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Maine Social Work License Requirements

Maine has a population of 1.3 million people and employs over 4,000 social workers.1,2 The state has the highest concentration of mental health and substance abuse social workers in the country.2 If you wish to become a social worker in Maine, you will need toap understand the licenses offered and the requirements for each of those licenses. The Maine State Board of Social Work Licensure administers the social work licenses in the state. Continue reading to understand the licenses offered by the Board and the requirements for each license.

How to Become a Social Worker in Maine

Educational Paths

Social workers in Maine must be licensed and must meet specific educational requirements. In Maine, you must have either a bachelor’s of social work (BSW) from a school accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or a bachelor’s degree in a field closely related to social work or social welfare. To practice master’s level social work or clinical social work, you will need a master’s in social work from a CSWE-approved school. To understand the differences between the two degrees, read the details below.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited school one of the requirements to practicing social work in Maine. BSW programs expose students to professional social work practice through classroom experience and fieldwork. Typically, students will take courses in human behavior and social environment, social welfare policy, research, social work practice and field education. In Maine, students with a BSW may apply to become licensed social workers (LSWs).

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A master’s in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited school is a requirement for the master’s level social work license and to practice clinical social work. CSWE programs will have a similar core curriculum but each college will have a focus area and may offer specific electives. Most MSW programs offer “advanced standing” for students who hold a BSW, allowing them to complete the graduate program in half the time it normally takes (one year versus two years). With an MSW, you will have the terminal degree for social work in Maine, meaning you will have the highest level of education necessary to perform all social work jobs in the state.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Maine

The Maine Board of Social Work Licensure offers three social work licenses and two conditional social work licenses. They are:

Continue reading below to learn more about the requirements for the various levels of licensure in Maine.

Licensed Social Worker, Conditional (LSX)

The Maine State Board offers a conditional social worker license (LSX) to individuals who have a bachelor’s degree in a field sufficiently related to social work or social welfare. This may include any degree that is NOT a BSW or a closely related bachelor’s degree in social welfare, behavioral science, social and behavioral sciences, childhood development, education and human development, mental health and human services, psychology, psychology/educational psychology, rehabilitation services, and sociology. The LSX allows a licensee to practice social work and gain the required internship experience needed to progress to the next license (LSW). Once they satisfy the education requirement, candidates for an LSX must:

1. Complete the application.

LSX candidates must submit the LSX application to the Maine State Board. Applicants must provide the associated fees, which include the $25 application fee, $70 license fee, and $21 criminal history check fee. Other documentation that must be submitted by LSX candidates include:

  • An official transcript
  • Completed educational worksheet (included in the application packet)*
  • Three letters of professional recommendation. Two of the letters must be from licensed social workers**
  • An agreement to provide consultation form
  • Evidence of employment in a social service field

*Candidates must complete this form only if their degree was NOT in one of the following: behavioral science, social and behavioral sciences, childhood development, education and human development, mental health and human services, psychology, psychology/educational psychology, rehabilitation services, and sociology.
**Social workers can be licensed in any state.

2. Take and pass the ASWB bachelors exam.

LSX candidates must take the ASWB bachelor’s-level exam. The exam costs $230* and tests the candidate’s knowledge of general social work practice. Candidates must correctly answer between 96 and 105 of the exam’s 170 questions to pass. If an applicant fails, he or she may retake the exam after 90 days up to three times per 12 months.

*As of January 2016.

3. Gain the required experience.

LSX candidates must complete 3,200 hours of work experience and receive 96 hours of consultation (four hours of consultation per month). The experience must be acquired in two to four years and must include at least 72 hours of face-to-face consultation. The remaining hours may be completed by video conference using methods such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or a similar technology. 90% of the 3,200 hours of work experience must be paid positions and the remaining 10% may be paid or volunteer work experience.

Consultation must be provided by an LSW who has been licensed for at least four years, an LMSW, or an LSW who has been licensed for two years and is registered as a supervisor trainee*.

*A two-year LSW who is providing consultation must be receiving 48 hours of consultation with an LMSW at the same time.

