1. Earn a CSWE-accredited Master of Social Work.
To become a licensed social worker in California, you must have earned a Master of Social Work (MSW) from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited school of social work; this includes associate clinical social worker (ACSW) and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) requirements.
2. Complete additional required coursework.
In addition to an MSW, future social workers in California must ensure that they also have proof of completion for the following courses:
- Child Abuse Assessment and Reporting
- Human Sexuality
- Alcoholism and Chemical Substance Abuse and Dependency
- Aging, Long Term Care and Elder/Dependent Adult Abuse
- Spousal/Partner Abuse Assessment, Detection and Intervention
- Suicide Risk Assessment and Intervention
3. Complete post-graduate field hours.
Before you begin accruing post-graduate hours, you must register as an ACSW. While an MSW program will require field work experience to graduate, California requires 3,000 total supervised social work hours over a minimum of 104 weeks in order to become licensed as a clinical social worker. A minimum 2,000 hours overall must be in clinical experience, including a minimum of 750 hours performing in-person group or individual psychotherapy. A maximum 1,000 hours must be in non-clinical experience, in settings like client-centered advocacy, consultation, evaluation, research and workshops.
4. Apply for licensure.
You’ll need to pass a criminal background check, take and pass the California Law & Ethics exam, and take and pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Clinical exam. There are also various fees to pay and applications to fill out throughout the licensure process.
If you want, you can pursue additional certifications and continued education once you’ve become a California social worker.
Learn more on how to become a social worker.