Delaware’s Division of Professional Regulation, Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE) defines social work as being the application of social work theory, knowledge, and methods to enhance and restore the psychosocial and biopsychosocial functioning of individuals, families, couples, groups, and communities. The BSWE issues three types of social work licenses:
Licensed Bachelors Social Worker (LBSW) – This license allows you to engage in the generalist practice social work at an entry level.
Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW) – This license allows you to engage in social work at the generalist level, as well as at a more advanced level that includes the application of specialized knowledge. You can also practice clinical social work under the supervision of an approved licensed professional such as an LCSW.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – This license allows you to engage in the advanced practice of social work. You can also engage in clinical social work, which includes:
- Client counseling and psychotherapy
- Private practice
- Diagnosis and treatment of biopsychosocial dysfunctions
- Diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse, mental, and emotional disorders
- Provide supervision to other qualified social workers
Steps Towards Social Work Licensure in Delaware
To qualify for licensure at any level from the Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE) you’ll need:
- A degree in Social Work from a school that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE); have your school send your official transcripts to the BSWE
- To pass the appropriate Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam
- To apply online by creating an account through the DELPROS system (Delaware Professional Regulation Online Services) and uploading the documents referenced below; the application fee is $195
- To have fingerprint background check results submitted to the BSWE before your license can be issued; cost is $65
- To submit a Delaware Child Protection Registry Consent Form to the Division of Professional Regulation
Licensed Bachelors Social Worker (LBSW)
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.
- Apply for the LBSW license by creating an online account with DELPROS. Once the BSWE has approved your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Bachelors exam. Once you pass this the BSWE will issue your LBSW license.
Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW)
- Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Apply for the LMSW license by creating an online account with DELPROS. Once the BSWE has approved your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Masters exam. Once you pass this the BSWE will issue your LMSW license.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Complete the experience and supervision requirements. These are 3,200 hours of clinical social work experience since graduation from your master’s degree in Social Work program, including 1,600 hours of professional supervision, completed in at least two years. To document these have your supervisor complete a Supervisory Reference Form and submit this with your application. Your supervisor should be an LCSW. However if you cannot locate one you can also be supervised by an LMSW, licensed psychologist, or licensed psychiatrist, and you must attest that you were unable to locate an LCSW using this form. You can find a current roster of these licensed professionals here.
- Apply for the LCSW license by creating an online account with DELPROS. Once the BSWE has approved your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Clinical exam. Once you pass this the BSWE will issue your LCSW license.
Renewing Your Social Work License
All types of social work licenses expire in odd-numbered years on January 31st. A few months before this date the BSWE will email you a renewal reminder that details the current renewal fee and how to renew your license through your online DELPROS account. You must attest to completing continuing education when you renew. During your first renewal the required continuing education hours are slightly less and can be pro-rated depending on when you were initially licensed. The standard continuing education requirements for each two-year cycle are:
- LBSW – 20 hours
- LMSW – 30 hours
- LCSW – 40 hours
How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in Delaware?
You can potentially start practicing as an LBSW in as soon as four years beyond high school, the amount of time it usually takes to earn a BSW degree. Investing about two years beyond that into earning an MSW degree will qualify you for the LMSW license. With at least two years of experience and supervision beyond that, for a total of eight years, you could be practicing as an LCSW.
Social Work Degrees in Delaware
The qualify for licensure at any level in Delaware you must earn a degree from a program that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). There are currently two such programs offered in the state and one includes the option for online study. You also have the option of earning a doctoral degree in Social Work, which represents the highest level of education that’s available in this field.
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)
Right now Delaware is home to one CSWE-accredited BSW program. As is standard of BSW programs, it is at least 120 semester credits and, as part of being CSWE-accredited, it includes a field education experience totaling at least 400 hours. In the case of this specific program, it is 122 credits and includes a field practicum that’s worth 12 credits. Earning a BSW qualifies you for the LBSW license, and it is a natural step towards an MSW degree and higher levels of social work licensure.
Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)
Host of one CSWE-accredited MSW program, Delaware’s school that offers this has options for both on-campus and online study. MSW programs are typically at least 30 semester credits and include a 900-hour field education segment as part of being CSWE accredited. Delaware’s is 60 credits and it offers four different field practicums that altogether total 12 credits. It also accepts up to 28 transfer credits that can be applied from students who hold a CSWE-accredited BSW degree. Earning a CSWE-accredited MSW degree fulfills the education requirement for the LMSW and LCSW licenses
Doctoral Degree in Social Work
The CSWE doesn’t accredit programs at the doctoral level, and earning a degree at this advanced level won’t qualify you for in-state social work licensure. However a PhD or Doctor of Social Work (DSW) will prepare you to be competitive in your specific social work field with an advanced knowledge and in-depth understanding of this discipline. These programs typically offer options for niche areas of focus and can open up the highest levels of professional advancement.
You can apply for a Delaware social work license via reciprocity at all levels if you’ve already passed the appropriate ASWB exam and are licensed at a similar level in another state. To apply, follow the procedure detailed above and indicate on your application that you’re applying via reciprocity. Licenses are granted if your state has standards that are substantially similar to Delaware’s, and you’ll need to demonstrate this by including a copy of your state’s laws and rules for licensure with your application. If these are not substantially similar to Delaware’s you’ll need to have practiced social work at your level for at least five years. Have the ASWB forward your exam scores to the Delaware BSWE and request your state’s board of social work to send the BSWE verification of your out-of-state licensure using this form.
Social Work Salary Projections in Delaware
The US Department of Labor reports the following Delaware average salaries for social work career trajectories in 2020:
- Social and Community Service Manager – $70,150
- Healthcare Social Worker – $57,310
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $50,190
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $39,880
- Social Work Teachers, Post-secondary – $80,550
- Social Worker, All Other – $62,630
Professional Social Work Resources in Delaware
Delaware Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers – The Delaware Chapter of the NASW is proud to share access to the resources provided by this 120,000-member-strong national organization. Local member benefits include access to in-state networking opportunities, continuing education events, and an up-to-date look at the latest changes in relevant legislation.
Delaware Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health – As a local chapter of the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with mental illnesses, this Delaware branch celebrates its founding back in 1983. Today this chapter is a leading supporter of educational conferences and programs that further its goals both locally and nationally.
Career Opportunities in Delaware
Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) – The state-level organization that’s at the forefront of providing key services associated with social work, this department hosts components like its Division of Services for Aging Adults with Physical Disabilities, Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, Division of Social Services, and its Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, among others.
Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health – Under the umbrella of the DHSS, this division is well known to social workers throughout the state. It partners with local organizations and sponsors its own programs to provide services that include its START program (Substance Use Treatment and Recovery Transformation), the Delaware Psychiatric Center, prevention programs, crisis intervention services, and court associated treatment services.
Christina School District – As one of the state’s largest public school districts, CSD is responsible for educating over 14,000 students with a staff numbering 2,600 professionals. School social workers play a particularly important role as 22% of students from this district have disabilities, and 41% come from low-income homes.
ChristianaCare – This network of non-profit and private health care providers plays a vital role in addressing the healthcare needs of all the state’s residents. It includes two hospitals, several centers and research institutes, and a large assortment of urgent care and satellite clinics. Its roots stretch back to its founding in 1888.
SUN Behavioral Health – This agency has mental and behavioral health services tailored for youths and teens, families, and adults. It has outpatient services that focus on issues like mood disorders, depression, and especially substance abuse. It also operates a 90-bed psychiatric hospital for clients taking advantage of its in-patient residential options.
Delaware Behavioral Health – This private company provides a range of treatment services for clients that cover subjects including autism spectrum disorders, stress management, social anxiety, LGBTQ concerns, mood disorders, family issues, depression, and much more. Its nine providers include LCSWs and advanced practice nurses.
Red Clay Consolidated School District – As the largest school district in Delaware, Red Clay serves more than 16,000 students through the dedication of over 2,300 full-time staff, about half of whom are teachers. Facilities include several magnet programs, 15 elementary schools, six middle schools, and two high schools.