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Did you know that in Texas, you need a state license to use a social worker job title? Every state has a social work board to regulate licenses and protect the public. Because of this, costs, requirements, and timelines to become a licensed social worker differ by state. Find out how to become a social worker in Texas and average salaries for this role.

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Steps to Becoming a Social Worker in Texas

In Texas, if you present yourself as a social worker or give the impression that you work in the field, you need a state license. You can choose from several social work licenses in the state:

LBSWs and LMSWs can also qualify for independent practice, but LBSWs cannot. The following sections explore the degrees, exams, and other social worker requirements in Texas.

Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)

Many states require that you complete at least a master’s degree to become a social worker. In Texas, you can perform social work under the supervision of a licensed professional with a bachelor’s in social work degree (BSW) from an CSWE-accredited school. Additional steps you will have to take to get your LBSW license::

  • Take the national bachelor’s exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
  • Pass the Texas jurisprudence exam.
  • Apply for licensure in Texas and pay all fees.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

After completing a master’s or doctoral degree in social work from an CSWE-accredited school, you can become a licensed master social worker. An LMSW license allows you to practice clinical social work. You also need to complete additional steps, such as:

  • Take the ASWB master’s exam in your last semester of a graduate program.
  • Complete the Texas jurisprudence exam.
  • Apply for Texas licensure and submit payment.
  • Request a self-query from the National Practitioner Data Bank, get fingerprinted, and submit official transcripts indicating successful completion of field placement.

Independent Practice Recognition (LBSW-IPR, LMSW-IPR)

If you want to provide non-clinical social work services without supervision, and you have an LMSW or LBSW license, you may want to consider an independent practice recognition. With a LBSW-IPR or LMSW-IPR, you can open an independent practice or work autonomously within an agency. To get a independent practice recognition in Texas, you must:

  • Maintain a current LMSW or LBSW license in Texas.
  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised full-time experience over two years as a social worker (100 of the 3,000 hours of experience with a Council-approved supervisor).
  • Take the Texas jurisprudence exam.
  • Apply for licensure and pay fees.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Only licensed clinical social workers and licensed master social workers can practice clinical social work. You need a master’s in social work or doctoral degree from an CSWE-accredited school and fieldwork experience to become an LCSW. Other requirements include:

  • Complete 3,000 hours of supervised full-time experience over two years as a social worker (100 of the 3,000 hours of experience with a Council-approved supervisor). Non-clinical hours can apply to this requirement as long as four hours per week were in a clinical setting.
  • Pass the ASWB national clinical examination
  • Take the Texas jurisprudence exam
  • Apply for licensure and pay fees

How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in Texas?

It takes at least 4-6 years to complete the educational requirements to become a social worker in Texas. The quickest route to social work is to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree and get licensed as an LBSW in Texas. Advanced licensure requires at least a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in social work, which takes about 3-5 years of study.

The CSWE recommends that accredited master’s in social work programs have 900 practicum hours and bachelor’s degrees include 400 practicum hours. You need 3,000 supervised social work hours completed over two years to become an LBSW, LMSW, or LCSW. And LCSWs need an additional 100 hours in a clinical setting.

How Much Will a Social Work Degree Cost in Texas?

In the last decade, costs at all higher education institutions have increased, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2020-2021, bachelor’s degree tuition, including BSW degrees, cost an average of $9,400 at a public four-year college and $37,600 at private nonprofit four-year college.

An MSW degree at a public institution could cost a total of $19,749, vs. $26,621 at a private college. You can expect to pay about $758-$904 per credit for a BSW degree and $714-$1,253 per credit for a MSW degree. Studying online may help you to save money, especially if you do not have Texas residency.

Keep in mind that you also need funds for books, transportation, and housing.

How Much Do Social Workers Make in Texas?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social workers in Texas earned the following wages in 2022:

Social Work Jobs & Salaries in Texas
OccupationMedian Hourly Wage (TX)Average Annual Wage (TX)
Child, Family, and School Social Workers$24$49,310
Healthcare Social Workers$30$62,500
Mental Health and Substance Misuse Social Workers$19$44,100
Social Workers, All Others$35$68,500

Source: BLS

Salaries for social workers vary by specialty. Healthcare social workers earn average annual salaries of $62,500 and mental health and substance misuse social workers make an average annual wage of $44,150. Salaries in Texas both exceed and fall below the national average for social workers, depending on the specialty.

Nationally, healthcare social workers earn a median salary of $60,840, which is below the average salary Texas professionals earn in this speciality. And mental health social workers make a national median salary of $49,130, which is above the average salary that Texas pays these professionals. That said, consider that Texas does not charge income taxes.

Social workers in metropolitan regions earn higher salaries than those in rural locations. For example, in Killeen and Temple, Texas, the category “social workers, all other” make an average annual wage of $83,040, which is about $15,000 more than the average salary for this profession across the state.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Social Worker in Texas

How long does it take to become a social worker in Texas?

It takes 3-4 years to finish your BSW degree and become a licensed bachelor’s of social work credential in Texas. If you want to pursue a licensed master’s of social work, it will take about 2-3 years to earn a MSW degree. If you qualify for advanced standing in an MSW program, you can graduate in as few as 12 months. A doctorate in social work typically takes around three years. It takes about 4-8 years to become a licensed clinical social worker since you need a graduate degree and 3,000 hours in the field.

What degree do I need to become a social worker in Texas?

You need a minimum of a bachelor’s in social work to get licensed in Texas. Anyone who uses the title of social worker needs to be licensed in Texas. That said, it takes at least a MSW degree to provide clinical social work services.

How much does it cost to apply for a Texas social work license?

The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council sets the application fees for licensing social workers. To file an LBSW or LMSW application, you must pay $109. The LCSW application costs $129. Applying for the independent practice recognition costs $20. And upgrading from an LBSW to an LMSW or an LMSW to an LCSW is a $24 fee.

Is it worth it to become a social worker in Texas?

Social work can be a worthwhile career that offers you personal and career growth. However, becoming a social worker in Texas offers a modest but stable income. You can earn an annual mean wage of $44,100-$68,500 working as a social worker in Texas.

This career allows you to advocate for people in need of assistance by connecting them to resources or providing clinical social services that help better lives.