LMSW and LCSW may appear frequently in your journey to become a licensed social worker. But what exactly do they mean? What are the differences between the two?

Many professional social work roles require some level of social work licensing. According to the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), a licensed social worker meets the safety standards for to work as a social worker professionally.

To become licensed, a social worker must have the necessary education and fulfill other requirements, such as passing a test and/or completing supervised hours of practice.

Did you Know?
LCSW stands for  Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
LMSW means Licensed Master Social Worker.

What's the Difference Between an LMSW and an LCSW?

LMSWs and LCSWs both need a master's degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Licensure requirements include passing an Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam.

These two licenses differ in terms of clinical experience requirements and the services that licensees may offer. Approximately 3,000-4,000 hours of supervised clinical work experience are required for the LCSW credential.

These individuals can provide clinical psychotherapeutic services, whereas an LMSW can only do so under supervision. Many LMSWs are pursuing their LCSW credentials and will transition into a new career once their supervised clinical hours are completed.

Remember that recognized social work positions and social work licensure requirements differ from state to state. As a result, before determining what type of license to pursue, verify with your state.


Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

LCSW refers to a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Clinical social workers have significant training and education in mental health and are qualified to deliver some sorts of therapy to people in need. Psychotherapy, talk therapy, and counseling are examples of these therapy types.

Is an LCSW the same as a psychologist or psychiatrist because of this? Not at all. Unlike a psychologist or psychiatrist, who concentrates on a patient's mental health difficulties, an LCSW takes a different approach, focusing more on external circumstances that may be affecting the client. This can include things like socioeconomic factors or cultural influences. LCSWs cannot prescribe mental health drugs, unlike psychiatrists.

For their clients, LCSWs also serves as a community liaison. This means they can connect them with any additional services that may be able to help them enhance their quality of life.

LCSW Duties

  • Examine patients and clients for mental illnesses, emotional disorders, and addictions.
  • Create personalized health strategies to help customers feel better.
  • To secure resources for customers, collaborate with social service providers.
  • Maintain client records
  • Individuals, families, and small groups can benefit from counseling services.
  • Supervise LMSWs doing clinical social work duties.

LCSW Salary


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Source: https://www.ziprecruiter.com/

LCSW Requirements

An LCSW credential requires a master's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. In addition, these professionals need an average of 3,000-4,000 hours of supervised clinical work experience after graduation.

The number of required hours varies significantly between states, with some mandating 1,500 hours and others requiring nearly 6,000 hours.

To become an LCSW, states also require applicants to take the ASWB Clinical exam. The test consists of 170 questions and takes up to four hours to complete. Professionals in some areas may also need to pass state-specific exams.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

LMSW stands for Licensed Master Social Worker. Master social workers are trained to work with individuals, families, and even groups of people, linking them with important community resources.

They also aid in the coordination of various programs, ensuring that people receive all of the care they require to have a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

Individual counseling is provided by some LMSWs. They must, however, do so under the supervision of another qualified professional who can provide therapeutic services.

LMSW Duties

  • Organize group therapy and counseling sessions for clients who are dealing with identical issues.
  • For welfare recipients, secure resources such as housing, food, and employment assistance are essential.
  • In a clinical setting, do administrative tasks such as updating client information and monitoring invoices.
  • When working in a clinical setting, perform patient intake and support LCSWs with the clinical program.
  • Clients who require expert clinical assistance should be referred to an LCSW.

LMSW Salary

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As of Jun 14, 2022, the average annual pay for a LMSW in the United States is $69,379 a year.

Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $33.36 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,334/week or $5,782/month.

We’ve identified 10 cities where the typical salary for a LMSW job is above the national average. Topping the list is Barnstable Town, MA, with Sunnyvale, CA and Santa Cruz, CA close behind in the second and third positions. Santa Cruz, CA beats the national average by $12,796 (18.4%), and Barnstable Town, MA furthers that trend with another $14,844 (21.4%) above the $69,379 average.


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Source: https://www.ziprecruiter.com/

LCSW Requirements

You must first obtain a bachelor's degree before pursuing a career in social work. Many social workers have a bachelor's degree in social work (BSW), which qualifies students for social work professions and allows them to intern.

Despite this, you can pursue a more unusual path and acquire a bachelor's degree in a related field such as sociology, psychology, or public health. Many social workers have backgrounds in liberal arts fields that are unrelated to social work.

A master's degree is required for nearly all social work positions. A master's degree in social work (MSW) is required to become an LMSW.

BSW graduates frequently apply to advanced standing programs, which provide a faster path to licensure due to the qualifications and experience BSW graduates gain during their undergraduate studies.

In order to graduate from most MSW programs, students must complete an internship. Candidates receive valuable experience working directly with the public in real-world settings through these internships.

Prior to completion, many MSW programs will require roughly 900 hours of fieldwork. Internships can be found in a variety of places, including schools, hospitals, community service organizations, correctional facilities, and clinics.

Furthermore, several jurisdictions require LMSW licensure candidates to complete extra supervised clinical hours after graduating from an MSW school.

Which Path Should You Take? LMSW or LCSW?

In government and nonprofit organizations that provide social services, an LMSW may work in case management. An LCSW, on the other hand, may provide psychotherapy in private practice, mental health facilities, and hospitals.

Both of these professionals can work on a larger scale, campaigning for social change, addressing public policy, and directing social projects. Empathy, patience, excellent communication skills, and a willingness to combat social injustice and empower clients and communities are required for success in both occupations.

When picking a licensure path, students should think about what form of social work interests them.