This guide is all about social work programs in Kansas. The guide also contains information on how to get a master’s in social work (MSW) in the state, as well as the social work license requirements in Kansas.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social work jobs and salaries
- Expert advice
Social work in Kansas
With the population of Kansas reaching 2,911,505 people, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that 4,970 of these residents are currently employed as social workers.
The rising urban growth in Kansas cities has resulted in a greater need for mental health social workers. Because of the fast-paced and growing population, there has been an increase of social issues along with added stress to social services under the mental health category. If this kind of work interests you, there is plenty of room for you as a mental health social worker in Kansas.
Keep in mind that in order to become a part of the Kansas social work community, you must first receive your license through the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (KBSRB).
MSW programs in Kansas
In Kansas, it is possible to start practicing as a social worker without getting your master’s in social work degree (MSW). However, earning an MSW is a vital component to practice social work independently and in most clinical settings.
In Kansas, there are currently five on-campus universities that have a CSWE-accredited MSW program. These schools are as follows: Fort Hays State University, Newman University, University of Kansas, Washburn University and Wichita State University.
That said, any of the schools above are viable options for earning your degree. Keep in mind that most schools will also require you to complete supervised fieldwork as well as determine a concentration of study.
Online MSW programs in Kansas
If earning your degree on-campus or in-state is not the best option for you, you will still be able to complete your MSW through an online program as long as it is CSWE-accredited.
For some students, earning a degree online is often a cheaper option than on-campus training. Along with this, it can also give students better schedule flexibility.
If getting your degree online sounds like the right choice for you, you can also check out our guide for more detailed information regarding online programs.
How to become a social worker in Kansas
To become a social worker in Kansas, remember the following:
- Before applying for a social work license in Kansas, students must earn one or more of the following: a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), MSW, doctor of social work degree (DSW) or PhD degrees can be earned online or on-campus as long as the program is CSWE-accredited
- Apply for your license and get approved by the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board (KBSRB). Complete all necessary requirements and field work before applying to become an independent clinical social worker
- Start your career as a licensed social worker in Kansas
To learn about the specific requirements for becoming a licensed social worker in Kansas, see the section below.
Social work license requirements in Kansas
If you are planning to begin your social work career in Kansas, there are three different kinds of licenses you can choose to pursue. These include: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW).
For more information on how to receive one of these licenses, keep reading.
Licensed Bachelor Social Worker
- A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited program is required
- Apply for licensure and get approved by the Kansas Board. Include the following with your application: three reputable references/supervisors and a copy of your school transcripts. The cost to apply is $100
- Take and pass a 170-question exam provided by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) at the Bachelor’s level. There is a $230 testing fee
- As a LBSW, you can begin to practice non-clinical, entry-level social work under supervision by a LSCSW
Licensed Master Social Worker
- For this license, you must have a MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited program in order to apply
- Send your application to the Kansas Board. Be sure to include three references and school transcripts. The cost to apply is $100
- Pass the 170-question ASWB exam at the Master’s level. The testing fee is $230
- Begin practicing both clinical and non-clinical social work under appropriate supervision
Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker
- To apply for this license, you must have a MSW or DSW from a CSWE-accredited program. Along with this, you must first be holding a LMSW license before receiving your LSCSW license
- Before applying, you need to have completed 4,000 hours of supervised social work under your LMSW license. However, before earning these hours, you will need to fill out a training plan and get approved by the Kansas Board. Hours must then be completed over the course of two to six years.
- Apply and include three references (must include current and former supervisors), school transcripts and work experience. The application cost is $100
- Pass the ASWB exam at the Clinical level. The cost is $260
- Start working independently doing advanced clinical social work
Social work jobs and social worker salary in Kansas
In Kansas, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average salary for social workers is $48,343. However, salaries range from $43,420 to $64,950 depending on job type, experience and what kind of license you hold.
Below, you can see the numbers of people employed in each social work group as well as the specific annual mean wages for social workers within the state, according to the BLS:
Child, family, and school social workers — There are 2,200 child, family, and school social workers making an average of $43,420 a year.
Healthcare social workers — Kansas is home for 1,470 healthcare social workers who make an average salary of $55,470 a year.
Mental health and substance abuse social workers — This group numbers 990 in Kansas and they make an average salary of $43,500.
Social workers, all other — This group includes social workers in private practice, administration, and other kinds of roles that do not neatly fit into the other categories. The average salary for this group is $64,950.
If you are interested in becoming a social worker in Kansas, our job guide can help you learn more about social work jobs and which career path will be the best fit for you.
Social Work Programs in Kansas
- What are the most important factors for students deciding on an MSW program in Kansas?
- What are the challenges or opportunities for becoming a social worker in Kansas?
- What does the future of social work look like in Kansas?
- What types of jobs are MSW graduates finding in Kansas?
- Do you have advice or guidance for MSW graduates pursuing a license in Kansas?
What are the most important factors for students deciding on an MSW program in Kansas?
Students who are looking for an MSW program in Kansas should consider the type of community they will be working in as well as the type of work that they would like to be doing. Kansas has some metropolitan areas and quite a few rural areas. In rural areas a master’s level social worker could be tasked to do many social work roles, due to a small number of professionals in the area. In a metropolitan area there can be more potential resources to refer a client to.
If a social worker must wear many hats such as in a rural area, they need to be prepared to do this competently, and seek the licensure that is going to provide them the widest range of functioning. In larger cities a social worker could be more specialized and stay in a narrower role.
What are the challenges or opportunities for becoming a social worker in Kansas?
One of the biggest challenges currently facing the state of Kansas is that many rural areas have a limited number of or even no social work professionals supporting the local population. In such areas, the opportunities for support, mentorship, and professional guidance can be limited to a new MSW graduate. We encourage our students to form lasting peer relationships while they are completing our program, and to connect with a mentor, possibly a faculty member or another social work professional as they are completing the program. This will help serve as their professional support network as they begin their social work practice. If they find that they are practicing in a community where there is good professional social work support, they will probably form new mentoring relationships closer to home, but they can still rely on their mentors from the time that they were completing their MSW degree.
There are also a tremendous number of opportunities in Kansas right now. The child welfare system is always in need of good ethical professionals to work with the many children and families who are impacted. Veterans’ services are expanding all the time, many schools are adding social workers to help support their student populations, and even higher education is adding more social workers to their student support services.
What does the future of social work look like in Kansas?
I think the future of social work looks brighter than ever! We are seeing a nationwide increase in awareness of the need for mental health services for all our citizens. That is going to impact Kansas as more and more communities demand that individuals have access to therapeutic services and medication to treat mental, emotional, and psychological disorders. This will increase the job opportunities for social workers as well as help them to sustain their psychological wellness.
We are also seeing a trend in many states including Kansas to add more social workers in the school systems. This will help provide more opportunities for students in school at all levels to access any unmet needs, and again this will in turn add more jobs and career opportunities for graduate social workers.
Physicians’ offices, clinics, and hospitals are integrating an increasing number of social workers as part of their staff to assist their patients with unmet needs. Medical professionals are also recognizing that many of their patients have more complex living situations that do not respond well to medical treatment alone without integrating the support services that a social worker can offer.
Lastly as I have mentioned earlier, many rural communities are currently functioning without the support and professional assistance that social workers can provide. These are great opportunities for social workers not just to find jobs but also to improve their own hometowns. Many graduates may create their own jobs through starting social work service agencies. The ability to be an entrepreneur using your social work skills is very exciting for many of our graduates.
What types of jobs are MSW graduates finding in Kansas?
MSW level graduates are employed in entry level jobs at mental health centers including both in-patient and out-patient locations. There are also many jobs across the state in the child welfare system including some supervisory roles for MSW graduates. Oftentimes, masters-level social workers are immediately promoted in their agencies once they earn their MSW degree and can provide mentoring and supervision of bachelor’s level social workers. Typically, the connections and networking that our students engage in during completion of their final year practicum affords them opportunities to immediately find the type of work that they want to do.
Do you have advice or guidance for MSW graduates pursuing a license in Kansas?
The first piece of advice I have about licensure in Kansas is to pursue it as soon as possible following completion of your graduate program. The licensure tests are extensive and cover a wide range of knowledge. As new social workers settle into professional social work practice, they often end up narrowing their focus to their daily duties and populations. It can be easy to forget some of the other knowledge areas that they are not using every day and that can make it more difficult to pass the licensure test(s). In addition, many people struggle with test taking in general. Throughout the process of earning their MSW students must get in the habit of taking tests on a regular basis. They do not want to let that experience of taking tests on a regular basis get too far behind them because then it can increase their anxiety about taking a licensing test.
A second idea about licensure in the state of Kansas is to brainstorm what licensure level you are going to need. Sometimes new graduates make their licensing decision based on what their peers are doing without really thinking through what kind of work they want to do and where they want to do it. Other new graduates will not seek licensure beyond a basic level and then realize after a few years that they are going to need a more advanced or more specialized license for the next step in their career. By the time that happens, it is possible that several years have passed and they will need to spend a lot of time preparing for that next level of licensure.