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Board Authority

Board Authority-Title and Practice Protection: The Social Work Practice Act is both a title and a practice act. Minnesota Statutes, Sections 148E.001 and 148E.290 require that all persons either 1) practicing social work based on a social work degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or 2) representing themselves as a social worker must be licensed, except when practicing in an exempt setting. Persons may not begin social work practice where licensure is required until they hold a valid license or temporary license.

The Board has legal authority to determine whether a person in a specific position is engaged in social work practice and must be licensed. If the duties performed in a position include services defined as social work practice in Minnesota Statutes, Section 148E.010, subdivision 6 or 11, and the basis for the position is the persons Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) degree in social work, then licensure is required, even if the job title is not social worker and even if an employer does not require licensure. If an individual is unsure whether a social work license is required for a specific position, contact the Board for a determination. If an individual is engaged in unlicensed social work practicing they may be subject to investigation by the board.

Current Licensing Exemptions: A social work license is required to practice in Minnesota except as provided in Minnesota Statutes, Section 148E.065 which exempts the following persons from licensure:
  • Students engaged in practice in an internship program required for a social work degree
  • Persons employed by county agencies
  • Persons employed by federally recognized tribes
  • Other licensed professionals
  • Persons hired before July 1, 2016, employed by a city or state agency, or a private nonprofit agency with a primary service focus addressing ethnic minority populations and the individual is a member of an ethnic minority population
  • Beginning July 1, 2016, licensure is required for newly employed persons in a city or state agency, or a private nonprofit agency with a primary service focus addressing ethnic minority populations and the individual is a member of an ethnic minority population.
Standards for Practice: A person licensed as a social worker is legally recognized as a professional and is required to practice within professional standards established by the Legislature, including minimum standards for licensure, standards of practice and ethical conduct, and continuing competence standards regarding supervised practice and continuing education.

Scope of Practice Authority for all Licenses: As stated in Minnesota Statutes, Section 148E.050, an LSW, LGSW, LISW, and LICSW may engage in social work practice. An LSW must not engage in clinical social work practice. An LGSW and LISW may engage in clinical social work practice only under the supervision of an LICSW, or a licensing supervisor approved by the Board. An LICSW may independently engage in clinical practice.

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