Become a Social Worker in Washington

Table of Contents

Disclaimer: Due to the rapidly changing nature of social work regulations, for the most up-to-date information on becoming a social worker in Washington, contact the Washington Social Work Licensing Board.

Washington law recognizes four classes of social workers: Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW), Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), Licensed Social Work Associate & Advanced (LSWAA) and Licensed Social Work Associate & Independent Clinical (LSWAIC). The requirements are as follows:

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs
School Program Description
University of Denver
  • Research-driven faculty dedicated to making an impact on social problems
  • Prepares you to apply social work skills across practice settings
Fordham University
  • Four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy
Simmons University
  • Four Clinical Specializations: Child and Family, Trauma and Interpersonal Violence, Mental Health and Addictions, and Health and Aging
  • Three program tracks: Traditional, Accelerated, and Extended
Case Western Reserve University
  • From Case Western Reserve University’s top-10 ranked School of social work
  • Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks available
University of Southern California (USC)
  • Offered by USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, a top-ranked graduate School by U.S. News and World Report
  • Features virtual and in-person field education in or near student’s own communities
Baylor University
  • Ethically integrates faith and social work practice
  • Specialize in clinical practice or community practice

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

Washington LASW (Licensed Advanced Social Worker)

Washington LASW Education Requirement: Graduation with a master’s or doctorate of social work (DSW) program accredited by the CSWE

Washington LASW Exam: Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Advanced Generalist Level Examination

Field Requirement: 3,200 hours of experience are required with 90 hours of supervision by a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) or LASW, who has been licensed or certified for at least two years. Of those 90 hours, 50 hours must include direct supervision by a LICSW or a LASW; the other 40 hours may be with an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner; 40 hours must be one-to-one supervision and 50 hours may be one-to-one supervision or group supervision. Distance supervision is limited to 40 supervision hours; 800 hours must be in direct client contact.

Fee: $116 application fee (includes the fee to access the University of WAshington (UW) HEAL-WA website), $100 initial license, $260 ASWB examination fee

Additional Information: Verification scores for previously taken ASWB, Advanced must come from the testing company or verified by the state in which credentials were received.

Those with 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) have met the required educational and postgraduate experience. Documentation of DCSW or QCSW should be sent directly from NASW to the department.

Endorsement: Available upon board approval

License Renewal: Social workers must: renew their license every year on or before their birthday; complete 36 hours of continuing education (CE), including six hours in law and ethics, every two years; complete six hours of training in suicide assessment, management, and treatment (must be repeated every six years); pay $116 and submit renewal card and affidavit of compliance with the CE requirement.

Return to top

Washington LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker)

Washington LICSW Education Requirement: Graduation with a master’s or doctorate of social work (DSW) program accredited by the CSWE

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

Field Requirement: 4,000 hours of experience of which 1,000 hours must be direct client contact over a three-year period supervised by an LICSW, with supervision of at least 130 hours by a licensed mental health practitioner. Of the total supervision, 70 hours must be with an LICSW; the other 60 hours may be with an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner. 60 hours must be one-to-one supervision and 70 hours may be one-to-one supervision or group supervision. Distance supervision is limited to 60 supervision hours.

Fee: $116 application fee (includes the fee to access the University of WAshington (UW) HEAL-WA website), $100 initial license, $260 ASWB examination fee

Additional Information: Verification scores for previously taken ASWB, Advanced must come from the testing company or verified by the state in which credentials were received.

Those with 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) have met the required educational and postgraduate experience. Documentation of DCSW or QCSW should be sent directly from NASW to the department.

Endorsement: Available upon board approval

License Renewal: Social workers must: renew their license every year on or before their birthday; complete 36 hours of continuing education (CE), including six hours in law and ethics, every two years; complete six hours of training in suicide assessment, management, and treatment (must be repeated every six years); pay $116 and submit renewal card and affidavit of compliance with the CE requirement.

Return to top

Washington LSWAA (Licensed Social Work Associate Advanced)

Washington LSWAA Education Requirement: A master’s or doctorate degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program Washington LSWAA Exam: Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Advanced Generalist Level Examination

Field Requirement: None

Fee: $35 application fee, $260 ASWB examination fee

Additional Information: Verification scores for previously taken ASWB, Advanced must come from the testing company or verified by the state in which credentials were received.

Those with 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) have met the required educational and postgraduate experience. Documentation of DCSW or QCSW should be sent directly from NASW to the department.

Endorsement: Available upon board approval

License Renewal: Social workers must: renew their license every year on or before their birthday; complete 36 hours of continuing education (CE), including six hours in law and ethics, every two years; complete six hours of training in suicide assessment, management, and treatment (must be repeated every six years); pay $41 and submit renewal card and affidavit of compliance with the CE requirement.

Return to top

Washington LSWAIC (Licensed Social Work Associate Independent Clinical)

Washington LSWAIC Education Requirement: Graduation with a master’s or doctorate of social work (DSW) program accredited by the CSWE

Washington LSWAIC Exam: Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Clinical Level Examination

Field Requirement: None

Fee: $51 application fee (includes the fee to access the University of Washington (UW) HEAL-WA website), $260 ASWB examination fee

Additional Information: Verification scores for previously taken ASWB, Advanced must come from the testing company or verified by the state in which credentials were received.

Those with 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) have met the required educational and postgraduate experience. Documentation of DCSW or QCSW should be sent directly from NASW to the department.

Endorsement: Available upon board approval

License Renewal: Social workers must: renew their license every year on or before their birthday; complete 36 hours of continuing education (CE), including six hours in law and ethics, every two years; complete six hours of training in suicide assessment, management, and treatment (must be repeated every six years); pay $41 and submit renewal card and affidavit of compliance with the CE requirement.

Return to top

In order to become a licensed social work practitioner in Washington, you will need to complete prerequisite coursework, examination requirements, and, in some cases, supervised work requirements. Also, certain levels of social work in Washington can only be reached after completing an on-campus or online master of social work program. We are committed to keeping updated information on Washington social work licensure policies available to you.

Disclaimer: There may be additional methods of certification that have not been covered here. Please contact your state social work licensing department for more information.

Washington Social Worker Salary

Washington Social Work Salary
Washington Social Work Career Average Social Work Salary
Child, Family and School Social Workers $50,540
Healthcare Social Workers $61,050
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $54,980
All Other Social Workers $68,180
Salary Increase from BSW to MSW +9000

Disclaimer: Social Worker Salary information is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Information about social worker salaries in Washington is subject to change. Please confirm salary information with your state before applying for licensure or renewal. Last updated: 8/22/2018.

Washington Social Work Scholarships

The University of Washington Tuition Exemption Program

Type: Scholarship

Amount: Varies

Description: The University of Washington Tuition Exemption Program, established under the authority of RCW 28B.15.558, enables a limited number of qualifying UW employees, state of Washington employees, and members of the Washington National Guard who have been admitted to the UW to have tuition waived for up to six credits when enrollment is on a space-available basis. Visit their website more information about this benefit. Students in the per-credit fee-based Extended Degree Program are not eligible to use this benefit for any coursework at the UW.

Additional scholarship information is available on the national page of social work scholarships.

Return to top

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs
School Program Description
University of Denver
  • Research-driven faculty dedicated to making an impact on social problems
  • Prepares you to apply social work skills across practice settings
Fordham University
  • Four areas of focus: Individuals and Families, Organizations and Community, Evaluation, and Policy Practice and Advocacy
Simmons University
  • Four Clinical Specializations: Child and Family, Trauma and Interpersonal Violence, Mental Health and Addictions, and Health and Aging
  • Three program tracks: Traditional, Accelerated, and Extended
Case Western Reserve University
  • From Case Western Reserve University’s top-10 ranked School of social work
  • Traditional and Advanced Standing tracks available
University of Southern California (USC)
  • Offered by USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, a top-ranked graduate School by U.S. News and World Report
  • Features virtual and in-person field education in or near student’s own communities
Baylor University
  • Ethically integrates faith and social work practice
  • Specialize in clinical practice or community practice

Sponsored Online Social Work Programs

Licensure information including requirements, renewals, and fees were retrieved as of August 2018. Information may have changed since, check with the state’s board of licensing for more information.