Social Work Licensure in Wyoming

Wyoming requires its licensed social workers to hold at least a bachelor's degree, or a master's if their undergraduate degree was in a subject other than social work. A bachelor's degree in social work permits students to become certified social workers (CSW), but a master's opens the door to becoming a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Even after obtaining their degrees, social workers must log continued education hours to maintain their licensure.

In Wyoming, aspiring LCSWs must complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work experience under a provisional license, in addition to their formal education. Nearly half of these hours must include direct client contact. Wyoming does offer reciprocity to social workers who have been licensed in other states, meaning they can transfer their out-of-state licenses as long as their home state's qualifications are similar to Wyoming's. Otherwise, Wyoming may offer a provisional license for out-of-state social workers to use while they work to meet Wyoming's licensure requirements. The state has low poverty rates, but suicide and mental illnesses are problematic there, which puts social services in high demand.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Wyoming

Social work in Wyoming requires at least a bachelor's degree in the field. A bachelor's in social work (BSW) qualifies its holder for entry-level social work jobs, which can lead to more advanced and interesting positions. A master's degree in social work (MSW) opens the door to even more career paths, including management, research, and teaching. Social workers looking to advance their education even more may pursue one of two doctoral degrees in the field: a doctor of social work (DSW), which generally focuses on practice, or a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.), which is more research based. All social work degrees require a field study component as well as courses in social work theory and practice.

Bachelor's Degree in Social Work

A BSW typically requires four years of full-time study and includes general education requirements as well as social work-specific courses. Students also have the option of an online social work degree, where they complete the coursework remotely and finish fieldwork requirements near their own homes. Social work licensure in Wyoming requires applicants to hold their degree from an institution that's been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The average starting salary for a BSW holder is just under $36,000, and BSW graduates may choose from entry-level positions in schools, adoption agencies, and child welfare offices.

Master's in Social Work

MSWs help students find more career opportunities and higher salaries, as well as qualify graduates to pursue clinical social work positions. Careers in medical social work, school social work, and social work management typically require an MSW. MSW graduates typically earn between $10,000 and $30,000 more per year than social workers with just a BSW. Students can choose to earn a graduate social work degree in Wyoming either on campus or through one of the online social work programs in Wyoming. MSW students with an undergraduate degree in fields other than social work typically take two years to earn their master's, while those with BSWs usually take one year.

Doctoral Degree in Social Work

There are two types of doctorates in social work: the Ph.D. and the DSW. The Ph.D. focuses on research in social work and is designed for those pursuing a career in academia. The DSW is a practical doctorate, emphasizing skill development and applied research. Earning a Ph.D. can lead to becoming a college professor, public policy professional, or researcher, while those with DSWs may become major department heads, social work executives, or industry leaders. A social work professor with a Ph.D. earns an average salary of $92,813. Salary data for DSW graduates is not available.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Wyoming

Wyoming offers two types of social work licensure: the CSW and the LCSW. Social workers who hold a bachelor's degree may qualify for the CSW license, but those with MSWs can apply for an LCSW license. A CSW helps clients find the resources they need to work through their specific problems, while an LCSW diagnoses and treats behavioral, mental, and emotional challenges. Those who envision careers as clinicians in private practice, social work managers, public policy analysts, and community organizers typically pursue the LCSW. Graduates with this license can earn a salary up to twice as high as that of a CSW.

Certified Social Worker

  1. General Qualifications: To apply for certification as a social worker in Wyoming, applicants must be 18 years of age and have U.S. residency. They cannot hold any felony convictions or a conviction for any crime involving moral turpitude without getting an exemption from the state. Applicants must submit three professional recommendations attesting to their abilities and performance.
  2. Education Requirements: Becoming a CSW requires a bachelor's degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. Earning a BSW gives students fundamental professional knowledge, a background in social work theory, and a chance to engage in supervised field practicums. Bachelor's degrees usually require four years of full-time study.
  3. Examination: Applicants must pass the examination from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Wyoming accepts either the bachelor's or the master's level exam for CSW qualification. Because social work is a regulated profession, the exam helps maintain a universal standard of quality and knowledge in the field. The exam takes four hours, and requires intense study. Applicants in Wyoming can only take it three times.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

  1. General Qualifications: To earn an LCSW license, applicants must be at least 18 years old and legal U.S. residents. They must also have no convictions for felonies or crimes of moral turpitude. Applicants with convictions may apply for a state waiver in some cases. Wyoming also requires aspiring social workers to submit three references attesting to their knowledge and skills in the profession.
  2. Education Requirements: Applicants for Wyoming social work licensure at the clinical level must hold a graduate degree from a CSWE-accredited program. An MSW, DSW, or Ph.D. meet this requirement. These degrees can take between one and seven years to complete, and they demonstrate knowledge of the social work discipline and expertise in clinical practice.
  3. Experience: LCSW applicants must complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical work experience or training after receiving their graduate degrees. Of these hours, at least 1,200 must be in direct client contact. Applicants must also show a minimum of 100 post-master's hours in face-to-face clinical supervision. Group supervision does not meet this requirement.
  4. Examination: Wyoming requires LCSWs to pass the ASWB exam at the advanced generalist or clinical level. These are complex, specialized exams that require extensive study, intended to maintain a high level of general knowledge in the field. Those who have passed an alternative exam may petition the state board to consider their scores.

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

Becoming a CSW in Wyoming requires a bachelor's degree in social work, which typically takes four years of full-time study. Graduates must pass their ASWB exam within six months of receiving their BSW. An LCSW license in Wyoming requires at least a master's degree, which requires one to two years of study, plus 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Once an applicant has fulfilled all the LCSW requirements and notified the Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board, they should receive their license by mail in two to three weeks.

Out of State Licensing Reciprocity in Wyoming

Social workers who have earned out-of-state certification or licensure may transfer their qualifications for Wyoming licensure, thanks to the state's reciprocity agreements. For CSW reciprocity, a social worker must have earned a BSW at a CSWE-accredited school and hold a current license in a state with requirements similar to Wyoming's. If the applicant's home jurisdiction's requirements differ significantly from Wyoming's, they may seek a provisional license in Wyoming so to gain additional experience. Reciprocity applicants must send an application form to the Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board, plus a $300 application fee, verification of their current state license, official transcripts, and three professional references.

LCSW reciprocity applicants must follow a similar process, although their education requirements are different.

License Renewal

In Wyoming, social work licensure expires every two years on the holder's birthday. The Wyoming Mental Health Professions Licensing Board mails a renewal form to each social worker about 60 days before their license expires. Social workers who don't receive their renewal form must contact the board. Wyoming does not offer a grace period late renewal program for social workers who fail to postmark their license renewal applications on or before the expiration date. These social workers must immediately cease and desist from providing any mental health services until they reinstate their licensure.

To qualify for license renewal, social workers must log 45 hours of continuing education. Three of these hours must be in professional ethics. Wyoming social workers pay a $125 renewal fee for one license, and a $75 renewal fee for each additional license.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Wyoming

Students can pursue an associate degree in social work, but social work licensure in Wyoming requires at least a bachelor's degree. The state requires each aspiring social worker to pass the relevant ASWB exam and accrue the necessary hours of experience in addition to their studies.

To provide professional value, social work schools in Wyoming must hold regional accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission and national accreditation with the CSWE. Only one university in Wyoming currently meets these requirements: the University of Wyoming, which offers BSW and MSW programs.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

Social workers have several career paths to choose from, and they all focus on helping their clients improve their lives. Some social workers place children in foster or adoptive homes through state agencies, while others help hospital or nursing home patients and their families secure social, financial, and medical care. In general, social workers need patience and empathy, as well as superior skills in organization and communication. The profession's entry-level positions usually require a bachelor's degree, but most management and clinical positions call for a master's degree in social work.

  • Child, Family, and School Social Workers: These social workers assess a child's needs for services or intervention. Like most areas of social work, child, family, and school social work positions require at least a bachelor's degree, and sometimes even a master's. Graduate education is especially important for those who wish to move into supervision or therapy.
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselors: These professionals typically provide treatment that helps clients adjust their behaviors or recover from their addictions. Mental health and substance abuse counselors evaluate clients, recommend treatment, and work with family members and friends. They need at least a bachelor's degree, and many jobs require a master's degree.
  • Healthcare Social Workers: Healthcare social workers serve in various areas of medicine and health including hospice, palliative care, oncology, and geriatrics. They sometimes provide clients with counseling support, and sometimes recommend emotional, financial, or medical care for patients and their caregivers. These professionals act as a link between patients and medical staff, and they need at least a bachelor's degree in social work.
  • Social Workers: General social workers help their clients cope with challenging life situations that can vary from adopting a child to entering hospice care. They can work for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or private practices. Depending on their responsibilities, general social workers need either a bachelor's degree or a master's degree.
  • Community and Social Service Specialists: Overseeing the social or community service department of a government agency or nonprofit organization, these specialists help people improve their standards of living. Many community and social service specialists manage staff, direct programs, and conduct research. A master's degree is often required for this position.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Wyoming

Earning a social work degree in Wyoming can prepare students for jobs with government agencies, hospitals, mental health associations, and private practices. As social workers specialize in areas such as healthcare, substance abuse, or school social work, they enter various parts of the profession with different ceilings of pay. Most social workers enter the profession to do good rather than earn an extravagant wage, but the median salary for Wyoming's social workers is higher than the national average salary. In a state with a low cost of living like Wyoming, these salaries can support a middle class lifestyle.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Wyoming

Child, Family, and School Social Worker $47,890
Healthcare Social Worker $52,030
Community and Social Service Specialist $51,490
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker $56,140
Social Workers $56,000
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Wyoming

These professional organizations allow Wyoming's social workers to network with each other and with professionals from other states at national conferences. They also provide valuable scholarships and prestigious awards that can help recipients stand out in a job search. For students, these organizations are great places to search for internship assignments and career advice.

  • Phi Alpha Honor Society for Social Work: As the biggest honor society for social work students, Phi Alpha offers members a chance to compete for awards and scholarships. Student members can also find opportunities to present their work at regional, state, and national professional gatherings. By networking early, Phi Alpha members have a leg up on job searches and post-graduation professional plans.
  • Clinical Social Work Association: The largest organization of professional mental health clinicians, CSWA is an individual membership association. Students and new professionals can enjoy special membership offers, and all members can take advantage of CSWA's advocacy work, job board, and clinical practice resources. CSWA also provides members with the opportunity to purchase comprehensive professional liability insurance.
  • National Association of Social Workers - Wyoming Chapter: NASW's Wyoming chapter offers members admission to an annual conference, plus educational events and a job board. NASW members also have easier access to continued education hours through the organization, and NASW-endorsed liability insurance.
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