Social Work Licensure in Idaho

Social workers in every state must hold a degree and a license. However, states have different requirements for licensure, including varying exams and credentials. Idaho social workers can earn their license during the same year they graduate with a bachelor’s or master’s in social work. Students who need flexibility or who want to enter the workforce quickly often choose online social work programs in Idaho.

Candidates for Idaho social work licensure must hold a degree in social work and sit for an examination. Individuals with a social work degree from an out-of-state institution also qualify for licensure in Idaho. To qualify for reciprocity, professionals licensed in other states must prove their license required criteria equivalent to Idaho’s licensing criteria. Idaho social workers need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, but master’s degree holders have more career options and higher earning potential. Clinical social workers in Idaho must have a master’s degree and at least two years of professional experience in the field.

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Types of Social Work Degrees in Idaho

Social work schools in Idaho offer several degrees. The bachelor’s in social work is the minimum degree required to work in the field. A master’s in social work opens the widest variety of career opportunities, including positions in clinical work and private practice. Individuals who plan to teach at the college level need a doctoral degree in social work.

Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work

A bachelor of social work (BSW) qualifies graduates to become licensed in Idaho and begin working in the social work field. Full-time students typically complete BSW programs in about four years, and the degree allows individuals to enter the workforce quickly. BSW holders have lower earning potential than those with advanced degrees, but a bachelor’s is a necessary step toward any career path. A bachelor’s in social work is a generalist degree, and while graduates can obtain a license to work independently, they do not qualify for private practice, psychotherapy, or clinical positions.

Master’s in Social Work

A master of social work (MSW) offers the most career options for social workers in Idaho. A master’s degree in social work qualifies graduates to pursue careers with high earning potential and to accrue the experience needed for clinical licensure. An MSW allows graduates to practice psychotherapy under the supervision of a clinically licensed professional. A clinical license qualifies holders to perform psychotherapy and maintain a private practice. Most full-time students earn an MSW in two years. A clinical license results in the greatest earning potential for social workers and requires an MSW and at least two years of professional experience.

Doctorate Degree in Social Work

The MSW is considered the terminal degree in social work, but a doctoral degree in the field allows professionals to teach at the college level. Doctoral degrees typically require at least four additional years of education and involve significant, original research. Late-career social workers and those who wish to teach often earn a doctorate in social work. Doctoral degree holders qualify for the same licensure as individuals with an MSW.

How to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Idaho

Social workers in Idaho must obtain licensure before practicing in the field. Aspiring social workers in the state can pursue bachelor’s-level, master’s-level, or clinical licensure. Licensed social workers at any level can apply for independent licensure after completing the required number of experience hours. Career options in Idaho vary based on the individual’s type of license. Clinical licensure results in the highest earning potential but requires the highest level of education. Even social workers with a BSW can open additional career options by pursuing an independent license.

Licensed Social Worker

  1. Education: A BSW is a generalist degree that qualifies holders for nonclinical social work positions, including roles in assessment, referral, and counseling. This level of licensure qualifies professionals for independent practice but not private practice, and licensees are not eligible to practicing psychotherapy. Candidates for bachelor’s-level licensure must hold a BSW from a program with accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or approval from the state Board of Examiners.
  2. Exam: The applicant must pass the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor’s examination. Exams are issued on specified dates each year, and test-takers must anticipate graduating with a BSW within the year.

Licensed Masters Social Worker

  1. Education: Candidates for this license must hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited or Board-approved school. The license requires more specialization and skill than the bachelor’s-level license. While licensees cannot operate private practices, they can provide psychotherapy if supervised by a licensed clinical social worker, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist.
  2. Exam: Applicants must pass the ASWB master’s examination, which the Board of Examiners administers three times per year. Applicants who anticipate completing their MSW within the year may sit for the exam.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

  1. Education: Clinical social work, in any state, requires a MSW from a CSWE-accredited program. However, the Idaho Board of Examiners may approve a school without accreditation. This license qualifies social workers to practice psychotherapy and to operate a private practice.
  2. Hours: Before sitting for the clinical exam, applicants must complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised social work over the course of two to five years. This experience must include at least 1,750 hours in treatment and 1,250 hours in diagnosis and other work.
  3. Exam: After meeting degree and experience requirements, applicants must sit for ASWB clinical examination, which the Board of Examiners administers three times per year.

Licensed Independent Practitioner

  1. Education and Licensure: Applicants for an independent practitioner’s license must have a BSW or MSW and an Idaho state license. Licensure is required for candidates to complete the professional experience requirements.
  2. Hours: The applicant must complete at least 3,000 supervised work hours over two to five years. The supervisor must be a social worker who holds a license at least equivalent to the applicant’s license.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Licensed Social Worker in Idaho?

The most time-consuming requirement of social work licensure in Idaho is the degree; full-time students typically complete their BSW in four years. Individuals not pursuing clinical or independent licensure can earn their license right after graduating from a bachelor’s program. Candidates for a master’s or clinical license must have an MSW, which generally takes an additional two years to earn. Independent or clinical licensure requires two to five years of work experience.

Out of State Licensing Reciprocity in Idaho

Licensed social workers who move to Idaho can obtain a state license by presenting their current credentials. Candidates for out-of-state reciprocity must have passed an exam and earned a license equivalent to the Idaho license for which they are applying. They must not have been disciplined within the last five years, must have no felonies, and must take an oath to uphold the laws and rules governing social work in Idaho.

While this option is ideal for established professionals moving to Idaho, new social workers who intend to practice in Idaho should follow the state’s licensing process. Earning licensure in a different state and transferring your license to Idaho takes longer and costs more than initially pursuing an Idaho license.

License Renewal

Idaho requires social workers to renew their license each year. The state sends annual notices six weeks before licenses expire. Renewal costs $90, and professionals must complete 20 credits of continuing education each year. Social workers can apply additional credits toward the following year’s requirements. Social workers can renew their licenses by mail or online.

Annual license renewal ensures social workers stay up-to-date in the field. Social workers significantly impact their clients and communities, and it is crucial that they practice ethically and apply the most current methods and theories.

Accredited Social Work Programs in Idaho

Social work programs in idaho prepare students to practice in the state. Graduates of social work programs pursue a variety of career paths and specializations. The faculty at social work schools in Idaho are familiar with the state’s unique issues, and students often make contacts that lead to internships and career opportunities.

What Can You Do With a Social Work Degree?

Professionals with a social work degree in Idaho often pursue careers helping clients function within society or relationships. Many careers in the field require a BSW, but many social workers pursue an MSW, which increases career options and earning potential. Most social work positions require dedication and empathy to help clients deal with difficult issues.

  • Social or Community Service Manager: These professionals organize social services and manage social workers who deal directly with the public. They need both social work knowledge and management skills. The positions requires a BSW and professional experience.
  • Marriage or Family Therapist: These professionals work with couples and families to help clients maintain healthy, happy relationships. They may work exclusively with married couples, families, or coworkers. They identify and treat sources of dysfunction in relationships.
  • School or Career Counselor: These professionals work within the education system at the primary, secondary, or college levels and help students address barriers to their academic success. They may help students resolve interpersonal issues or plan their program of study. Career counselors at colleges and universities often help students choose a career path.
  • Rehabilitation Counselor: These professionals help patients succeed in rehabilitation programs and adjust to life afterward. They may work with people dealing with substance abuse issues or undergoing physical therapy. These counselors help patients apply tools gained during rehab.
  • Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist: These professionals work with individuals who are or who have been incarcerated. They help clients cope with the time they were incarcerated, find jobs, pursue education or training, and plan for a successful future.

Salary Expectations for Social Workers in Idaho

The table below highlights average salaries for social workers in Idaho. Each of the careers below require a BSW and licensure, and some require additional education and work experience. Careers with higher educational and licensure requirements typically offer higher salaries. The careers below are only a sampling of the options available to individuals with a social work degree in Idaho.

Average Salary for Social Workers in Idaho

Social or Community Service Manager$34,720
Marriage or Family Therapist$51,760
School or Career Counselor$41,660
Rehabilitation Counselor$38,590
Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist$41,840
Source: BLS

Professional Organizations for Social Workers in Idaho

Professional organizations in the social work field provide benefits for students and licensed professionals. These organization often provide members with networking opportunities, continuing education programs, and leadership experiences. Because the social work field is constantly evolving, joining a professional organization is essential to remaining updated in the latest developments in the field.

  • National Association of Social Workers – Idaho Chapter: The Idaho chapter of NASW keeps professionals in that state up-to-date with changes in the field, provides networking opportunities, and connects members with more than 130,000 peers across the country. The chapter also helps social workers locate continuing education courses.
  • Idaho Society for Clinical Social Work: ISCSW focuses on the clinical aspects of the field and unites professionals from across the state. The organization offers networking opportunities, education programs, and support resources. ISCSW provides discounted continuing education classes to members.
  • The International Association for Social Work with Groups: IASWG is a nonprofit, global organization. Members share knowledge, network, and promote collaborative work. Formed in 1979, IASWG hosts numerous events each year, including an annual international symposium and local chapter meetings.