LSW & LCSW Licensure

NASW-CO's Steps To Licensure Flow Sheet can be found here. A narrative versions can be found here (LSW & LCSW) and here (in Community Mental Health)

Detailed information about requirements for earning a license, including supervision, may be found in the Mental Health Practice Act Statute and the DORA Social Work Rules (links in side bar) . The School Social Work License is through the Colorado Department of Education (not DORA). For more information see CDE info.

Social Work licensing falls under the Mental Health Licensing Section of the Division of Professions and Occupations within the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). Colorado currently has two licenses for social workers: the LSW and the LCSW. These two licenses are for MSWs only as there is no licensure for BSW level social workers in Colorado.

The LSW for graduates of MSW programs who will practice under supervision is (generally) required for those working toward a LCSW*. NASW strongly recommends that while pursuing the LCSW, social workers first become licensed as LSWs, thereby staying within the social work profession with oversight by the CO Board of Social Work Examiners; enabling the possibility for licensure and telehealth in other states; and enabling billing in certain settings such as FQHCs. *There are exceptions to the LSW requirement. A master's level social worker may be eligible for a Provisional License offered by an employer who is a state approved agency or a master's level social worker may be eligible to work in an "Exempt" facility such as some Community Mental Health Centers; You must check with DORA to determine if your agency is classified as such. Or, while not recommended by NASWCO, another option while pursuing an LCSW is to list in the "unlicensed registered psychotherapist" database, with oversight by the CO Board of Registered Psychotherapists. NASW recommends that those who choose this route, upon receiving their LCSW, change their DORA Registration to the Board of Social Work Examiners to be overseen by that Board. 

Note that the LSW may also be acquired by MSWs under supervision in indirect/macro practice. Colorado does not currently have a license for the independent practice of indirect/macro social work (in previous years there was the LISW).

Be certain to understand Colorado's Continued Professional Development requirements for LSWs and LCSWs.  Additionally, there are HPPP/Skolnik Act requirements.  Be sure to adhere to both these requirements.

Colorado's MH Practice Act Statute, Section 12-245-217 allows those licensed in other states to practice for up to 20 days in Colorado without having to become licensed in CO (see side bar for Statute link and scroll to 12-245-217; must be in good standing with other licensure boards and practice within scope). 

Although NASW continues its longtime advocacy on this front, there is (generally) no automatic reciprocity for licensure with another state, but in Colorado (and many other states) there is a process called Licensure by Endorsement (some states' emergency orders, such as during COVID-19, may allow reciprocity so check NASW resource pages during such emergencies). DORA oversees Licensure by Endorsement to obtain a Colorado license if one is licensed in another state. Social workers must complete the License by Endorsement Application (see the link to DORA Licensing Services and scroll to Endorsement section) and show that they have met the equivalent requirements of a Colorado LSW or LCSW license. Social workers must show that they have the appropriate degree and have previously passed the appropriate ASWB exam. In addition, the Colorado Jurisprudence Exam will need to be taken and passed. Transcripts may be required as well. For more information, please see the links in the grey box on this web page.

For information about what to do if you forgot to renew your license see the License Renewal Information..

Licensees who are not currently practicing in the state but who want to keep a license may put it on "Inactive Status".  See details.

License Exam Prep Course

Links on Licensure:

NASW-CO's Steps To Licensure Flow Sheet can be found here. - Info on how to initiate application for licensure (start here)

ASWB Exam - info on the license exam

DORA Board of Social Work Examiners - homepage, update address, online services

DORA Licensing Forms - for original license by exam, original license by endorsement, or for provisional application

Check Application Status - for applications in progress

Mental Health Practice Act - CO licensing law

DORA Rules - of the Social Work Board

DORA Practice Policy(s) - of the Social Work Board

DORA HPPP/Skolnik Act Program

Jurisprudence Exam Help - help from the Chapter includes exam resources & links

DORA Cont Professional Development Portal 

DORA License Lookup - verify a license

DORA Complaint - file a complaint about a licensee

DORA Disciplinary Actions- current and past board actions