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Social workers help people in a variety of settings and contexts. These professionals are highly aware of the complex and diverse socioeconomic, cultural, racial, political, and psychological factors that affect individual and family wellbeing. Social workers are usually employed in schools, hospitals, prisons, and government agencies.

1,200 healthcare social workers; and nearly 700 mental health and substance abuse social workers currently work in New Mexico

Licensed social workers in New Mexico must have a master of social work (MSW). In addition to becoming social workers, many professionals with a social work background pursue careers in nonprofit work, business consulting and counseling, and mental health. Some social work professionals earn doctoral degrees and find positions as researchers or educators in academia.

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While New Mexico maintains relatively high rankings when it comes to quality of life, healthcare, and public health, the state ranks fairly low in regards to its public school systems, economic opportunities, and public safety. Consequently, demand for social workers is increasing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 2,000 child, family, and school social workers; 1,200 healthcare social workers; and nearly 700 mental health and substance abuse social workers currently work in New Mexico. Across the country, jobs in the field are projected to grow 16% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the average rate of job growth.

How to Become a Social Worker in New Mexico

The New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners oversees social workers in the state through the regulations and licensing department. To become a licensed clinical social worker in New Mexico, you must first earn an MSW from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). After earning a master’s degree, you are required to complete 3,600 hours of social work over a period of two to five years, including 90 hours under the supervision of a board-approved supervisor with an LISW or an LCSW license.

social workers in New Mexico must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years

To apply for a clinical social work license in New Mexico, you must submit the following to the Board of Social Work Examiners: a completed application, two personal references, one passport-sized photograph of yourself, a $125 licensing fee, official transcripts and verification of your MSW, proof of supervision hours, official exam scores, and proof of passing the jurisprudence exam. Additionally, prospective licensed clinical social workers in New Mexico must complete a board-approved course, seminar, or workshop on New Mexico cultures and take the state cultural exam.

Regardless of which kind of license they hold, social workers in New Mexico must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years. Six of these 30 hours must be courses focused on cultural awareness.

Types of Social Work Degrees in New Mexico

There are several different kinds of social work degrees. An associate of social work takes about one to two years to complete. Those with associate degrees in social work may find jobs as gerontology aides, community outreach workers, social work assistants, or probation officers. A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete and qualifies graduates to work as case managers, probation officers, social work assistants, and in other non-clinical roles.

A master’s degree in social work is considered to be the terminal degree in this field and takes about one to three years to complete. This degree prepares graduates to complete postgraduate social work and apply for a clinical social worker license. Some professionals may choose to earn a DSW or a Ph.D. in social work. These research-focused degrees take about three to four years to complete and prepare graduates for careers as researchers, scholars, or educators. Below are more details about each of these social work degrees.

Associate Degree

An associate degree introduces students to the basic theories, concepts, and skills in this field. An associate of social work may allow you to work in a few different entry-level positions, such as a social work assistant, a probation officer, a case management aide, and a gerontology aide.

Bachelor’s Degree

A BSW provides students with foundational knowledge of human behavior and psychology, socioeconomic and cultural issues, and social work theories and practices. The degree prepares you to work in entry-level positions such as a community outreach worker or a rehabilitation case worker.

Master’s Degree

An MSW is considered a terminal social work degree and offers students advanced knowledge and skills in this field and usually requires an internship. An MSW qualifies you to work in supervised postgraduate social work positions, eventually take the ASWB exam, and apply for a clinical social worker license.

Doctoral Degree

A Ph.D. or a DSW allows students to complete in-depth research in a specialized area of social work, including a dissertation. Social work professionals with doctoral degrees can teach in higher education or work as researchers and scholars.

Finding a Social Work Program in New Mexico

It can take some time to find a social work program that matches your career goals. While searching for the right social work degree in New Mexico, be sure to research program cost, location, length, and available specializations.

