Nebraska’s social workers may be certified and / or licensed. Individuals who operate only within the traditional definition of social work (as defined by the Board) are not legally required to hold state credentials. However, they may choose to be certified. This allows them to use the title “social worker” and represent themselves as such.
Certified Social Worker (CSW) is the designation for professionals who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, but have no additional training. Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW) is the designation for social workers who have additional post-master experience and training. They are authorized for independent practice. While completing post-master requirements, they are known as Provisionally Certified Master Social Workers (PCMSWs).
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Social workers who provide mental health services must be licensed by the state as Licensed Mental Health Practitioners (LMHPs). Having an LMHP license and a CMSW certification grants a social worker an additional title: Licensed Clinical Social Worker, or LCSW. This is a credential that is widely recognized around the nation.
Clinical social workers are also eligible to become Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioners (LIMHP). A clinical social worker who is licensed at this level has an expanded scope of practice and can diagnose and treat major mental illness without consultation.
Candidates who are not applying for mental health licensing will find needed forms in the social work section. Click here to download the application. Those who are applying for mental health licensing should visit the mental health section. or provisional mental health section.
A candidate can get CSW certification with a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program.
You may also want to read the article "Master’s Degree in Social Work: Developing Skills and Competencies" if you have any questions about Master's of Social Work programs.
The Nebraska Board does not mandate that CSW candidates pass a licensing exam. They must fill out an application that includes professional fitness questions. They must also document their legal presence in the U.S. and attach a fee, which will vary according to what stage it is of the two-year renewal cycle.
In order to be certified as a CMSW, a master’- trained social worker must accumulate 3,000 hours of social work experience while working under supervision. The candidate must complete a supervision plan as part of the application for CMSW status. If the candidate needs to change supervisors at some point along the way, the candidate must apply to the Board to do so.
A PCMSW who is not interested in mental health licensing may opt for either the advanced generalist or clinical exam. Board permission is required. When the candidate applies for CMSW status, their supervisor will verify which social work activities the candidate has performed under supervision.
A social worker who desires mental health licensing must make sure the graduate program practicum includes at least 300 hours of direct client contact and that it is supervised by a qualified mental health practitioner. (This is a requirement for all applicants except those who completed their practicums by September 1, 1995.)
Before beginning practice, the social worker must obtain two credentials: Provisionally Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (PLMHP) and PCMSW. There is a common license application. It includes an affidavit that is to be signed by the practicum supervisor.
Half of the social worker’s 3,000 hour post-master practice requirement must be spent in direct client contact at a mental health service facility.
The application for certification/ licensing includes a section that must be filled out and signed by the clinical supervisor. The candidate will verify the number of hours spent in direct client contact. Mental health provider licensing is contingent on passing the ASWB clinical examination.
In order to get the independent mental health license, the candidate’s supervisor must verify that 1,500 hours were spent with clients who had a major mental illness.
Social work certifications are renewed biennially. During this time, social workers must earn 32 CEs. Provisionally licensed master social workers are an exception – their credentials are issued for five years, and there is no associated CE requirement.
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Social Worker in Nebraska.