Clinical Social Work at Children’s Minnesota

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How to Become a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)

If you have a passion for advocating for others and can communicate well with all different types of people, then you might be interested in how to become a clinical social worker. Children’s Minnesota offers internships and support for social workers to practice in clinical settings. Keep reading to learn more about the path to a meaningful career in clinical social work! 

  • What Does a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker Do?
  • How to Become an LICSW
  • Average LICSW Salary
  • Is Becoming a LICSW a Good Career Path?
  • Licensed Clinical Social Work Requirements
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker Jobs at Children’s Minnesota

Navigating the career path to becoming a social worker in a clinical or host setting can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. This career guide will answer pressing questions such as what is a LICSW and does a LICSW require a master’s degree. Having this information will allow you to make an informed decision and choose a career that aligns with your passions.

What Does a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker Do?

If you are new to exploring a social work career path, you may be wondering, what does LICSW mean? LOCSW is an acronym that stands for Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. And, what is a licensed clinical social worker? They are social workers in clinical settings, such as hospitals, community mental health clinics, and schools who help individuals and their families with serious life challenges like substance abuse, poverty, and mental health.

Clinical social workers are often employed in hospitals like Children’s Minnesota. They are essential members of the healthcare team providing grief counseling, crisis intervention, and other support to patients and their families as they cope with chronic and new illnesses. They serve as advocates for  patients and their families and bridge communication between families, health care providers, and outside services. Social workers are knowledgeable about the impact of trauma and are champions of equity and social justice.

Now, you can answer the question of what is an LICSW. If you want to learn more about what it’s like to be a clinical social worker at Children’s, you can hear directly from three clinical social workers at Children’s MN about what a typical day looks like for them and what they love about their job.

How to Become a LICSW

In order to become a licensed clinical social worker in MN you need to obtain a  master’s degree in social work at an accredited school of social work, obtain practice experience learning in a clinical setting, and pass a licensing social work exam. It takes years of dedication and hard work to become an LICSW.  

Steps to Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Let’s break down each step of how to become an LICSW: 

  1. Bachelor’s degree: Earn a four-year degree in social work or a related field such as sociology. 
  2. Master’s degree: Earn a Master’s in Social Work (MSW)
  3. LGSW Exam/License: Pass LGSW exam to obtain licensure as LGSW  
  4. Clinical Hours: Complete the supervised clinical hours required by your state.  
  5. LICSW Exam/License: Pass the clinical social work exam in MN. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a LICSW?

It takes approximately six years to complete the LICSW education requirements – four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and two more years to earn an MSW. The clinical hours, exam, and license application process usually take at least another two years. So, you should plan on it taking at least eight years to become a clinical social worker.  

The good news is that you can start earning a paycheck while you are still completing your MSW program with a paid social work internship at Children’s Minnesota. This paid internship opportunity is ideal for clinical social work students with a high degree of cultural competency and those with a passion for equity and justice

Is Becoming an LICSW a good career path?

Social workers projected job growth is faster than the average projected growth across all occupations. According to the BLS, there will be approximately 78,300 job openings for social workers every year for the next ten years. Becoming a LICSW is a smart decision for job security and for a sense of fulfillment from helping others.  

  • Estimate of Jobs available: 715,600 
  • Rate of projected job growth: 12%, faster than average 
  • New jobs to be added in the next ten years: 89,200  

Why Become a Clinical Social Worker at Children’s Minnesota

While there are certainly other jobs that may pay more than social work, there are few that are as rewarding. The real LICSW meaning is making a difference in the lives of young people every day. And at Children’s Minnesota, you don’t have to wait to get started. If you are working on your clinical experience hours, consider applying now. We provide clinical supervision hours for MSWs working towards their clinical license. All social workers at Children’s have obtained their MSW’s and are expected to be working towards their LICSW.  

Children’s Minnesota is committed to diversity and equity in our hiring process and in the patients we serve. If this sounds like a good fit for you, reach out today to speak to one of our talent acquisition representatives.

How to Earn a Minnesota Social Work License

To work at Children’s MN, you first need to understand how to become a licensed clinical social worker in Minnesota. After you complete an LCSW degree in Minnesota or another state, you will complete the social work license application from the Minnesota Board of Social Work. There are four MN social work licenses to choose from. Each one requires passing a national social work exam and a background check.  

