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Idaho Social Work License Requirements

Idaho has a growing population of over 1.7 million, signaling an increasing need for social work services.1 The state’s social workers are well-paid, with an average annual salary almost $4,000 higher than the state’s median household income.1,2 If you are interested in becoming a social worker in Idaho, you’ll need to understand the different licensure options offered by the Board of Social Work Examiners, which regulates the practice of social work in the state. Continue reading to learn about Idaho social work careers, including educational requirements, the different licenses available, and employment data.

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How to Become a Social Worker in Idaho

Educational Paths

To practice social work in Idaho, you must hold a license from the Board. The minimum degree required for social work licensure in the state is a bachelor’s in social work (BSW). However, a master’s in social work (MSW) is required for clinical and private practice in Idaho. Read below for more details about these degrees to help you decide which is the best option for you.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

The Board requires that all licensees possess at least a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). As of February 2019, there were five BSW programs in Idaho that were accredited by the CSWE. BSW programs usually take four years to complete, preparing students for professional work through classroom and field experience. Courses typically include human behavior, social work policy, professional ethics, and practice methods. After receiving this degree, you become eligible to apply for the Licensed Social Worker (LSW) credential in Idaho.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

To practice more advanced social work, provide clinical services, or practice privately in Idaho, you will need a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited program. As of February 2019, there were two MSW programs in Idaho that were accredited by the CSWE. All CSWE-accredited MSW programs will share a core curriculum, but schools will offer different electives and research topics based on each program’s specialty. MSW courses usually include social work policy and social welfare, social work research, and crisis management and intervention. CSWE-accredited MSW programs also have a fieldwork component that gives students real-world social work experience. If you previously completed your BSW from a CSWE-accredited school, you may be eligible for “advanced standing” in an MSW program, decreasing the time to completion from two years to one year. After receiving an MSW, you will be eligible to apply for Idaho’s Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credentials.

Steps for becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Idaho

The Board issues three social work credentials: Licensed Social Worker, Licensed Masters Social Worker, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. LSWs and LMSWs must work under supervision for a period of time after becoming licensed but can apply for an independent practice designation after a certain amount of supervised work. See the sections below for more information about each Idaho social work license and the steps required for licensure.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW)

If you hold a BSW from a CSWE-accredited school, you are eligible to apply for a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) license in Idaho. LSWs can practice general social work, which includes activities such as assessment, case management, making referrals, supportive counseling, and advocacy. You can begin the licensure process as early as six months before your expected BSW graduation date by following the steps below.

1. Complete the social work license application.

To begin the LSW licensing process in Idaho, complete the Board’s Application for Social Work License form and return it to them with the $70 application fee (as of February 2019). You will need to include a copy of your driver’s license or birth certificate as well as a professional reference form. If your degree has already been issued, ask your school to mail an official transcript to the Board. If you have not yet graduated, your school must provide verification of your expected graduation date on the form that is included in the application.

2. Pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam.

All candidates for LSW licensure must pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam. You cannot register until the Board has reviewed your application and notified the ASWB that you are eligible to take the test. The Bachelor’s exam costs $230 as of February 2019 and contains 170 multiple-choice questions. After you have taken the exam, the ASWB will automatically send your scores to the Board within two weeks.

3. Receive your LSW.

After you have passed the exam, request that your school send a copy of your final BSW transcript to the Board if they do not already have it. Once the Board has received a full application packet including a final transcript and documentation of passing Bachelor’s exam scores, they will issue your LSW license. You must work under the supervision of an LCSW or an independent LSW or LMSW until you have obtained 3,000 hours of experience in no fewer than two and no more than five years. After that, you can apply for permission to practice independently.

Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW)

The Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW) credential requires applicants to hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program. LMSWs can practice advanced non-clinical social work and can provide these services independently after receiving a certain amount of supervision. LMSWs are also able to practice clinical social work under supervision but cannot apply for independent clinical privileges. Continue reading to learn more about the steps required for LMSW licensure.

1. Complete the social work license application.

Up to one semester before your expected graduation date, you can submit an Application for Social Work License form to the Board. You will need to include a copy of your driver’s license or birth certificate as well as a professional reference form. If you have already graduated, ask your school to mail a copy of your MSW transcript to the Board. If you have not yet graduated, your school must verify your expected graduation date on the application’s appendix form. As of February 2019, the application fee is $70.

2. Pass the ASWB Master’s exam.

After the Board approves your application, they will grant you permission to register for the ASWB Master’s exam, which is required for LMSW licensure. The Master’s exam is a 170-question, multiple-choice exam that costs $230 as of February 2019. Your scores will be sent to the Board within two weeks of your test date.

