Social workers can help children, students, older adults, those experiencing alcohol and drug addiction and many more. Clinical social workers provide much needed diagnoses and treatments for mental illnesses. 

Texas is a great state to practice social work because it provides a variety of settings, from inner-city schools to rural health care practices. It offers prospective social workers a wide array of career paths. If a future in social work interests you, read on to learn more about some common ways on how to become a licensed social worker in Texas.

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Steps to Become a Texas Social Worker

Texas offers four levels of licenses: licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW), licensed master social worker (LMSW), LMSW – advanced practice (LMSW-AP) and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).  In order to become a social worker in the state of Texas, according to the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners, you’ll need to generally complete the following steps:

If you are planning to apply for a bachelor-level social work license, a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is required. However, for Master of Social Work (MSW) level licenses, a bachelor degree that will admit you to a MSW program will be sufficient. Check with your ideal MSW program’s requirements. 

2. Complete a CSWE-accredited MSW program.

For two of the three social work licenses in Texas, a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE accredited program is required.

3. Complete field experience requirements.

For either your BSW or MSW program, you will likely complete field experience hours as a part of your required curriculum. In addition, licensure as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) or licensed master social worker – advanced practice (LMSW-AP) in Texas requires 3,000 hours of clinical experience between two and four years with 100 hours of supervision.  

4. Take the Texas Jurisprudence Exam

You must pass the Texas Social Work Jurisprudence exam regarding the laws, regulations and ethical considerations for the profession. This is a no-fail exam, which means you must answer each question correctly before you can move on to the next. There is no time limit, but it takes about two hours to complete. It costs $39 as of 2020. Once you pass this exam, you can move forward with the next step of applying for the state license exam. 

5. Apply for the Social Worker License Exam

You must apply with the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners to take the licensing exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Permission to test is determined by the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners post-application. The type of ASWB examination you will be required to pass is determined by the level of license you apply and qualify for.

Learn more on how to become a social worker.

Degree Pathways to Become a Social Worker in TX

Three of the four social work licenses in Texas require an accredited Master of Social Work (MSW) program. Only one, the LBSW, requires a minimum Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). There are multiple MSW and social work education options to pursue:

  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW): Earning your BSW is an education requirement to pursue your LBSW license in Texas to work in non-clinical positions.
  • Online Master’s in Social Work (MSW): There are several online MSW programs available from Texas universities and even more across the country that are accredited by the CSWE.
  • Advanced Standing MSW Program: If you’ve earned your BSW already, you may be eligible to pursue an advanced standing MSW program to pursue licensure as an LMSW or LCSW.
  • Online Clinical Social Work (LCSW) Program: Texas does not require LCSW applicants to complete an MSW degree with a clinical focus, but online clinical social work programs may help prepare you for the clinical examination needed for this licensure and to pursue clinical social work experience.
  • Online MSW with No GRE: A few colleges offer admissions without requiring the successful completion of a GRE but may still have GPA and other requirements.
  • Doctorate of Social Work (DSW): In some cases a DSW degree may be accepted by the Texas Board of Social Work Examiners for the LCSW license.

Learn more about MSW programs in Texas.

Social Work Licenses in Texas

In Texas, there are three social worker licenses: a bachelor’s degree level, a master’s degree level and a clinician. Texas also offers an advanced practitioner status for LMSW (LMSW-AP).  The below information was obtained from the Texas Administrative Code on Social Worker Licensure Rules and Regulations.

Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)

An LBSW can work in non-clinical positions. 

  • Education: Complete a BSW program accredited by CSWE.
  • Jurisprudence Exam: Pass the Texas Jurisprudence exam.
  • License Exam: ASWB Bachelor Examination
  • Fees: Application Fee – $91.00
  • Renewal: 30 hours of continuing education with six hours in ethics and social work values for every two-year renewal. 

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

An LMSW can work in higher-level, non-clinical positions. 

  • Education: Complete an MSW program accredited by CSWE.
  • Jurisprudence Exam: Pass the Texas Jurisprudence exam.
  • License Exam: ASWB Masters Examination
  • Fees: Application Fee – $91.00 or $20.00 for a license upgrade from LBSW
  • Renewal: 30 hours of continuing education with six hours in ethics and social work values for every two-year renewal. 

Learn more about how to become an LMSW

Licensed Master Social Worker – Advanced Practice (LMSW-AP)

An LMSW-AP is the highest level non-clinical social worker and is available to current LMSWs in Texas. 

  • Education: Complete an MSW program accredited by CSWE.
  • Field Requirements: Complete 3,000 hours of supervised work and 100 hours of supervision.
  • Jurisprudence Exam: Provide proof of completing the Texas jurisprudence exam.
  • License Exam: ASWB Advanced Generalist Examination
  • Fees: Application Fee – $110.00 or $20.00 for a license upgrade from LMSW
  • Renewal: 30 hours of continuing education with six hours in ethics and social work values for every two-year renewal.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

The highest social worker credential you can obtain in Texas is becoming an LCSW. 

  • Education: Complete an MSW program accredited by CSWE.
  • Field Requirement: Complete at least 3,000 hours of experience in a clinical setting under a Board-approved LCSW within 40 months. 
  • Jurisprudence Exam: Pass the Texas Jurisprudence exam.
  • License Exam: ASWB Clinical Examination
  • Fees: Application Fee – $110.00 or $20.00 for a license upgrade from LMSW or LMSW-AP
  • Renewal: 30 hours of continuing education with six hours in ethics and social work values for every two-year renewal. 

Learn more about how to become an LCSW.

Social Work Salaries for Texas

The average social worker salary in Texas depends on your role and work environment.

Social Work Salaries for Texas
Social Work Careers Number of Social Workers in Texas Annual Mean Salary
Child, family and school Social Workers 21,120 $49,060
Health care social workers 10,250 $58,430
Mental health and substance abuse social workers 6,010 $43,170
Social workers, all other 2,530 $60,240
Social work teachers, postsecondary 570 $73,440

Information on the above social work salaries in Texas was retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics – State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Texas as of July 2020.

Learn more about different social work salaries.

Texas Social Work Scholarships

Let’s say you’ve decided on becoming a social worker in Texas and begin applying to schools, you may start considering how you’ll pay for your social work degree. There are hundreds of scholarships available for social work students. In Texas, a notable scholarship opportunity is the Ima Hogg Scholarship, which provides $5,000 to a student in a Texas-based, accredited graduate social work program. Applicants must be recommended by a dean or director of the social work program. 

Be sure to check with your preferred university for more scholarship opportunities, such as:

Texas Social Work Organizations

There are a few organizations dedicated to social workers in Texas that can provide education and career guidance: 

FAQs 

Does Texas have social work reciprocity?

Texas does not issue licenses by reciprocity. If you hold a social work license in another state, you must meet the requirements in Texas and apply for a license. In certain circumstances, though, you can ask the Board to accept completion of certain minimum requirements for a license in Texas that you obtained while holding a license in another jurisdiction through the process of endorsement. Also, if your license was based on an ASWB exam, you might be eligible for an examination waiver

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

Social work license holders in Texas must complete 30 hours of social work continuing education every 24 months. These hours have to include at least six hours of professional ethics and social work values. CE can include seminars, workshops, conferences, classes and independent study programs accredited through a college, university, organization or agency authorized to provide CE. 

Learn more about continuing education for social workers.

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

As of July 2020, social work license verification in Texas is available online via the Online Licensing Services.

Information on this page was last retrieved in August 2020.