The Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses, Idaho State Board of Social Work Examiners (ISBSWE) issues the following types of social work licenses:
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Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) – This license allows for the generalist practice of social work as it relates to activities like:
- Case management
- Supportive counseling
- Assessment, intervention, and evaluation
- Community organization
- Administration of social work programs and policies
- If you gain enough hours of supervised experience you can qualify to practice independently, at which point you’ll be known as a Licensed Social Worker-Independent
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) – This license allows you to apply advanced practice skills and specialized knowledge to implementing the same types of activities as authorized under the LBSW scope of practice. You can additionally enhance the biopsychosocial functioning of individuals, couples, families, and groups. If you gain enough hours of supervised experience you can qualify to practice independently. And you can engage in clinical social work under supervision.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – This license allows you to engage in the same scope of practice as an LMSW, and additionally to engage in the practice of clinical social work. This includes the diagnosis, treatment, and assessment of emotional, mental and behavioral disorders. As an LCSW you’re automatically permitted to engage in private as well as independent practice.
Steps Towards Licensure
To qualify for any of the licenses issued by the Idaho State Board of Social Work Examiners (ISBSWE) you need to:
- Earn a degree from a program that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE); have your school send your official transcripts to the ISBSWE, and you can apply up to two quarters before you graduate by filling out the Addendum 1 form contained within the application for licensure
- Pass the appropriate exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
- Submit an application for licensure to the ISBSWE, along with a $70 application fee
- As part of applying, have three professional references sent to the ISBSWE
Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.
- Submit an application for LBSW licensure to the ISBSWE. Once the ISBSWE approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Bachelors exam. Once you pass this the ISBSWE will issue your LBSW license, however you will have to practice under supervision.
Gaining Independent Practice Status:
- As a licensed LBSW, develop a plan of supervision with a qualified LBSW, LMSW, or LCSW. Submit this to the ISBSWE for approval.
- Once you gain ISBSWE approval for your supervision plan, you’ll need to accrue 3,000 hours of experience over at least two years. When you’ve reached this point you will be eligible to receive authorization from the ISBSWE to practice independently. An independent practice LBSW is also known as being a Licensed Social Worker-Independent.
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
- Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Submit an application for LMSW licensure to the ISBSWE. Once the ISBSWE approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Masters exam. Once you pass this the ISBSWE will issue your LMSW license, however you will have to practice under supervision.
Gaining Independent Practice Status:
As a licensed LMSW, develop a plan of supervision with a qualified LMSW or LCSW. Submit this to the ISBSWE for approval.
Once you gain ISBSWE approval for your supervision plan, you’ll need to accrue 3,000 hours of experience over at least two years. When you’ve reached this point you will be eligible to receive authorization from the ISBSWE to practice independently.
Gaining Supervision to Become an LCSW
As an LMSW you’re also qualified to start gaining hours of supervision experience to become an LCSW. The first step towards accomplishing this is to develop a Plan of Supervision with a qualified LCSW. Submit this to the ISBSWE for approval. You can find a list of approved LCSW supervisors here. Once your plan of supervision is approved you can start accruing hours to fulfill the LCSW supervised experience requirement. You don’t need to have independent practice status to start accruing hours towards the LCSW license.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Complete the supervised experience requirement. This is 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised experience focusing on clinical social work completed in at least two years. This must include 1,750 hours of direct client contact and 1,250 hours involving assessment, diagnosis, and other clinical social work. It’s recommended that you keep track of this supervision in a format like this. You complete the supervised experience requirement in-state as an LMSW, and you must be supervised at least half of the time by a qualified LCSW. The ISBSWE also allows you to gain out-of-state supervised experience to qualify for the LCSW license, however if you do this you’ll need to submit an Out-of-State Clinical Social Work Supervisor Verification Form. Your supervisor will need to submit periodic six-month reports to the ISBSWE, and once your supervision is complete they will also need to submit a Final Supervision Report.
- Once you’ve completed the supervised experience requirement you’ll be ready to submit an application for LCSW licensure to the ISBSWE. Once the ISBSWE approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Clinical exam. Once you pass this the ISBSWE will issue your LCSW license.
Becoming an Eligible Supervisor for Prospective LCSWs
For an LMSW to become an LCSW they must meet the supervised experience requirement, which includes gaining supervision from a qualified LCSW supervisor. If you want to become a qualified LCSW supervisor you need to meet the following requirements:
Have at least two years of LCSW experience
Have 15 hours of ISBSWE-approved supervisor training
Submit an Application for Clinical Supervision Registration to the ISBSWE
If you want to maintain your supervisor status you will need to renew it every renewal period, which means submitting and completing six continuing education hours relating to advanced supervisor training.
Renewing Your License
Social work licenses issued by the ISBSWE must be renewed each year. Six weeks before your license expires you’ll receive a renewal notice in the mail. You can renew by sending this back to the ISBSWE or by completing the online renewal process. To be eligible for renewal you’ll need to complete 20 hours of continuing education, including one hour in professional ethics. You’re exempt from the continuing education requirement during your first renewal. It costs $80 to renew your license unless you’re an LCSW, in which case the renewal fee is $90.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in Idaho?
