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Oregon Social Work Licensing Requirements

Known for its beautiful mountains, gorgeous coastline, and generally mild climate, the “Beaver State” of Oregon is home to just over four million people.1 This state is a good place to launch or continue a career in social work, and the number of social work jobs in Oregon is growing. Each state has its own rules governing the path to a social work career, and in Oregon, the Board of Licensed Social Workers evaluates social worker applicants based on state requirements. Keep reading to find out more about Oregon social work licensure.

How to Become a Social Worker in Oregon

There are three levels of full social work credentialing in Oregon that are overseen by the Board: the Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW), the Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW), and the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). An individual holding one of these licenses is able to identify themselves as a “social worker.” There are different education and experience requirements for each of these credentials as well as varying scopes of practice. On this page are more details about becoming licensed or registered and the range of services that can be provided by each type of social worker.

Educational Paths

To become a licensed or registered social worker in Oregon, a candidate must complete, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree program in social work that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in the United States or by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) in Canada. For higher levels of licensure, a master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) is required. These programs must also be accredited by the CSWE or the CASWE to be considered acceptable for licensure in Oregon. The CSWE offers a searchable directory of all accredited social work programs in the United States.

Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)

In Oregon, a bachelor’s degree in social work is the minimum degree required to become a social worker. The BSW is usually a four-year degree and may include courses in psychology, biology, and other subjects. Supervised fieldwork is usually required, during which students gain hands-on social work experience to help ensure that the field is a good fit for them. There are six BSW programs in Oregon that are accredited by the CSWE, housed at Concordia University, George Fox University, Pacific University, Portland State University, the University of Portland, and Warner Pacific College.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Two of Oregon’s social work licenses require a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Such programs often take two years of study, but there may be accelerated tracks available for individuals who are already practicing social workers or who already have a BSW. Obtaining an MSW involves studying advanced concepts of social work and completing supervised fieldwork. In Oregon, there are three CSWE-accredited MSW programs, which are offered at Pacific University, George Fox University, and Portland State University.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Oregon

To become a social worker in Oregon, a person must first complete the required level of education. After this point, you will be eligible to begin the process of registration or licensure, which will require submitting an application to the Board and passing an exam. Below are detailed instructions on obtaining each type of social work credential in Oregon.

Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW)

For those who wish to engage in non-clinical social work, which may include assisting clients in finding jobs or providing case management, the Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW) credential is a good option. After earning an accredited bachelor’s degree in social work, you can follow the steps below to become an RBSW.

1. Complete the application.

The first step to becoming an RBSW is to complete the social work application and submit it to the Board. Included in the application packet is consent for a criminal background check. You will also request that official transcripts for your BSW be sent to the Board. The total fee for an RBSW application is $150 (including the criminal background check) as of January 2019.

2. Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check.

As part of your application, you will need to schedule an appointment to be fingerprinted so that the Board can complete a criminal background check. To do this, register with Fieldprint Oregon and schedule an appointment at a location near you. There are fingerprinting locations throughout the country, so you will not need to travel to Oregon if you are not living in-state at the time you submit your application. The background check can take several weeks to complete; additional information can be found on the Board’s application instructions page.

3. Pass the Oregon Statutes and Administrative Rules exam.

RBSW candidates must also take and submit the Statutes and Administrative Rules exam to become licensed. This is an open-book, multiple-choice exam on the rules and regulations governing social work in Oregon. The Board will send you your results by mail after they have scored your exam.

4. Pass the ASWB Bachelor’s exam.

Once your RBSW application is approved by the Board, you will be able to register for the ASWB Bachelor’s exam. This is a 170-item, multiple-choice test on bachelor’s-level social work practice. The ASWB will send your scores to the Board shortly after you complete the exam.

5. Receive your RBSW license from the Board.

Once the Board has received all of the required components of your application and you have passed the ASWB Bachelor’s exam, they will issue your RBSW credential. After this point, you can begin practicing as an RBSW in Oregon.

Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW)

In Oregon, you must hold an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program to earn a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) license. Like the LBSW, this is a non-clinical social work license. However, LMSWs are able to practice more advanced social work than LBSWs, including services such as counseling, supervision, and treatment planning. Below are the steps to becoming an LMSW in Oregon.

1. Complete the application.

The first step for becoming an LMSW is to complete the social worker application and submit it to the Board. During this step, you will also need to request that a copy of your MSW transcript be sent to the Board. As of January 2019, the LMSW application fee is $200, which includes fees associated with the required background check.

2. Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check.

All social work license applicants must submit fingerprints for a criminal background check before becoming licensed. To do this, register with Fieldprint Oregon and make an appointment to have your fingerprints scanned. There are locations across the United States where you can complete these, so you will not need to travel to Oregon if you are living out of state. It can take several weeks for your background check to be conducted, so take this into account when you are considering the timeline for receiving your license. Further instructions for the background check can be found on the Board’s application instructions page.

3. Pass the Oregon Statutes and Administrative Rules exam.

Before becoming licensed, you must successfully complete the Oregon Statutes and Administrative Rules exam. This open-book test can be printed out using the link above and mailed to the Board. After the Board has scored your exam, they will mail you the results.

4. Pass the ASWB Master’s exam.

Each LMSW candidate must also pass the ASWB Master’s exam. You will be able to register for this after the Board has reviewed your LMSW application and granted permission for you to take the exam. The ASWB Master’s exam consists of 170 multiple-choice questions on master’s-level social work practice and scores are automatically sent to the Board after you have completed the exam.

