Social Work Licensure in New Mexico

To become a social worker in New Mexico, you must earn a social work license. Like most other states, New Mexico requires both clinical and nonclinical social workers to hold a license. The state offers three different licenses depending on your educational background and what type of social work you want to practice. To qualify for a license, you must hold at least a bachelor's in social work. Prospective social workers with an MSW can apply for any New Mexico social work license and practice both clinical or nonclinical social work.

Licensed social workers who move to New Mexico from another state can apply for a New Mexico social work license through reciprocity. The New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners requires out-of-state candidates seeking social work licensure in New Mexico to hold their license for a minimum of five years, pass the appropriate Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam, and complete a New Mexico cultures course. Candidates do not need to retake the test or earn another degree.

Types of Social Work Degrees in New Mexico

You can earn several different social work degrees in New Mexico, including at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Professionals with master's and doctoral degrees generally have more career opportunities and higher salaries. Individuals who hold a bachelor of social work (BSW) qualify for general entry-level social work. BSW social workers can not legally practice clinical social work. Professionals with a master of social work (MSW) qualify for any type of social work license. Many social workers are mental health social workers, school social workers, and medical social workers. Those who earn a doctorate in social work tend to find employment in research, education, and social work administration. There are several online social work programs in New Mexico for students who prefer distance education. Regardless of degree level, all students must attend a program accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE).

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

A bachelor's degree in social work prepares you for entry-level, generalized social work. Typical positions include case manager and child social worker. BSW programs provide a broad introduction to the field and include courses in social and behavioral science, economics, and sociology. After you earn your BSW, you can apply for a bachelor's-level social work license in New Mexico. The BSW is ideal for individuals who want to start working as licensed social workers as quickly as possible. The degree also suits candidates who want to practice nonclinical social work. You cannot work as a social worker in the state without a BSW or higher.

Master's in Social Work

Master's in social work programs focus on applied social work theory and practice. Once you hold an MSW, you qualify for any social worker license in New Mexico, including both clinical and nonclinical licenses. Clinical social workers must hold an MSW, and many employers require nonclinical social workers to hold a master's. The MSW is ideal for candidates who plan to work as a clinical social worker or who want to specialize in a specific subfield of the profession. Job options include mental health social worker, healthcare social worker, and school social worker. Earning an MSW opens up a greater variety of potential career pathways and also improves the salary outlook for current social workers.

Doctoral Degree in Social Work

Two doctorates are generally offered in social work: a doctor of social work (DSW) or Ph.D. in social work. The former is more practice-based, while the latter is more research-based. Earning a doctorate in social work does not lead to a higher level of social work license. Instead, the degree is ideal for individuals who want to enter social work education or high-level positions in social work administration. A common career path for social work Ph.D. graduates is social work research. Doctoral programs usually require students to complete a dissertation. The programs typically take three to five years to complete. The focus of coursework varies depending on the program, but often includes a heavy emphasis on research, policy issues, and current social work theory.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in New Mexico

New Mexico offers three social work licenses, each of which allow social workers to engage in different types of work. Each requires different levels of education, exam, and experience. At minimum, social workers must hold a bachelor's degree. All applicants must complete an on-campus or online social work degree accredited by the CSWE. Candidates can apply for licensure through the New Mexico State Board of Social Work Examiners. Candidates may receive a provisional license while completing all licensure requirements.

The licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW) credential allows individuals to practice nonclinical, generalized social work. The license requires at minimum a BSW. The licensed master social work (LMSW) credential allows social workers to practice nonclinical social work. This license requires an MSW. The licensed clinical social work (LCSW) credential requires an MSW and 3,600 hours of supervised professional experience over two to five years. LCSWs offer direct clinical services. They may request designation as a medical social worker, school social worker, or clinical social worker.

Licensed Bachelor of Social Work

  • Earn a BSW: LBSWs must hold a bachelor's in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. Candidates must send official college transcripts to the New Mexico State Board of Social Work Examiners.
  • Pass the New Mexico Jurisprudence Exam: The jurisprudence exam covers the rules and regulations applicable to social workers in New Mexico. To pass the test, you must answer at least 70% of the questions correctly.
  • Pass the ASWB Bachelor's Exam: When you receive your provisional license, you can schedule your ASWB bachelor's exam. You can take the test, which costs $230, at a local Pearson Professional Center. You have four hours to complete the 170-question multiple-choice test.
  • Take the New Mexico Cultures Course: You must take and pass a three-credit, Board-approved New Mexico cultures course. If your BSW program included this course, you do not need to retake it as long as you can provide the required documentation.

Licensed Master Social Worker

  • Earn an MSW: LMSWs must hold a master's in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. You must send official college transcripts to the New Mexico State Board of Social Work Examiners.
  • Pass the New Mexico Jurisprudence Exam: The jurisprudence exam covers the rules and regulations applicable to social workers in New Mexico. To pass the test, you must answer at least 70% of the questions correctly.
  • Pass the ASWB Master's Exam: Once you receive your provisional license, you can schedule your ASWB master's exam at a local Pearson Professional Center.The test costs $230.
  • Take the New Mexico Cultures Course: You must take and pass a three-credit, board-approved New Mexico cultures course. If your MSW program included this course, you do not need to retake it as long as you can provide the required documentation.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

  • Earn an MSW: LCSWs must hold a master's in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. You must send official college transcripts to the New Mexico State Board of Social Work Examiners.
  • Hold the LMSW License: Before you can apply for an LCSW, you must first earn an LMSW.
  • Provide Documentation of Professional Experience: You must complete 3,500 hours of supervised professional experience, including 90 hours under direct supervision. Candidates must complete all professional experience hours in two to five years.
  • Pass the New Mexico Jurisprudence Exam: The jurisprudence exam covers the rules and regulations applicable to social workers in New Mexico. To pass the test, you must answer at least 70% of the questions correctly.
  • Pass the ASWB Clinical Exam: Once you receive a provisional license, schedule your ASWB clinical exam at a local Pearson Professional Center. The test costs $260.
  • Take the New Mexico Cultures Course: You must take and pass a three-credit, board-approved New Mexico cultures course. If your academic program included this course, you do not need to retake it as long as you can provide documentation.