The time it takes to start practicing social work in Idaho depends on which type of license you’re interested in. Generally it takes four years to earn a BSW degree and at least two additional years to earn an MSW degree. Combined with the necessary supervised work experience means the following approximate time investment post-high-school for each type of social work license:
- LBSW – Four years
- LSW-Independent – Six years
- LMSW – Six years
- LMSW-Independent – Eight years
- LCSW – Eight Years
Social Work Degrees in Idaho
If you want to become licensed as a social worker at any level in Idaho you’ll need to earn a degree from a program that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Right now Idaho is home to eight such programs, including three that have online education options. While the CSWE doesn’t accredit doctoral-level programs in Social Work, you also have the option of earning a degree at this level to achieve the highest level of didactic expertise that’s available in this field.
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)
If you want to earn an LBSW license or an LSW-Independent license then you need a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program. Currently you can find five such programs in Idaho, including one that has an option for online completion. Being CSWE-accredited means a BSW program must include at least 400 hours of field education, and these programs total at least 120 semester or 180 quarter credits.
Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)
Qualifying for the LMSW or LCSW licenses means earning an MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program. Idaho is currently home to three such programs, two of which have options for online completion. These include a field education segment totaling at least 900 hours. This is an important opportunity where you can experience advanced-level social work practice being put into action outside of the classroom in the real world.
Doctoral Degree in Social Work
While Social Work degrees at this level won’t qualify you for licensure in Idaho, earning one of these will demonstrate that you’ve made a commitment to excellence in this field. PhD programs in Social Work can be more research-oriented and take longer to complete that Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programs, which can focus more on clinical applications.
You can qualify for a social work license in Idaho via endorsement if you meet the education and exam requirements, plus experience requirements for the LCSW credential. Follow the process outlined above and indicate that you’re applying for licensure via reciprocity on your application. The application fee is $90. The ISBSWE needs to receive official verification of your license from your state’s social work licensing board, and your official exam results from the ASWB. If you’re applying for the LCSW license use this application.
Social Work Salaries in Idaho
In 2020 the US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for these social work career paths, specifically for Idaho:
- Social and Community Service Manager – $57,230
- Healthcare Social Worker – $57,440
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $50,260
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $48,170
- Social Worker, All Other – $65,170
Social Work Resources in Idaho
Idaho Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers – This local chapter is proud to be a part of the largest organization of social workers in the nation. Member benefits include Q-and-A sessions about pressing professional topics, licensing exam preparation sessions, and insider advice about topics ranging from DSM updates to what it’s like in private practice.
Idaho Society for Clinical Social Work – Learning events that are inspirational, fun, rewarding, and encouraging are all within the purview of the ISCSW. That’s because its main areas of focus are promoting excellence through learning for clinical social workers, and simultaneously serving as a networking hub and center of support for those involved in this profession.
School Social Work Association of Idaho – The primary goal of this organization is to promote the profession of school social work throughout the state. It does this by providing professionals in this field with the best advocacy, professional development, and helpful resources available. It sponsors annual conferences and provides outstanding opportunities for professional development and inter-circle networking.
Career Opportunities in Idaho
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) – This state-level organization provides important resources for all residents that address issues including adult mental health, children’s mental health, elderly adult care, developmental disabilities, substance use, suicide prevention, child welfare, and much more. Many of the issues addressed by this department intersect with primary areas of social worker practice.
Idaho Mental Health Services – Under the umbrella of the DHW, this agency serves some of Idaho’s most vulnerable populations. It provides tailored mental health services to children, adults, and families. It operates its own mental health programs as well as partnering with local organizations throughout the state. It administers the state’s mental health hospitals, suicide prevention program, and annual behavioral health events.
Idaho Behavioral Health – With offices located in four cities, this organization focuses on outpatient treatment health clinics for adults and children. It partners with statewide organizations including Idaho Case Management and the Health Services Advisory Committee.
Boise School District – Founded in 1865, today this district includes 32 grade schools, eight middle schools, and five high schools. Altogether it’s responsible for providing foundational education to 25,000 students. The physical boundaries of this district span over 456 square miles of Ada County.
Ambitions of Idaho – This multi-disciplinary agency specializes in developmental disability and behavioral health services for families, children, and adults. Serving Idahoans from eight locations across the state, treatments include group therapy for substance abuse, a transgender support group, training about anger, youth empowerment, and more.
Saint Luke’s Health System – Centered around its eponymous Boise Medical Center hospital, this healthcare system includes five additional hospitals as well as 200-plus clinics. It’s home for around 14,000 employees and sees over 50,000 patient admissions every year. Saint Luke’s Hospital hosts 437 beds and its founding dates back to 1902.
Idaho Falls School District – Serving approximately 10,400 students, this district is comprised of a dozen elementary schools, two middle schools, and four high schools. It was established in 1947 in the aftermath of the Second World War and relies on its dedicated teachers and staff numbering 1,300 to instill a sense of education and knowledge in their students throughout the Idaho Falls area.