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Nebraska Social Work License Requirements

1.8 million people have taken up residence in Nebraska. If you wish to become a social worker in the state, you must be licensed.1 The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services administers the social work licenses in the state. If becoming a social worker in Nebraska interests you, you must understand the licenses and corresponding requirements set forth by the Nebraska Department of Health. Continue reading to understand the minimum requirements for licensure in Nebraska.

How to Become a Social Worker in Nebraska

Educational Paths

Social workers in Nebraska must have either a bachelor’s degree in social (BSW) or master’s degree in social work (MSW) to practice in the state. The text below details the differences and advantages of both degrees.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

If becoming a social worker is in your plans, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited school. There are six CSWE-accredited colleges and universities in Nebraska. BSW programs prepare undergraduates for professional social work practice through classroom lectures and a field practicum. Individuals with BSWs will take courses in human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy, research, social work practice and field education. Most social workers with a BSW work as case managers, advocacy specialists, and can administer programs and activities.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

In Nebraska, a candidate must have a master’s in social work (MSW) to practice clinical social work independently. The master’s level program must be accredited by the CSWE. There is one school in Nebraska that offers a CSWE-accredited MSW program. CSWE-accredited MSW programs typically have the same core curriculum, but each school may have a specialty area or have varying electives. You should review the electives offered to determine the school that best fits with your career path. Most MSW programs offer “advanced standing” for students who hold a BSW which allows them to complete the MSW program in one year as opposed to the two years it generally takes. An MSW is the terminal social work degree in Nebraska, meaning you will have the highest level of education necessary to perform all social work jobs in the state.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Nebraska

If you wish to practice social work in Nebraska, you must hold a social work license. The Nebraska Department of Health administers three social work licenses: certified social work license (CSW), certified master social work license (CMSW), and the mental health practitioner license (LMHP). Each license has its own educational and experience requirements. Continue reading to learn more about the licensure options to help inform your career path.

Certified Social Worker (CSW)

A certified social worker (CSW) can practice general social work under supervision. This license requires the least amount of education and experience and provides new social workers the opportunity to gain entry-level social work experience. To become licensed, you must possess a bachelor’s in social work from a CSWE-accredited school and must be at least 19 years old. After meeting those basic requirements, CSW candidates can apply to the Nebraska Department of Health.

Along with the application, candidates must submit an official transcript, proof of age and citizenship (including lawful permanent residence and/or immigration status), and the required fee. If you have been convicted of a felony, you must provide information detailing the conviction and any resulting fines, treatment, or incarceration. The application fee varies based on the month and year in which you apply for licensure. Consult the fee schedule on the application to determine your required fee.

Certified social workers are not required to pass an examination. After meeting the criteria above, submitting your application, and receiving board approval, you will become a licensed certified social worker in Nebraska.

Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW)

To gain access to more job opportunities and gain more responsibility on the job, you will need to obtain the certified master social worker license (CMSW). CMSWs must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited college or university or a school approved by the Nebraska Health Department. Additionally, to become a CMSW, you must:

1. Gain the required experience.

CMSW candidates must acquire 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience. Your supervisor must have an active CMSW license and must have had no disciplinary actions against them over the past five years.

If you have a master’s degree in social work and have arranged for supervision with a licensed social worker in Nebraska, you may apply for a provisional license to practice social work while gaining the experience necessary for full licensure. You must submit the following documentation with your application:

  • An official transcript from your college or university
  • Proof of age (at least 19) and lawful citizenship
  • The $125 application fee*

*As of December 2015

A provisionally certified master social worker (PCMSW) must be supervised by a CMSW.
With the provisional social work license, you have five years to gain the required 3,000 hours of social work experience. If your supervisor changes during the period that you hold a PCMSW, you must submit an application for change in or additional supervisor form.

2. Take and pass the ASWB advanced generalist exam.

CMSW candidates must take and pass the ASWB advanced generalist exam. Candidates must register for the exam through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The $260* exam is 170 questions; candidates must receive a scaled score of at least 75 to pass. Candidates may retake the ASWB exam a maximum of three times every 12 months. Per the ASWB guidelines, candidates must wait 90 days before attempting to retake the exam.

*As of December 2015

If your goal is to become a licensed clinical social worker, you may take the ASWB clinical exam as opposed to taking the advanced generalist exam. This exam tests your knowledge on clinical social worker practice and methodology and may require studying different concepts than those necessary to pass the advanced generalist exam. If you wish to practice clinical social work and you take the advanced generalist exam, you will have to take the ASWB clinical exam at a later date.

3. Complete the application.

CMSW candidates must apply to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for licensure. With your application, you must submit:

  • An official transcript from your college or university
  • Proof of age (at least 19) and lawful citizenship
  • An official copy of your ASWB scores
  • A completed coursework review form along with the official course descriptions*
  • The completed affidavit of supervised experience in mental health practice, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and/or social work
  • The affidavit of supervised master’s practicum or internship for mental health practice

*If you received your social work degree from a school accredited by the CSWE, you do not need to complete this form.

