Social Work Licensure in Nevada

Social work can prove a highly rewarding career, in terms of professional growth, personal satisfaction, and financial benefit. Social work licensure in Nevada follows a system that logically goes from the undergraduate to graduate level and is lenient in granting licenses to out-of-state applicants who hold an equivalent license.

Nevada offers non-clinical social work licensure to bachelor's in social work graduates. The generalized license for social work is available to bachelor's and master's degree holders and does not require prior field experience. Nevada also offers a provisional form of license for working professionals who need extra time to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. Licenses for independent and clinical social work practice require several thousand hours of field experience in addition to passage of the relevant ASWB exam. The Nevada Board of Social Work Examiners grants licensure without examination to out-of-state applicants who already hold an equivalent license, after careful review.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Nevada

Licensure for bachelor's and associate degree holders is calibrated for entry-level positions into the social work field. For clinical positions, a master's is the standard requirement for licensure.

Some may continue their education to get a doctorate in social work; these degrees cater to learners interested in topics such as social policy and research method design. However, at this time, Nevada only offers schools with social work degrees accredited by the Council for Social Work Education (CSWE) at the bachelor's and master's levels.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

A bachelor's degree surveys the theory and practice behind social work, including topics such as sociology, human development, and psychology. This degree equips learners with the tools for entry-level social work in a supervised environment. A program may incorporate field work to provide practical experience, even if you pursue an online bachelor's degree in social work.

Master's in Social Work

A master's in social work curriculum is more in depth. Typically these programs are divided into two parts: a core curriculum on relevant topics like human development and psychology and a specialized area of the student's choice. The master's degree in social work incorporates supervised field experience, even if the student chooses to complete their degree online. For working professionals on a financial budget and a busy timetable, an online master's degree in social work can be an affordable option to obtain social work licensure in Nevada.

Doctoral Degree in Social Work

It's most common for learners to earn a master's in social work, but doctoral degrees in social work are widely available to professionals looking to become leaders and educators. A DSW generally focuses on advanced levels of clinical practice, while a Ph.D. focuses on education, social policy planning, and administrative aspects of social work practice.

The degree prepares graduates for advanced positions. No doctoral social work degree is available in Nevada, but students in Nevada may consider online doctoral degrees in social work.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Nevada

There are three kinds of social work licensure in Nevada: licensed social worker (LSW), licensed independent social worker (LISW), and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). The LSW license requires at least a bachelor's degree from a CSWE-accredited institution and a passing score on the ASWB exam. LSW licensure does not require field experience prior to application.

The LISW and LCSW require 3,000 hours of supervised field experience and a master's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution, along with passing scores on the relevant ASWB exam.

Below is a more detailed explanation of the steps required to apply for social work licensure in Nevada.

Licensed Social Worker

  1. Apply for Licensure to the Board: The applicant must hold a bachelor's or master's degree in social work. In Nevada, applying for licensure entails a background check and fees for the application and the initial license, which are $40 and $100, respectively. Nevada gives licensure applicants the option of applying for provisional licensure in order to work before taking the ASWB exam.
  2. Notarize the Application for Licensure: One important step that could potentially be overlooked is getting the application for licensure notarized. Public notaries can typically be found in libraries, banks, and courts.
  3. Pass the ASWB Bachelor's or Master's Exam: Depending on their education level, an applicant for the LCSW license takes either the bachelor's or master's-level ASWB exam. Should the applicant fail, they have 90 days to take the test again. The provisional license is only valid for one attempt. Both the bachelor's and master's exams cost $230.

Licensed Independent Social Worker

  1. Acquire Necessary Field Experience: Applicants must have acquired a master's degree in social work and 3,000 hours of supervised experience. This period of supervised experience must be completed within two to three years. Nevada requires applicants to work closely with their supervisors, who might eventually write a letter of commendation and verification of experience to the Board.
  2. Apply for Licensure: Applying for licensure includes fees of $40 for the application and $100 for the initial license. A background check, photo ID, and fingerprints must be submitted with the application. Applicants have the option to pay $75 for a provisional license. The application for licensure must be notarized.
  3. Pass the ASWB Advanced Generalist Exam: Within 60 days of the Board's acceptance of the application, the applicant must take and pass the ASWB advanced generalist exam. The fee for taking the exam is $260.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

  1. Acquire Necessary Field Experience: For the LCSW license, the applicant must acquire 3,000 hours of supervised field experience in an internship in addition to a master's degree. Of these 3,000 hours, 2,000 must come from direct, face-to-face service using psychotherapy.
  2. Apply for Licensure: For licensure, the applicant pays fees of $40 for the application and $100 for the initial license. A background check, photo ID, and fingerprints must be submitted with the application. For applicants who wish to start working before taking the exam, there is the option to pay an additional $75 for a provisional license. A public notary must notarize the application.
  3. Pass the ASWB Clinical Exam: The applicant must take and pass the ASWB clinical exam within 60 days of the Board's acceptance of the application. The fee for taking the exam is $260.