5. Receive your LMSW license from the Board.

After you have submitted a complete LMSW application packet to the Board and passed the required exams, the Board will issue your LMSW license. After this, you are able to begin practicing non-clinical master’s-level social work in Oregon.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) credential allows an individual to provide clinical social work services in Oregon. To begin the process of obtaining this license, you must first complete an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program. Because an LCSW is able to provide more advanced services than an LBSW or LMSW, they must complete additional steps to become licensed and the process takes longer. Once you have completed a Board-approved MSW, you can follow the steps below to earn an LCSW license.

1. Submit a Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA) Application.

To become eligible for licensure as an LCSW, you must complete at least two years of supervised clinical experience (see Step 4). In Oregon, you are required to register as a Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA) before beginning to earn these hours. For this, you will need to submit an application and have your MSW transcript sent to the Board. As part of this application, you will be required to submit a Plan of Supervision form identifying the supervisor(s) you will be working under. As of January 2019, the application fees (which include the cost of the criminal background check) are $260.

2. Submit fingerprints for a criminal background check.

All social work applicants in Oregon must submit fingerprints so that the Board can conduct a criminal background check. To complete this step, register with Fieldprint Oregon and make a fingerprinting appointment at any location across the country. It may take several weeks for the background check to be completed, and more information about this process can be found on the Board’s application instructions page.

3. Pass the Oregon Statutes and Administrative Rules exam.

As part of the LCSW licensure process, you will also need to complete the Oregon Statutes and Administrative Rules Exam. This is an open-book test on the rules and regulations governing social work practice in the state. The Board will mail your results to you after they have scored your exam.

4. Accumulate the required experience.

Before becoming a full LCSW, you must complete 3,500 hours of supervised clinical social work experience in no less than two years and no more than five. You cannot begin earning these hours until the Board has approved your CSWA application. Of the required supervised experience, 2,000 of your hours must come from direct contact with clients. You must receive at least 100 hours of supervision from LCSWs who have been licensed for at least two years and have completed continuing education in supervision. At the end of every six-month period during your supervised experience, you must submit a six-month evaluation report form from each supervisor you are working under.

5. Pass the ASWB Clinical exam.

Once you have received 75 hours of supervision under your CSWA license and at least two years have passed since it was issued, the Board will automatically make you eligible to register for the ASWB Clinical Examination. This exam consists of 170 multiple-choice items about clinical social work practice. Once you have taken the exam, your results will be sent to the Board within about two weeks.

6. Submit LCSW application.

After the Board receives documentation that you have successfully completed your supervised hours and passed the ASWB Clinical exam, they will mail you an LCSW application. You will need to complete this and return it to the Board along with a fee of $260 (as of January 2019).

7. Receive your LCSW license from the Board.

After the Board receives your completed LCSW application and determines that you have met all requirements for licensure, they will issue your LCSW license. You must continue working under supervision until you have been granted a license number but can practice independently after that point.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Oregon

The Board does not offer reciprocity for social workers licensed by other states. However, they will accept prior ASWB exam scores and qualifying supervised work experience so that these requirements do not need to be repeated. If you are licensed as a social worker in another state and would like to become licensed in Oregon, follow the steps above to submit an application for your level of licensure. With this application, submit verification of your current license and (if applicable) documentation of any required supervised hours. Also be sure to request that the ASWB transfer your exam scores to the Oregon Board. If the Board reviews your application and determines you have met all the requirements for licensure, they will issue your Oregon social work license.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

CSWA licenses in Oregon must be renewed every year, while RBSW, LMSW, and LCSW credentials must be renewed every two years. All credentials can be renewed online and each carries a different fee. RBSWs, LCSWs, and LMSWs are all required to complete continuing education (CE) credits before renewing:

  • RBSWs must complete 20 CE credits during each renewal period, with at least six in ethics; no credits can be carried over to next renewal period
  • LMSWs must complete 30 CE credits during each renewal period, with at least six in ethics; no credits can be carried over to next renewal period
  • LCSWs must complete 40 CE credits during each renewal period, with at least six in ethics; up to 10 credits can be carried over to next renewal period
  • CSWAs do not need to complete CE credits before renewing.

Oregon Social Work Jobs and Salary Information

According to May 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 9,110 social workers employed in Oregon.2 Of these, the highest-paid are healthcare social workers, who earn an average of $70,190 per year.2 The average annual salary across all social work categories in Oregon is $56,063.2 The number of social work positions in Oregon is projected to grow by 14.5% between 2016 and 2026, which equates to about 129 new jobs each year during that time period.3 The most growth is predicted in the subcategory of healthcare social work, with a projected 17.4% increase, followed closely by mental health and substance abuse social work, with projected growth of 6.3%.3

TypeNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers3,440$51,110
Healthcare Social Workers1,480$70,190
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers2,170$49,580
Social Workers, All Other2,020$53,370

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

Social Work Associations in Oregon

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I become a social worker in Oregon without obtaining a bachelor’s degree in social work?

Answer: No. A bachelor’s degree in social work is the minimum educational requirement to become licensed or registered as a social worker in Oregon.

Question: If I am a licensed clinical social worker from another state and I move to Oregon, may I transfer my license?

Answer: Oregon does not offer reciprocity, so you cannot transfer your license from another state. However, you can transfer ASWB scores and may be able to use hours of experience accumulated in another state toward the Oregon license you are seeking.

Question: May the term “social worker” be used in Oregon if a person is not licensed or certified by the state as such?

Answer: No. Only those certified or licensed to practice social work in Oregon may call themselves social workers.

References:
1. US Census Bureau Quick Facts, Oregon: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/or
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Oregon: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_or.htm
3. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm