Become a Social Worker in Hawaii

Interested in learning what is required to become a social worker in Hawaii? If so, this guide will be of use. As one of the highest paying states for healthcare social workers in 2021 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Hawaii is a great place to pursue a career in social work. Continue reading to learn what steps and guidelines you must follow to become a social worker in the Aloha State. 

This career guide for how to become a social worker in Hawaii explains educational requirements, how to get licensed, Hawaii social work organizations to join and more. Once you complete the steps to become a Hawaii social worker, you can embark on a meaningful, fulfilling career helping others.

Information below was retrieved May 2022 and is only meant to be a high-level overview. Requirements may change, always check with the state licensing board for complete and up to date information.

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

Howard University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The online Master of Social Work program from Howard University School of Social Work prepares students for advanced direct or macro practice in culturally diverse communities. Two concentrations available: Direct Practice and Community, Administration, and Policy Practice. No GRE. Complete in as few as 12 months.

University of Denver

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The University of Denver’s Online MSW Program is delivered by its top-ranked school of social work and offers two programs. Students can earn their degree in as few as 12 months for the Online Advanced-Standing MSW or 27 months for the Online MSW.

Fordham University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Fordham’s skills-based, online MSW program integrates advanced relevant social work competencies, preparing students to serve individuals and communities while moving the profession forward. This program includes advanced standing and traditional MSW options.

Simmons University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Aspiring direct practitioners can earn their MSW online from Simmons University in as few as 12 months. GRE scores are not required, and the program offers full-time, part-time, accelerated, and advanced standing tracks.

University of Southern California

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

The MSW@USC is the online Master of Social Work from top-ranked USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. USC offers virtual and in-person field education, and students focus on adults, youth or social change.

Syracuse University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Syracuse University’s online Master of Social Work program does not require GRE scores to apply and is focused on preparing social workers who embrace technology as an important part of the future of the profession. Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks are available. 

Baylor University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

Complete the Master of Social Work online program at Baylor University in as few as 12 months. Serve populations in Texas and around the world while ethically integrating faith and social work practice. No GRE required.

Case Western Reserve University

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Master of Social Work (MSW)

In as few as a year and a half, you can prepare for social work leadership by earning your Master of Social Work online from Case Western Reserve University’s school of social work.

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Common Steps to Become a Hawaii Social Worker

Before becoming a social worker in Hawaii, you must earn a bachelor’s degree in social work and a social work license depending on what career path you choose. There may also be additional requirements such as a background check and clinical supervision based on your goals. Below are the steps for how to obtain all available social work licenses in Hawaii, retrieved from the Hawaii State Professional & Vocational Licensing Division as of October 2021.

Steps to Become a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)

Applicants seeking licensure as a licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW) in Hawaii must have completed a bachelor’s degree in social work from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited college or university. An LBSW can practice non-clinical social work independently but may only practice clinical social work under Board-licensed supervision.

Complete the LBSW application

Required documentation includes official transcripts sent by the registrar of your undergraduate degree program. You may also need to request verification of examination results  provided by the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB). Both are sent to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) at this address: 

Social Workers License
DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801

Applicants who have already passed a basic or bachelor’s examination offered by the ASWB should submit additional payments in addition to the $60 application fee. Fees vary depending on when you are looking to receive your license: 

Applying for license in the first year of the triennium: $281

Applying for license in the second year of the triennium: $222

Applying for license in third year of the triennium: $163

Apply to take the basic or bachelor’s ASWB exam. 

Applicants looking to become LBSWs in Hawaii must complete a basic or bachelor’s examination offered by the ASWB. Those who have already completed the examination must have ASWB submit results directly to the DCCA along with their application. If you still need to take it, ASWB examinations in Hawaii are administered by ACT, Inc. through electronic testing. You must still submit a payment of $60 along with your application to DCCA. 

Receive your eligibility letter. 

For those who applied to take their ASWB exam in Hawaii, you should receive an eligibility letter (valid for one year) and an ASWB Candidate Handbook, which includes information on registration and a form to complete in order to register. 

Register for the exam.

You can send in a registration form taken from your ASWB Candidate Handbook, or you can go to the ASWB website and click on “Register for the ASWB Exam” and complete the form there. 

Receive your LBSW license. 

Upon completion of the above steps and Board approval you will receive your LBSW license.

Steps to Become a Licensed Social Worker (LSW)

Those looking to become an LSW must have received a Master of Social Work (MSW) or Doctor of Social Work (DSW) degree from a CSWE-accredited institution. Becoming an LSW allows you to practice more advanced social work and in a non-clinical environment.

Complete the LSW application. 

Documentation to provide includes official transcripts from your master’s or doctoral degree program, social security number and ASWB examination results (if applicable). Transcripts should be sent directly from your school’s registrar, and verification of examination results must be received from the ASWB. Both are sent to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) at this address: 

Social Workers License
DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801

Applicants who have already passed an intermediate, advanced or clinical national examination offered by the ASWB should submit additional payments in addition to the $60 application fee. Fees vary depending on when you are looking to receive your license: 

Applying for license in the first year of the triennium: $374

Applying for license in the second year of the triennium: $300

Applying for license in third year of the triennium: $226

Apply to take the intermediate, advanced or clinical ASWB exam. 

Applicants looking to become LSWs in Hawaii must complete an intermediate, advanced or clinical examination offered by the ASWB. Those who have already completed the examination must have ASWB submit results directly to the DCCA along with their application. If you still need to take it, ASWB examinations in Hawaii are administered by ACT, Inc. through electronic testing. You must still submit a payment of $60 along with your application to DCCA. 

Receive your eligibility letter. 