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

The New Mexico social work licensure process varies depending on what type of license you pursue. The LBSW only takes about four years. All other social worker licenses in New Mexico require a master's in social work, which takes an additional one to two years of full-time study. To earn the LCSW, candidates must complete an additional 3,600 hours of supervised professional experience over the course of two to five years.

Out-of-State Licensing Reciprocity in New Mexico

If you hold a social work license from another state, you may be able to apply for a New Mexico social work license through reciprocity. To be eligible for application by reciprocity, you must hold a current social work license in good standing. Additionally, you must have held the license for at least five years. You do not need to retake the ASWB exam or earn a new degree. However, you do need to submit your ASWB scores and verification of your out-of-state license. You do not need to submit verification of supervision or transcripts. You must also submit your application fee and a 2x2 photo. Out-of-state applicants must also pass the New Mexico jurisprudence exam. If eligible, you must fill out a form describing your certification of licensure in another state.

License Renewal

Once you receive your social work license, you must renew your credentials each year. Licensed social workers in New Mexico renew their licenses every year on July 1st. In order to renew your license, you must complete 30 hours of board-approved continuing education credits every two years. Of the 30 hours, at least six must be in cultural awareness. The board accepts continuing education credits approved by the ASWB, NASW, and several other organizations. You may also submit up to 10 continuing education credits that are not approved by the board, as long as they are still in the social work profession. If your license is audited, you must submit proof that you completed the required continuing education hours. The fees for license renewal are $100 for LBSWs, $150 for LMSWs, and $200 for LCSWs.

Accredited Social Work Programs in New Mexico

Students who attend accredited social work programs in New Mexico hold numerous advantages. Social work programs usually offer other networking opportunities that students can use to develop connections for future employment. Internships and other field experiences often lead to employment opportunities after graduation. If you earn a degree in another state, it may be more difficult to find a job in New Mexico, because you may have fewer local connections. The directory below includes a list of accredited social work schools in New Mexico.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: These social workers help patients and their families cope with mental health disorders and addiction. They provide counseling and psychotherapy both to individuals and groups. This clinical social work career requires an MSW.
  • Child, Family, and School Social Workers: This category encompasses two types of social work: child and family social work and school social work. Child and family social workers help at-risk youth deal with a variety of socioeconomic challenges. They find housing, arrange foster care and adoptions, and connect families with other needed resources. School social workers address challenges such as bullying, truancy, and behavioral issues. Many employers require applicants to hold an MSW.
  • Healthcare Social Workers: These social workers provide support to patients in medical settings. They usually work in hospitals, clinics, and residential treatment centers. They help individuals and families navigate plans of care and understand diagnoses. Sometimes they help with insurance forms and other bureaucratic matters.
  • Social Workers, All Other: This category of social workers includes every field of social work other than mental health, substance abuse, child and family, school, and healthcare. This category includes nonclinical social workers who provide case management services to individuals and families.
  • Social Work Teachers, Postsecondary: These educators teach social work in colleges and universities. Most positions require a Ph.D., but sometimes a master's is sufficient for teaching at community colleges. Social work teachers provide instruction, mentor students, conduct research, and publish papers.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in New Mexico

The average annual salary for social work graduates varies based on several factors, including type of license, degree, experience, geographic location, and position. In New Mexico, social workers typically make between $38,000 and $56,000 each year. Professionals with significant work experience and higher education can make more. Social work teachers at the college level make substantially more than practicing social workers, but these positions typically require a Ph.D.

Average Salary for Social Workers in New Mexico

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers $38,620
Child, Family, and School Social Workers $41,650
Healthcare Social Workers $55,640
Social Workers, All Other $56,730
Postsecondary Teachers, All Other $82,260*
Source: BLS *Estimate shown is for Sante Fe, NM

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in New Mexico

Joining a professional organization can benefit both current students and professional social workers in New Mexico. Members can network at organization-sponsored conferences, local workshops, and social events. These connections often lead to job opportunities. Membership benefits often include journal subscriptions, email listservs, job boards, licensure help, and professional development resources. Most professional organizations offer a discounted rate to students and early career professionals.

  • National Association of Social Workers - New Mexico: The New Mexico chapter of NASW represents professional social workers and provides educational resources to members. The chapter's 1,000 members benefit from continuing education programs, an annual conference, and ethical consulting services. Prospective social workers can also find open positions on NASW-NM's job board.
  • Clinical Social Work Association: CSWA offers services to clinical social workers throughout the U.S. The organization hosts a members-only job board. CSWA also conducts advocacy and promotes beneficial legislation for clinical social workers. The group offers an affordable student rate.
  • International Federation of Social Workers: IFSW supports social workers across the globe. The federation consults with United Nations agencies including the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Members gain access to the International Social Work journal, discounted conference fees, and campaign opportunities.
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