logo

Oregon Social Work Licensing Requirements

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

How to Become a Social Worker in Oregon

The Oregon Board of State Social Workers is the organization that oversees Oregon social worker licensure, and this organization recognizes four categories of social workers. They include the registered baccalaureate social worker (RBSW), the licensed master’s social worker (LMSW), the clinical social worker associate (CSWA), and the licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Any individual licensed or certified with these titles is entitled to identify as a “social worker.” According to the Oregon Social Work Board, applications for licensure or certification are submitted to the Board, and it takes six to eight weeks to process each application.

Educational Paths

To become a licensed or certified social worker in Oregon, the candidate must complete, at 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. Some social workers earn advanced degrees, such as a master’s degree in Social Work (MSW), which must also be accredited by the CSWE or the CASWE to be considered acceptable in Oregon. The Council on Social Work Education 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 requirement to become eligible for the position of social worker. The BSW is usually a four-year degree and the degree requirements may also include courses in psychology, biology, and other courses. Fieldwork is usually required in which the social work students experience (under supervision) what the real world of social work is like, to help ensure that this field is right for them. There are six schools of social work leading to a bachelor’s degree in Oregon that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, including programs at Concordia University, George Fox University, Pacific University, Portland State University, the University of Portland, and Warner Pacific College.

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Some individuals obtain an advanced degree in social work, usually a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Such programs often take two years of study, but there may be accelerated programs available for individuals who are already practicing social workers or for those who already have a BSW. Obtaining an MSW involves studying advanced concepts of social work and completing supervised field work. In Oregon, there are two programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education for an MSW, and they are available at the Pacific University and Portland State University. In addition, George Fox University is currently a candidate for accreditation for an MSW.

Steps for Becoming a Licensed Social Worker in Oregon

To become a social worker in Oregon at any of the four levels of social work that is recognized by the Oregon social worker board, a person must first obtain a degree prior to Oregon social worker licensure. The college transcripts should be requested by the individual to be sent to the Oregon Board of State Social Workers. There is an established process for each type of Oregon social work license.

Registered Baccalaureate of Social Worker (RBSW)

For those who wish to engage in non-clinical social work, which may include assisting clients in finding jobs or housing rather than providing psychotherapy or counseling, the registered baccalaureate of social worker (RBSW) certification is a good choice. Sometimes this non-clinical position is referred to as “direct care social worker.” In addition to having an accredited bachelor’s degree in social work, the candidate must complete the following steps:

1. Complete the application.

The first step to become a RBSW is to complete the application and submit it to the Oregon social worker Board. Included in the application packet, which is the same for each level of licensure, is personal information relevant to licensure and consent for a criminal background check. You will also request that official transcripts be sent to the Board directly from your college or university. The total application fee for an RBSW candidate is $150 (including the criminal background check) as of November 2015. The RBSW candidate completes only pages 1-7 of the application.

2. Submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting.

As part of your application you will need to schedule an appointment to be fingerprinted. For more information on this process, visit the Board’s website. The Board will also perform a criminal background check of the applicant, which takes two to three weeks to complete. In addition, a drug, alcohol, and substance abuse evaluation or assessment will be required as well.

3. Take and pass the Oregon Statutes and Administrative Rules exam.

RBSW candidates must also take and submit open-book examination on Oregon rules & laws along with their application.

4. Take and pass the ASWB bachelors exam.

Once the application is approved by the Board, the RBSW candidate will register for and take the bachelor’s level examination administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). These examinations are given at various sites in Oregon.

5. Receive your RBSW license from the Board.

Once all of the above application steps have been completed and the required tests have been passed, you will become a licensed RBSW in the state of Oregon.

Licensed Master’s of Social Work (LMSW)

A person with a licensed master’s of social work (LMSW) is a practicing social worker who has received an MSW from a school of social work accredited by the CSWE or the CASWE. The LMSW engages in non-clinical work that is similar to, but at a higher level than, the RBSW.

1. Complete the application.

The first step for becoming an LMSW is to complete the application form on the Board’s website. Since no supervision follow-up is required by the state for the LMSW, only pages 1-7 of the form are completed. As of November 2015, the application fee was $200, including the $50 criminal background check fee.

2. Submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting.

Each candidate must undergo a criminal background check, and will also be fingerprinted. Applicants will further be evaluated or assessed for drug, alcohol or substance abuse.

3. Take and pass the Oregon Statutes and Administrative Rules exam.

The LMSW candidate must take and submit an open-book examination on Oregon rules & laws.

4. Take and pass the ASWB masters exam.

Each LMSW candidate must also pass the master’s level exam through the ASWB.

5. Receive your LMSW license from the Board.

After the above steps have been completed, you will receive your license from the Board and be able to start practicing social work in the state of Oregon.

Clinical Social Worker Associate (CSWA)

Those who are interested in clinical social work in Oregon must first seek their clinical social worker associate (CSWA) designation. The CSWA is for those who have not yet taken the ASWB exam or received a licensed clinical social worker license, but are working towards obtaining this license. Applicants for this position must hold a master’s in social work (MSW) from an institution accredited by the CSWE or CASW. In addition to being in possession of an MSW, candidates must:

1. Submit your application to the Board.

The first step is to apply to the Oregon Board for the certificate. Your application must also include a plan of supervision for an approved LCSW to supervise the individual for the required period. CSWA applicants must complete the application form in its entirety. The total application fee, as of November 2015, was $260.

2. Submit to a criminal background check and fingerprinting.

The Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers will perform a criminal background check of the applicant, which takes two to three weeks to complete. In addition, a drug, alcohol, and substance abuse evaluation or assessment will be required. The applicant will also undergo fingerprinting for a criminal record check.

3. Take and pass the Oregon Statutes and Administrative Rules exam.

CSWAs must also take and pass the open-book test as part of the application process.

4. Accumulate the required experience.

Before becoming a full LCSW, CSWAs must complete a total of two years of supervised experience. This consists of 3,500 total work hours–2,000 of which must be direct client hours and 100 of which must be supervised. After six months of supervision, the individual must submit an six month evaluation report form from each supervisor.

5. Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam.

Once candidates have completed 75 hours as a CSWA, they become eligible to sit for the ASWB clinical level exam, which is the next step in becoming a full LCSW. When the 75 hours of supervised experience has been acquired, you will submit a written request to the Board to take the exam. You will then register for and take the exam in order to continue the licensing process. You must receive a minimum passing score of 70.

6. Receive your LMSW license from the Board.

After the above steps have been completed, you will receive your license from the Board.

Note: It should be noted that there is also a special category for a person who does not currently hold a social work job, but wishes to become a clinical social worker associate. The applicant must meet all the educational and testing requirements for the clinical social worker associate. This temporary certificate that is granted is good for only six months, at which time the application for licensed clinical social worker will be approved if the individual fulfills all the required criteria. A temporary certificate will also cost a one-time fee of $260.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

If you have an MSW and have been working as a supervised CSWA and have passed the ASWB clinical exam, you are ready to complete the process to become a clinical social worker. If you are already a CSWA in Oregon, contact the Board office to learn the next steps in the process to become an LCSW. A licensed clinical social worker may perform psychotherapy with individuals and groups.

Social Work License Reciprocity in Oregon

Oregon does not recognize reciprocity for licensed clinical social workers, even for experienced social workers from other states. The Oregon Social Work Board does, however, accept prior ASWB exam scores, and verified hours that were worked in another state can also be counted towards the total hours of social work experience that some social worker positions require in Oregon. Prospective social workers from other states will complete the application process followed by all applicants. Along with their application, out-of-state applicants must also provide verification that they have obtained social work credentials in other states or provinces, using the verification of license in another state form.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

Licenses in Oregon must be renewed every two years, except in the case of clinical social worker associates, who are not required to renew their certification. Renewal forms can be found on the Board’s website. In regards to continuing education (CE), RBSWs, LCSWs, and LMSWs are all required to complete continuing education credits. This requirement does not apply to clinical social worker associates. In the case of the RBSW, 20 credit hours of education are required every two years. For the LCSW, 40 credit hours are required every two years, and of these 40 hours, six hours must be in ethics courses. For the LMSW, 30 credit hours of continuing education are required every two years, and of these 30 hours, six must be in ethics coursework. Credit hours must be given by approved organizations. Renewal fees range from $60 to $260 for active licensed social workers.

Oregon Social Work Jobs and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 8,230 social workers working in Oregon in May 2014. Of these, the highest paid were healthcare social workers, who earned an average of $61,500 per year, while the lowest paid were child, family, and school social workers, who earned an average annual salary of $43,600. The average annual salary for all social workers in Oregon was $49,560 in 2015. The need for social workers in the future is projected to continue to grow. There are an estimated 117 openings in this category of social workers each year. Social worker jobs in Oregon are anticipated to increase in the future. Projections Central predicts a growth of 15.03% (or 24,280 new jobs per year) for all social workers in Oregon through 2022, which is slightly less than the average of 18.55% for the US, but still indicates a positive growth for the state. The most significant growth is predicted in the subcategory of healthcare social work, with a 26.8% increase projected, followed closely by mental health and substance abuse social work, with a 22.8% growth expected.

Type 8,230 $49,560
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 3,040 $43,600
Healthcare Social Workers 1,310 $61,500
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers 1,990 $45,140
Social Workers, All Other 1,890 $48,000

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014.4

Social Work Associations in Oregon

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: May I work in the field of 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.

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, if you want a social work job in Oregon, you may transfer ASWB scores and complete the application process the same as other applicants. You should also provide verification of your past employment. You may also 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 a social worker.

References:
1. Oregon Board of State Social Workers: http://www.oregon.gov/BLSW/Pages/index.aspx
2. Council on Social Work Education: https://www.cswe.org/
3. Association of Social Work Boards: https://www.aswb.org/
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_or.htm#21-0000
5. National Association of Social Workers, Oregon Chapter: http://nasworegon.org/