Alaska’s Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing, Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE) issues the following social worker licenses:
To qualify for any license from the Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE) you need:
Licenses expire every two years on October 31st in even-numbered years. The renewal fees are the same as the initial licensing fees. You can renew online or by submitting a renewal form by mail. Every renewal cycle you need to complete 45 hours of continuing education, including six hours relating to substance abuse, three-to-six hours relating to cross-cultural Alaska Natives, and three hours in professional ethics. You can keep track of your continuing education on this form, and you may be required to submit this to the BSWE if you’re randomly audited.
As a high school graduate you can earn your BSW License in as soon as four years, the amount of time it usually takes to earn a BSW degree. You can earn an MSW degree in two years beyond that and qualify for an MSW License. With an additional two years of experience, totaling eight years, you can qualify for the CSW License.
To qualify for a social work license you must earn a degree in this field from a school that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or from the University of Alaska. Right now there are three CSWE-accredited social work programs in Alaska, all of which are also part of the University of Alaska system, and two of which have options for online study.
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)
To qualify for the BSW License you must have a BSW degree from either a CSWE-accredited school or from the University of Alaska. There are two such programs in Alaska, including one that has options for online study. BSW degrees total at least 120 semester credits, and part of being CSWE-accredited means they include a field education segment that’s at least 400 hours in length.
Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)
Earning an MSW degree from a CSWE-accredited school or from the University of Alaska qualifies you for licensure at the MSW and CSW levels or practice. Currently there is one CSWE-accredited MSW program in Alaska, which has options for on-campus and online study. Part of being CSWE-accredited means it includes a field education segment that’s at least 900 hours in length. MSW programs are typically at least 30 semester credits.
Doctoral Degree in Social Work
While the CSWE doesn’t accredit programs at the doctoral level, the BSWE does accept doctoral degrees in Social Work from the University of Alaska as fulfilling the education requirement to become licensed as an MSW or CSW. Depending on availability, these can be in the form of a PhD in Social Work program or a Doctor of Social Work (DSW) program. Both can offer specialized study that focuses on a specific aspect within the field of social work.
The Alaska BSWE may grant you a license to practice based on reciprocity if you’re a social worker from another state, provided your state’s social work licensure requirements were equivalent to, or more stringent than, Alaska’s. Follow the step-by-step procedure detailed above for your equivalent license and indicate that you’re applying via credentials. Only exams from the ASWB are recognized. You must have taken the ASWB exam for your licensure level within the past two years, or demonstrate 1,500 hours of licensed social worker experience within the past five years that includes 45 hours of continuing education. Have your state’s social work board complete the Verification of Licensure form contained within the application for licensure.
Alaska Social Work Salary Expectations
In 2020 the US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for specific career niches in Alaska:
- Social and Community Service Manager – $79,160
- Healthcare Social Worker – $65,020
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $51,390
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $52,710
- Social Worker, All Other – $72,530
Alaska Social Work Organizations, Chapters and Resources
Alaska Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers – While promoting social justice and advocating for the well-being of all Alaskans, this nearly 500-member-strong Alaska chapter is proud to be a part of the national NASW, the largest organization of its kind in the country. Members enjoy access to networking opportunities, career information, legislative updates, and the latest possibilities for continuing education.
Alaska Behavioral Health Association – This trade organization representing behavioral health professionals is about to have its 25th anniversary. Its strives to accomplish goals that include reducing the cost of delivery care, improving the quality of care and clients’ experiences, and making it easier for Alaskans to get the care they need and deserve.
Career Opportunities in Alaska
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) – Not only does this state-level agency provide resources for public health, juvenile justice, and children’s services, social workers will also recognize it as the main government department for addressing pressing issues for Alaska’s most vulnerable populations. This department includes divisions devoted to behavioral health, addiction prevention, substance abuse, disability services, and senior services. This department is also in charge of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute.
Alaska Division of Behavioral Health – As a part of the DHSS, this division plays a particularly important role in how the state provides resources and assistance to those with mental and behavioral health issues. It sponsors programs that protect every one from the very youngest, like its fetal alcohol education program or underage drinking program, to adults with mental and behavioral challenges.
Anchorage School District – The largest district in the state and among the top-100 largest in the nation, the ASD is comprised of more than 90 schools and is responsible for educating nearly 50,000 students. It includes dozens of elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and eight high schools.
Alaska Behavioral Health – Known as Anchorage Community Mental Health Services until recently, this organization has just changed its name to underline its emphasis on how it wants to improve the lives of its clients by centering behavioral health. It offers clients a range of services tailored to teens and young adults, children and families, and adults. Clients can choose from residential and outpatient settings.
Fairbanks North Star Borough School District – As the state’s second-largest public school district, this agency is responsible for educating over 13,000 students every year from over a dozen elementary schools, four middle schools, and five high schools.
Anchorage Treatment Solutions – This organization focuses specifically on treating clients for opioid addictions. It offers medication-assistance treatment methods and other strategies to help their clients reach a better place in life that’s free from cravings and additional negative outcomes. Its headquarters is west of the University of Alaska.
Juneau School District – Educating nearly 5,000 students from seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools, JSD relies particularly on its 332 teachers and overall on its 668 total employees to prepare its students for a bright future ahead. This includes school social workers who work with students on every aspect of what it means to succeed.