Iowa Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) Guide - 2024

AKA: Iowa LISW License

Social Worker License

by Social Worker License Staff

Updated: April 24th, 2023

Iowa Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) Licensure Process

The third and most advanced level of licensure in Iowa is the LISW. This license permits you to work independently and open your own practice if you so desire. You can perform clinical treatments for clients such as:

  • Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders or conditions

Education Requirements

An MSW or doctoral degree in social work from an accredited CSWE program is required for the LISW license. The Board will need a copy of your official transcripts sent directly from the college or university that granted you the degree. If the transcript was already set when you received your masters-level licensure, you wouldn’t need to send in a new transcript.

Find all schools offering social work degree programs in Iowa.

Application Process

Submit the application for an LISW license either online through the Online Services page or mail in a copy to the Board using the LISW Application. Other documentation, such as your transcript from your graduate program and Supervision Plan, needs to be sent in as well. The supervision plan identifies the LISW who will oversee you as you gain the required experience.

Experience Requirements

An LISW needs 4,000 hours of post-graduate experience in social work in a period of no less than two and not more than six years. The experience must include psychological assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. The LISW who supervises you must be licensed for a minimum of three years with 4,000 hours of work experience under that license. They also need to have completed training to become a supervisor. You need to accrue a minimum of 110 hours of in-person supervised practice, and no more than sixty of those hours can be from group supervision. Each Supervision Report must be sent as a single packet to the Board when applying for LISW licensure.

If you are an applicant from another state and have licensure equivalent to the LISW and have taken the clinical exam, you don’t have to submit supervision plans or reports.

Background Check

You are required to pass a criminal background check to obtain licensure as a social worker. While fingerprints are not required to request a criminal history record check, there are certain circumstances where they may be requested to confirm the applicant’s identity and the validity of the record. You are required to disclose any prior convictions on your application, but depending on the nature of the crime, you may not automatically be barred from obtaining a license. The Frequently Asked Questions About Having a Criminal Conviction page can help you determine whether or not you can get a social worker’s license in Iowa.

Examination Requirement

The Board will review your application and supervised hours, and if approved, you will be eligible to register for the ASWB Clinical Exam. Once you pay the exam fee, you can take the test made up of 170 multiple-choice questions. The exam assesses your knowledge of clinical social work, and of the 170 questions, only 150 are scored. After passing the exam, the Board will issue your license, and you can begin practicing independently and perform clinical social work in Iowa.