When looking into a prospective school’s location, you should take into account whether or not the location offers resources such as internships and community service opportunities. You may also consider whether or not the program requires internships and field work or summer classes, which can affect how long it takes you to graduate. If you are interested in specializing in a specific area of social work, ask whether or not the school offers a concentration.

Students who have career or family obligations and cannot change locations for their social work program may consider attending an online social work program in New Mexico. The following section offers more information about online degrees in this state.

Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in New Mexico?

Online programs are ideal for those who want to complete coursework on flexible schedules who want to save money on commuting and living costs. Fortunately, there are a few online social work degrees in New Mexico.

Top Online Social Work Program in New Mexico

An online BSW or MSW provides graduates with the same skills and knowledge of the social work field as their on-campus counterparts. As long as the programs are accredited by the CSWE, graduates with online social work degrees in New Mexico are eligible to work in supervised non-clinical and clinical positions and can apply for social work licensure.

Most online social work programs require an in-person internship or field education component, such as several hours of full- or part-time work in a hospital, school, or government agency. Students interested in online degree options should carefully research whether the program requires them to complete an on-campus internship or if you can complete an internship closer to home. MSW degrees usually require at least two semesters of internship or field experience work.

See The Best Online MSW Programs

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

Depending on which social work license you pursue, it takes about five to eight years to become a licensed social worker in New Mexico. This includes both undergraduate and graduate work, as well as the time it may take you to earn a social work license.

When researching the program lengths of online social work programs in New Mexico, consider whether or not the program is self-paced or cohort-based. Self-paced programs allow you to complete coursework at your own pace and complete required coursework on your own schedule. Cohort-based programs organize students into groups who complete coursework together in a fixed sequence.

How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in New Mexico?

The costs of social work programs in New Mexico vary widely depending on the specific school, degree, and program. Bachelor’s degrees in social work at colleges and universities cost between about $4,000 and $80,000 for four years. Master’s degrees in social work in New Mexico cost between $3,000 and $60,000 for one to three years. Many master’s programs offer funding through assistantships. New Mexico does not offer online doctoral programs in social work.

Additional fees may include the GRE, the ASWB exam, application fees, and continuing education. The GRE, which many graduate schools require applicants to take, costs $160. The ASWB exam costs $230 for the bachelor’s or master’s exam and $260 for the advanced or clinical exam. In New Mexico, the application fees for the LBSW, LMSW, and LCSW are $75, $100, and $125 respectively. The cost of continuing education varies depending on the specific course and school or organization offering the course.

Types of Social Work Licenses in New Mexico

Licensed clinical social workers in New Mexico must have a master’s degree in social work. However, New Mexico offers several other levels of licensure that qualify individuals to work in various areas of the social work profession. Earning a bachelor’s degree in social work in New Mexico qualifies you to apply for a bachelor social worker license (LBSW). This non-clinical degree does not require you to complete supervised experience, and many graduates apply for this license immediately after earning their BSW.

Graduating with an MSW in New Mexico qualifies you to earn an LMSW or an LCSW license. An LMSW allows you to participate in supervised clinical work, which prepares you to eventually earn an LCSW. An LCSW is a clinical social work license. To apply for this license in New Mexico, you must first complete 3,600 hours of clinical work over a period of two to five years; 90 of these hours must involve direct supervision.

Graduating with an MSW in New Mexico qualifies you to earn an LMSW or an LCSW license

Social workers in New Mexico must also complete a board-approved, three-hour course or workshop on New Mexico cultures about the state’s diverse populations and communities. Social workers are then required to take a cultural examination. All professional social workers in New Mexico, whether they are applying for their LBSW, LMSW, or LCSW license, must complete these cultural requirements.

While researching online social work programs in New Mexico, keep in mind that there is a difference between licensure and certification. While a license is required to practice social work, a certification is voluntary and supplementary. After earning clinical licensure, you can pursue additional certification in specific areas of social work, such as gerontology or alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD).


A LCSW qualifies you to practice independent clinical social work in a variety of settings. This license requires an MSW and two to five years of experience, consisting of 3,600 clinical hours, 90 of which need to be supervised. The license also requires professionals to take the ASWB exam and the New Mexico cultural exam. The fee to apply for this license in New Mexico is $125.


Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials


A C-SWCM is a non-clinical credential given to social workers who work in case management. To qualify for this license, social workers need to have a BSW, as well as either a state-issued LBSW or a passing ASWB exam. This credential also requires at least three years and 4,500 hours of supervised and paid post-undergraduate social work.


Career and Salary Outlook for Social Work Degree Graduates

Studying social work prepares students for careers in several different settings working with diverse communities and demographics. Successful social workers are typically empathetic, organized, perceptive, and sensitive. They should possess high levels of social and cultural awareness. Social workers should also be skilled in listening, calmly managing stressful situations, and setting boundaries as well as teaching others how to set boundaries themselves. Below are five careers for which online social work degrees prepare students.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

These professionals work with diverse vulnerable or at-risk populations in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and prisons. Social workers may provide individual, group, or family counseling. They also often work with doctors, parents, teachers, and other professionals to develop treatment plans for their clients. They may practice independently or as part of a team.

Probation Officer

Probation officers work in correctional facilities with clients who have broken the law. They support clients through rehabilitation and ensure that these individuals are not dangerous to themselves or their communities. They often refer clients to resources such as job training and substance abuse programs.

Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor

These professionals connect clients to resources such as job training and provide counseling to individuals and their families. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors may work in detox centers, correctional facilities, or mental health centers. Most of these professionals have a master’s degree in social work.

Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers oversee community organizations and social service programs. They analyze data, write proposals and grants, and manage outreach activities. They also supervise staff, which makes a background in social work valuable in this role.

Postsecondary Teacher

Some social work professionals eventually earn doctoral degrees and teach at colleges and universities. Postsecondary teachers teach undergraduate or graduate courses in their field. They also conduct research, collaborate with other scholars, and write articles and books.


 EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Child, Family, and School Social Workers2,140$41,650
Healthcare Social Workers1,200$55,640
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers690$38,620
Social Workers, All Other500$56,730

Source: BLS

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Scholarships for Social Work Majors in New Mexico

There are many different types of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, work study, and student loans. There are also many scholarships that are specifically earmarked for social work students in New Mexico. Below is a list of four scholarships for students enrolled in social work programs in New Mexico.

Social Work Scholarships


Who Can Apply: This scholarship is awarded to graduating high school seniors who live in manufactured homes in New Mexico. Applicants must be enrolled at a two- or four-year public university and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered. They should also submit a financial need statement and an essay stating their career goals. View Scholarship


Resources for Social Work Students in New Mexico

  • New Mexico Board of Social Work Examiners This board oversees social workers in the state. The board’s website offers information and resources about the different types of social work licensure in New Mexico, as well as rules and regulations, license renewal, continuing education, and New Mexico’s cultural exam.
  • New Mexico Higher Education Department The Higher Education Department website offers several resources to students and faculty across all disciplines, including social work. Students can search for information about specific universities and scholarships in New Mexico. The website also offers resources regarding financial aid and saving for college.
  • National Association of Social Workers New Mexico The NASW-NM is a chapter of the NASW and supports social workers across all specialities. This organization focuses on several social justice issues specific to New Mexico, such as ending the state’s death penalty, advocating for Medicaid, and working toward better school healthcare for students. The organization hosts a variety of annual conferences and participates in many other gatherings.
  • City of Albuquerque Health and Social Services As the largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque is home to several at-risk populations. The city’s website helps both social work professionals and potential clients find resources such as housing services, homeless services, healthcare, and food assistance.
  • Clinical Social Work Association The CSWA supports clinical social work professionals across the country. The association’s website features a job board and extensive information about health codes, medicare, and other important data and information systems within social work. Members receive free consultations for ethical and legal questions, as well as a variety of other resources.