4. Receive your LSX.

Upon applying (and meeting the qualifications), you will receive your LSX license which will allow you to complete the required work experience to upgrade to the next level license. Because the LSX is a stepping stone to enable individuals who do not have a degree directly related to social work or social welfare degree to become licensed social workers, the LSX can only be renewed once and is a stepping stone to applying for the LSW license.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW)

The Maine State Board of Social Work Licensure administers the social worker license (LSW) to individuals who hold a BSW from a CSWE-accredited school. As an LSW, you can gather and assess data about people, groups, and families, implement plans to address certain issues, advocate for clients and refer clients. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in a field closely related to social work or social welfare, you should first apply for a conditional LSW license. Once you complete the experience and consultation required by the conditional license, you can apply to become an LSW. Other steps to licensure include:

1. Complete the application.

LSW candidates must submit the LSW application to the Maine State Board. Applicants must provide the associated application fees, which include $25 application fee, $70 license fee, and $21 criminal history check fee. Other documents that must be submitted by LSW candidates include:

  • An official transcript
  • Request for examination form (provided in the application) OR official ASWB scores
  • Three letters of professional recommendation. Two of the letters must be from licensed social workers*
  • An agreement to provide consultation form

*Social workers can be licensed in any state.

2. Take and pass the ASWB bachelors exam.

All licensed social workers in Maine must take an Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. LSW candidates must take the ASWB bachelor’s-level exam. The $230* exam is designed to test the candidate’s knowledge of general social work practice. Candidates must correctly answer between 96 and 105 of the exam’s 170 questions to pass. If an applicant fails, he or she may retake the exam after 90 days up to three times per 12 months.

*As of January 2016.

3. Receive your LSW.

Once you have satisfied the above requirements, you will become a licensed LSW in Maine and can practice general social work under supervision. The Maine State Board of Social Work Licensure will mail your official social work license. LSWs may provide consultation after four years of active practice.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

Licensed master social workers (LMSWs) practice advanced social work through administration, research, social planning, and teaching. LMSWs are eligible to provide consultation to LSWs and conditional LSWs. To become an LSW, candidates must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited school. In addition, you must:

1. Complete the application.

LMSW applicants must complete the application for licensure and submit the associated fees* ($25 application fee, $70 licensure fee, and $21 criminal history check fee). In addition, candidates must submit:

  • An official transcript
  • Completed request for examination form (included in the application packet)
  • Three letters of professional recommendation (two of which must from currently licensed LCSWs, LMSW or a licensed master social worker from another state).

*All fees current as of January 2016.

2. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

LMSWs must pass the ASWB masters-level exam. The $230* exam consists of 170 questions and candidates must answer between 96 and 105 questions correctly in order to pass. Applicants may take the ASWB exam up to three times each year. The ASWB website offers practice tests and study guides to help social worker candidates pass the exam.

*As of January 2016.

3. Receive your LMSW license.

Since the LMSW requires no experience, after you have met the requirements stated above, you will become a licensed master social worker and can practice social work in Maine. LMSWs can practice social work independently and provide consultation. LMSWs must practice clinical social work under supervision.

Licensed Master Social Worker, Conditional Clinical (LMSW- Conditional)

The Maine State Board of Social Work Licensure offers a conditional master social work license (LMSW- Conditional). This license allows social workers to practice psychosocial evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, and to provide clinical consultation. LMSWs must:

1. Complete the application.

LMSW applicants must complete the application for licensure and submit the associated fees* ($25 application fee, $70 licensure fee, and $21 criminal history check fee). Candidates must also submit the following items within one year of submitting his or her application:

  • An official transcript
  • Completed request for examination form (included in the application packet)
  • Three letter of professional recommendation (two of which must from currently licensed LCSWs, LMSW or a licensed master social worker from another state).
  • The Clinical concentration worksheet (included in the application packet)
  • Agreement to provide consultation

All fees current as of January 2016.

2. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

Candidates applying for a conditional LMSW license must take and pass the ASWB master’s level exam. The costs $230* and consists of 170 questions. Candidates must answer between 96 and 105 questions correctly to pass and they must pass in a maximum of four attempts. If a candidate is unable to pass the ASWB exam initially, he or she may retake the exam two additional times within 12 months.

*As of January 2016.

3. Receive your conditional LMSW license.

After completing the steps to licensure, you will become a licensed master social worker conditionally licensed at the clinical level. If you wish to become a clinical social worker, you must first obtain your conditional clinical LMSW license.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LC)

To practice clinical social work in Maine, you must have an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program and a valid LMSW-conditional clinical license. Being a clinical social worker means you can apply social work theory and methods to evaluation and diagnosis, treatment and prevention of psychosocial disorders, and disability or impairment (as it relates to emotional or mental disorders). In addition to satisfying the educational criteria, LCSW candidates must:

1. Gain the required experience.

To become a clinical social worker, you must have a certain amount of experience. If you have an MSW or doctoral degree in social work or social welfare from a CSWE-accredited school, you must have two years of social work experience and 96 hours of consultation in clinical social work OR if you have an MSW or DSW with a nonclinical concentration, you must complete four years of social work experience and have 192 hours of consultation in a clinical setting.

If an LCSW candidate can prove to the Board that he or she had an equivalent amount of clinical experience before receiving an MSW, the Board may waive up to one year of post-graduate experience required. Consultation must be provided by an LSW who has been licensed for at least four years, an LMSW, or an LSW who has been licensed for two years and is registered as a supervisor trainee*.

*A two-year LSW who is providing consultation must be receiving 48 hours of consultation with an LMSW at the same time.

2. Complete the application.

LCSWs applicants must complete the application for licensure and submit the associated fees ($25 application fee, $70 licensure fee, and $21 criminal history check fee). LCSW candidates must also submit the following documents:

  • An official transcript
  • Verification of consultation forms (included in the application packet)
  • Completed request for examination form (included in the application packet)
  • Three letter of professional recommendation, two of which must from currently licensed LCSWs, LMSW, a Board certified psychiatrist, a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed clinical professional counselor, a psychiatric nurse, or an individually with a similar license from any other state.
  • The Clinical concentration worksheet (included in the application packet)
  • Agreement to provide consultation

3. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

LCSW candidates must take and pass the ASWB clinical-level exam. The clinical exam costs $260* and consists of 170 questions. Candidates must answer between 96 and 105 questions correctly to pass and they must pass in a maximum of three attempts in one year.

*As of January 2016.

4. Receive your LCSW.

After completing the steps outlined above, you will become a licensed clinical social worker and may practice clinical social work without supervision.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Maine

Out-of-state social workers can apply for licensure by reciprocity by submitting an applicationfor the license that they wish to hold. Along with the application, out-of-state social workers must hold:

  • Valid license from another state
  • Official ASWB score (or score from exam required by the original jurisdiction)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Report of any disciplinary action taken against you
  • Rules and statutes of your licensing jurisdiction

Applicants who are using a license that was obtained through reciprocity of another state may not be eligible for licensure by reciprocity in Maine. Maine does not have formal reciprocity with any other state. The Maine Board provides social work licenses to out-of-state applicants provided they meet the qualifications (i.e., they have passed the appropriate exam, meet the minimum education requirement, and have the required experience) for the license in which they are applying. Out-of-state candidates should review the application information and submit the application request form to apply for licensure in Maine.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

The Maine Board of social work licensure requires social work license holders to renew their license every two years. The conditional LSW license can only be renewed once, but the LMSW conditional license can be renewed indefinitely as long as the consultation requirement (which is four consultation hours per month) is met. All other social work licenses expire on December 31. The Board requires 25 hours of continuing education (CE) requirements for each license. Starting January 2020, social workers will be required to complete 12 CE hours in family or intimate partner violence once while holding a social work license. As of January 2016, the fee for renewal was $70.

Maine Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

4,050 social workers are employed in Maine with the most being employed in child, family, and school social workers (1,580) and mental health substance abuse (1,300).2 Average annual salaries for social workers in Maine range from $46,650 to $55,790.2 The state has the highest number of jobs for mental health and substance abuse social workers in the country and that number is projected to grow by 8.2% by the year 2022.2,3 Overall, social worker jobs in Maine are projected to increase by 5.1% during the same time period which amounts to about 100 average annual openings per year.3

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers1,580$46,650
Healthcare Social Workers730$49,720
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers1,300$55,790
Social Workers, All Other440$49,820

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.2

Social Work Associations in Maine

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I begin practicing independently once I become registered as an Licensed Master Social Worker (LCSW) or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?

Answer: Yes, once you meet the qualifications for an LMSW you can practice non-clinical social work independently. Once you meet the qualifications for an LCSW as stated above, you can practice clinical and non-clinical social work independently. LMSW-conditional clinical CANNOT practice social work independently.

Question: For the two (or four) years of work experience required, can I count experience I gained years ago to become an LCSW?

Answer: Yes. As long as the social work experience was completed after obtaining your LMSW, it will count towards an LCSW.

Question: What kinds of qualifications are required of the person providing consultation on my social work experience?

Answer: Consultation must be provided by an LSW who has been licensed for at least four years, an LMSW, a certified social worker (CSW) or an LSW who has been licensed for two years and is registered as a supervisor trainee.

Question: What kind of degree do I need to practice social work in Maine?

Answer: To practice social work in Maine, you will need either a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited school, or a bachelor’s degree in a field closely related to social work or social welfare.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Maine: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/ME
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Maine: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_me.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm