Becoming an LCSW, or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, signifies that you have chosen to focus directly on helping people, often in a clinical or counseling setting. How does this differ from other social workers? What do you need to do before you can become an LCSW? What does an LCSW do?

An LCSW, or Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a professional who has completed advanced training and licensure to provide therapy, counseling, and other mental health and support services to individuals, families, and groups. They work in a variety of settings like hospitals, schools, social service agencies, and private practice. Read on to fully understand the roles, responsibilities, and the impact of an LCSW in the field of social work.

Social Work: A Broad Spectrum

Social workers are a familiar part of American societal landscape. Whether they’re working in schools, running community outreach programs, staffing addiction treatment centers, or assisting the underprivileged and those in crisis situations, they fill a direct need.

Licensed clinical social workers may be involved to some extent in educational and administrative work, but this is not their specialty. Their main goal is to interact directly with people.

LCSW Certification Cost and Requirements

Getting your LCSW certification usually requires a master’s degree in social work and at least 2 years of supervised clinical work experience. Some states, such as California and Oregon, have additional requirements. The ASWB-listed cost for the Clinical exam is $260; other state requirements may add to this total.


What does an LCSW do? A glance over the exam outline reveals that much of their work is centered around psychology and counseling. While other social workers may be involved in assessing problems and helping people get the help they need, licensed clinical workers diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral issues. They are often required to plan treatment, participate in crisis intervention, and perform more detailed formal assessments. Other duties may include assisting in planning and implementing new programs, preparing educational and outreach initiatives, writing reports, and coordinating with other staff members.

What Does an LCSW Make?

Social worker salaries range from $38,000 to $54,000 on average, according to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a rule, those working in hospitals and psychiatric treatment centers make the most, while those employed by individual and family series are paid the least. The job outlook for social workers and counselors is expected to be very good, with a 26% increase from 2010 to 2020.

Qualifying as an LCSW, or Licensed Clinical Social Worker, takes time and commitment. A caring and patient personality and good listening skills are also important, and being a good communicator is vital. Working as an LCSW allows you to make a difference in someone else’s life, and for most social workers that is what it’s all about.