In Nevada, social work can be a bachelor’s or master’s level profession. Social workers are licensed at multiple levels.
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The lowest license is Licensed Social Worker, or LSW. This is held by individuals with varying backgrounds. Nevada has two advanced practice licenses. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is a mental health license. The Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) is a nonclinical license, which signifies competence to practice independently in a range of areas including administration, consultation, casework, and group work. The LISW is a much less common license.
The minimum age for all licenses is 21.
The LSW may be a permanent license or, in the case of individuals with graduate education, a bridge to a higher license. An individual may be licensed as an LSW with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in social work. The degree is to come from a program that is either currently accredited by the Council on Social Work or is a candidate for accreditation. Foreign programs can be accepted if education is evaluated by the CSWE and found to be equivalent.
A prospective social worker may take the examination as early as his or her final term in an accredited program.
A master’s level applicant may take the bachelor’s or master’s exam. The master’s is the one to take, though, if one will be completing an internship to progress to a higher level. If the individual has only a bachelor’s degree, he or she will be approved for the bachelor’s level examination.
Nevada places limits on the number of examination attempts and on the amount of time that an applicant has to pass it.
The licensing agency may accept scores taken in another jurisdiction even when the individual is not currently licensed and eligible for endorsement.
An individual may, in some cases, be qualified for provisional licensure on the basis of a relevant degree. Nevada has set specific curriculum requirements. Curricular requirements are defined in state administrative code (https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NAC/NAC-641B.html#NAC641BSec028). The course of study must include ethics in social work and methods used in social work practice, among other topics. The provisional licensee will need to complete a social work degree in order to obtain full licensure. The provisional license is issued for three years.
Until recently, individuals with degrees in related fields could qualify for social worker licenses after completing a period of supervised work experience as an associate. This pathway is no longer open.
LISW and LCSW Requirements
The foundation for licensure at the LISW or LCSW level is an ASWB-accredited master’s degree. Again, a program can be accepted if it holds candidate status. (Master’s of Social Work programs in Nevada)
A prospective LCSW or LISW will need 3,000 hours of post-graduate practice. Nevada terms this internship. The program is subject to Board approval. Among the expectations that Nevada has of internship programs: that they can provide interns with an appropriate number of hours spent performing the types of activities that are required for higher licensing. A Nevada social worker will meet the requirement in a two to three year period, measured from the time of Board approval.
The setting must be appropriate to the role. If the social worker seeks the LCSW license, no fewer than 2,000 hours are to be in the area of psychotherapeutic methods and techniques. These constitute mental health practice. Generally speaking, the Board can approve an average of 32 hours a week and can credit 416 a quarter.
The Board maintains a list of clinical internship sites (http://socwork.nv.gov/licensees/Internship/). It is updated on a monthly basis. Also available is a list of supervisors, grouped by region (Northern Nevada and Southern Nevada).A prospective LCSW must accrue at least 1,000 of his or her hours under the supervision of an LCSW.
Interns will be subject to quarterly progress reports.
At the advanced level, too, Nevada has adopted ASWB examinations. LISW candidates take the Advanced Generalist Exam; LCSW candidates take the Clinical Exam.
Candidates are allowed to take the examination more than two times, but Nevada is somewhat more restrictive than the ASWB in imposing wait times between attempts beyond a second failure.
The Application Process
Application forms and supporting documents can be downloaded from the Board website (http://socwork.nv.gov/licensees/LicNewApp).
Applicants are asked to review licensing laws.
The following materials, when applicable, are to be requested from third parties: transcripts, ASWB test scores, out-of-state license verification.
The application fee is $40.The licensing fee is an additional $100 unless the applicant qualifies for an armed forces license. Provisional licenses carry additional fees.
The licensing agency will seek a copy of a governmental ID as well as documentation of lawful status (for example, birth certificate or naturalization papers).
Applications are to be notarized.
Nevada requires fingerprint-based background checks. Applicants can expect to receive fingerprinting packets. A small fee will be due with the fingerprints.Reciprocity for Out-of-State Social Workers
The licensing agency will require license verification from all states where the applicant has held social work licensure, whether the credential is current or not.
Reciprocity can be extended to out-of-state social workers who have unrestricted current licenses and clear background checks and who have met substantially equivalent requirements. Those who have been licensed five or more years may not be required to have met Nevada’s examination requirement. In instances where it is required, exam verification may come from the ASWB or from the other state’s licensing board.
An out-of-state licensee can be granted temporary endorsement pending receipt of all necessary documents. Even at this stage, the Board will require a number of materials in hand, including a copy of the license. The applicant is expected to have submitted a request to the other state board(s) for verification.
Nevada recently instituted qualifications for clinical social workers who certify patients for emergency admission or release them from involuntary court orders. These social workers are held to experience requirements. A recent lapse in licensure would preclude qualification.
Information is available from the Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers (http://socwork.nv.gov).
Regulations change periodically. Some new regulations went into effect in 2018. The Nevada Board is the source for current information.