Social Work License Requirements in Nebraska

Due to the growing population in Nebraska, social work positions in this state are expected to continue to increase until at least 2026. Aspiring social workers can pursue careers in both clinical and nonclinical fields by obtaining either a certified social worker or a certified master social worker certification. Social workers help communities in a variety of ways. From helping people solve and cope with everyday problems to diagnosing and treating mental, emotional and behavioral issues, social workers help communities prosper and work to improve their policies and resources. Depending on their lebels of education and supervised experience, social worker's responsibilities can vary from administrative roles to making policy changes and providing clinical services.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in Nebraska

There are multiple paths that students can take to begin a career in social work in Nebraska. The best path depends on whether an aspiring social worker wants to do clinical social work or nonclinical social work. Earning a Certified Social Worker certification is the path to an entry-level social work position in Nebraska, but it does not allow for the practice of clinical social work.

The Certified Master Social Worker allows professionals to practice non-supervised, nonclinical social work in Nebraska. It is a requirement for becoming a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP) or Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner (LIMHP) in the state, and is a good stepping stone to practicing clinical social work.

The types of classes that students can expect to take with either of these certification paths include:

  • Human Behavior and the Social Environment
  • Social Welfare Policy
  • Social Work and Civic Engagement
  • Writing for Social Work
  • Social Work in Mental Health
  • Research Methods in Social Work
  • Trauma and Resilience
  • Working with Minority Elderly

Certified Social Worker

A Certified Social Worker (CSW) is able to practice nonclinical, general social work. When compared to other levels of social work, this path requires the least amount of education and experience and is a gateway into an entry-level social work position in Nebraska. Entry-level positions that can be obtained through this certification generally do not require a degree. However, due to the high volume of applications that these jobs attract, a base-level certification is recommended to gain an edge with employers.

Those interested in applying for a CSW certification must have a Bachelor of Social Work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and must be at least 19 years old. Candidates who meet these requirements can then begin the certification process by submitting an application to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS). A photocopy of a government-issued ID must be included with the application to show either U.S. citizenship or authorization to work in the U.S. Additionally, applicants will need to provide a sealed BSW transcript or have one sent to the NDHHS. There is a $125 fee to apply, but this fee may be lowered at different points throughout the year.

The NDHHS reviews the application and once it has verified all of the information, prospective social workers will receive a CSW certificate in the mail. With a CSW certificate, applicants are still restricted to nonclinical practice, even though they are considered social workers at this point.

Certified Master Social Worker

A Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW) is able to practice specialized nonclinical Nebraska social work. This certification is a requirement in order to pursue clinical social work as a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP) or Licensed Independent Mental Health Provider (LIMHP). To become a CMSW, candidates must have a master’s or doctoral degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program.

To begin the process, applicants need to have supervised experience in Nebraska social work. Before gaining this experience, a provisional CMSW certificate is required. To apply, a provisional application must be submitted with a $125 application fee. The provisional social work license is good for up to five years. Once they receive their provisional CMSW certificate, applicants may begin completing the required 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience. For it to be considered valid experience, the supervisor must have an active CMSW certification and cannot have any disciplinary actions filed against them within the past five years.

After the applicant has completed the required hours, the supervisor must fill out the Supervised Experience Verification Form. Candidates will then need to submit an application to the NDHHS to take an exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). After receiving the Department’s approval, they can take either the Advanced or Masters Exam from the ASWB. After passing the exam, they need to apply to the NDHHS for their CMSW certification. The application requires background information, academic transcripts, an application fee, supervision affidavits, and test scores. Once the information has been reviewed and accepted, the CMSW certification will be issued.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Nebraska

Social workers who have earned their license in another state with similar standards may apply for a license to practice social work in Nevada, provided they meet certain qualifications. They must have a master’s or doctorate degree in social work and a passing score on the ASWB Clinical exam. They must have at least one year of social work practice, and an additional year of social work experience or graduate school in the three years prior to applying for Nebraska certification. Alternatively, they could have five years of social work practice. If they meet these qualifications, they must submit a Reciprocity Application with a copy of their current license, ASWB scores, educational background, an application fee, and the licensing state’s social work statutes and regulations. The Department will review the application and, if approved, a Nebraska credential will be awarded.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Nebraska social work license holders must renew their licenses on September 1st of even-numbered years. The NDHHS will mail reminders in the weeks leading up to the renewal period. All social workers are required to complete at least 32 hours of continuing education within this two-year period. Depending on a social worker’s title, at least two hours of ethics may also be required. The renewal fee depends on which credentials are being renewed. For a detailed list of fee schedules, social workers can visit the fee schedule link.