It is the time of year of graduations and spring.

You may be asking yourself what is next in your career. 

A next step for many is to work toward their social work licensure.  Licensure lends credibility to your career and shows you have the knowledge to be a social worker.  Sometimes the steps can seem overwhelming but you can do it!  Just take one step at a time.  Here are some expert tips to keep you on the right path!

Don’t make it bigger in your mind than it is.

Many of us are good at psyching ourselves out.  We build up the process of getting our license or the exam itself as bigger than life.  Stop it.  It is a process but just chip away layer by layer until everything is completed.  Putting it off does not make the process easier!Find out the laws and licensing levels in your state.

Find out the laws and licensing levels in your state.

Every single state has different laws around licensing.  Some states license BSWs.  Some states have 2 levels of licensing for MSWs and some have 3 levels.  It is vital to look at your own state’s requirements.  One place to look is at .   This site gives a summary for each state but most helpful is that it has links to each state’s licensing boards.  The state licensing boards have the final say on the requirements for getting a license.

Supervision may be required.  Some initial licenses do not require supervision but most licenses – and certainly clinical ones – require some type supervision.  Again, each state is different but it often ranges about 1 hour supervision/week for 2000-3000 hours of work.  Generally, people are supervised, by someone already licensed for at least 2 years in order to have regular feedback.  You may work at a job that can provide supervision or locate and pay for your own.

After you figure out the supervision and state board requirements it may be time to take the licensing test.  There are different level tests based on your licensure.

Gather all the specifics

Go to the source of the Social Work Exam Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)

This site will have all the specific costs and requirements for sitting for the test.  This is also where you can obtain the official practice tests.  This will be your go-to web page.

Take practice tests

Take practice tests. You can use the ones from the ASWB or find some other ones you like.  Recently, when I took a certification exam, I spent a lot of time reading reviews of test takers on various ones to see which one people deemed helpful and bought one of those to study.  Taking practice tests is not just so you see how many you get right.  Practice tests give you an idea how the questions are asked and what type of answers would be correct.  This is an invaluable help.

Ask for help

Lots of colleagues have taken these tests.  Ask them for insight and tips for what helped them.

Respect your learning style

Everyone learns differently. Some people study better with flashcards and people quizzing them.  Some people learn better by taking practice tests (me!)  Some people learn better by reading. Some people will have better results by taking a prep class. Honor how you learn and set up your studying to fit your style.

Get involved in an online group of other people working toward taking the exam.

There are always online study groups.  There might be a group of your school cohort to join.  Search on Facebook and you are bound to find lots of groups of people trying to pass the same test as you.  If you can find an in-person group that might work for you too.

Practice anxiety-reducing strategies.

Now is the time to practice all those anxiety-reducing strategies you have learned.  If you use Meditation, deep breathing or stretching spend some time practicing these skills.  Then when you are taking your test you will have several tools ready to go to help calm your stress.

Know where the testing center is and consider visiting prior to test day.

No one needs the added stress of being lost on the day of the test.  Confirm and be sure of the site before test day.  One of my friends actually missed her counseling licensing exam because she couldn’t find the site on time the day of the test.

Now a few hints for the test itself.

Read the whole question first.

Don’t jump ahead, thinking you know the answer, before really reading the question. Questions often ask what is the best thing to do first.  Look for keywords and figure out what is relly being asked.

Often there is more than one “right” answer.  More than one of the choices may work but one choice is a better answer.

Don’t spend too much time on a question you are not sure of the answer.

Skip a question if you have no idea of the answer.  You can come back and think on it more after you answer the questions you know.  If you don’t know it – it is not likely the answer will suddenly appear out of the sky.

Think like a social worker. 

Consider what answer is most in line with Social Work Values and the Social Work Code of Ethics. You will want to consider safety but also self-determination and cultural awareness.  You are looking for the perfect world answer of what a social worker would do.

If you fail – it happens. Many people have to take the exam more than once.  Don’t lose hope just gear up your efforts.

The Social work path is interesting and often complex.  Licensing is just one more step and there is no doubt you can be a licensed social worker.

The licensing test doesn’t measure your worth as a social worker.  A written test cannot measure your empathy skills and your ability to connect with others.  Sometimes people just have difficulty taking tests.  However, having the exam helps insure that the individuals calling themselves social workers have at least a minimum skill set of knowledge.  Soon you will be able to call yourself a licensed social worker.