Best Tips for Becoming a LCSW (in Colorado)

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The process of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in Colorado can be confusing and long.  In this post, we will untangle the process of social work licensure and help determine which pathway might be best for a school social worker.

Types of Social Work Licensures

There are a few different licenses school social workers can hold. The chart below outlines some of the differences between these licenses.

While there are some similarities between each license, the intent of each is very different.

  • SWP (Provisional) licenses are for social workers in residential child care facilities
  • Special Service Provider (SSP) licenses are required to work in public Colorado schools
  • LCSW is for people in the clinical field and not required for school social work, though some districts offer stipends or additional benefits if you do have your LCSW

It is important to note that as of July 1st, 2022, LSW candidates will need to also complete an additional exam- The Master’s exam. You can find more information in this article from DORA. You will also be required to complete a jurisprudence exam for every new license- check out the resources page for helpful links to complete the jurisprudence.

Another important note is that these are the current (as of July 1st, 2022) requirements in Colorado only. Check back soon for more information about various states’ requirements and reciprocity with Colorado.

Another pathway to obtaining your SSP license is to complete a Temporary Educator Eligibility (TEE) license. This is for people who are working in education, but are still enrolled in the mandatory classes to obtain the SSP. Here are the CDE requirements for a TEE.

Requirements for receiving your LCSW in Colorado

In Colorado, you can obtain your LCSW in one of two ways- endorsement or application. Receiving your license by endorsement essentially means you are licensed in another state and want to be licensed in Colorado.

Licensure by application is a little more complicated. Here are the requirements:

  • ASWB Advanced or Clinical examination
  • 3,360 hours of experience over a minimum of 24 months
  • 96 hours of supervision: 48 hours which must be face-to-face individual supervision distributed evenly over 24 months
  • Completion of a Healthcare Professions Profile (HPPP)
  • Current Colorado Mental Health Professions online Jurisprudence Examination

What documentation is necessary for the LCSW?

You will need to provide documentation to DORA of completion of the requirements listed above. It is extremely important to keep these documents somewhere safe and handy. I recommend starting a Google Drive folder specifically for any documents you collect for your LCSW.

You will need to provide (at a minimum) the following documentation:

  • One post-degree supervision form for each supervisor
  • One (at least) post-degree supervision form with the work experience hours signed off
  • A copy of passing results for the Jurisprudence Exam
  • A copy of passing results for the Master’s Exam (after July 1st, 2022)
  • A copy of passing results for the ASWB Exam
  • Copies of transcripts from a CSWE-accredited university

In addition, here are some other documents that might be required based on your situation:

  • Any name change documents
  • Verification of licensure in another state
  • Criminal history documentation
  • Other documentation as necessary and requested

How long does the process take?

As you will see in the infographic and bullets above, obtaining your LCSW license is not a “short” process. From what I have heard, the whole process takes anywhere from 2.5 years to 5 years. You will need to spend at least two years receiving supervision. Once you have completed all of the requirements and submitted your application, it can take up to 6 weeks for DORA to process your application.

It is helpful for you to keep on top of DORA and proactively communicate with them to check in about the status- even though they may tell you this will slow the process down.

WISE TIP: Make sure to save and document ANY communication with DORA/ CDE about your license. It will save you a major hassle if anything goes wrong!

For me, I submitted my LCSW application and received my license ten days later. My SSP license was a different story entirely. The timing for my SSP license was really dependent on the fact that it was late July and nearly everyone was applying for either an initial license or renewing.

Processing time can be affected by other factors as well- such as name changes, verification of other documents or if you have recently moved from another state. The more documentation and information you can provide at the time you apply, the less time DORA will spend having to process your application.

Is the LCSW necessary to be a school social worker?

While a LCSW is not required to be a school social worker, it is one pathway to obtaining your Special Service Provider license, which is required in Colorado to be a school social worker.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I start counting supervision hours before I have my LSW?

Short answer- no. But you can get your LSW shortly after you graduate, and you can accrue hours once you receive your LSW.

How long does it take DORA to process my application and receive my LCSW?

This can vary but generally, it takes up to two weeks for DORA to receive exam scores from ASWB and another six weeks or more for DORA to issue a license.

How do I document the 3,360 hours of work experience?

On the Post-Degree Experience and Supervision Form, there is a section for work experience hours. If your supervisor is at your place of employment, they can simply sign off on the same form for the 3,360 hours.

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