Kansas Social Work License Requirements

Kansas is home to nearly three million people including 6,357 licensed social workers.1,2 To practice social work in Kansas, you must have a license from the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (KBSRB). KBSRB administers the social work licenses and renewals in the state. Continue reading to learn more about the educational paths, regulations, and standards for social workers imposed by the KBSRB.

How to Become a Social Worker in Kansas

Educational Paths

Social workers in Kansas must have a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) to become a licensed bachelor social worker. To become a licensed master social worker or a licensed specialist clinical social worker, individuals will need a master’s degree in social work (MSW). To understand the differences between these two required degrees read the text below.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

The minimum degree needed to practice social work in Kansas is a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited school. Eight schools in Kansas have social work programs accredited by the CSWE. BSW programs prepare students for professional social work practice through classroom lectures, group work, and hands-on experience. Basic BSW courses include human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy, research, social work practice, and field education. Most social workers will work as case managers, advocacy specialists, and programs administrators at the bachelor’s level.

With a BSW, you may become a licensed bachelor social worker (LBSW) in Kansas.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A master’s in social work (MSW) is the terminal degree for social workers in Kansas. If you have an MSW you will have the highest degree necessary to perform all social work jobs in the state. The master’s level program must be accredited by the CSWE; currently four schools have CSWE-accreditation in Kansas. MSW programs will have the same core curriculum, but each school will have a focus area like addictions, children, youth, and families, gerontology, and many others. Consult the CSWE website for more information on the different concentrations of social work and the correlating colleges across the US. Most MSW programs offer “advanced standing” for students who received their BSW prior to starting graduate school. Advanced standing will allow social work students to complete the MSW program in one year as opposed to the two years it generally takes.

With an MSW, you can practice social work as a licensed master social worker (LMSW) or a licensed specialist clinical social worker (LSCSW).

Steps for becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Kansas

All social workers in Kansas must be licensed by the Board. The Board administers three licenses– bachelor social worker (LBSW), master social worker (LMSW), and the specialist clinical social worker (LSCSW) licenses. Each license has specific requirements you must meet before becoming licensed. Continue reading to learn more about the licenses offered by the Kansas Board.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)

To become an LBSW, you must have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a school accredited by the CSWE. After your education requirement has been met, you can move to the next step in the process.

1. Complete the application.

LBSW must complete the application to become licensed and pay the $100 application fee. The application requires that the candidate submit an official transcript from their college or university and three professional references. Two of the references must be from licensed social workers who hold at minimum LBSWs (or meets the qualifications for the license). One reference should be from an on-site supervisor of the applicant’s most recent field practicum. References should complete the form provided in the application and return it in a sealed envelope. All fees are current as of December 2015.

Candidates may apply for licensure if they are within four months of graduation. If you have not yet received your degree, you must complete the verification of academic requirements form (included in the application packet) in conjunction with the Dean or director of your social work program.

The KBSRB offers a temporary license to applicants who meet the requirements to become an LBSW but have not yet taken the examination. You may request a temporary license from the Board to practice social work while waiting to pass the ASWB bachelor’s level exam. The temporary LBSW is $50 and expires six months from the date it was issued; temporary licenses are non-renewable. There is no additional application needed to request a temporary license.

2. Take and pass the ASWB bachelors exam.

After your application is approved by the KBSRB, you may register for and take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) bachelor’s level exam. The exam costs $230* is designed to test the candidate’s knowledge of general social work practice. Of the 170 questions on the exam, only 150 will be scored. Candidates must answer between 96 and 105 correctly to pass. If you don’t pass on your first attempt, you may retake the exam after 90 days. Candidates can take the exam a maximum of three times every 12 months.

*As of December 2015

3. Receive your LBSW.

Once you have completed the steps above, you will become an LBSW in Kansas and can practice social work under supervision.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

Licensed master social workers (LMSW) must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school. Jobs for LMSWs usually include practice using prevention and intervention techniques, treatment planning, case management, and other advanced social work skills. In addition to meeting the education requirement, LMSWs must:

1. Complete the application.

To become an LMSW in Kansas, you must complete the social work licensure application. In addition to submitting the application, you must provide an official, sealed transcript confirming your college education and provide three professional references. Each reference must complete the professional reference form (included in the application packet). Two of the three references must be from social workers who are licensed at the master’s level or meet the requirements for licensure (at the master’s level). The final reference must be from an on-site supervisor during your final year of completing the field component of your graduate degree. All reference forms must be submitted to the Board in a sealed envelope.

Candidates may apply for their LMSW up to four months before graduation. If you apply prior to graduating, you must submit a verification of academic requirements form (provided with the application) executed by the Dean or director of your social work school.

In addition to the required documents, LMSW candidates must pay the $100 application fee (as of December 2015).

LMSW candidates who have fulfilled the requirements of the license but have not taken the ASWB exam will become eligible for a temporary license. If requested, the applicant must pay an additional $50 to the KBSRB. Temporary licenses expire six months from the date of issuance and are non-renewable.

2. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

Upon application approval, you will be able to register for and schedule the ASWB master’s level exam. The $230 exam consists of 170 questions and requires 96 to 105 correct answers in order to pass. Candidates may take the exam up to three times per calendar year.

3. Receive your LMSW.

Once you have completed the steps above, you will become an LMSW in Kansas and can practice social work under supervision.

Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW)

Holding your specialist clinical social worker license (LSCSW) means you will be able to practice clinical social work and practice all social work independently. To become an LSCSW, you must first obtain an MSW and an LMSW following the steps above. If you received your MSW after July 1, 2003, you must have taken 15 hours of graduate level coursework relating to the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Once you have met that minimum requirement, you can move on to the next steps which include acquiring the experience needed to become an LSCSW.

