Ohio Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) Guide - 2024

AKA: Ohio LISW License

Social Worker License

by Social Worker License Staff

Updated: April 24th, 2023

Ohio Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) Licensure Process

LISWs provide all the services of an LSW and work independently, delivering the following:

  • Counseling
  • Psychosocial assessments
  • Social psychotherapy
  • Problem-oriented assessments
  • Program and organizational assessments
  • Work as private practitioners

Education Requirements

You’ll need to attend a CSWE-accredited program and graduate with an MSW. The scope of education on this level includes emphasis on:

  • Aging and health
  • Child and youth services
  • Mental health and substance misuse
  • Community and social justice

Find all schools offering social work degree programs in Ohio.

Experience Requirements

You must complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience within a two-year period. If more than one supervisor oversees your work, the overlapping time does not count toward your accrual. For every 20 hours of work completed, you need one of them to be supervised by an individual or group. That comes to 150 hours of in-person supervision by a Licensed Independent Social Worker Supervisor (LISW-S).

A Professional Employment Reference has to be sent to the Board by your training supervisor. If you have more than one, each of them needs to fill out the form on the eLicense website. Follow the instructions listed on the LISW Supervision Documentation page to complete the information accurately.

If you attend the program part-time, no more than 1,500 hours can be completed within the first twelve months. If more than the allowed time is accrued, it cannot be carried over into the next year. However, if you don’t reach 1,500 hours in the first year, your time frame is extended, and you can begin the second half of your training afterward.

Background Check

Each applicant is subject to an FBI criminal records and BCI&I check. You must get your fingerprints scanned at a WebCheck location and take the instructions to help make the process quick and easy. WebCheck locations are typically found at the police station, sheriff’s department, your school, or the department of motor vehicles.

It can take a few weeks for the Board to receive the results, so you should start the background check at least a month before you plan to become licensed. If you’ve had trouble with the fingerprint scanner capturing your prints in the past, begin the process three months before the expected licensure, as the manual process takes longer.

You should let the WebCheck location know a few things before they begin. They have to select “Social Work Board” on their drop-down menu, and if it isn’t there, they must manually key in the following:


77 High Street

24th Floor, Room 2468

Columbus, Ohio 43215-6171

In the next section, the WebCheck location must choose a “Reason For Fingerprinting”. Under this drop-down menu, they must choose from the following:

  • ORC 4757.101
  • CSWMFT Board
  • Required for Licensure

The BCI&I completes both their and the FBI’s checks by comparing your prints to a criminal database once they’re received. Your results are then sent electronically to the CSWMFT Board. If no criminal record is found, you’ll have the results in 4-5 days. The results can take up to 4-6 weeks to come back if one is found.

Keep in mind that the Board is unable to process your application without the results from the background checks, and the results are valid for one year. Copies cannot be accepted, and you cannot send the results to the Board yourself. Only records transmitted from the BCI&I are allowed for review.

Applying for Licensure as a Licensed Independent Social Worker

After the Board receives documentation validating your supervised social work experience, you can apply for LISW licensure on the eLicense website. You’re required to indicate which test you plan to take, the Clinical or Advanced Generalist Exam. Attach a copy of your:

  • Driver’s license
  • Copy of MSW degree
  • Unofficial or official transcript

After the Board reviews the application, you will be sent an email letting you know you’re eligible to take the requested exam. While you wait to hear back from them, be sure to view the Laws and Rules video outlining the responsibilities of a licensed social worker.

Either you or the school can send the official transcripts to socialwork@cswb.ohio.gov. Next, complete the background check and track your application status on the eLicense site. As long as the Board receives all the required documents properly filled out, you will be issued a LISW license. An email will be sent to you with a certificate attached that you can print out and hang on your wall.

Examination Requirements

The ASWB Clinical and Advanced Generalist Exam both cost $260 for registration. The ASWB will send you an email to schedule the test at a Pearson Vue Testing Center. If you need to retake the exam for any reason, apply for an Exam Re-Approval.