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Social workers help clients navigate the complexities of their lives and provide support for individuals in pursuit of stability. Demand for trained social workers is growing, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 11,820 people were employed in community and social services occupations in Idaho in May of 2017. Forbes lists Boise as the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation, and population growth generally leads to increased demand for social workers. Even in rural areas of the state, demand outpaces the supply of trained social services providers.

Boise is the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the nation, and population growth generally leads to increased demand for social workers

Aspiring social workers should look for programs with accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Candidates for licensure in Idaho must have at least a bachelor’s in social work. However, a master’s in social work qualifies graduates to obtain specialized licensure and certification and increases employment opportunities.

Featured Programs in Social Work

Idaho candidates can qualify for licensure with an out-of-state social work degree from a CSWE-accredited program. However, attending social work schools in Idaho prepares students to address issues specific to the state. Eight colleges and universities in Idaho grant social work degrees. Keep reading to learn how to choose from the social work programs in Idaho.

How to Become a Social Worker in Idaho

Aspiring social workers in Idaho must complete state requirements to obtain licensure. The minimum degree required to apply for licensure in the state is a bachelor’s in social work from a CSWE-accredited program. Candidates must pass the 170-question exam from the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). After obtaining licensure, social workers qualify for a variety of entry-level positions. However, licensed social workers must complete 3,000 hours of supervised field experience before engaging in independent practice. Idaho requires all candidates for licensure to comply with the Social Work Code of Professional Conduct.

Professionals with a master’s in social work typically have more career opportunities than those with a bachelor’s. A master’s qualifies social workers to obtain the Licensed Master Social Worker credential. Candidates for this level of licensure must pass the ASWB Masters exam and must complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience before practicing independently.

The Licensed Clinical Social Worker credential qualifies social workers for positions requiring specialized skills in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders. Candidates must pass the ASWB Clinical exam.

All social workers with state licensure must complete at least 20 continuing education credits each year to maintain their license.

Types of Social Work Degrees in Idaho

On-campus and online social work programs in Idaho prepare students for a variety of careers in the field. Higher levels of education result in more job opportunities and increased earning potential. Social workers must have a master’s degree to practice independently. Eight Idaho institutions currently offer bachelor’s in social work programs, including Lewis-Clark State College, College of Southern Idaho, and North Idaho College. Only Brigham Young University-Idaho, Boise State University, Idaho State University, and Northwest Nazarene University offer master’s programs in the field.

A bachelor’s in social work qualifies graduates for some entry-level positions, but a master’s degree results in far more career opportunities. A doctor of social work prepares students to pursue advanced clinical work and research. Currently, no universities in Idaho offer a doctor of social work, but learners in the state can earn the degree online.

Associate Degree

Typically requiring two years of full-time study, associate degrees often qualify graduates for assistant-level positions. Curricula emphasize basic concepts in sociology, psychology, human development, social work, and anthropology. Graduates planning to pursue a career in social work usually transfer to a four-year baccalaureate program.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree qualifies graduates for many entry-level opportunities, such as in generalist practice with individuals, families, and groups. Bachelor’s programs typically require about 120 credits, which most full-time students complete in four years. Common courses include sociology and social welfare, human behavior, abnormal psychology, generalist practice, and statistics.

Master’s Degree

A master’s in social work equips graduates to serve in a variety of positions in the field, including roles performing independent clinical work. Master’s programs typically require 60 credits and take full-time students about two years to complete. Commonly required courses include social welfare policy, research methods, human behavior, and practice methodology.

Doctoral Degree

A doctor of social work emphasizes practicality and fosters the professional growth of individuals aspiring to leadership positions in the industry. Students pursuing their DSW typically devote three to four years to rigorous study.

Finding a Social Work Program in Idaho

Idaho colleges and universities train social work students to meet the demand for social services professionals. When choosing from the eight social work schools in Idaho, learners should consider cost. Students can save money by earning an associate degree at a junior college before transferring to a four-year school.

Prospective students should also consider location. All social work degree programs in the state require an internship, and some campus locations offer more internship placement options. When choosing the level of degree to pursue, students should consider their career goals. Learners who plan to become generalist social workers need only a bachelor’s degree to meet state licensing requirements, but those who aspire to practice independently should pursue a master’s in social work. Idaho universities offer master’s in social work programs on-campus and online.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Idaho?

Currently, Boise State University offers the only online social work programs in Idaho; the university offers a master’s in social work and an advanced standing master’s in social work online. However, CSWE-accredited online social work degrees from out-of-state institutions meet Idaho’s requirements for licensure. Accreditation from CSWE demonstrates to students, to the Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners, and to prospective employers that the social work degree meets academic standards.

Social work degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels require a field experience; CSWE accreditation requires a supervised field experience component. Most online social work degree programs allow distance learners to complete internship hours locally. Students should contact their prospective school to verify internship requirements and to find out whether the school assists in making arrangements.

See The Best Online MSW Programs

How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Idaho?

Completion time for students earning a social work degree in Idaho depends on several factors, including program type, format, and level. The Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners requires social workers to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, which typically requires four years of full-time study. The Licensed Master Social Worker and Licensed Clinical Social Worker credentials require at least a master’s degree, which most students complete in two additional years.

Online social work degree programs are often more flexible than on-campus programs. Asynchronous courses allow the student to complete assignments and take exams at their convenience. Alternatively, students in cohort-based programs progress through coursework with a small group of peers. Some courses in cohort-based programs are synchronous and require students to be online at specified times. Although cohort-based programs offer more structure and peer support, learners can complete individually paced programs more quickly.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Idaho?

Five schools in Idaho offer bachelor’s in social work programs, and beginning in fall of 2018, three schools in the state will offer a master’s in social work. Along with tuition, students typically pay for books, fees, and living expenses. Online learners often save money on expenses such as campus housing and transportation costs. No Idaho institutions currently offer a doctorate in social work. Boise State University and Northwest Nazarene University offer advanced standing master’s in social work programs for learners who hold a bachelor’s in social work; these advanced standing programs are shorter and cheaper than typical master’s in social work programs.

Social work schools in Idaho often waive GRE requirements for graduate applicants with high undergraduate GPAs, which saves students the cost of taking the exam. Before beginning a career in the field, applicants must take the ASWB exam, which costs $230, and apply for licensure, which costs about $70 per year. Social workers in Idaho must earn at least 20 continuing education credits per year and must complete at least one hour of personal ethics training.

Types of Social Work Licenses in Idaho

In Idaho, all social workers must receive a license in order to practice. The state’s Board of Social Work Examiners offers four levels of licensure: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). All candidates for licensure must possess “good moral character,” defined by the Board as adherence to the state’s social work code of professional conduct and state law.

To become a social worker, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education

Although they may be qualified for many jobs in the field of social work, an LBSW cannot perform psychotherapy, whereas an LMSW can do so under the supervision of an LCSW. An LCSW can diagnose and treat mental and behavioral health issues, but they must do so as a member of a healthcare or social service organization. An LICSW, conversely, may provide psychotherapy services in private practice.

To become a social worker, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work from an institution accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). To become an LMSW, LCSW, or LICSW, you must have at least a master’s degree in social work. In addition, you must pass the appropriate level of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam, which costs $230 at the bachelor’s and master’s level and $260 at the clinical and advanced generalist level. This exam consists of 170 questions and usually takes less than four hours to complete.

In addition to formal licensure, social workers in Idaho may seek out voluntary certifications to improve their job prospects and boost earnings. For example, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the industry’s leading professional association, offers a variety of credentials to help you demonstrate your expertise in a particular area of practice. Social workers can seek out NASW certifications in areas like veteran care, gerontology, and substance abuse treatment.


Professionals at this level of licensure can take on a variety of roles in the field, but they may not perform psychotherapy. To receive this license, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited institution. You must also pass the ASWB bachelor’s-level exam, which costs $230, and pay $160 in application fees.


Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials


This nonclinical credential is designed for professionals who focus on client and system strengths to help individuals improve their self-care skills. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program, hold BSW licensure, and have documented at least 4,500 hours of paid, supervised experience in their specialty area.


Career and Salary Outlook for Social Work Degree Graduates

The BLS projects social services positions in Idaho to grow more quickly than the economy as a whole. Social workers in Idaho earn mean salaries higher than the national average. According to the BLS, healthcare social workers and gerontological social workers earn some of the highest salaries in the industry. Below are common career paths for graduates of social work programs in Idaho.

Child and Family Social Worker

These social workers help families identify and address stressors and obstacles that can undermine a child’s stability. They help parents identify solutions and may assist in securing alternative homes for abandoned or abused children. Many social workers in this field hold a master’s degree.

School Social Worker

School social workers collaborate with families and educational staff to identify and address issues that impede children’s learning. Schools usually require social workers to have a master’s degree.

Healthcare Social Worker

Often working in hospitals, retirement centers, and hospice agencies, healthcare social workers help patients and families understand their rights and obtain support services. Most healthcare social workers hold a master’s in social work, and many have medical experience.

Gerontological Social Worker

These social workers serve elderly adults, helping seniors safely pursue autonomy and independence. They may help create strategies for long-term care and financial planning. Gerontological social workers need only a bachelor’s degree.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers

Specializing in the assessment and treatment of patients with psychological and/or addiction problems, these clinical social workers often direct therapy, intervention, and related case management. These professionals must hold a master’s degree.


 EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers1,110$49,420
Healthcare Social Workers480$57,000
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers630$42,400
Social Workers, All Other80$70,970

Source: BLS

Featured Programs in Social Work

Scholarships for Social Work Majors in Idaho

Idaho students pursuing a social work degree have a variety of scholarship options. Students should contact the financial aid office of the college or university they plan to attend; financial aid officers can help students find available scholarships for which they qualify. Many awards are reserved for Idaho students and for learners pursuing social work degrees.

Social Work Scholarships


Who Can Apply: These 25 renewable scholarships are available to Idaho high school seniors planning to attend an Idaho college or university full time. Applicants must have a minimum 2.8 GPA and must demonstrate a commitment to public service. View Scholarship


Resources for Social Work Students in Idaho

  • The National Association of Social Workers Idaho The Idaho chapter of the NASW promotes social improvement by supporting the professional growth of social workers in Idaho. Membership benefits include networking opportunities, employment assistance, and advocacy.
  • The Idaho Society for Clinical Social Work This organization supports social workers in Idaho by promoting excellence in clinical practice and improving the emotional health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Members have access to continuing education opportunities and networking events.
  • Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners As the licensing agency for social workers in the state, the Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners protects public health and welfare through the licensure and regulation of social workers. The board’s website provides resources for licensed social workers.
  • School Social Work Association of Idaho The SSWAI offers professional development opportunities, resources, and advocacy for school social workers. The association’s website links to helpful resources.
  • American Clinical Social Work Association Operated by the Center for Clinical Social Work, this association provides networking opportunities, training, and resources for graduate students and practicing clinical social workers. The association offers three membership levels, and benefits include access to forums and publications.