MN Social Work License Options

  • Licensed Social Worker (LSW): This license is for people who have earned a bachelor’s in social work.  
  • Licensed Graduate Social Worker (LGSW): This license is for people who have earned a master’s in social work. It allows you to do clinical social work under the supervision of a senior LCSW. 
  • Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW): This license is for people who want to practice social work independently outside of a clinical setting.  
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW): This license is for people who want to work as LCSWs and move into senior-level positions that involve supervising other social workers.  

Do You Need a Degree to be a LICSW?

All LICSWs must hold a master’s degree in social work or a similar field to get their license. So, what is an LICSW degree? The most common clinical social worker degree is a Master’s in Social Work (MSW).  

For undergraduate social work education, many universities offer a bachelor’s in social work, but any bachelor’s degree in a related discipline is usually acceptable. Here are some possible undergraduate majors and related-to-LICSW courses that will help prepare you to earn your MSW: 

  • Psychology 
  • Sociology 
  • Human rights 
  • Gender and sexuality 
  • Social welfare policies

LICSW Qualifications: Skills and Experience

Being a LICSW often means long workdays and dealing with difficult situations. The job can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. That’s why Children’s Minnesota provides social workers with a comprehensive benefits package to promote overall well-being and a healthy work/life balance.  

 There are several skills that LICSWs need in addition to an academic background in psychology and social welfare.  

  • Empathy: LICSWs need to show empathy and compassion for their clients at all times.   
  • Communication skills: LICSWs need strong written and verbal communication skills. 
  • Organizational skills: You will need to manage multiple clients at one time. 
  • Interpersonal skills: You should be comfortable engaging with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and socioeconomic statuses.  
  • Problem-solving skills: LICSWs assist clients in crisis intervention, conflict resolution, and long-term planning. 

Do Clinical Social Workers Need a License?

All clinical social workers need a license to practice in the state of Minnesota. Your master’s degree program should provide information on how to obtain your LGSW certification. More information is available through MN BOSW. 

 Board of Social Work (BOSW) / State of Minnesota Board of Social Work ( 

The Minnesota Board of Social Work mission is “Protecting the public through licensing and regulation of the social work profession.”

Social work degree programs

Minnesota is a great place to start your journey to becoming an LICSW. There are several options of universities where you can complete your bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in social work. The university programs featured below all do an excellent job guiding students in how to become licensed social workers.  

University of Minnesota 

The University of Minnesota’s Master of Social Work is the highest-rated MSW program in the state. You can choose to focus on clinical social work, community practice, families and children, or health. After completing the program, you will be ready to earn your LICSW license from Minnesota or another state.  

St. Cloud State University 

St. Cloud State offers a competitive MSW degree with evening and weekend classes to accommodate working professionals. The program faculty includes notable social workers in the industry, so you can learn from the best! 

Southwest Minnesota State University 

Southwest Minnesota State University offers a bachelor’s degree in social work. This is a great option for undergraduate students. The program is online and can prepare you for an in-person graduate program in Minnesota or elsewhere. 

St. Thomas Master of Social Work | Morrison Family College of Health | University of St. Thomas ( 

St. Catherine’s Healthcare Programs | St. Catherine University ( 

St. Mary’s Master of Social Work | Saint Mary’s ( 

Augsburg Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in Minnesota ( 

University of Minnesota Duluth Master of Social Work | College of Education and Human Service Professions ( 

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Jobs at Children’s Minnesota

Social Worker Children’s Minnesota hires LGSW social workers and does provide clinical supervision hours to help them earn their LICSW license. LGSWs and LICSWs work together with other hospital staff to provide emotional support to children ages 0-18 and their families.  

Social Work InternThis paid internship is open to students currently completing their Master’s in Social Work. You can earn a paycheck while completing your required clinical experience hours and preparing to take your social work exam.  

Program Therapist  – This position is open to social workers with an LGSW or LICSW license. The social worker provides individual and family therapeutic support to children with eating disorders and children/adolescents in inpatient mental health or partial hospitalization program. Other outpatient programs may also have openings for clinical social workers.  

Professional Organizations for Clinical Social Workers

National Association of Social Workers 

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the largest professional organization for social workers in the U.S. They hold annual conferences and numerous other networking events throughout the year. While not all the members of NASW are LCSWs, a large portion of them are. 

American Board of Clinical Social Work 

The American Board of Clinical Social Work (ABCSW) is specifically for clinical social workers. Their membership benefits include professional liability insurance and academic and professional resources. They also began holding annual conferences in 2022.  

Midwest School Social Work Council 

If you are interested in working as a social worker in educational settings in Minnesota, then the Midwest School Social Work Council may be the perfect professional organization for you. They hold regional conferences and provide resources for social workers in the area. 

Maria Hernandez-Chaire