This guide is a comprehensive overview of the social work field as it exists today in Nebraska. We will cover salary statistics for different types of social workers, employment figures, and review of a few of the master’s of social work, or MSW, programs available in Nebraska.
There is a special focus on MSW programs in Nebraska as master’s degree holders have more employment opportunities as well as higher salaries than bachelor’s degree holders.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social Work in Nebraska
- MSW programs
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker jobs and salary
- Job Outlook
- School Listings
Social work in Nebraska
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there are 4,520 social workers in Nebraska. One of the most important jobs that social workers perform is caring for children currently in the foster care system. KVC Health estimates that there are 3,000 children in Nebraska’s foster care system and the success of these children has a lot to do with the social workers who support them.
Research has shown that children who have a dedicated social worker have a higher chance of being placed in a good home than children who are transferred between several social workers. Nebraska has already made a lot of headway in this regard as the number of children living in out-of-home foster care has decreased by 10 percent since 2018.
Despite these advances, the foster care system in Nebraska can still be improved upon. One of the most effective ways to make a lasting impact is simply to have more social workers who are committed to the job for the long term. For anyone who feels that they are ready to make a difference in the lives of Nebraska’s children, there has never been a better time to become a social worker.
MSW programs in Nebraska
When considering which MSW program to take it’s important to check that the university’s social work program is accreditated by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The CSWE is an organization that ensures that a university is teaching the latest social work practices and methodologies. Many employers will only consider hiring graduates of CSWE certified institutions which is why this accreditation is so important.
In Nebraska, the largest CSWE certified institution is the University of Nebraska. In fact, the University of Nebraska is the largest college in the state with more than 5,000 graduate and 20,000 undergraduate students. Social work classes are held at the Omaha campus, at the Grace Abbott School of Social Work.
Like many other colleges, the University of Nebraska offers two variations on the MSW program. The standard program is designed for students who didn’t major in social work and typically takes two years to complete. The advanced program is open to anyone with an undergraduate degree in social work and can be completed in as little as eighteen months.
The University of Nebraska also offers a dual degree program, which makes it unique in the field. Students studying graduate-level social work at the university have the option to combine their MSW degree with another major.
- MSW / MPA — A master’s of public administration combined with an MSW is designed for the social worker who wants to work in management rather than handle an individual caseload.
- MSW / MPH — A master’s of public health with an MSW is a great degree for a social worker who would like to work in a hospital, in a career such as a medical social worker.
- MSW / MSCRCJ — A MSW in combination with a master of science in criminology and criminal justice is well suited for the social worker who wants to work in the legal system, with a potential career path as a forensic social worker.
For those who qualify there are multiple scholarships and opportunities for financial aid for students taking classes at the University of Nebraska.
Online MSW programs in Nebraska
In addition to all of its campus-based degrees, the University of Nebraska also offers an online MSW program in Nebraska. According to their website this program is “designed for those who are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty and other forms of social injustice.”
As with their campus-based program, the University of Nebraska offers a standard program with 63 credit hours or an advanced program with 39 credit hours. The online program is CSWE certified and can be completed 100 percent online, meaning students won’t need to attend classes on campus. More information on the program is available here.
For more information about other online MSW programs available throughout the United States, please check our online MSW degree page.
How to become a social worker in Nebraska
Nebraska is one of the most lenient states in America when it comes to its policy about who is allowed to perform social work. According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, which is the state’s licensing body for social workers, “Anyone may provide “social work” activities/services. Social work activities do not require certification (or licensure); however, you must be certified in Nebraska in order to represent yourself as a social worker in Nebraska.”
In other words, anyone can perform basic social work tasks in Nebraska without a license. However, in order to start a real social work career, there are certain steps that need to be followed.
- Obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. A master’s degree is recommended since it will be the only way to perform unsupervised social work.
- Take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. The exam has 170 questions, of which 150 are graded.
- Apply to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for a Certified Social Worker (CSW) license. This is the first license that a social worker can get and it will allow them to perform most social work tasks, although these must be done under supervision.
- After the social worker has 3,000 hours of experience they can apply for a Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW) license. Once a social worker has a CMSW license they can perform unsupervised social work in Nebraska.
For those who are interested the following website has more information about becoming a social worker in Nebraska.
A PhD is the most advanced degree available to social work students in the United States. For anyone who would like to learn more about a social work PhD there is more information on our doctorate degree page. Also included is a list of PhD social work programs available to students in the United States.
Social work license requirements in Nebraska
The best place to get information about social work licensure in Nebraska is directly from the state’s licensing website. There are two types of social work licenses in Nebraska.
Certified Social Worker (CSW)
A CSW license is attainable by anyone with a bachelor’s degree, a graduate degree is not required. A CSW license permits the social work to provide counseling and manage cases, however, these activities need to be supervised. Furthermore, a CSW license holder is ineligible to offer mental health services (clinical social work).
Certified Masters Social Work (CMSW)
The CMSW license requires the social worker to have 3,000 hours of supervised experience as well as an MSW or Ph.D. degree from a CSWE accredited university. Upon receiving this license the social worker can work without supervision.
License renewal in Nebraska State
All social workers must renew their license in Nebraska every even-numbered year. Renewing the CSW license requires 32 hours of continuing education while renewing the CMSW license requires 40 hours. There is also a license renewal fee.
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in Nebraska
According to the BLS the average annual salary for a social worker in Nebraska is $44,181. While that salary is rather low, the cost of living in Nebraska is more affordable than a state like New York or California. Social work salaries range from $41,650 up to $62,040 in Nebraska. The following is a breakdown of salaries according to the social work field.
- Child, family, and school social worker in Nebraska are the most numerous in Nebraska. There are 2,910 social workers in this group making an average annual salary of $41,650.
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers make up 520 workers in Nebraska. The average annual salary for this group of social workers is $43,240.
- Healthcare social workers in Nebraska are the second largest group in Nebraska. There are 920 healthcare social workers in the state making an average annual salary of $49,280.
- Social worker all others includes all kinds of social workers that don’t neatly fit into one of the other groups, including administrators, researchers, and private practice social workers. There are 180 of this kind of social worker in the state and they make an average salary of $62,040 a year.
Given the nature of the work, social workers will always be in demand. Over the next ten years, the number of social worker jobs is expected to increase nationwide. Nebraska will be no exception.
Continued job growth indicates that social workers who are beginning their education now should expect to find plenty of employment opportunities waiting for them upon graduation. In Nebraska the job growth rate would suggest the creation of several hundred new social work positions by the end of the 2020s.