New Mexico licenses social workers who have education at either the bachelor’s or master’s level. Each licensure level has a different scope of practice. Those with the lower degree are known as Licensed Baccalaureate Social Workers (LBSW). Those with the higher degree start out as Licensed Master Social Workers (LMSWs). After meeting additional requirements, LMSWs become eligible for Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) status. The New Mexico Board recognizes social workers as being eligible for independent practice in particular areas, for example, clinical, medical, or school social work. Social workers may also be recognized as independent practitioners in macro practice areas like community organization.
Candidates at any level must pass a jurisprudence exam and either take a course on New Mexico culture or demonstrate cultural competency through testing. Other requirements are outlined below.
The foundation for practice at the LBSW level is a social work degree from a CSWE-accredited social work program. Afterward, the candidate must take and pass the ASWB bachelor’s level exam. He or she will need to apply to the New Mexico Board for authorization to test. If everything else is in order, the candidate may be granted a provisional license, good for up to 12 months. The provisional license is extended only in extreme circumstances (such as a death in the social worker’s immediate family).
At the LBSW level, application carries a $75 fee. This is separate from the $230 testing fee which is submitted directly to the ASWB.
If a candidate does not pass on a first attempt, he or she may retake the exam. The New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners does not place limits on retakes. However, a new application and application fee will be required each time. (Candidates should also be aware that the ASWB stipulates a 90 day wait period between attempts.)
Candidates for licensure at the higher levels must have master’s degrees from CSWE-accredited programs. The LMSW license is granted after a candidate passes the master’s level ASWB exam. However, a candidate can work under a provisional license for up to a year while meeting the requirement.
The University of Southern California School of Social Work offers one of the only CSWE accredited online Master's of Social Work degrees in the country. Click Here to contact the University of Southern California School of Social Work and request additional information.
The Simmons College School of Social Work, based in Boston, MA, offers another option to earn a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited Online Master of Social Work. Click Here to contact the Simmons College School of Social Work and request additional information. (*This program is NOT available to students in North Carolina, Maryland, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Arkansas)
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.
There is a $100 fee associated with application at the LMSW level. The exam itself costs $230.
The independent license is only granted after a social worker fulfills a 3,600 hour practice requirement. The requirement is to be met over a period of two to five years. New Mexico does accept both volunteer and paid hours. However, the social worker must be supervised by an LISW. He or she will need 90 supervision hours over the course of the experience period – one for every 40 hours worked.
LISW licensure is contingent on passing a second licensing exam. The social worker will take either the clinical or advanced generalist exam. Both are administered through the ASWB and carry $260 fees. The LISW application fee is $125.
If a candidate later completes supervised practice requirements in another practice area, he or she can have the additional specialty added to his license.
License application forms can be downloaded from the site of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department (Click Here for the Social Work Licensure Application Forms and FAQs). Two character references must be solicited.
Candidates who have been licensed elsewhere must also provide license verification. Those who have been licensed in another state at least five years may be eligible for reciprocal licensing. They need to show evidence of degree and passing examination scores, but not supervised practice. The jurisprudence exam and cultural competence requirement still hold.
In the event of nationally declared disaster, New Mexico will temporarily waive some requirements for candidates impacted by the disaster. Among these are application fees and some paperwork.
The renewal period for all licensees is every two years. The continuing education requirement is 30 hours.
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 New Mexico.