The Connecticut State Department of Public Health (DPH) issues these social work credentials:
Master Social Worker (MSW) – This credential allows you to apply advanced social work practices to improve the mental and behavioral well-being of clients including individuals, families, and groups. You can offer mental health diagnoses in consultation with other health and mental health professionals. Although you cannot engage in independent practice as an MSW, you can also practice clinical social work under supervision.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – This license allows you to engage in the same scope of practice as an MSW, and to additionally practice independently and provide clinical social work services. These can include:
- Mental health consultation
- Behavior modification
Steps Towards Social Work Licensure in Connecticut
Qualifying for any social work credential from the Department of Public Health (DPH) requires:
- A master’s degree in Social Work from a school that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), or a doctoral degree from an approved program; have your school send your official transcripts to the DPH
- Passing an exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
- Creating an online account so you can submit your application, along with a $315 application fee; you can check the progress of your application by selecting “License Status” when you’re logged in
Master Social Worker (MSW)
- Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Create an online account with DPH and submit an MSW application. Once the DPH approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Masters exam. Once you pass it the the DPH will issue your MSW by mail.
Note – You can apply for a temporary permit if you’ve met the education requirement and are waiting to take the ASWB exam. This costs $50, is non-renewable, and is valid for 120 days or until you pass the exam.
- As an MSW you’re eligible to start accruing qualifying hours to fulfill the LCSW experience and supervision requirements. Make sure your supervisor is among the following approved licensed professionals, and completes a monthly review of your performance:
- Marital and family therapist
- Professional counselor
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Earn at least a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Complete the experience and supervision requirements. These are 3,000 hours of post-master’s social work experience as an MSW, verified with this form, including 100 hours of supervised work experience, verified with this form. Have both forms sent directly to the DPH.
- Create an online account with DPH and submit an LCSW application. Once the DPH approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Clinical exam. Once you pass it the the DPH will issue your LCSW by mail.
Learn about Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Renewing Your License
The MSW and LCSW credentials expire every year in your birth month. You can renew them online through your DPH account, and the renewal fee is $195. To be eligible for renewal you must complete 15 hours of continuing education every year, except during your first renewal.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in Connecticut?
Considering it takes approximately four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, and at least two more years on top of that to earn a master’s degree in Social Work, you can fulfill the education requirements for both the MSW credential and LCSW license in about six years. It will take a further 3,000 hours –about a year-and-a-half– to fulfill the work experience and supervision requirements for the LCSW license; about 7.5 years from start-to-finish for high school graduates.
Social Work Degrees in Connecticut
Meeting the minimum education requirements for both the MSW credential and LCSW license requires earning an MSW degree from a program that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Right now in Connecticut there are 15 programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels that are CSWE-accredited, including two that are offered online.
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)
While a BSW from an CSWE-accredited programs comes in below the minimum standards for a credential in Connecticut, these programs are the natural first step into the didactics of this field and the transition into an MSW program can be seamless. There are currently nine such programs in the state, which each total at least 120 semester credits.
Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)
A CSWE-accredited MSW degree program opens up the doors to both an MSW credential and an LCSW license. Connecticut is home to six such programs, including one that is offered online. These total at least 30 semester credits, and due to their CSWE accreditation include a minimum of 900 hours of field education. This segment is particularly important for seeing a real-world implementation of social work and gaining professional links with different agencies.
Doctoral Degree in Social Work
While the CSWE doesn’t accredit programs at the doctoral level, the DPH does allow you to meet the education requirement for becoming an LCSW with an approved doctoral degree in this field. These are offered as PhDs in Social Work and Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programs. Both types of degrees offer the highest level of education possible, and include advanced study of niche aspects in social work.
Licensure by endorsement is available for MSWs and LCSWs who hold an equivalent license in another state that had similar requirements as Connecticut’s. Follow the step-by-state process for your credential detailed above, and arrange for the following to be sent to the DPH:
- ASWB exam scores from the ASWB
- Official verification of your out-of-state license from your state’s board of social work, using this form
- For LCSWs – You can be exempt from the work experience and supervision requirements if you can demonstrate you’ve worked as an LCSW for at least three years
Social Work Salaries in Connecticut
Connecticut offers some of the highest average social work salaries of all states in the nation, according to figures reported in 2020 by the US Department of Labor. Connecticut’s salaries for healthcare social workers and child, family, and school social workers are among the top-three in the nation. In general the average salaries for the following Connecticut career groupings are higher than average:
- Social and Community Service Manager – $73,090
- Healthcare Social Worker – $72,980
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $64,590
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $68,360
- Social Work Teachers, Post-secondary – $75,720
- Social Worker, All Other – $66,060
Social Work Resources in Connecticut
Connecticut Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers – This chapter is the state representative of the largest social work association in the nation. Locally, this chapter has specific committees devoted to addressing issues like addictions, clinical social work, aging, ethics, school social work, diversity, Latino/as, and macro social work.
Greater Hartford Alliance of Black Social Workers – This nonprofit is a local affiliate of its national organization, which traces its roots back to 1968. It strives to address problems that other social work organizations miss, and gives high priority to remedying these gaps especially in oppressed black communities.
Career Opportunities in Connecticut
Connecticut Department of Children and Families – This state-level department plays a vital role in ensuring families and especially children succeed in having a healthy upbringing. It runs its own programs as well as partnering with local agencies to address issues that are specific to children, teens, and families.
Hartford HealthCare – As a proud organization whose signature facility is the Hartford Hospital, the local community has been relying on the expertise and knowledge housed in a facility whose founding dates back to 1854. This 867-bed hospital includes a ward known as The Institute of Living, a mental health facility with an international reputation and 114 beds for admitted patients.
Connecticut Department of Social Services – This state-level agency connects residents throughout Connecticut with critical social service resources, including those related to autism, elderly protective services, social work services, and refugee assistant services. It has field offices in 12 cities throughout the state.
Hartford Public Schools – As the largest school district in the state, HPS is proud of its long heritage of providing excellence in education; it’s home of the second-oldest public high school in the nation with roots stretching back to the 17th century. Today it’s responsible for the education of 18,086 students from 39 different schools staffed by 3,569 employees including 1,591 teachers.
Connecticut Department of Developmental Services – With a history of serving those with intellectual disabilities that dates back over a century to 1917, today this statewide system of support services helps to keep some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable people living as independently and as fulfilled as possible. Its branches include an autism division, family support resources, psychological services, and a case management division.
Mountainside – Specializing in drug addiction recovery and rehabilitation, this agency is very proud of its 99% residential program satisfaction rate. It offers in-patient and out-patient programs tailored to adolescents, adults, and families from two locations in Connecticut. Treatments include continuing care, wellness programs, detox, clinical programs, and more.
Bridgeport Public Schools – The second-largest school district in the state, BPS has a professional staff of over 1,700 who play a critical role in preparing the district’s 23,000 students for future success. BPS operates 30 elementary schools, two alternative programs, three high schools, and unique among most public school districts in the nation, an aquaculture school.