New Mexico licenses bachelor’s and master’s level social workers who perform a wide range of duties. A person needs a license to call himself or herself a social worker or to engage in certain restricted activities.
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Licenses are issued at the following levels: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker / Licensed Independent Social Worker (LCSW/ LISW). New Mexico Administrative Code outlines parameters of practice for each level.
Licensure is dependent on education, examination, and at the clinical/ independent level, on supervised practice. New Mexico has some state-specific requirements.
Foundations for Practice: Education and Examination
The prospective social worker is to earn a degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. An individual who earns a degree at the bachelor’s level can qualify for the LBSW. Those seeking licensure at higher levels will need a master’s degree (Master’s in Social Work programs in New Mexico).
New Mexico competencies have a cultural component. Students who graduate from New Mexico schools of social work will have had the required content. Others will need to take steps to demonstrate competency; the individual will enroll in a course if he or she did not in the past pass a qualifying examination. This requirement can, if necessary, be met at a later stage, when the individual is working under provisional licensing.
Candidates seeking licensure at any level must pass a licensing examination administered by the Association of Social Work Boards, or ASWB. The ASWB offers tests at multiple levels.
Additional Requirements for LCSW/ LISW Licensing
The social worker will need to meet a supervised practice requirement in order to earn clinical/ independent licensing. He or she will hold LMSW licensing during the supervision period.
The supervisee will need 3,680 total experience hours, accrued over a period of two to five years. The individual will need a minimum 90 hours of supervision; this is one hour for every 40 hours worked. Of the required hours, no more than 20 are credited for supervision that takes place in a small group setting.
The supervisor is to be Board-approved. Normally supervision is provided by an LCSW (or by an LISW if the social worker is seeking the non-clinical licensing). In extenuating circumstances (as can occur in a very rural area) the Board may allow the prospective social worker to receive some of his or her supervision by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. Supervision requirements are delineated in 16.63.11 NMAC. The licensing agency has provided a list of approved supervisors (http://www.rld.state.nm.us/boards/Social_Work_Forms_and_Applications.aspx).
Notably, video conferencing may be credited as face-to-face supervision.
The supervisor will provide a final evaluation to the licensing agency.
Examinations required for clinical/independent licensure are also under the banner of the ASWB. A candidate will need to pass the Clinical exam to earn the LCSW. He or she will wait to take the exam until supervision requirements have been met.
A social worker who takes the Advanced Generalist exam may be granted the LISW. Those seeking the LISW may pursue supervised practice in macro-administrative practice.
The Application Process
Application Forms can be downloaded from the Board website (http://www.rld.state.nm.us/boards/Social_Work_Forms_and_Applications.aspx).
The applicant will need a recent 2 by 2 photograph of passport style.
Applications require notarization. The applicant’s signature represents (among other things) authorization for the licensing agency to investigate his or her background.
Official transcripts are to be sent directly from the issuing institution.
The applicant will also need to pass New Mexico’s Jurisprudence Exam; this is included in the license application packet. The purpose is to assess knowledge of laws and rules that pertain to social work. Applicants are directed to the rules and laws section of the website (http://www.rld.state.nm.us/boards/Social_Work_Rules_and_Laws.aspx).
The application/ initial licensure fee is $75 at the LBSW level, $100 at the LMSW level, $125 at LCSW/ LISW level.
Applicants with records of DUI or felony can expect a longer processing time as documents will need to be reviewed at a scheduled Board meeting.
The Examination Process
The candidate will attempt the general licensing examination after application. He or she can test while working under provisional licensing. The examination is available via computer at authorized sites around the nation. Examinations are self-scheduled. Fees range from $230 to $260. An approved candidate will receive instructions.
New Mexico permits multiple retakes. Fees are due each time. The New Mexico licensing agency recommends making a first attempt early due to the wait time the testing agency may impose between attempts. The ASWB has preparatory resources. Registration can be carried out online. The ASWB can also be reached at 888-579-3926.
Licenses expire biennially, on a set date. There is a continuing education requirement. Currently, renewal applicants are also required to submit responses to a questionnaire. Questions address practice setting and population served, among other topics.
Out-of-State Social Workers
Applicants must provide verification from any state, province, or territory through which they have held a social work credential.
A social worker who has been licensed for at least five years may be licensed by reciprocity (without submitting transcripts or verifying supervision). It is expected that the social worker will have completed an accredited program at the appropriate level.
It will be necessary to pass the New Mexico jurisprudence exam and meet the New Mexico cultural competency requirement. The social worker will need to verify good standing.
The New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners is under the banner of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department (http://www.rld.state.nm.us/boards/Social_Work.aspx). The Board can be reached by email at ‘SocialWorkBoard at state.nm.us’ or by phone at (505) 476-4890.
Rules are periodically revised.