1. Gain the required experience.

LSCSWs must have 4,000 hours of supervised social work experience and the experience must be acquired in no less than two but no more than six years. Of the 4,000 hours, at least 1,500 hours must be spent providing face-to-face psychotherapy and assessments; no more than 500 hours can be spent providing direct clinical social work services.

Social work experience must be supervised by a licensed clinical social worker who has been licensed for at least two years and is licensed to diagnose and treat mental disorders independently. You must have one hour of supervision for every 20 hours of social work experience you acquire (for a minimum of 150 hours of supervision in 100 supervisor meetings). Only half of your supervision may be completed in a group and the group must consist of four supervisees or less.

Prior to starting any supervised work experience, you must submit a supervisor training plan along with your official job description to the Board for approval. This plan must be approved in order for your social work experience to count towards LSCSW licensure.

2. Complete the application.

After gaining the necessary experience, LSCSW candidates must apply to KSBSRB to become licensed. In addition to paying the $100 fee (as of December 2015), licensees must submit:

  • An official transcript sent directly to the Board (unless it’s already on file from previous licensure)
  • Three professional references (sealed) – one from your current supervisor and the other two from LSCSWs that can attest to your work as a social worker
  • A supervisor attestation form (provided in the application packet)
  • A copy of your official job description(s) for positions where supervision occurred
  • The completed coursework grid outlining graduate level courses taken*

*Students who graduated from the University of Kansas and Washburn University do not have to complete the coursework grid.

3. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

LSCSW candidates must take and pass the ASWB clinical level exam. The $260* exam consist of 170 questions; candidates must correctly answer between 96 and 105 questions to pass. Candidates who fail the ASWB exam may retake it after 90 days for a maximum of three attempts per year.

4. Receive your LSCSW.

After completing the steps above and passing the ASWB clinical exam, you will become a licensed specialist clinical social worker in the state of Kansas. LCSWs can practice clinical social work independently and may supervise other social workers after two years of being licensed.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Kansas

Kansas does not have formal reciprocity with any state, but the Board offers licensure by reciprocity to out-of-state social workers. Individuals seeking LBSW and LMSW licensure can apply to the Board if their state has the same minimum requirements as Kansas for social workers at those levels. LBSW and LMSW reciprocity candidates must have passed the ASWB exam (or its state equivalent) in order to submit an application.

Clinical social workers hoping to become licensed in Kansas by reciprocity may apply if the state they were originally licensed in has the same minimum requirements as the KSBSRB. Additionally, applicants must:

    Have at least three years of clinical social work experience including the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders OR

  • Have five continuous years of social work practice as a clinical social worker AND
  • Have acquired a minimum of three years of clinical social work experience including diagnosing and treating mental disorders AND
  • Have passed the ASWB clinical exam* AND
  • Have an MSW

*Does not apply if you have been continuously licensed as a clinical social worker for 10 years.

The Kansas Board offers out-of-state clinical social workers a 15-day temporary permit to practice social work in the state. The $200* permit may be extended once for an additional 15 days. Social workers who apply for the temporary permit must provide a copy of their license with their application.

*As of December 2015.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Social work licenses in Kansas must be renewed every two years and expire on the last day of the month (from the date of issuance). To renew, license holders must have 40 hours of continuing education (CE) including three hours of ethics. LMSWs and LSCSWs must have six CE hours of diagnosis and treatment. Fees to renew are as follows:

  • LBSW – $100
  • LMSW – $125
  • li>LSCSW – $150

All fees current as of December 2015.

Kansas Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,730 social workers were employed in Kansas in 2014.3 Average annual salaries for social workers in Kansas range from $40,460 (child, family, and school) to $47,160 (social workers, all others).3 Kansas has the third-highest employment for social workers in non-metropolitan areas (360).4

Nationally, jobs for social workers are projected to increase by 19% between now and 2022.5 In Kansas, the number of social workers jobs is projected to increase by 13% with the largest gains in jobs for healthcare social workers (23.1%).5 These projections should result in about 160 new social worker jobs in Kansas.5 Based on the projected increase of employment opportunities and the range of salaries, Kansas would be a great place for social workers to call home.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers2,350$40,460
Healthcare Social Workers1,040$45,210
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers750$41,360
Social Workers, All Other590$47,160

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.2

Social Work Associations in Kansas

  • The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – There is not currently a Kansas chapter in the NASW, but the national site offers information about regional chapters, upcoming conferences, and continuing education opportunities nationwide.
  • The Kansas School Social Worker Association – Promotes the advancement and support for school social workers to enhance child’s educational experience. The organization offers professional development and continuing education opportunities, advocating for the field, and connecting its members.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I begin practicing independently once I become registered as a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW)?

Answer: Yes, once you meet the requirements for an LSCSW and gain approval by the Board, you may begin practicing clinical and nonclinical social work independently.

Question: For the 4,000 hours of work experience required, can I count experience I gained years ago to become an LSCSW?

Answer: Yes. As long as the experience was acquired in not less than two but no more than six years, you can count the social work experience towards LSCSW licensure.

Question: What kinds of qualifications are required of the person supervising my experience?

Answer: Supervisors must be a licensed clinical social worker who has been licensed for at least two years and is licensed to diagnose and treat mental disorders independently. The Board must approve your supervisor training plan prior to gaining work experience in order for your experience to count towards licensure.

Question: What kind of degree do I need to practice social work in Kansas?

Answer: Social workers need a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited school to practice social work in the state. To practice independently in Kansas, you need a master’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Kansas: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/ks
2. Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board: https://ksbsrb.ks.gov/professions/social-workers
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2015 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Kansas: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ks.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Healthcare social workers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211022.htm
5. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm