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Maine Social Work License Requirements

Maine has a population of 1.3 million people, over 4,000 of whom are employed as social workers.1,2 Although social workers in the state work in a variety of settings, Maine boasts the second-highest concentration of mental health and substance abuse social workers in the nation.3 If you are considering a social work career in Maine, it is important to understand the state’s options for social work licensure. The State Board of Social Work Licensure oversees the practice of social work in the state. Continue reading to learn more about the licenses offered by the Board as well as the education and training requirements candidates need to meet for each.

How to Become a Social Worker in Maine

Educational Paths

To practice social work in Maine and use the title “social worker,” you must hold one of the licenses offered by the Board. There are multiple educational paths that will allow you to earn one of these licenses. One option is to earn a bachelor’s of social work (BSW) from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The Board will also consider accepting a bachelor’s degree in a field closely related to social work, although you will need to earn additional supervised experience in social work before you can practice independently. To practice master’s level social work or clinical social work, you will need a master’s in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited program. To learn more about the differences between the BSW and MSW degrees, continue reading the sections below.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

A bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) from a CSWE-accredited program (or a bachelor’s degree in a related field and supervised experience as a conditional social worker) will allow you to apply for the Licensed Social Worker (LSW, also known as an “LS” in Maine) credential. BSW programs are four-year programs that 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.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

A master’s in social work (MSW) from a CSWE-accredited program is required for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW, aka “LM” in Maine) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW, aka “LC” in Maine). CSWE-accredited programs typically share a core curriculum but some programs may offer different electives or areas of focus. 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 most social work jobs in the state.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Maine

The Board offers three full social work licenses: Licensed Social Worker (LSW or LS), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW or LM), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW or LC). The Board also issues two conditional social work licenses that allow an individual to earn the experience required for a full license: Conditional Licensed Social Worker (LSW-C or LSX) and Conditional Clinical Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW-CC or MC).* Continue reading to learn more about the requirements for each of these licenses.

*While the Board sometimes uses the abbreviations LM, LC, LSX, and MC, it also uses the more common LMSW, LCSW, LSW-C, and LMSW-CC designations; for clarity, we have chosen to use the common abbreviations where applicable.

Conditional Licensed Social Worker (LSW-C)

The Board offers a Conditional Licensed Social Worker (LSW-C) license to individuals who have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to social work, such as behavioral science, psychology, sociology, or human development. The LSW-C allows an individual with a non-social work degree to gain supervised social work experience that will qualify them for an LSW license. Once you earn a degree in a field that will qualify you for LSW-C licensure, complete the steps below. If you hold a BSW from a program accredited by the CSWE, you can skip this step.

1. Complete the LSW-C application.

LSW-C candidates should begin the licensure process by submitting the LSW-C application to the Board. For the application, you will need to provide documentation of social work employment and a consultation contract from your proposed supervisor. You must also request that your school send your transcript to the Board. Total LSW-C application fees are $116 (as of February 2019) and include the cost of the criminal background check that will be conducted after the Board receives your application.

2. Receive your LSW-C license.

If the Board approves your LSW-C application, they will email your license to you. After your license has been issued, you can begin practicing under supervision to earn the hours required for LSW licensure. Because the LSW-C is intended to be a temporary license that allows you to gain supervised experience, it can only be renewed once.

3. Gain the required experience for LSW licensure.

After receiving your LSW-C license, you will need to complete 3,200 hours of supervised work experience, including 96 hours of consultation with your supervisor (at least four hours of consultation per month). You must earn this experience in no fewer than two and no more than four years. Your supervisor will generally need to be an LSW who has held a license for at least two years, an LCSW, a CSW-IP (a license no longer issued but still held by some social workers), or an LMSW. However, if you are employed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), there may be additional restrictions regarding supervisor qualifications. After you complete this required supervised experience, you will be able to apply for an LSW license.

Licensed Social Worker (LSW)

The Board’s Licensed Social Worker (LSW) credential allows a social worker to practice entry-level non-clinical social work. LSWs must work under supervision during their first 3,200 hours of post-licensure work experience. To apply for an LSW license, you must hold a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program or have established equivalency by completing supervised experience under an LSW-C license. After you meet one of these requirements, you can become licensed as an LSW by completing the steps described below.

1. Complete the LSW application.

LSW candidates must submit the LSW application to the Board to begin the process of becoming licensed. For this application, you will need to include a consultation contract from your intended supervisor as well as an official transcript (if the Board does not already have one on file). If you hold an LSW-C license, you will also need to submit the Verification of Consultation form documenting your supervised experience. As of February 2019, you will need to pay $116 in fees when you submit the LSW application.

2. Pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam.

LSW candidates must pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam to become licensed. You will be able to register for this after the Board reviews your application and notifies the ASWB that you are eligible for the exam. There are 170 multiple-choice items covering general social work practice on the exam. As of February 2019, the fee for the Bachelor’s exam is $230. The Board will receive your scores within two weeks of your test date.

3. Receive your LSW license.

The Board will email your license to you after they are notified by the ASWB that you have passed the Bachelor’s exam. During your first 3,200 hours of work, you must complete 96 hours of consultation (at least 4 hours per month) with your Board-approved supervisor (see the application form for more information about qualifying supervisors). This supervised period must be completed in no fewer than two and no more than four years.

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

If you hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program and would like to practice only non-clinical social work in Maine, you should apply for the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) credential. In addition to providing advanced non-clinical social work services, LMSWs can practice privately. After earning an MSW from an accredited program, complete the steps below to become licensed as an LMSW.

1. Complete the LMSW application.

LMSW applicants must complete the LMSW application and include $116 in fees (as of February 2019). When you submit the application, you will also need to request that your school send your MSW transcript to the Board.

2. Pass the ASWB Master’s exam.

To become an LMSW, you must pass the ASWB Master’s exam. You will be able to take the exam after the Board has reviewed your application and granted you permission to register. There are 170 questions on the Master’s exam and the ASWB automatically sends your score to the Board after you have taken the test. As of February 2019, the fee for the Master’s exam is $230.

3. Receive your LMSW license.

After you complete the steps above, the Board will send you an email with your LMSW license. After you receive this license, you can practice advanced non-clinical social work in Maine, provide consultation for LSW-Cs and LSWs, and engage in private practice.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

To independently practice clinical social work in Maine, you must hold the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential. Being a clinical social worker means that in addition to providing non-clinical services, you can also assess, diagnose, and treat emotional and mental disorders. To be eligible for an LCSW license, you must hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program or a doctoral degree in social work. You will also need to complete a certain number of supervised clinical hours under a conditional license. After earning your graduate degree in social work, follow the steps below to become licensed as an LCSW in Maine.

1. Submit an LMSW-CC application.

To begin the process of becoming licensed as an LCSW, you must first obtain a Conditional Clinical Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW-CC) license. You do not need to hold an LMSW license before applying for an LMSW-CC license. To apply, submit the LMSW-CC application to the Board. For this application, you must provide information about your graduate coursework, which the Board will use to determine if your program met their requirements for a “clinical concentration” (see Step 2). You must also have official transcripts sent to the Board. Your proposed supervisor will need to complete the Agreement to Provide Consultation form in the application. As of February 2019, the LMSW-CC application fees are $116.

2. Pass the ASWB Master’s exam.

To receive an LMSW-CC license, you must pass the ASWB Master’s exam. If you already hold a master’s-level social work license (such as an LMSW), you may have already completed this exam and will not need to take it again. If you have not previously taken this exam, you may register after the Board notifies you that you are eligible to test. As of February 2019, the Master’s exam costs $230. There are 170 multiple-choice items on the test and the Board will automatically receive your scores shortly after your test date.

3. Receive your LMSW-CC license and gain the required experience.

After the Board approves your application and is notified that you have passed the Master’s exam, they will issue your LMSW-CC license. This will allow you to begin accruing supervised clinical hours under the supervisor who completed the Agreement to Provide Consultation form. If you change supervisors at any point, you must submit an updated consultation agreement form to the Board. Note that your LMSW-CC license will also allow you to provide non-clinical services without supervision.

If the Board determined that your MSW program met their criteria for having a clinical concentration, you are required to complete 3,200 hours of supervised clinical experience (including 96 hours of consultation) in no fewer than two and no more than four years. If your program did not have a clinical concentration, you are required to complete 6,400 hours of supervised experience (including 192 hours of consultation) in no fewer than four years. Your supervisor must be an LCSW, CSW-IP, or licensed clinical social worker in another state (if you are earning this experience outside of Maine). The Board may waive up to a year of this supervised experience requirement if you are able to provide documentation that you earned equivalent clinical experience before your degree was issued.

4. Complete the LCSW application.

After accruing the required supervised experience, you can apply for an LCSW license by submitting the LCSW application along with the $116 fee (as of February 2019). Each clinical supervisor you worked under must complete the Verification of Consultation form included in the application packet.

5. Pass the ASWB Clinical exam.

Before you are eligible to receive an LCSW license, you must pass the ASWB Clinical exam. As with the Master’s exam, you cannot register for this until the Board has reviewed your application and given you permission. As of February 2019, the Clinical exam costs $260 and consists of 170 multiple-choice questions about clinical social work.

6. Receive your LCSW license.

After you have completed all of the steps above and the Board has received documentation that you have met all licensure requirements, they will issue your LCSW license. After receiving it, you can begin practicing clinical social work independently in Maine and provide supervision for LMSW-CCs working towards LCSW licensure.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Maine

Out-of-state social workers can apply for licensure by reciprocity if they meet the requirements for a Maine social work license. To apply, submit an application for the license level that you are seeking. As of February 2019, all social work applications cost $116. Each application has a list of additional documentation that out-of-state applicants must submit, such as the rules and regulations from their current state and verification of their current license. You will also need to have your ASWB exam scores sent to the Board.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

The Board requires social workers to renew their licenses every two years; note that the LCSW-C can only be renewed once. Licenses are renewed online for a fee of $70 (as of February 2019). During each renewal period, social workers must complete 25 hours of continuing education (CE), with four of these hours being in ethics. LSW-C licensees must complete two additional hours in ethics and six in psychosocial assessment as part of their 40 hours. For more information about CE requirements, please see the Board’s CE handbook.

Maine Social Worker Jobs and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,030 social workers were employed in Maine in May 2017.2 The subfields of social work in the state with the most employees were child, family, and school social work (1,600) and mental health and substance abuse social work (1,190).2 The average annual salary for social workers in Maine was $53,680, with the highest average salary in mental health and substance abuse social work ($59,680).2 Maine has the second-highest concentration of mental health and substance abuse social workers in the country, and the number of positions in that subfield is projected to grow 4.8% between 2016 and 2026.3,4 Overall, the number of all types of social work positions in Maine is projected to increase by 3.6% during that same time period.4

Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 1,600 $51,810
Healthcare Social Workers 800 $50,530
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 1,190 $59,680
Social Workers, All Other 440 $52,700

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

Social Work Associations in Maine

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Answer: Yes, LMSWs and LMSW-CCs can can practice non-clinical social work independently. LCSWs can practice both clinical and non-clinical social work independently.

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

Answer: Maybe. If this experience was completed in Maine, you will generally need to have earned it as an LMSW-CC and under a consultation agreement filed with the Board. The Board sometimes makes exceptions and allows LCSW applicants to count up to one year of supervised experience they earned before their MSW. Additionally, applicants who attended an MSW program with a clinical concentration must complete their hours in a period of no fewer than two and no more than four years.

Question: What kinds of qualifications are required of the person providing my social work consultation (supervision)?

Answer: It depends which license you hold. LSW-Cs and LSWs can receive consultation from LMSWs, CSW-IPs, or LCSWs. LSW-Cs can also receive consultation from LSWs who have a BSW and have been licensed for at least two years. LMSW-CCs who are receiving consultation for an LCSW license must receive consultation from LCSWs or CSW-IPs.

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) from a CSWE-accredited school, 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.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Maine: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/me
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Maine: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_me.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211023.htm
4. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm