The purpose of licensing in social work is to protect the public by setting and enforcing standards for social work practice.

Getting your first license

If you’ve never had a social work license before

Getting licensed in another location

If you have a social work license and need to practice in another state or province

The social work profession affects public health, safety, and welfare. It is regulated in the same way that medicine and nursing are—by state and provincial regulatory authorities.

A social work board

  • Establishes the rules and regulations of the profession and the standards for licensure
  • Issues licenses to those social workers who have met its professional standards
  • Requires that social workers maintain their licensed status in good standing
  • Investigates complaints and, when necessary, decides whether a social worker continues to deserve a license

In short, the mission of regulatory bodies is the protection of the public. And that public includes anyone who is the recipient of social work services.

Apply for a license

To apply for a license, you typically need to visit your state or provincial board website.


Determine what you need

Every state and province has requirements for getting a license. Be sure you know what you need before you start the application process.

Path to Licensure

The program for educators to help students plan for a career as a licensed social worker

Continuing competence

Nearly every jurisdiction that issues social work licenses requires that social workers document their efforts to maintain competence as a social worker.