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Kansas Social Work License Requirements

Kansas is home to nearly three million people, including 4,730 social workers.1,2 To practice social work in Kansas, you must have a license from the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board , which oversees social work licensure and renewals in the state. Continue reading to learn more about the educational paths, license options, and salary information for social workers in Kansas.

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 apply for the Licensed Bachelor Social Worker license. To become licensed as a Licensed Master Social Worker or a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker, applicants will need a master’s degree in social work (MSW). To understand the differences between these degrees and licensure paths, continue reading the sections 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 program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or one that meets equivalent requirements. As of February 2019, eight schools in Kansas have BSW programs accredited by the CSWE. BSW programs prepare students for professional social work practice through classroom lectures, group work, and hands-on experience. Coursework includes human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy, and research. Bachelor’s-level social workers might work as case managers, advocacy specialists, or program administrators.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A master’s in social work (MSW) is the terminal degree for social workers in Kansas, as it is the highest degree necessary to become licensed and perform most social work jobs in the state. For licensure in Kansas, you must attend a CSWE-accredited (or equivalent) MSW program; as of February 2019, there are four in the state. MSW programs will have a common core curriculum, but different programs may offer additional coursework and experience in specialty areas such as addictions; children, youth, and families; gerontology; and others. Most MSW programs offer “advanced standing” for students who enter with a BSW. Advanced standing can allow social work students to complete the MSW program in one year instead of the two years it generally takes.

Steps for becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Kansas

All social workers in Kansas must be licensed by the Board. The Board offers three different licenses: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW). Each license has specific requirements you must meet before becoming licensed. Note that for all levels of licensure, you may be offered the option of a temporary license if you submit an application and meet all criteria for licensure except the required exam. A temporary license allows you to work under supervision for up to six months or until you pass the licensing exam and receive your permanent license. Continue reading to learn more about these licenses.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)

To become licensed as a Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), you must have a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program or one that meets equivalent standards. LBSWs are able to practice general, non-clinical social work in Kansas under the supervision of an LSCSW. The steps below describe how to earn an LBSW license after you have completed a Board-approved BSW.

1. Complete the LBSW application.

Up to four months before your expected graduation date, you can begin the LBSW licensure process by submitting a completed application packet to the Board with the $100 application fee (as of February 2019). For this application, you will need to provide three professional references, one of which must be from your most recent fieldwork supervisor and two from social workers licensed at or above the LBSW level. If you have already graduated with your BSW, ask your school to send a copy of your final transcript to the Board. If you are still a student, submit the Verification of Academic Requirements form from the application packet, but know that you cannot receive your license until the Board receives a copy of your final transcript.

2. Pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam.

After your application is approved by the Board, you may register for and take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Bachelor’s exam. The exam costs $230 (as of February 2019) and 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.

3. Receive your LBSW license.

Once you have completed the steps above, you will be eligible to receive your Kansas LBSW license. If you have not yet sent a copy of your final BSW transcript to the Board, you will need to do so before your license can be granted. After the Board issues your license, you can begin practicing under the supervision of an LSCSW.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

The Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) license allows a Kansas social worker to practice clinical and non-clinical social work under supervision. To be eligible for this license, an individual must hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school. The steps below describe the process of applying for LMSW licensure.

1. Complete the LMSW application.

You can begin the licensure process up to four months before your expected graduation date by submitting the application packet. Your application packet must include three professional references; one must be from your most recent fieldwork supervisor and the other two must be from social workers licensed at or above the LMSW level. If you have already graduated with your MSW, ask your school to send your final transcript to the Board. If you are still a student, you will need to submit the Verification of Academic Requirements form that is included in the application packet. As of February 2019, the fee for an LMSW application is $100.

2. Pass the ASWB Master’s exam.

The Board will give you permission to register for the ASWB Master’s exam after they have approved your application. The $230 exam (as of February 2019) consists of 170 questions, 150 of which are scored. The ASWB will send your scores to the Board within about two weeks of your test date.

3. Receive your LMSW license.

After you have completed the steps above, ask your school to mail your final MSW transcript to the Board if they do not have it already. The Board will grant your LMSW license once they have received documentation that you have met all licensure requirements. Once issued, you can begin practicing social work under the supervision of an LSCSW.

Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW)

The Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW) credential is the only social work license in Kansas that allows for unsupervised practice. In addition to an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program, you must have completed 15 credit hours of graduate-level coursework in assessment and treatment of psychological disorders as well as a clinical practicum that included at least 350 hours of face-to-face client contact. Before beginning the LSCSW licensure process, you must hold an LMSW license, as this will allow you to gain the additional supervised experience you will need. The sections below provide detailed information on obtaining an LSCSW license after you have met these prerequisites.

1. Gain the required experience.

In addition to the supervised practicum experience required for aspiring LSCSWs, all applicants must also earn 4,000 hours of supervised social work experience as an LMSW. At least 1,500 of these hours must consist of face-to-face client contact, while an additional 500 hours can be spent providing other clinical social work services. While you are completing these hours, you must receive a total of 150 hours of supervision (up to two hours for every 20 hours of work) from an LSCSW who has been practicing for at least two years.

Prior to starting any supervised work experience, you must submit a Clinical Supervision Training Plan along with your official job description to the Board for approval. After this plan is approved, you can begin accruing hours. Once you have started your supervised experience, you must complete it in no fewer than two and no more than six years.

2. Complete the LSCSW application.

After gaining the necessary experience, the next step is to complete the LSCSW application packet and submit it to the Board. In addition to paying the $100 fee (as of February 2019), you must submit an official MSW transcript sent directly to the Board from your school; three professional reference forms (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; and the completed coursework grid form (see the application form for instructions).

3. Pass the ASWB Clinical exam.

LSCSW candidates must take and pass the ASWB Clinical exam. The $260 exam (as of February 2019) consists of 170 multiple-choice questions about clinical social work; 150 of the items are scored. Your scores will automatically be sent to the Board following your test date.

4. Receive your LSCSW license.

After you have completed all of the steps above, the Board will issue your LSCSW license. After receiving it, you can begin practicing social work independently in Kansas. After two years of practice, you will also be eligible to supervise LBSWs and LMSWs.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Kansas

While Kansas does not have formal reciprocity agreements with other states, the Board offers the option of applying for licensure by reciprocity to social workers licensed in other jurisdictions. To apply for licensure using this method, complete the Licensure Application through Reciprocity and submit it to the Board with all required supplemental documents and the $100 application fee (as of February 2019). In most cases, you will need to show that the requirements in the state you are currently licensed in are equivalent to those in Kansas. However, exceptions may be made for clinical social workers applying for LSCSW licenses who have been practicing for at least 10 years.

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 in which they were originally issued. Renewals can be completed using the Board’s Application for Renewal of Licensure or online through the Board’s license renewal portal. As of February 2019, fees to renew are $100 for LBSWs, $125 for LMSWs, and $150 for LSCSWs.

All social workers in Kansas must also complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE) during each renewal period. For LMSWs and LSCSWs, at least six of these hours must be in the assessment and treatment of mental disorders. Additionally, social workers at all levels must complete six hours of training in safety awareness as part of the 40 credits for their first license renewal. This does not need to be repeated during subsequent renewal cycles.

Kansas Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,730 social workers were employed in Kansas in 2017.2 The largest number of these individuals (2,170) were employed in the subfield of child, family, and school social work.2 Average annual salaries for social workers in Kansas range from $40,090 (mental health and substance abuse social workers) to $52,970 (healthcare social workers).2

Nationally, jobs for social workers are projected to increase by 16.1% between 2016 and 2026.3 Kansas social work jobs are expected to see slower but still positive growth during this time, with an overall expected increase of 9.7%.3 The number of child, family, and school social work positions is projected to increase the fastest, by 14.4%, which is comparable to the national expected growth of 14.2% for this subfield.3

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 2,170 $41,570
Healthcare Social Workers 1,060 $52,970
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 900 $40,090
Social Workers, All Other 600 $52,400

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

Social Work Associations in Kansas

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 receive your license from the Board, you may begin practicing clinical and nonclinical social work independently.

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

Answer: It is currently required that you file a supervision plan with the Board before beginning your supervised experience. However, if you previously completed 4,000 hours of supervised clinical social work experience that otherwise meets the Board’s requirements, you can contact them and ask if you are able to apply those hours to a current LSCSW application.

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

Answer: Supervisors must be LSCSWs who have been licensed for at least two years and are qualified to diagnose and treat mental disorders independently. If you are being supervised in preparation for LSCSW licensure, the Board must approve your supervision training plan before you begin this experience in order for it to count towards licensure.

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

Answer: Social workers need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited school to become licensed to practice social work in the state. To become licensed to practice clinical social work or to practice independently in Kansas, you need an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Kansas: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/ks
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Kansas: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ks.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm