LCSW vs MSW – Differences in Training, Licensure, Opportunities & Pay

It is very crucial to understand the variation between LCSW and MSW. It will help you choose the best choice of career in SW.

As part of our discussion today, we will compare the LCSW and the MSW. Some of the things you will learn include the critical elements for each credential, work environment, salary, etc.

MSW LCSW Comparison

MSW and LCSW are the two renowned advanced certificates in social work.

While you can get an MSW at university, the LCSW is obtained outside of school. The State government issues the certificate. Each state has its requirements for those qualifications.

What’s more, an MSW can give you access to work in a variety of contexts. But if you want to work clinically, you must become an LCSW. That’s the norm for most, if not all, of the states in the US.

What is an LCSW?

It is a work permit granted to MSW grads upon completion of their studies.

Social workers with these credentials can provide free mental health, psychotherapy, and other medical assistance without management.

However, you must know that SW doesn’t need to become LCSW. This certification is intended solely for those seeking to work privately.

What is MSW?

It’s an advanced degree that indicates if a social worker has reached a master-level in social work or not.

You may acquire such training at a college or university institution. But ensure that the educational institution is entirely certified by the relevant regulatory bodies.

For you to get an MSW, it’s going to take an average of two to four years. It all comes down to the type of study path you choose.

An advanced study route helps researchers get a DSW within a year. But it is specifically designed for those with a BSW or Background in social work.

Comparison Between LCSW and MSW

Using certain vital elements, we will now distinguish between an LCSW and an MSW. They include certification history, age limit, academic results, salary, work environments, etc.

  • Academic Background

BSW is the minimum required certification to be an MSW. But to be LCSW means more than winning an MSW. You will also need to finish additional courses, gain clinical background, and take the license examination.

  • Certification Essentials

This is another factor that distinguishes both certifications.

An MSW requires researchers to complete approximately 60 credit courses and 900 hours of on-the-job training. However, to be an LCSW, you must have an MSW or Ph.D. in social work.

Additionally, you will need to finish at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical background and then take the ASWB license test.

  • Required Age

There is no age limitation for researchers applying for an MSW certificate.

Young and old are welcome to further their careers in social work. But as far as the LCSW is concerned, there’s an age limit.

Social workers who request this credential mustn’t be under 21.

  • Roles

While it depends on the specialty, an MSW graduate can play multiple roles in the community.

They can serve as advocates for sick patients, ensure the safety of children, help researchers with academic difficulties, and much more.

However, LCSW is trained to diagnose and treat people who have mental, attitudinal, and sensational problems. Different roles include client counseling, patient recovery assistance, research, and more.

  • Salary

Pay is also one thing that separates an LCSW from an MSW.

Because the LCSW has made an additional effort to get a license, they’re well compensated as MSW. Yet, how much these professions are paid varies by workplace, province, and level of education and expertise.

In the US, the median wage of an MSW is approximately $56,000 per year, whereas an LCSW receives an average of $70,000 per year.

  • Work Settings

Although MSW can work in various settings, only LCSW is allowed to work in a clinical environment.

As a result, you can hardly find an MSW in a community mental health center, hospitals, stabilization centers, correctional facilities, psychiatric units, etc.

Additionally, MSW cannot work autonomously, but the LCSW can.

Therefore, LCSW is the beneficiary whenever jobs require a highly-skilled workforce. This is the outcome of the license that separates the two categories of social work.

For now, those are the differences we can provide concerning MSW and LCSW. We’ll go into answering some frequently asked questions involving these two certifications.

How Many Years Do You Need To Become CLSW?

It doesn’t take long to be LCSW. After obtaining an MSc in clinical social work or other related courses, you can start the process.

However, you should note that the time it takes to be an LCSW varies by state. Some jurisdictions require MSW grads to complete two years of clinical background before applying.

What does it take to Obtain an MSW?

It takes a great deal to be an MSW. This is because the study is demanding, especially for researchers pursuing continuing graduate studies.

They must attend at least 60 credit courses within two or four years. In addition, they’ll have to complete at least 900 hours of fieldwork during their studies.

MSW studies are somewhat easier for fellows entering advanced standing studies. They only have an average of 30 to 39 credit courses to complete in a couple of years.

This group of researchers will also complete field studies along with their peers.

What Degree Is The Better?

It depends on your career goals.

If you want to work in a clinical setting, LCSW will suit you perfectly. But if you want to work in a nonclinical environment, then MSW is enough for you.

However, obtaining a permit to work freely with various populations is crucial. If you are still in a dilemma, seek guidance from a professional advisor.

That will bring our discussion today to a close. At least you can see a clear distinction between an MSW and LCSW.

Although both have similar academic backgrounds, one has an additional credential that makes it unique. By now, you should know whether to become an MSW or an LCSW.