Social workers in Louisiana provide many essential services to their communities, from counseling substance abusers to delivering mental health services to helping individuals access essential resources and social assistance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 5,000 social workers serve the Pelican State.
While not all social work positions require licensure, many do. There are significant benefits of becoming a licensed social worker, including higher starting salaries and a wider range of available specializations. To practice as a licensed social worker in Louisiana, you must fulfill requirements established by the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners (LABSWE).
In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide to obtaining your social work license in Louisiana and answer the following questions:
Social work licensure is a credential that guarantees social workers hold the required education and experience to provide social services. To earn licensure, you must meet the standards and regulations set by each state’s regulatory board.
There are a couple of significant practical considerations:
- A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in social work
- A license to practice or required social work certification
Credentials vary among careers, states, and territories. Licenses include:
- Certified Social Worker (CSW)
- Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA)
- Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker (LAPSW)
- Licensed Advanced Social Worker (LASW)
- Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW)
- Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
- Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP)
- Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
Most of these licenses require a Master’s or Doctorate, along with additional coursework or clinical internships. ( )
A survey of 2017 social work graduates by the National Social Work Workforce Study found that social workers with Master’s degrees and Doctorates made substantially more than those with no advanced degree. ( )
- People with MSW degrees made $13,000-plus more than those with only BSW degrees
- MSWs make more in large cities or urban clusters
- People with doctorates earned $20,000 to $25,000 more than people with only MSW degrees
|University and Program Name
Whether you need a license depends on the state where you plan to practice. Employers typically prefer licensed candidates.
In Louisiana, you must obtain licensure to practice social work. The state licensing board website clearly states:
If you hold a social work license from another state, you can apply to the LABSWE for endorsement of your out-of-state license. You will need to verify all your qualifications for your current license–certification from the licensing board, verification of supervision hours, etc.–but you will not have to sit for an exam (as you would if you were applying for your initial license). Louisiana does not have reciprocity agreements with other states, meaning you cannot simply work in Louisiana using your out-of-state license. You must apply for a Louisiana license.
A social work license allows you to practice social work in most states and sets you apart as a strong candidate who meets the standards and protocols laid out by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Licensure allows you to focus your career within different specialization areas. Perhaps you want to work as a school social worker. Perhaps a social work career in healthcare is better suited for you. Whatever your career aspirations are, licensure is an essential step in getting there.
An individual with a BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) or an MSW (Master of Social Work) from an accredited social work program is eligible for social work licensure. A BSW allows you to provide general social work services, while an MSW grants you the ability to gain higher licensure levels open only to master’s-level social workers.
The LABSWE grants four levels of social work licensure:
The LABSWE website allows social workers to apply for a license, request reinstatement or endorsement, or renew their license online. You can begin the application process by following the steps below for each level of licensure.
Social workers in Louisiana must complete 20 hours of continuing education (CEUs) in social work before renewing their license every year. LCSW’s must complete 10 of those hours in full-time clinical social work. Social workers must also complete three hours of social work ethics training every two years. LCSW-BACS holders must obtain three hours in their area of clinical supervision every two years.
Full renewal instructions are located on labswe.org.
Before obtaining social work licensure, you must complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. Online programs provide an excellent option for those who seek a flexible and accessible degree path. Here are a few online MSW programs in Louisiana:
A Louisiana social work program will prepare you for Louisiana licensure, but that doesn’t mean you have to pursue your degree in-state. Online study opens opportunities to study practically anywhere. Virginia Commonwealth University offers an online MSW program that accommodates self-paced study in small classes. In 2019, VCU ranked 25th among all social work programs, according to US News & World Report.
Labor Insight reports that in 2020, the median salary for a licensed social worker in Louisiana was $51,408. Professionals with between zero and two years of experience averaged a salary of $51,900, while those with three to five years of experience averaged at $53,000.
|Average salary in Louisiana
for a licensed social worker
We’ve listed the top Louisiana cities for social work positions, ranked by average salary.
|Job postings in the last 12 months
Labor Insight reports the following as top occupations for social workers in Louisiana (job postings in the last 12 months):
Who is posting social work positions in Louisiana? Here are the top employers and the number of social work jobs they’ve posted in the last 12 months:
Social workers in Louisiana benefit from two professional associations, both of which provide support, information, and networking opportunities:
Some states allow social workers to work in specific roles without a license. Louisiana isn’t one of those; if you want to practice social work here, you’ll need at least one of the state’s four social work licenses. Fortunately, the state’s licensure process is straightforward and not too challenging. Provided you meet the required qualifications, you should have little trouble procuring your Louisiana social work license.
(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)
Questions or feedback? Email email@example.com