Ultimately, each applicant makes the decision which pathway represents the best fit for their situation.

Additionally, anyone who is working under a probationary license can only practice as an Independent Clinical Social Worker in a licensed or certified service provider as defined in RCW 71.24.025.

State license verification

Applicants must list all states where they do or did hold credentials. This list must also include when the applicant has applied for a credential, even if a credential was not granted. The jurisdiction where the applicant is or was credentialed must complete and submit the verification form (PDF). The jurisdiction must send the completed form directly to the department.

Personal data questions

Applicants must answer the personal data questions. If there is a positive answer to the professional liability claims history question, applicants must send an explanation of the nature of the case, data and summary of care given, copies of the original complaint, and the settlement or final disposition. If the case is pending, applicants must indicate status.

Additional information/documents required

If an applicant has already taken the ASWB, Advanced, verification of scores must come from the testing company or verified by another state in which the applicant was credentialed Applicants who obtained the Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work from the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (ABECSW) or the Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) or Qualified Clinical Social Work (QCSW) from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) are considered to have met the education and postgraduate experience requirements to be eligible for Washington State licensure examination. Documentation of DCSW or QCSW must be sent directly to the department from NASW.

Process for approving/denying applications

We finish final review for approval after a credentialing specialist verifies that the application is fully complete, and complies with requirements in chapter 18.225 RCW and chapter 246-809 WAC. We complete background checks and make sure applicants have submitted required fees. Credentialing supervisors and lead workers have the authority to approve routine applications. The disciplining authority may conduct further review if the credentialing supervisor can't verify the applicant meets all requirements. We'll formally notify applicants of a denial. Those applicants may request a hearing to appeal the decision.

Renewal and continuing education requirements

Social workers must renew their license every year on or before their birthday. Thirty-six hours of continuing education (CE) with six hours in law and ethics is due every two years. Social workers are required to submit the appropriate fee, renewal card and an affidavit of compliance with the continuing education requirement. Beginning with the first full CE period after January 1, 2014, social workers must complete six hours of training in suicide assessment, treatment and management. The training must be repeated once every six years.

Exam Information

See exam information below

Applicants for licensure must pass an American Association of State Social Work Board's (ASWB) exam.

If you're applying to be a licensed advanced social worker, you must take the advanced generalist exam.

If you're applying to be a licensed independent clinical social worker, you must take the clinical exam.

You can't register for the exam until we've approved your application, experience and education.

Once approved, we'll send you information on how to register for the exam.

The exams are administered by appointment at test centers. There are no set test dates. You must schedule a time to take the exam.

More information on the tests, including practice exams, is on the ASWB's website.

Postgraduate Supervision Hours

Postgraduate supervision hours

The state statute and regulations governing social workers in the state of Washington are found in chapter 18.225 RCW and chapter 246-809 WAC. WAC 246-809-320(2)(b) identifies the requirements for supervised postgraduate experience. The department has always interpreted and continues to interpret this rule with the understanding that licensure candidates must complete a total of 4,000 hours of postgraduate supervision experience over a minimum of three years under approved supervisors as listed in WAC 246-809-334.

A licensure candidate for the licensed independent clinical social work (LICSW) must complete 4,000 hours of postgraduate supervision experience within a minimum of three years under approved supervisors as described in WAC 246-809-334. Within those 4,000 total hours of supervised postgraduate experience:

  • One thousand hours must be directly treating clients under the supervision of a LICSW.
  • One hundred thirty hours of direct supervision with an approved supervisor.
    • Seventy hours must be direct supervision with a LICSW. This supervision may be one-to-one supervision or in group supervision.
    • Sixty hours may be with a LICSW or an “equally qualified mental health practitioner.” This supervision must be one-to-one supervision.

The remaining hours may be earned under the supervision of an “equally qualified mental health practitioner” as defined in WAC 246-809-310(3).

Additional Licensing Information

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