For those who applied to take their ASWB exam in Hawaii, you should receive an eligibility letter (valid for one year) and an ASWB Candidate Handbook, which includes information on registration and a form to complete in order to register. 

Register for the exam.

You can send in a registration form taken from your ASWB Candidate Handbook, or you can go to the ASWB website and click on “Register for the ASWB Exam” and complete the form there. The registration fee is $175, and personal checks are not accepted. The cost of the master’s exam is $230. The advanced generalist or clinical exam is $260.

Receive your LSW license. 

Upon completion of the above steps and Board approval you will receive your LSW license. 

Steps to Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Those looking to become an LCSW must have received an accredited MSW or DSW. Becoming an LCSW allows you to provide clinical services independently but you must remain under supervision for non-clinical cases. 

Complete the LCSW application

Documentation to provide includes official transcripts from your master’s or doctoral degree program, social security number and ASWB examination results (if applicable). Transcripts should be sent directly from your school’s Registrar, and verification of examination results must be received from the ASWB. Both are sent to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) at this address: 

Social Workers License
DCCA, PVL Licensing Branch
P.O. Box 3469
Honolulu, HI 96801

Applicants who have already passed a clinical national examination offered by the ASWB should submit additional payments in addition to the $60 application fee. Fees vary depending on when you are looking to receive your license: 

Applying for license in the first year of the triennium: $478

Applying for license in the second year of the triennium: $388

Applying for license in third year of the triennium: $298

Additionally, application for an LCSW also requires at least 3,000 hours of clinical social work experience. These hours should include at least 2,000 hours of assessment, clinical diagnosis and psychotherapy; no more than 900 hours of client-centered advocacy, consultation and evaluation; and at least 100 hours of face- to-face supervision. Verification of these hours (or sufficient credentials) will be submitted through an additional form (PDF, 101 KB)

Apply to take the clinical ASWB exam. 

Applicants looking to become LCSWs in Hawaii must complete a clinical examination offered by the ASWB. Those who have already completed the examination must have ASWB submit results directly to the DCCA along with their application. If you still need to take it, examinations in Hawaii are administered by ACT, Inc. through electronic testing. You must still submit a payment of $60 along with your application to DCCA. 

Receive your eligibility letter. 

For those who applied to take their ASWB exam in Hawaii, you should receive an eligibility letter (valid for two years) and an ASWB Candidate Handbook, which includes information on registration and a form to complete in order to register. 

Register for the exam.

You can send in a registration form taken from your ASWB Candidate Handbook, or you can go to the ASWB website and click on “Register for the ASWB Exam” and complete the form there. The registration fee is $175, and personal checks are not accepted. The advanced generalist or clinical exam is $260.

Receive your LCSW license. 

Upon completion of the above steps and Board approval you will receive your LCSW license. 

Social Work Degree Programs in Hawaii

There are several degree programs in social work available in Hawaii depending on your goals. For those early in their career or looking to become a LBSW, a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) is a good way to get started. Completing this degree may also help you earn an advanced standing position in your graduate studies, accelerating your timeline to complete the graduate degree.

The following universities in Hawaii offer CSWE-accredited bachelor’s degree programs in social work:

For students ready for graduate studies, a handful of schools throughout Hawaii offer an accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Depending on your track option of full time, part time or advanced standing, you can finish an MSW in as little as a year. Based on your undergraduate social work degree, you may need to take some prerequisite courses. Foundation classwork involves human behavior, research and clinical practice.  

Online Master of Social Work (MSW) Programs

If you prefer to take your MSW courses online, there are a few options in Hawaii. This flexible educational path is ideal for students with a busy schedule who need to balance work, home life and school. The following online MSW programs offer classes 100% online and traditional (full time and part time) and advanced standing MSW programs to fit your needs.

Social Work Salaries in Hawaii

Hawaii Social Work CareersNumber of Social Workers in HawaiiAverage Social Work Salary
Child, Family and School Social Workers
1,330
$61,790
Healthcare Social Workers
690
$73,960
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers
730
$64,310
Social Workers, All Other
200
$85,760

Information on the above social work salaries in Hawaii was retrieved from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Hawaii in May 2022.

Hawaii Social Work Scholarships 

For those just starting on their path to social work, there are state-wide scholarships and programs in place to assist you. The following are examples of a few financing options if you are looking to pursue a social work degree in Hawaii:

Hawaii 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 Hawaii and beyond.

  • National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Hawaii Chapter The Hawaii Chapter is dedicated to promoting the quality and effectiveness of social work practice in a state rich with diversity. Provides ideas, information and resources for social workers in the state.
  • Hawaii Sociological Association The association aims to advance scholarly research pertaining to all aspects of social life, to create and maintain cooperative relationships among scholars, especially those who are in Hawaii.
  • Hawai‘i Health and Harm Reduction Center The Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center serves Hawai’i communities by reducing the harm and fighting the stigma of homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse and poverty in the community.

FAQs

Does Hawaii offer social work license reciprocity?

Hawaii doesn’t have formal license reciprocity with other states, though the Board does accept out-of-state applications. To apply for licensure, you’ll need to prove your equivalent license has been active for three years and is in good standing. You’ll need to provide proof of ASWB exam scores and a criminal background check which you can submit here.

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

Social workers must renew their license every three years. Renewal requires completing 45 hours of continuing education per year. The State’s Professional & Vocational Licensing Division renewal fee ranges depending on your license. Find continuing education events at the NASW Hawaii Chapter.

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

Search for your social work license at the Hawai’i Professional & Vocational Licensing Search site. The site’s options will allow you to search your name and find your license number, license status and details surrounding your professional information.

Last updated May 2022.