Social Work Licensure in Nebraska

Social work is a broad field with varied employment opportunities. Students seeking a profession that focuses on the betterment of underserved populations, social justice, and ethical practices should consider earning a social work degree in Nebraska. Emerging social work professionals join a community of more than 1.8 million people and can choose from multiple accredited programs.

Students have access to social work programs in Nebraska at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate levels. The lowest social work position in the state is certified social worker (CSW), which allows graduates to practice general social work under a licensed practitioner. Students who want to practice specialized areas of social work independently should become a certified master social worker (CMSW) or a licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP). To become a CSW, students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, while CMSW and LMHP professionals must have a master of social work (MSW).

Professionals from other states are welcome to practice in Nebraska as there are no formal reciprocity relationships. However, transferring practitioners must apply for acceptance. License reciprocity varies by month and year. Fees range from $39 to $155.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Nebraska

Students researching social work schools in Nebraska should consider program details and potential job titles. A bachelor's in social work (BSW) provides a broad understanding of social work, qualifying students for positions such as advocacy specialist. MSW practitioners learn about specialty-related psychology theories and are acquainted with clinical practice elements. Graduates qualify for positions such as substance abuse workers and program directors. Students can continue their education with a doctoral degree in social work (DSW). Considered a terminal degree, it qualifies graduates for positions such as clinical director or human service director.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

Students who complete a BSW receive foundational knowledge in social work. Students focus on content such as human behavior, research methods, and social welfare policy. Students must complete an in-depth practicum experience and obtain hours of experience to qualify for licensure. A BSW prepares graduates to fill roles at the generalist level, including adoption agency administrator, behavioral management aide, and juvenile court liaison. Professionals who wish to fill specialized roles may want to obtain their MSW.

Master's in Social Work

An MSW is the first level of an advanced social work degree and can be completed in two years. Coursework builds upon foundational information while focusing on social work from a macro level. Students select specialty areas such as substance addiction or mental health, and go on to work in roles such as therapist and clinical social worker. An MSW is ideal for students interested in taking on more responsibility in a specialty area.

Doctoral Degree in Social Work

A DSW is the most advanced degree a social worker can obtain. This program can be completed in two years, although thesis-related work can take up to four years. Coursework focuses on advanced research methods, behavioral science, policy, theory, and teaching. Graduates qualify for clinical licensure. Potential career titles include clinical director, executive director, nonprofit executive, or human services director. A DSW is considered a terminal degree, because it allows for clinical licensure. It is ideal for practitioners who want to innovate and educate in the field of social work.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Nebraska

Professionals need a certification or license to practice social work in Nebraska. Students can become a licensed bachelor social worker (LBSW), a licensed graduate social worker (LGSW), a licensed certified social worker (LCSW), or obtain a private independent practice certification (PIP). When considering licensure, social work professionals should review the opportunities each education level provides and note that certification is not the equivalent of licensure. An LBSW is qualified for general practice, while LGSW and LCSW practitioners qualify for clinical practice if they take the exam. Practitioners with an MSW or DSW can obtain a PIP.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: To apply for licensure, students must have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a university that is regionally accredited or accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). This degree is required to ensure professionals have received training that meets standard requirements.
  2. Educational Experience: Qualified candidates must have 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience. The supervisor must be a licensed CMSW with no disciplinary cases against them. During this time, applicants can obtain a provisional license until they are ready to apply for Nebraska social work licensure.
  3. Association of Social Work Boards Exam: Graduates must pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam at the bachelor level. ASWB creates and updates all licensure exams. All exams are 170 questions and evaluate minimal competencies.
  4. Background Check: To obtain licensure, professionals must participate in a background check.

Licensed Graduate Social Worker

  1. Master’s Degree: To apply for licensure, students must have a master’s degree in social work from a university that is regionally accredited or accredited by the CSWE.
  2. Educational Experience: Qualified candidates must have 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience. The supervisor must be a licensed CMSW with no disciplinary cases against them. During this time, applicants can obtain a provisional license until they are ready to apply for licensure.
  3. Association of Social Work Exam: Graduates must take and pass the ASWB exam at the bachelor level. ASWB creates and updates all licensure exams. All exams are 170 questions.
  4. Background Check: To obtain licensure, professionals must participate in a background check.

Licensed Certified Social Worker

  1. Bachelor’s Degree: To apply for licensure, students must have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a university that is regionally accredited or accredited by the CSWE.
  2. Background Check: Professionals must participate in a background check.

Private Independent Practice Certification

  1. Master’s Degree: Applicants must have a master’s degree in social work from a regionally accredited university or one accredited by the CSWE.
  2. LCSW: To qualify for PIP, practitioners must have had their LCSW license for one year. The practitioner must prove supervised experience hours and the practitioner’s most recent employer must submit a verification letter.
  3. Background Check: Professionals must participate in a background check.