3. Receive your LMSW license.

Before you can receive your license, the Board will need an official copy of your final transcript, if you applied before graduation. After they have received all the required application materials, including documentation of a passing Master’s exam score, they will issue your LMSW license. You must work under the supervision of an LCSW or independent LMSW until you accrue 3,000 hours of supervised experience, at which point you can apply for independent non-clinical practice privileges.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential allows for the independent practice of clinical social work, including services such as psychodiagnostic assessment and treatment. In Idaho, LCSWs are also the only social workers who are able to practice privately (in other words, outside of an agency or organization). To earn an LCSW license, you must hold an MSW from a CSWE-approved program and will also need to complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work before becoming licensed. Continue reading for the steps involved in applying for LCSW licensure.

1. Gain the required experience.

To become an LCSW in Idaho, you must first complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work experience in a period of no fewer than two and no more than five years. Of these hours, 1,750 should come from direct patient contact. At least half of your supervision should come from a licensed clinical social worker, though you can also receive supervision from licensed psychologists, counselors, or other independent behavioral health providers. If you complete your supervised hours in Idaho, you will need to hold an active LMSW license and the Board must approve your proposed supervisor and supervision plan before you are able to begin accruing hours. The Board also requires that supervisors in Idaho periodically submit other forms documenting their supervisees’ progress.

2. Complete the LCSW application.

After you have completed 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience, you can submit an LCSW application to the Board. If you already hold an Idaho LMSW license, complete the LCSW application; if you earned your supervised experience in another state, complete the general social work application. Both applications cost $70 as of February 2019. Idaho applicants do not need to submit any additional documentation, but out-of-state applicants must submit a copy of their driver’s license or birth certificate, a professional reference form, and an official copy of their final transcript.

3. Pass the ASWB Clinical exam.

To become licensed as an LCSW, you will need to pass the ASWB Clinical exam. The $260 (as of February 2019) exam tests an individual’s knowledge of social work and clinical practice through 170 multiple-choice questions You must receive permission from the Board before you can register for the test. The Board will receive your scores from the ASWB shortly after your exam date.

4. Receive your LCSW license.

Once you have completed the steps listed above, the Board will issue your LCSW license. After this, you can practice clinical and nonclinical social work independently and may engage in private practice.

Social Work Licensure by Endorsement in Idaho

Idaho does not have formal reciprocity with any other state, but the Board offers licensure by endorsement for social workers licensed in other states who do not have disciplinary actions against them. This allows a social worker to become licensed in Idaho without having to repeat requirements such as the licensure exam or supervised experience. To apply for licensure by endorsement, complete the social work application and submit it to the Board with the $90 application fee (as of February 2019). In addition to the documents required of all applicants, you will also need to provide verification of your current license and past ASWB exam scores.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Social workers in Idaho must renew their licenses annually. As of February 2019, renewal fees are $80 for LSWs and LMSWs and $90 for LCSWs. To renew your social work license, you must complete 20 hours of continuing education (CE) each year, including one hour in professional ethics. At least half of the required CE hours must be from formal experiences such as seminars and workshops, while any portion of the remainder can come from self-directed activities.

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Idaho Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

May 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 2,300 social workers were employed in Idaho, the largest number of whom worked in the subfield of child, family, and school social work (1,110). 2 Social workers in Idaho earn an average salary of $54,948.2 Jobs for social workers in Idaho are projected to increase by 17.3% between 2016 and 2026, amounting to approximately 450 new social work jobs during that 10-year period.3 The highest growth is expected in the subfield of healthcare social work, which is expected to see a 25% increase in jobs.3

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 1,110 $49,420
Healthcare Social Workers 480 $57,000
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 630 $42,400
Social Workers, All Other 80 $70,970

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

Social Work Associations in Idaho

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I practice independently as a social worker in Idaho?

Answer: Yes, though LSWs and LMSWs must complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience before applying for independent practice privileges. LCSWs can begin practicing independently as soon as they receive their licenses.

Question: For the 3,000 hours of work experience required, can I count experience I gained years ago for my LCSW application?

Answer: Yes, as long as it was acquired in a period of no fewer than two and no more than five years. If you complete this experience in Idaho, you must also have had your supervision approved by the Board before you began accruing hours.

Question: What kinds of qualifications are required of the person supervising my experience for LCSW licensure?

Answer: At least half of the 3,000 hours of experience must be supervised by a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW); if you are working in Idaho, this must be an LCSW who is registered as a supervisor with the Board. Up to one-half of the remaining hours can be under the supervision of a licensed independent behavioral health provider such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor.

Question: What kind of degree do I need to practice social work in Idaho?

Answer: You need a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to practice social work in Idaho. For more advanced or clinical practice, an MSW is required.

1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Idaho: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/id
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Idaho: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_id.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm