The Vermont Secretary of State, Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) issues these two social work licenses:
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Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) – This license allows you to practice social work at an advanced level using specialized knowledge, with the goal of enhancing or restoring the psychosocial and biopsychosocial functioning of individuals, families, couples, groups, and communities. If you’re gaining experience to become an LICSW then you can also engage in the LICSW scope of practice under supervision. Master’s-level social work practice includes activities like:
- Case management
- Research, education, and advocacy
- The development, implementation, and administration of programs and policies
- Supportive counseling
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) – This license allows you to engage in the LMSW scope of practice, and to additionally practice clinical social work independently. This includes the treatment, assessment, and diagnosis of mental, behavioral, and emotional conditions. This can also include psychotherapy, and you’re additionally authorized to supervise LMSWs.
Steps Towards Social Work Licensure in Vermont
To qualify for either license from the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) you need to meet these requirements:
- Earn a master’s or doctoral degree from a school that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE); when you apply for licensure have your school send your official transcripts to the OPR
- Pass an exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
- Fill out and pass a Jurisprudence Exam that tests your knowledge of Vermont’s statutes and rules of social work; submit this to the OPR after you’ve passed your ASWB exam
To apply for either license you’ll need to create an online account with the OPR and upload the necessary documents outlined in the application process below. The application fee is $100.
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
- Earn at least a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Apply for the LMSW license online through your OPR account. Once the OPR 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 this and the OPR’s Jurisprudence Exam, the OPR will issue your LMSW license.
Gaining experience to become an LICSW
- As a licensed LMSW you can opt to fulfill the LICSW’s supervised experience requirement. This involves obtaining supervised clinical social work experience, which includes the provision of psychotherapy. As such, to legally obtain your supervised experience you must register on the Roster of Psychotherapists who are Nonlicensed and Noncertified. You can do this through your online account with the OPR.
- Once you’re registered on the roster you can legally obtain your supervised experience to qualify for the LICSW.
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
- Earn at least a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Complete the supervised experience requirement. This is 3,000 hours of post-MSW degree practice, including 2,000 hours of face-to-face contact, completed over at least two years. You complete this in-state as an LMSW, and your supervisor will verify you’ve completed this with the OPR by submitting a Verified with the Supervision Report.
- Apply for the LICSW license online through your OPR account. Once the OPR 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 this and the OPR’s Jurisprudence Exam, the OPR will issue your LICSW license.
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Renewing Your Social Work License
Social work licenses issued by the OPR expire every two years. You can renew them through your online account. To be eligible to renew you must complete 20 hours of continuing education for each renewal cycle. You can keep track of your continuing education on this form, and submit it to the OPR if requested. The biannual renewal fee is $240.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in Vermont?
Generally it takes high school graduates four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, and another two years to earn an MSW degree. That means to meet the education requirement for both the LMSW and LICSW you must invest at least six years into education. Furthermore, qualifying for the LICSW means gaining at least two years of post-master’s supervised experience, bringing your total time investment for this license to eight years.
Social Work Degrees in Vermont
Vermont law requires you to earn a master’s or doctoral degree from a program that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) if you want to qualify for licensure. Currently there are four such programs in the state. Considering that presently the CSWE doesn’t accredit programs at the doctoral level, that means you must earn a CSWE-accredited MSW degree if you want to work as a social worker in Vermont. Starting on the path towards an MSW begins with a bachelor’s degree, and a CSWE-accredited BSW degree is the most logical option.
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)
Right now there are three CSWE-accredited BSW programs in Vermont. By nature of being CSWE-accredited, these automatically include a 400-hour field education segment. Totaling at least 120 semester credits, a BSW degree is the natural first step towards earning an MSW, offering relevant supplementary overlap to make the transition to a graduate program seamless.
Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)
Right now earning an MSW degree from a program that’s CSWE-accredited is the only way to qualify for any type of social work license in Vermont. There is currently one such program offered in the state, which by virtue of being CSWE accredited includes a field education segment that’s at least 900 hours. A CSWE-accredited MSW degree fulfills the education requirement for both the LMSW and LICSW licenses.
Doctoral Degree in Social Work
While currently the CSWE doesn’t accredit doctoral programs and you therefore can’t qualify for licensure with a degree at this level, you still have the option of earning a PhD or Doctor of Social Work (DSW). Earning either of these doctoral-level degrees demonstrates you’ve made a strong commitment to this field. It’s also a way of making sure your career can reach its maximum potential.
If the standards where you’re licensed out-of-state are similar to Vermont’s, you can apply for licensure as an LMSW or LICSW in Vermont via endorsement by following the application process detailed above. To qualify you need to:
- Have an active unencumbered out-of-state license at an equivalent level with no disciplinary history
- Have practiced at an LMSW or LICSW-equivalent level for at least 1,200 hours per year for a minimum of five years
- Have your out-of-state social work board verify your license with this form
- Request the ASWB to forward your exam scores to the OPR
- If you need to submit proof of out-of-state supervision to qualify for the LICSW, your out-of-state supervisor must verify their license with this form
Social Work Salary Projections in Vermont
The US Department of Labor reports the following average annual salaries for social workers in the following careers, specifically for Vermont:
- Social and Community Service Manager – $63,290
- Healthcare Social Worker – $56,570
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $45,260
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $51,750
- Social Worker, All Other – $67,470
Social Work Resources in Vermont
Vermont Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers – Clinical social workers, home health care social workers, medical social workers, social work teachers, and social work students all count on this local chapter of the largest social worker association in the nation to advocate for their best interests. The 500 members of this local chapter are a proud component of the 120,000-plus members nationally.
Vermont Addiction Professionals’ Association – Serving as a unified voice for colleague professionals, this organization provides an opportunity for those working in the fields of social work, mental health, and addiction services to come together and collaborate on common issues and goals.
Career Opportunities in Vermont
Vermont Agency of Human Services (AHS) – This state agency provides services that many of Vermont’s most vulnerable populations could not live without. It runs its own programs as well as partnering with local organizations. Topics addressed include disability and aging support services, family support and safety services, child and youth development, risk reduction and community justice services, housing stability services, and mental health and substance abuse services, among others.
Vermont Department of Mental Health – Under the umbrella of the AHS, social workers are very familiar with this state department and the services it provides. It offers a variety of critical resources and programs, and it also proffers links to community resources. One example is its collaboration with Vermont Care Partners, a partnership of 16 non-profit community organizations that tackle issues related to mental health and substance abuse.
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Burlington Public Schools – Consisting of four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school, this is the largest school district in Vermont. Recent statistics show it enrolled nearly 1,700 students and employed more than 150 teachers. Social workers will be familiar with this district’s INTERFACE Referral Service telephone hotline that connects residents with outpatient mental health services.
Vermont Family Network – This agency is dedicated to empowering and supporting all of Vermont’s families whose members include children with special needs. It provides resources for education options, parental support, child learning and development tools, and much more.
Vermont Department of Health – Protecting and promoting the health of state residents for over 125 years, this state agency focuses on public health aspects that many social workers will be familiar with. These include a primary division devoted to developing policies on senior issues, including medical practice and public health, as well as sub-divisions that specifically address alcohol and drug abuse, rural health, maternal and child health, health promotion, environmental health, and disease prevention.
University of Vermont Health Network – This is a home health and hospice system that’s also proud of its six hospital members. It includes over 1,000 physicians and 2,000 nurses. It was created through a merger in 2011 and today is one of the most important health networks in the state.
Rutland City Public Schools – With class sizes averaging between 15 and 22 students by the most recent count, this district’s approximately six educational facilities are responsible for providing the foundational education for students enrolled in one of the largest districts in the state.