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

The amount of time it takes to become a social worker depends on the student's professional goals. A BSW typically takes four-years for full-time students to complete. Some programs, especially online social work degree programs, offer coursework at an accelerated pace. BSW graduates or students who have a bachelor’s degree and who wish to become clinically licensed in social work should pursue an MSW, which can be completed in about two years. Some online social work programs in Nebraska are accelerated. MSW graduates interested in teaching or influencing social work practices can complete a DSW in two to six years.

Out-of-State Licensing Reciprocity in Nebraska

Social work licenses are not valid in states outside of where they were obtained, because each state has its own regulatory board for licensing. Therefore, out-of-state practitioners who wish to become licensed in Nebraska should provide documentation of their experience and education to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Applicants must be active and have had continuous practice of social work for at least one year in the last three years. License reciprocity varies by month and year. Fees are $39 for one license if applied for between March and August of even numbered years. Otherwise, the cost is $155. If a practitioner seeks both LMHP and LIMHP licenses, the application fee is $64 between March and August of even numbered years. Otherwise, the cost is $205.

License Renewal

In Nebraska, all social work licenses must be renewed every even numbered year on the first of September. Part of the renewal process typically includes hours of continued education to keep social workers up to date on new practices and policies. Practitioners with LMHP or CMSW licenses must complete 32 hours of continued education. Two of these hours must focus on ethical practices in social work. All hours must be completed within two years of renewal. CSW practitioners do not need to complete any continued education hours. LMHP renewals are $50; CMSW and CSW renewals are $25. Practitioners must keep their address updated on this website in order to receive renewal notices. Licenses that are not renewed will become inactive.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Nebraska

Social work is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By following a career path in social work, practitioners commit to helping 1.8 million Nebraskans. The state has experienced rural flight, leaving many families displaced and in need of varying social work services. Graduates can join a workforce where they are needed and valued.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

Those interested in social work licensure in Nebraska have an opportunity to improve the lives of others. They work in a variety of professional environments such as hospitals, nonprofits, government facilities, and private practices. Social workers also interact with people of all ages and ethnicities. Students should consider if they are passionate about working with particular populations such as adolescents or the elderly.

  • Child, Family, and School Social Worker: Practitioners provide assistance to children and their families. The child’s well-being is a primary objective. Practitioners might develop intervention plans or educate parents on rearing skills. An MSW is required at minimum.
  • Healthcare Social Workers: This specialty is in high demand due to a growing elderly population and a lack of understanding regarding specific needs. Practitioners must educate clients and their families on strategic methods to provide quality care and cope with terminal illnesses. An MSW is required to practice.
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: Practitioners provide counseling sessions that educate clients on effective treatments regarding mental illness and addiction. Settings vary from residential treatment centers to outpatient clinics. Practitioners tend to work with families and court officers. Clinical licensure is helpful for this role. An MSW is mandatory.
  • Social and Community Service Managers: This role includes much planning and organization for outreach activities. Practitioners develop creative ways to engage with clients while adhering to budget requirements and policies. Practitioners work under supervision unless licensed clinically. An MSW is required at minimum.
  • Medical and Health Service Managers: These practitioners aim to improve the efficiency of healthcare services. They may accomplish this by examining the impact of new laws and regulations on a facility. Professionals manage other administrators and finances.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Nebraska

Advanced degrees, such as an MSWs and DSWs, offer more lucrative opportunities. Practitioners can also obtain certificates that enhance their marketability and provide a competitive advantage. Social work salaries are also impacted by industry. Healthcare social workers earn more than social workers who specialize in child, family, and school social work. Review the chart below for median salaries.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Nebraska

Child and Family Social Workers $42,030
Medical and Health Service Members $62,070
Healthcare Social Workers $47,200
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $39,640
Social and Community Service Managers $43,080
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Nebraska

Social work is an ever-changing field that is valuable on a global scale. Practitioners can join many organizations that provide resources, educational courses, seminars, and campaigns. Members also have access to vast network systems, allowing practitioners to become part of a community of professionals that understands their needs.

  • NASW-Nebraska Chapter: The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is a U.S. organization for social workers. The organization boasts more than 120,000 members who support professional standards. Members have access to career services, consultation opportunities, and cutting-edge information in social work.
  • Society for Social Work Leadership in Health Care-Nebraska Chapter (SSWLHC): SSWLHC exposes social workers to additional opportunities that foster professional growth. Additionally, SSWLHC members have access to online resources and mentoring. SSWLHC also has annual meetings to share academic content.
  • Free State Social Work-Nebraska: This organization offers affordable online continued education. Customized packages can be created to meet the needs of all social work professionals. Additionally, practitioners can find academic journals, government reports, and other resources. Publication and conference products are offered as well.
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