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

It will take four years to become eligible to apply for the lowest level of licensure and take the ASWB bachelors exam, and six years to take the ASWB masters exam for an equivalent license. Two to three years after earning a master's degree, you may have the experience necessary to apply for either a clinical or independent social worker license.

Out of State Licensing Reciprocity in Nevada

There is no formal relationship between Nevada and other states regarding licensing recognition, which could complicate matters for an out-of-state applicant; however, Nevada's policy is fairly lenient.

The state accepts ASWB exam scores and work experience hours, and after a few weeks of review, the board may approve the transfer of an equivalent license for an applicant. The requirements for the equivalent license from out-of-state must be equal to those of the Nevada license being sought.

License Renewal

Renewing social work licensure in Nevada is an easy process for all three types. License renewal itself is due annually, by the last day of the holder's birth month, while continuing education is due once every two years.

LSWs must successfully complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years. Out of those 30 credit hours, two must be in social work ethical standards and 10 in the worker's area of specialization. LISWs and LCSWs must complete 36 hours of continuing education every two years. Out of those 36, three must be in ethics and 12 in the practitioner's specialization.

Distance learning courses, workshops and conferences, presentation of a course (not to exceed 15 hours), and even the publication of materials in a professional journal or other approved venue may all count as continuing education credit.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Nevada

Those looking to pursue a career in public or clinical social work should consider a social work degree in Nevada. Social work programs in Nevada give future practitioners a useful window into the profession as a whole. The state's fairly standardized clinical licensure requirements and instruction experience, which can be transferred easily to other states, make social work programs in Nevada accessible to many.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

Social workers are found in elementary schools, hospitals, and even corporate environments. Social workers contribute to the overall health of organizations and communities by drawing on their knowledge of human development, psychology, and social behavior to inform their practice.

A wide range of personalities working in the social work field benefits the health of supervised and unsupervised social and human service environments; while some people may prefer direct client contact, others may work their way to social work supervision. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), by 2024, employment among the community and social service occupation group is projected to grow by 10.5 %.

Below are a few careers you can obtain with a social work degree from Nevada.

  • Social/Human Service Assistant: Social and human service assistants work under the supervision of social workers to help the clients they serve maintain mental, emotional, and social health. Such a position does not require licensure and offers experience for someone interested in the social work field.
  • Child and Family Social Worker: A child and family social worker advocates for children and families, performing the complex duties of interfacing between families and outside organizations that can provide resources to them.
  • School Social Worker: The main job of a school social worker is to do everything in their power to keep students on track with the help of everyone in their immediate environment. They work as counselors, working to understand the unique needs of students and how to best implement those plans with educators, parents, and administrators.
  • Medical Social Worker: A medical social worker acts as an intermediary between patients and doctors. It is their job to help patients cope with their treatments, and collect feedback and relevant background information on behalf of medical professionals. On a typical day, a medical social worker might interview a patient on a new medication to collect feedback on how they are feeling.
  • Clinical Social Worker: A clinical social worker's vigorous field experience enables them to utilize psychotherapeutic therapy to address the mental and emotional needs of their clients. It is their duty to assess needs, design treatments plans, and to also assist with the mundane needs of clients with mental and physical health or substance abuse issues.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Nevada

The adage that the higher one's level of education and licensure, the better off you are holds true when looking at salary expectations for social workers in Nevada. Low-level education social and human services assistants make about $35,000 annually. Child, family, and school social workers who may have less specialized, license-specific knowledge training do well at around $51,000, but not as well as other social workers. Healthcare social workers who are more likely to be licensed at a higher level make well above $78,000 annually.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Nevada

Child, Family, and School Social Workers $51,840
Social Workers, All Others $71,230
Healthcare Social Workers $78,940
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $60,320
Social and Human Service Assistants $35,520
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Nevada

Joining a professional organization represents an important step in advancing one's career as a social worker. These professional organizations not only provide opportunities for employment and networking, but they draw attention to the importance of grassroots involvement. Professionals may find opportunities for continuing education credit, either as learners or as educators.

  • National Association of Social Workers- Nevada Chapter: The National Association of Social Workers offers the nation's most extensive network of resources for social workers. The Nevada chapter of the NASW hosts an annual conference in Las Vegas: a crucial networking opportunity for young professionals at all levels of licensure. The chapter also recently launched an online continuing education resource for Nevada social workers.
  • Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada: Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada is a faith-based nonprofit that provides regional access to resources for the needy, including adoption services, immigration services, food, and shelter. The organization lists jobs on its website and hires social workers to forward its commitment to charitable works.
  • HELP of Southern Nevada: The Las Vegas based nonprofit HELP provides regional access to homeless services, emergency resource services, and youth employment programs. The organization offers employment opportunities at all levels of expertise that would be of interest to young professionals looking to contribute to the community.
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