Become a Social Worker in Colorado

Start your career with 300 days of sun, hundreds of hikeable paths and peaks and a statewide network of social workers more than 13,000 strong, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report on State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates – Colorado.  In fact, northwest Colorado is a top-paying nonmetropolitan area for community and social service occupations, which may include social workers. Bring your unique set of skills in counseling, therapy and education to connect clients with public or private resources across colorful Colorado.

Sponsored Online MSW Program

Earn your Master of Social Work online from the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work.

The University of Denver’s top-ranked school of social work1 offers two online MSW tracks: traditional and advanced standing. Students with a BSW can earn an MSW in as few as 18 months; students without a BSW can earn an MSW in as few as 27 months. GRE scores are not required.Button Text: Learn more about the Online Master of Social Work from University of Denver.

1U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 – Best Schools for Social Work

Steps to Become a Colorado Social Worker

Before becoming a social worker in Colorado, you must obtain a master’s level education in social work and a social work license depending on what career path you choose. Colorado offers two types of licensure as a social worker: licensed social worker (LSW) and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). There may also be additional requirements such as a background check and clinical supervision based on your goals. 

Below are some common steps on how to obtain your social work license in Colorado, which were retrieved from the Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners as of October 2020.

1. Complete a CSWE-accredited MSW degree.

In order to pursue licensure as a social worker in Colorado, you must have completed your Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from a CSWE-accredited university.

2. Complete postgraduate supervised experience.

For the LCSW license, you are required to submit proof of 3,360 hours of social work experience over two to five years.

3. Complete a health care professionals profile.

This profile is added to a database to help consumers find a provider that best meets their needs. All health care professionals in Colorado are required to have a profile in this database.

4. Pass the jurisprudence examination.

The Colorado jurisprudence exam is only required for LSW and LCSW applicants. The exam focuses on state laws and ethical standards that apply to social work practice in Colorado and is administered online.

5. Apply for the ASWB exam.

To apply for LCSW in Colorado, you must apply for and pass the clinical ASWB exam. However, if you are applying for the LSW exam, you may be able to apply for and pass either the intermediate, advanced generalist or clinical social work exam.

6. Submit required materials and application.

Once you have completed all the required materials and passing scores for examinations, you may submit an application to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).

Information on the above steps to become a social worker in Colorado was retrieved from the Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners as of October 2020.

Degree Pathways to Become a Social Worker in CO

Both types of licensure for social workers in Colorado require a master’s degree in social work. While a doctoral degree in social work is also accepted, an MSW is the minimum education requirement. Learn more about MSW programs in Colorado.

  • Online Master’s in Social Work (MSW): There aren’t a lot of universities in Colorado that offer online MSW program options, but there are many programs across the country that are accredited by the CSWE and accept students from Colorado.
  • Advanced Standing MSW Program: If you’ve completed a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program and need to earn your MSW for LSW or LCSW licensure in Colorado, an advanced standing MSW program may be completed in less time than a traditional MSW program. Advanced standing programs build on your existing coursework from the BSW degree.
  • Online Clinical Social Work (LCSW) Program: Completing a clinical MSW program is not explicitly required in Colorado for licensure, but it may help prepare you for clinical experience and the clinical exam to become a LCSW.
  • Online MSW with No GRE: Some universities offer admissions without requiring the GRE but may still have GPA and other requirements.
  • Doctorate of Social Work (DSW): While not required as a minimum requirement in Colorado, earning your DSW may help prepare you for more advanced social work careers.

Social Work Licenses in Colorado 

In addition to the LSW and LCSW licenses, Colorado also offers a provisional licensed social worker (SWP) for those working in a child care residential facility. All information on LSW, LCSW and SWP below was retrieved from the Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW) in Colorado 

Becoming an LSW means that you’ll be able to practice clinical social work under supervision while gaining experience for your LCSW license. 

  • Education Requirement: Master’s or Doctorate in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program or equivalent
  • Field Requirement: None
  • Exams: Jurisprudence Exam and ASWB Master’s or Clinical Exam
  • Fees: N/A 
  • License Renewal: All social work licenses expire on August 31 of odd numbered years

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Colorado

After earning LSW status, you’ll be able to work toward earning an LCSW license.

  • Education Requirement: Master’s or Doctorate in Social Work from a CSWE-accredited program or equivalent
  • Field Requirement: 3,360 hours of supervised experience in two to five years
  • Exams: Jurisprudence Exam and ASWB Clinical Exam
  • Fees: N/A 
  • License Renewal: All social work licenses expire on August 31 of odd numbered years

Learn more about how to become a LCSW.

Provisional Social Worker (SWP) in Colorado

Becoming an SWP means you’ll get to become a social worker under supervision in a child care facility. If you’re interested in obtaining a provisional license as an SWP, you must earn a master’s degree in your field, and you may be eligible for a provisional license if your employer is a state-approved agency.

  • Education Requirement: Master of Social Work Degree
  • Field Requirements: None
  • Exams: Verification of Practice Form
  • Fees: N/A 
  • License Renewal: N/A

 Social Work Salaries for Colorado

Social Work Salaries for Colorado
Colorado Social Work Careers Number of Social Workers in Colorado Annual Mean Social Work Salary
Child, family and school Social Workers 7,040 $53,240
Health care social workers 3,060 $55,980
Mental health and substance abuse social workers 1,630 $47,500
Social workers, all other 1,440 $55,690
Social work teachers, postsecondary 250 $73,100

Information on the above social work salaries in Colorado was retrieved from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Colorado in October 2020.

Colorado Social Work Scholarships 

For those just starting on their path to social work, there are statewide scholarships and programs in place to assist you. While each state has different offerings, below are some grants and loans that may help you become an LSW, LCSW or SWP in the state of Colorado.

Colorado Social Worker Organizations

There are countless local and national associations and organizations with goals to promote, develop and protect the practice of social work and social workers. Better social work means better solutions for issues such as welfare, child welfare, elderly welfare, health care reform and other issues affecting the disadvantaged populations in Colorado and beyond.

  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Colorado Chapter: The Colorado chapter of NASW provides sources for social work practice, continuing education and ethical and legal resources for social workers in the state.
  • Colorado Society for Clinical Social Work: The purpose of the Colorado Society for Clinical Social Work is to provide a collegial association that advances the profession by providing opportunities for education, setting practice standards, promoting public recognition of the profession and advocating for protection of clinical social workers and their clientele.
  • Colorado School Social Work Association: The Colorado School Social Work Association exists to promote the visibility and viability of the School Social Work profession and promote professional excellence among school social workers in an effort to enhance the well-being of students, families and community within the educational system.

FAQs

Does Colorado have social work reciprocity?

No, there is no social work license reciprocity in Colorado, but the state does offer licensure by endorsement for applicants who hold an equivalent license from another state. This is available for both LSW and LCSW licenses.

What are the social work continuing education (CE) requirements in Colorado?

In order to renew a social work license in Colorado, socials workers must meet one of three methods to demonstrate continuing professional competency (CPC): Complete the Professional Practice Rubric and Self-Assessment, establish learning goals and create a learning plan to accomplish those goals, or accrue 40 professional development hours in line with your learning path.

Learn more about continuing education for social workers.

What is the best way to look up my social work license in Colorado?

To search for social work licenses in Colorado, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) offers a verification search for professional or business licenses.

Information on this page was last retrieved in October 2020.