This guide provides a thorough overview of the social work educational opportunities currently available in Idaho. There is a special focus on MSW programs since many employers require candidates to have a graduate’s degree.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social work in Idaho
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker salary
- Job outlook
- School listings
Social work in Idaho
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 2,480 social workers in Idaho. While these social workers are engaged in many fields, one of Idaho’s most pressing social concerns is its high suicide rate. Up to date information for all states isn’t available but in 2017 Idaho had the fifth highest suicide rate in the United States.
Part of the explanation is Idaho’s large Native American population. Unfortunately, according to America’s Health Rankings Native Americans tend to have a higher suicide rate than other groups. That’s the bad news, however, the good news is that social workers can make a difference.
Social workers are trained to recognize the early signs of suicidal tendencies, and to respond quickly and effectively to stop someone from taking their own life. Furthermore, counseling, drug addiction treatment and other forms of rehabilitation can all make a positive difference in someone’s life, averting a potential disaster before it can happen.
While a majority of the social work jobs in Idaho are in the city, there is a large opportunity for social workers who want to make a difference in smaller communities, especially rural Native American communities throughout the state.
MSW programs in Idaho
There aren’t a lot of MSW programs in Idaho, however, the programs that are available are quite good. One thing students should look out for though is a CSWE accreditation. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a certification agency which ensures that a university’s MSW program is teaching the latest practices in the field of social work.
It’s important to only take a degree from a CSWE accredited university as most employers will only hire graduates from a CSWE approved program. Also, some states won’t even allow a social worker to get a license unless they’ve graduated from a CSWE certified university.
Idaho State University has a flexible MSW program with four different options.
- A one year advanced standing program for students who have an undergraduate degree in social work
- A two year part time advanced standing program
- A two year full time program for students who don’t have an undergraduate degree in social work
- A four year part time program for students who don’t have an undergraduate degree in social work
Although none of these programs are currently CSWE accredited, ISU is working with the CSWE and expects all of their programs to be accredited by 2021.
Students in Idaho can also take their MSW degree from Northwest Nazarene University (NNU). For those interested in clinical social work, NNU offers a specialization in clinical mental health and addiction. There is also a specialization available in integrated clinical and community practice.
Students have the option to attend classes at the main campus in Nampa, or at the distance learning lab located in Idaho Falls. Class times are flexible and many classes are available at night or on the weekends.
Online MSW programs in Idaho
Right now there is just one online MSW program available in Idaho. The program is offered by Boise State and it teaches the, “clinical, organizational, and policy skills necessary for promoting social justice and equality, and enhancing the quality of life for all people.”
There are several features that make this program a great choice for students who would like to study online.
- The program is 100 percent online so that there’s no need to attend any campus-based classes
- There is no out of state tuition hike; students pay the same price whether they’re from Idaho or anywhere else in the USA
- Students who have an undergraduate degree in social work can take the advanced standing MSW program in order to graduate early
- The SR Education Group has ranked Boise State’s MSW as the 8th most affordable in America, making this a great program for students who don’t want to pay too much for their education
More information about the Boise State MSW program, as well as other MSW programs available throughout the United States, can be found on our online MSW degree page.
How to become a social worker in Idaho
Becoming a social worker in Idaho is a relatively straightforward process. While it’s possible to obtain a social work license with only a bachelor’s degree, the long term career opportunities will be limited. For this reason we recommend that students who plan to devote their life to social work obtain a MSW degree or higher. The following steps lay out the path to becoming a social worker in Idaho.
- Obtain a MSW degree from a CSWE accredited university.
- Complete the application for a social work license in Idaho. Students can submit their application one semester before graduation. There is a $70 application fee.
- Take and pass the ASWB exam. The exam consists of 170 questions, of which 150 are graded. The results from the exam will automatically be sent to Idaho’s social work licensing office.
- Receive the LMSW license. With this license a social worker can perform supervised social work and build up their hours.
- After the LMSW license holder has 3,000 hours of supervised experience they can apply for independent non-clinical practice privileges. Once granted, the license holder can practice unsupervised social work.
There are certain jobs within the field of social work that typically require a Ph.D.. Collecting data and performing statistical analysis, leading a community center or other large organization, or crafting public policy at a high level. Social workers who are interested in doing this kind of work may wish to consider a Ph.D. in social work. More information is available on our doctorate degree page, as well as a list of the Ph.D. programs available in the United States.
Social work license requirements in Idaho
The best place to get information about social work licensure in Idaho is through the state’s official licensing board website. There are three different social work licenses available in Idaho and we’ll explain what they are below.
Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
The LSW is the only license available to social workers with a bachelor’s degree. The LSW allows the license holder to make referrals, advocate on behalf of their clients and perform assessments. Some activities will need to be supervised and LSW license holders are not permitted to practice clinical social work.
Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW)
A social worker will need to have completed a MSW program to apply for this license. LMSW license holders can engage in advanced social work and perform more tasks than LSW license holders.
While social workers with the LMSW will still need to be supervised for certain types of work, after they accumulate 3,000 hours of experience they can apply for an update to the license. Once the license is updated the social worker will be able to perform all types of social work, except clinical social work, unsupervised.
Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW)
Social workers with the LCSW license can practice unsupervised, clinical social work. The license requires that the social worker has a MSW degree or higher from a CSWE accredited university, as well as 3,000 hours of supervised clinical social work.
License renewal in Idaho State
Idaho state requires social workers to renew their license every year. In order to renew the license the social worker must pay a $80 renewal fee as well as complete 20 hours of continuing education.
Social worker salary in Idaho
The average salary for a social worker in the state of Idaho is $51,594. Within the social work field different jobs pay different salaries. Salaries range from $48,170 for a child, family, and school social worker up to $65,170 for all other types of social workers. Below is a detailed breakdown of social worker salaries in Idaho.
- Child, family, and school social worker: There are 1,160 child, family, and school social workers in Idaho, and they make an average of $48,170.
- Mental health and substance abuse social worker: Number 640 and make an average of $50,260 a year.
- Healthcare social worker: There are 570 healthcare social workers in the state and they make an average salary of $57,440.
- Social worker all other: The last category of social workers is for people in the profession that don’t neatly fit into other groups, such as private practice social workers. There are 110 in this classification and they make an average salary of $65,170.
The population of Idaho is growing fast. Given the continued projected growth and the needs of the state’s population, social work jobs will continue to be in demand well into the future. According to national projections, the profession is expected to grow faster than average employment openings.
Students who are only just beginning their education now, and who might not graduate with a MSW until 2025 or 2026, should still expect to find many employment opportunities after obtaining their degree.
Social Work Programs in Idaho
More information on social work programs in Idaho state is available below.