How to Become a Social Worker in Idaho

Idaho Social Work License Requirements

Idaho defines social work as “the application of social work theory, knowledge, methods and ethics to restore or enhance social or psychosocial functioning of individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations and communities.” The state elaborates that social work duties include “assessment, planning, intervention, evaluation, case management, information and referral, supportive counseling, supervision and consultation with clients” as well as services that can include “advocacy, education, community organization and the development, implementation and administration of policies, programs and activities.”

In Idaho, anyone wishing to practice social work or represent themselves as a social worker to the public must possess licensure at the LBSW level or greater. In total, there are three levels of social work licensure available to anyone who has met the training, experience and educational requirements as established by the Board:

Individuals who want to pursue a social worker’s license in Idaho will need to obtain the necessary degree. In some cases, field experience will be required before individuals can register to take the state level examination. An examination is required for all social workers’ licenses in Idaho. Below is a general outline of the requirements for obtaining a social worker’s license in Idaho. More detailed information is available via the Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners.

Each licensure level holds specific requirements that confirm the candidate’s eligibility for an officially-recognized license and their ability to perform the corresponding level of social work service. Read on for a summary of the basic eligibility requirements and board rules for each respective stage of Idaho licensure.

Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW)Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work No supervised experience requirement prior to licensure.ASWB National Bachelor’s Social Work Examination
Master’s Social Worker (LMSW)Master’s Degree in Social Work No supervised experience requirement prior to licensure.ASWB National Master’s Social Work Examination
Clinical Social Worker (CSW)Master’s Degree in Social Work Three years, full-time supervised experience. A minimum of 3,000 post-
degree hours.
ASWB National Clinical Social Work Examination

Learn more about social work degrees in Idaho

LBSW Requirements in Idaho

An LBSW is the minimum credential required in Idaho for individuals to practice social work or represent themselves as social workers. LBSW social workers are prohibited by law from performing psychotherapy. Pending additional supervision requirements, Baccalaureate social work can include conducting an independent practice but not a private practice as defined by Idaho law. Those wishing to obtain LBSW credentials must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work – All applicants must have graduated from a social work program at the Bachelor’s level or greater that is recognized and accredited by the CSWE. Proof of successful completion should be provided in the form of a mailed, sealed certified transcript.
  2. Board Pre-Approval – Following completion of the social work degree program, the candidate can submit their licensure application along with all of the needed documentation. The board will evaluate whether the candidate possesses “good moral character” as per their definition. Following board pre-approval, the candidate may register for their ASWB examination.
  3. ASWB Bachelor’s Social Work Examination – Following board pre-approval, candidates may sit for their ASWB Bachelor's Social Work Examination. Upon successful passing of the exam with a minimum scaled grade, the candidate will be granted their LBSW license.

LMSW Requirements in Idaho

LMSWs have authorities, responsibilities and skills analogous to a LBSW, but that may differ on a position-by-position basis. Additionally, some positions may require a LMSW credential at minimum. In order to satisfy the requirements for attaining an LMSW in Idaho, candidates will need to present the following:

  1. Master’s Degree in Social Work – All applicants must have graduated from a CWSE-accredited Master’s in Social Work (MSW) program and provide an official college transcript certifying completion.
  2. Board Pre-Approval – Upon completion of the MSW program, candidates submit their application for licensure and are evaluated by the board to determine “good moral character” as per their definition. Successful applicants will be granted pre-approval and will be eligible to register for the ASWB examination.
  3. ASWB Master’s Social Work Examination – Candidates who achieved pre-approval from the Board will be allowed to register and sit for their ASWB Master’s Social Work Examination. Upon achieving a successful minimum scaled score, the candidate will be presented with their LMSW as well as eligible to practice as a social worker in Idaho.

Independent Practitioner Licensure

Idaho defines independent practice of social work in Section 54-3207 of Idaho Code as “practice in which an individual who, wholly or in part, practices social work autonomously with total responsibility for such independent practice.” This definition differs from the state’s interpretation of private practice of social work, which they define separately as “independent practice in which an individual sets up and maintains responsibility for the contractual conditions of payment with clients, agencies or institutions.”

Current holders of LBSW or LMSW licensure may be eligible for independent social work licensing if they satisfy the following:

  • Supervision Plan – Candidates for independent practice licensure must develop a plan for supervision that will be reviewed and approved by a
  • Supervised Experience – Independent Practitioner candidates must complete a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised social work experience within a period of not less than two years and not greater than five. Supervision can only be provided by a qualified, experienced licensed social worker registered with the Board. Candidates must satisfy 100 of their 3,000 hours through direct face-to-face supervision. Supervision of groups of up to six candidates is permitted, but the Board provides a prorated formula for group settings in which there are more than two candidates as described in 210.01.b.ii. of Idaho’s Rules of the State Board of Social Work Examiners.

LCSW Requirements in Idaho

LCSW licensees are permitted certain privileges, which include the ability to maintain a private social work practice. Idaho defines private practice of social work as an “independent practice in which an individual sets up and maintains responsibility for the contractual conditions of payment with clients, agencies, or institutions.” In order to achieve LCSW licensure, candidates will need the following:

  1. Idaho LMSW Licensure – Only current licensed Master’s social workers may be eligible for LCSW candidacy.
  2. Supervision Plan – Candidates for clinical and private social work practice licensure must develop a plan for supervision that a designated Board member will be review and potentially approve.
  3. Supervised Experience – Candidates must satisfy a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised social work during a period of not less than two years but not greater than five years. 1,750 of these hours must include “direct client contact involving treatment in clinical social work.” 1,250 of these hours must include “ assessment, diagnosis and other clinical social work.” 100 hours of direct face-to-face supervisor contact are required; specific limits are placed on the number of supervisees allowed in a group setting as delineated by Idaho’s Rules of the State Board of Social Work Examiners rule 210.01.b. 50 percent of all supervised experience must be conducted under a LCSW. The remaining 50 percent may be supervised by a licensed clinical psychologist, psychiatrist or professional counselor.
  4. ASWB Clinical Social Work Examination – Following submission of the needed supervised experience hours and pre-approval of the candidate’s LCSW application, they will be permitted to sit for their ASWB Clinical Social Work Examination. Those able to achieve the minimum scaled passing grade will be granted LCSW credentials along with all of the benefits, privileges and expectations conferred with it.

The Importance of CSWE Accreditation

The Council of Social Work Accreditation administers a multi-step accreditation process and develops accreditation standards for both postsecondary and graduate-level programs. Nearly all 50 states across America require licensees to have attended a CSWE-accredited program. This expectation ensures that graduates are prepared with the knowledge and critical thinking skills needed to successfully and effectively practice Social Work. State board exemptions are possible, but they are typically reserved for licensed individuals practicing medicine or psychology.

Search Accredited Social Work Programs

Additional Resources for Social Workers in Idaho: