Pennsylvania Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW) Guide - 2024

AKA: Pennsylvania LBSW License

Social Worker License

by Social Worker License Staff

Updated: February 16th, 2024

Pennsylvania Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW) Licensure Process

An LBSW is the first level of licensure in Pennsylvania, and it only permits you to practice in a non-licensed, supervised capacity. Their level of practice is general and can be found helping organizations and policymakers in the community implement programs and services.

Education Requirements

Complete a BSW program approved by the Council of Social Worker Boards (CSWE) to qualify for the LBSW license. Here you can find all schools offering social work degree programs in Pennsylvania.

Experience Requirements

Anyone applying for licensure has to complete 3 hours of training on child abuse recognition and reporting. The training attended must be approved by the Department of Human Services (DHS). Once you’ve finished the training session, they will send an electronic submission to the Board with your name, the date you completed the program, and any other vital information. You can see the list of approved child abuse education providers on the Pennsylvania Department of State Website.

Background Check

Each applicant is subject to a mandatory Criminal History Records Check (CHRC) obtained from the state police. Once you submit the application, you have 90 days to complete the CHRC. The CHRC request is automatically sent to the Pennsylvania State Police when you submit the application for licensure. You are responsible for the background fee, which is included at checkout. When the CHRC is completed, it is sent directly to the Board. If any further action is needed, you will be notified.

Those with criminal convictions who want to know if their past will prevent them from obtaining a social worker’s license are encouraged to review the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Guide to Good Practices. If the Guide doesn’t clarify whether your conviction will be a determining factor in your application for licensure, submit a Preliminary Determination application, and the Board will decide. The request comes with an application fee of $45, and the Board has 45 days to issue a determination.

The Board may rule in your favor and allow you to apply for licensure after conducting a two-stage evaluation process. For more information on what that process involves, visit the Department of State’s website.

Examination Requirements

Before taking the required exam, you must sign up for an account on the Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS) site. There is an acknowledgement application to submit and a $75 registration fee. Once the information is processed, you will be notified by email or postal mail, depending on your preference, that you’re able to sit down for the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. The registration cost is $230 for the ASWB Bachelor exam. The next step is to log in to and schedule a date at a testing facility.

Applying for Licensure as a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker

Once you’ve fulfilled all the prior requirements, you’re ready to apply for licensure. Create or log in to your PALS account to get started. To ensure you submit all of the required documentation, use the application checklist provided by the Board. Select the appropriate status and licensure information from the drop-down menus to receive the checklist you need to follow. Here are the items you need for LBSW licensure:

  • Application
  • Application Fee ($75)
  • Child Abuse CE Course
  • Criminal History Check
  • Databank Report
  • Education Verification
  • Educational Transcripts

You have six months from the date you started the application to send in all the documents required for completion. The Data Bank Report must be a Self-Query performed on the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) website. The web-based repository stores reports of medical malpractice payments and adverse actions taken against healthcare providers, practitioners, and suppliers.

The education verification forms are to be sent to your school to complete, and they’ll return the form to the Board. The form is only required if you’re in your final semester and still have yet to take the ASWB exam. Once you have your BSW, request that the school send your official transcript to the Board:

State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors

PO BOX 2649

Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649

Once the Board approves your PALS application, you’ll receive an email notification that you’ve been accepted; keep this email. The next step is to register for the ASWB Bachelor exam. If you don’t pass the first time, you can retake the test after 90 days. You are going to pay another exam fee of $230.

When you pass the test, the Board will grant you an LBSW license, and you can begin practicing.