The application fee for a CMSW license varies based on the month and year (even or odd) that you apply. Review the chart in the application to determine your application fee.

4. Receive your CMSW license.

Once you satisfy the steps above, you will become a certified master social worker and may practice advanced social work in Nebraska.

Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP)

To practice clinical social work in Nebraska, you must possess a license as a certified master social worker and a mental health practitioner (LMHP). You may obtain your CMSW license and LMHP license concurrently. In order to apply, you must possess an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school and be at least 19 years of age. After satisfying that basic requirement, you can complete the remainder of the steps to licensure:

1. Gain the required experience.

CMSW candidates must acquire 3,000 hours of supervised mental health social work experience. Prior to starting your experience, you must obtain a provisional license to practice mental health social work. Experience acquired prior to obtaining a PLMHP will not count towards licensure. Mental health social work must be supervised by a qualified physician, a licensed psychologist, or a licensed mental health practitioner who has an active license and has no disciplinary actions against them within the past year. Your supervisor must have an active CMSW license and must have had no disciplinary actions against them over the past five years.

If you have a master’s degree in social work and have arranged for supervision with an approved supervisor, you must apply for a provisional license to practice mental health social work in order to gain the experience necessary to become licensed. Along with your application, you must include:

  • An official transcript from your college or university
  • Proof of age (at least 19) and lawful citizenship
  • The $125 application fee*

*As of December 2015.

A provisionally licensed mental health practitioner (PLMHP) must be supervised by a qualified physician, a licensed psychologist, or a licensed mental health practitioner who has an active license and has no disciplinary actions against them within the past year. The provisional mental health practitioner license expires five years from the date of issuance. If your supervisor changes during the period that you hold a PLMHP, you must submit an application for change in or additional supervisor form.

2. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

LMHP candidates must take and pass the ASWB clinical exam. Candidates must register for the exam through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The exam consists of 170 questions and has an associated fee of $260*. Candidates must receive a scaled score of 75 or higher to pass. The ASWB clinical exam may be taken three times per year but candidates must wait 90 days between each attempt.

*As of December 2015

3. Complete the application.

LMHP candidates must apply to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for licensure. With your application, you must submit:

  • An official transcript from your college or university
  • Proof of age (at least 19) and lawful citizenship
  • An official copy of your ASWB scores
  • A completed coursework review form along with the official course descriptions*
  • The completed affidavit of supervised experience in mental health practice, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and/or social work (included in the application)
  • The affidavit of supervised master’s practicum or internship for mental health practice (included in the application)

*If you received your social work degree from a school accredited by the CSWE, you do not need to complete this form.

The application fee for an LMHP license varies based on the month and year, and the fees vary from $38.75 to $155 (as of December 2015). Review the chart on the first page of the application to determine your required fee.

4. Receive your LMHP license

Once you satisfy the steps above, you will become a licensed mental health professional in Nebraska and may use the title of a clinical social worker. LMHPs may practice clinical social work independently.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Nebraska

The state of Nebraska has no formal reciprocity with any other state, but the Department provides social work licenses to out-of-state social workers who have met the Nebraska standards. To apply for a social work license by reciprocity you must complete the associated application. Like the other social work licenses in the state, the fee for a license by reciprocity will vary based on the month and year that you applied. Application fees range from $38.75 to $155 (as of December 2015).

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

All social work licenses in Nebraska renew annually on September 1. Certified social workers in Nebraska are not required to complete any continuing education (CE) hours to renew. If you hold an LMHP or CMSW license, you will need 32 CE hours to renew your license. LMHP must obtain at least two CE hours in ethics. Renewal fees vary by license*:

  • LMHP – $50
  • CMSW – $25
  • CSW – $25

*As of December 2015

Nebraska Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

In Nebraska, 4,100 social workers are employed, most of whom (2,600) are employed in child, family, and school social work.2 The average annual salary for social workers is $45,207, and the highest paid social workers work in other categories ($58,880).2 Jobs for social workers in Nebraska are projected to increase by 13.8%; the largest gains will be in healthcare social work (18.1%).3 By the year 2022, there will be about 150 additional social work jobs in Nebraska.3 With the range of salaries for social workers and licensure options for social workers in all phases of their career, Nebraska would make a great place to start a social work career.

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers2,600$38,740
Healthcare Social Workers1,050$43,860
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers530$39,350
Social Workers, All Other-*$58,880

*Data not currently available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.2

Social Work Associations in Nebraska

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I begin practicing independently once I become registered as a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP)?

Answer: Yes, once you meet the requirements for an LMHP AND a CMSW, you may begin practicing clinical and nonclinical social work independently.

Question: For the 3,000 hours of work experience required, can I count experience I gained years ago to become an LMHP?

Answer: Yes. As long as 3,000 hours of your experience was completed AFTER obtaining a provisional license and was completed within five years.

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

Answer: Supervisors may be a qualified physician, a licensed psychologist, or a licensed mental health practitioner who has an active license and has no disciplinary actions against them within the past year

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

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 Nebraska, you need a master’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Nebraska: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045215/31
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Nebraska: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ne.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm