Social Work Licensure in Kansas

Social workers provide vital support to people in need. These professionals work with diverse populations, motivated by a concern for the welfare of others. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 16% employment growth for social workers between 2016 and 2026. This includes 14% growth for child, family, and school social workers; 19% growth for mental health and substance abuse social workers; and 20% growth for healthcare social workers. These rates are much higher than the national average of 7% for all occupations.

Students interested in this rapidly growing field may consider social work schools in Kansas.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Kansas

On-campus and online social work programs in Kansas offer undergraduate and graduate degrees. A bachelor's in social work prepares graduates for entry-level work under a licensed supervisor. It is also a prerequisite for graduate study and professional licensure.

A master's in social work is the minimum educational requirement for clinical social work positions and independent private practice. At the doctoral level, students interested in academic careers and administrative positions may earn a doctor of social work.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

A BSW from a social work program in Kansas provides a comprehensive introduction to the field. Graduates may work under the supervision of licensed practitioners in settings such as child welfare agencies and juvenile residential facilities.

Anyone seeking a career as a clinical social worker needs a bachelor's degree to enter an MSW program and eventually qualify for social work licensure in Kansas. Social work schools in Kansas offer on-campus and online social work degrees at the undergraduate level. Most full-time students graduate within four years.

Master's in Social Work

An MSW opens up many rewarding career paths. Advanced or clinically licensed MSW holders work in administrative leadership and as clinicians in healthcare facilities, mental health settings, and family services and child welfare agencies.

Students can earn an MSW by attending a brick-and-mortar program in Kansas or enrolling in one of the state's affordable online options. This degree may take up to three years of full-time study in an on-campus program. An online master's degree may take less time, depending on program requirements and individual factors, such as the number of credits a student can complete each term.

Doctorate Degree in Social Work

A growing number of schools offer online doctoral degrees in social work in addition to traditional campus-based programs. The terminal social work degree is best suited for students with strong interests in research, postsecondary teaching, policy analysis, and administration.

The DSW is a practice-focused degree that prepares graduates for supervisory and administrative roles in clinical practice. DSW holders may also teach future practitioners in undergraduate and graduate social work programs. A Ph.D. in social work emphasizes academic research, public policy, and postsecondary teaching. Both degrees may require five or more years of coursework and independent study, including a dissertation or other research component.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Kansas

The Kansas Behavioral Science Regulatory Board (KBSRB) has jurisdiction over all aspects of Kansas social work licensure. This state agency is the best source for information on license requirements and fees. Kansas regulates three licensure levels.

Licensed Bachelor Social Workers (BLSWs) may work in entry-level support positions and practice social work under supervision. Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSWs) provide services including administering evaluations, coordinating treatment plans, and staging interventions. The Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW) is the highest level of social work licensure in Kansas. This credential is mandatory for all clinical social workers, including those in independent private practice.

This section contains information on obtaining social work licensure in Kansas.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker

  1. Bachelor's Degree: Applicants must submit sealed transcripts that document completion of a bachelor's degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Students may apply for the LBSW if they are within four months of graduation, provided they submit verification of academic requirements authorized by their dean or program director.
  2. References: The LBSW application requires two letters of reference from licensed social workers who hold an LBSW at minimum or meet the LBSW qualifications. One reference must be the onsite supervisor of the applicant's most recent field experience.
  3. Bachelor's Level Exam: Once the KBSRB has approved an application, the applicant may take the bachelor's level exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Test takers who fail the exam may apply to retake it after three months.
  4. Application Fees: The ASWB charges $230 for the bachelor's level exam. Candidates must also pay a $100 application fee to the KBSRB. Applicants may pay $50 for a temporary license while waiting to take the ASWB exam.

Licensed Master Social Worker

  1. MSW Degree: LMSW candidates must submit official transcripts and hold a CSWE-accredited MSW. LMSW seekers may apply for licensure if they are within four months of completing their degree. In this case, applicants must submit verification of academic requirements authorized by their dean or program director.
  2. References: Applicants must submit three sealed letters of reference. References must hold or qualify for an LMSW. One reference must be the applicant's most recent field experience supervisor.
  3. Master's Level/Intermediate Exam: Candidates must take the ASWB master's level/intermediate exam. Candidates who fail the test may apply to retake it after 90 days.
  4. Application Fees: To begin the licensure process, applicants must complete the KBSRB application, submit all required supporting documents, and pay a $100 processing fee. Exam takers must pay $230 to the ASWB.

Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker

  1. MSW Degree and LMSW License: To work as a clinical social worker or practice independently in Kansas, social workers must hold a CSWE-accredited MSW and a valid LMSW. MSW holders who received their degree after 2003 must complete 15 graduate credits in mental disorder diagnosis and treatment.
  2. Supervised Experience: This licensure level requires candidates to complete 4,000 hours of supervised experience within two to six years. At least 1,500 hours must be in psychotherapy and assessment, and a maximum of 500 hours may be in direct clinical social work services. The candidate's supervisor must be a clinical social worker who has been licensed for at least two years.
  3. References: The LSCSW application requires three sealed letters of reference. Two references should be from LSCSW holders who can attest to the candidate's work in the field. The third should be from a current supervisor. Applicants must also submit a description of each supervised experience.
  4. Clinical Level Exam: LSCSW licensure requires a passing score on the ASWB clinical level exam. Candidates who fail the exam may apply to retake it after three months.
  5. Application Fees: Total application and testing costs for the LSCSW are approximately $400, including the procuring of transcripts and document photocopies. The fee for the ASWB clinical level exam is $260, and the KBRSB charges a $100 application fee.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Kansas?

Full-time, on-campus students can earn a bachelor's degree in four years, though online learners may sometimes complete their degree in less time. After graduation, BSW holders may apply for LBSW licensure after taking the time to prepare for and pass the ASWB bachelor's level examination.

An MSW, the basic requirement for the LMSW and LSCSW licenses, entails another two to three years of study, followed by the time needed to prepare for and pass the master's/intermediate or clinical level ASWB exam. The LSCSW also requires 4,000 hours of supervised experience, which can take two to six years to complete.

Out of State Licensing Reciprocity in Kansas

Reciprocity agreements facilitate the transfer of social work licenses between states. Each state establishes its own reciprocity requirements. The KBSRB regulates license transfer reciprocity in Kansas.

Social workers licensed outside of Kansas may apply for a license transfer if their state's minimum education and supervision requirements are equivalent to those of Kansas. They must also provide evidence of a passing score on the appropriate ASWB exam. LSCSW seekers must possess at least three years of clinical social work experience including diagnosing and treating mental disorders. Licensure transfer candidates must pay a $100 application fee.

License Renewal

The KBSRB is responsible for license renewal. Licensed social workers may contact the KBSRB directly for the most up-to-date information on continuing education (CE) requirements and licensure renewal fees.

Kansas social workers must renew their licenses every two years. License holders must complete 40 CE hours during this two-year period. For LBSWs, three hours must be in ethics. LMSWs and LSCSWs must complete six hours in diagnosis and treatment. Social workers at all levels must complete a one-time social worker safety awareness training for at least six hours.

The KBSRB charges license renewal fees of $100 for LBSWs, $125 for LMSWs, and $150 for LSCSWs.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Kansas

Students interested in earning a social work degree in Kansas should enroll in a program accredited by the CSWE, which conducts rigorous assessments to ensure that social work programs meet quality standards. Nine colleges and universities in Kansas offer CSWE-accredited undergraduate and graduate programs.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

Compassion and empathy are important qualities for anyone considering a social work career. A social work degree permits graduates to work in settings including schools, clinics, healthcare agencies, and private practice.

Although a BSW is the minimum education requirement for entry into the profession, an MSW and licensure are increasingly desirable credentials, leading to rewarding careers in clinical practice and managerial roles. Graduates of social work schools in Kansas may choose one of the careers listed below.

  • Clinical Social Worker: These social workers find employment in public and private settings including hospitals, mental health clinics, hospice centers, and nursing homes. Everyday duties may include facilitating group therapy sessions, providing one-on-one counseling, and administering clinical assessments. All clinical social workers must have an MSW and clinical licensure.
  • Medical Social Worker: This growing specialty requires at least a bachelor's degree in social work or counseling. Medical social workers must have good communication skills. They coordinate patient care, work with families and caregivers, and ensure that clients receive necessary services. Daily tasks include recording medical histories, administering screenings, and arranging additional testing.
  • Hospice Social Worker: These professionals work in palliative care settings, offering logistical and emotional support to end-of-life patients. They must possess excellent interpersonal skills. Hospice social workers coordinate medical care and life support decisions with patients and their families. They also handle administrative tasks related to insurance and nonmedical issues. This position increasingly requires an MSW and specialized hospice certification.
  • School Social Worker: These professionals assist students with behavioral and emotional issues. They confer with school faculty and staff to identify students at risk, conduct assessments, and counsel students and their families. School social workers must possess a bachelor's at minimum, though employers may prefer candidates with additional certification.
  • Geriatric Social Worker: These professionals are responsible for the care and welfare of elderly clients. Geriatric practitioners provide many services, such as assisting clients with treatment decisions, helping clients remain at home, or facilitating the move to a nursing facility. This position requires at least a bachelor's degree with a specialization in gerontology.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Kansas

Income potential for social workers depends on factors including education and licensure level, location, experience, and area of specialization. The table below contains average annual salary information for social work specialties in Kansas.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Kansas

Child, Family, and School Social Workers $41,570
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselors $40,090
Healthcare Social Workers $52,970
Other Social Worker $52,400
Community and Social Service Specialists $36,000
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Kansas

Joining a professional social work organization is the best way to connect with other social workers, learn about field developments, and take advantage of lifelong learning opportunities. Members participate in networking events, attend professional development workshops, and receive updates regarding licensure, renewal, and certification requirements. Many associations offer career resources and monitor policy developments, advocating on behalf of their members.

Students and graduates of social work programs in Kansas may join one of the organizations listed below.

  • National Association of Social Workers, Kansas Chapter: NASW is an authoritative resource for licensure and certification information. This organization offers license renewal workshops and other services to social workers through state affiliates across the U.S. Members may receive discounted licensure application fees and certifications.
  • Kansas Association of Addiction Professionals: Founded in 1974, KAAP is the largest addiction services agency in Kansas. KAAP advocates politically for addiction professionals, sponsors networking events, and provides professional development resources. This organization also offers certifications in specializations such as alcohol and drug counseling and gambling counseling.
  • Kansas School Social Workers Association: KSSWA promotes best practices and advocates for school social workers in affiliation with the Midwest School Social Work Council and the School Social Work Association of America. KSSWA offers networking events, summer institutes, and other professional development opportunities to promote the school social work profession and enhance education for Kansas children.
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