Maine’s Board of Social Worker Licensure (BSWL) issues five types of social work credentials:
Licensed Social Worker, Conditional (LSX) – This license allows you to engage in a basic level of social work practice under consultation for a period of time until you can progress to the LSW level. It’s designed for people who’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in a field related to social work who want to transition into the social work field through a non-traditional route that doesn’t involve fulfilling the typical educational requirements. This license does not permit private or independent practice.
Licensed Social Worker (LSW) – This license allows you to engage in social work activities that include:
- Gathering basic data about issues faced by individuals, families, couples, and groups
- Formulating goals and implement plans in response to an assessment and analysis of data
- Advocating for clients and groups
- Providing referral for other types of social services
- Directing, planing, and managing social services
- You cannot engage in private independent practice
- Upon initial licensure you’ll need to complete a period of consultative practice
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) – This license allows you to engage in the same scope of practice as an LSW, including the provision of non-clinical social work as a private practitioner. You can also engage in activities that involve research, administration, teaching, social planning, and consultation.
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) –Conditional Clinical – This license allows you to engage in clinical practice under consultation with the goal of fulfilling the consultation experience requirement for becoming an LCSW.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – As an LCSW you can do things like:
- Perform psychosocial evaluations
- Engage in the treatment and diagnosis of mental illnesses and emotional disorders
- Engage in private practice if you choose
Steps Towards Licensure in Maine
To qualify for licensure at any level from the Board of Social Work Licensure (BSWL) you’ll need to:
- Submit an application through the process detailed below, either by mail or hand-delivery; the licensure fee is $70
- Complete a criminal history background check; $21 fee
Aside from the LSX, if you want to qualify for every other license issued by the BSWL you’ll need:
- To have a degree in social work from a program that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE); have your school send your official transcripts to the BSWL
- To pass an exam sponsored by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
Licensed Social Worker, Conditional (LSX)
- Earn a bachelor’s degree that is sufficiently related to social work or social welfare. This includes degrees in:
- Behavioral Science
- Social and Behavioral Sciences
- Childhood Development
- Education and Human Development
- Rehabilitative Services
- Mental Health and Human Services
- Educational Psychology
- If your degree is not in one of these fields you can still qualify for the LSX license by detailing relevant courses you took on this form; include it with your application for licensure
- Find employment in a social work setting.
- Locate a qualified professional who is willing to enter into an agreement to provide consultation for licensure, as detailed on this form, and submit it with your application for licensure. You must detail how 96 hours of consultation will be performed in the first 3,200 hours of your social work employment, over at least two years, including 12 hours of social work ethics and psychosocial assessment.
Submit an application for LSX licensure to the BSWL. Once the BSWL approves your application it will issue your LSX license.
Your LSX license expires after two years, and you can only renew it once for another two years. In essence this means that in total you have four years to complete your consultative practice. Once you’ve completed your period of consultative practice you can be eligible to apply for the LSW license. When applying, submit a Verification of Consultation Form to show that you’ve completed your period of consultative practice.
Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, or be a qualifying LSX licensee.
- During your first two years and 3,200 hours of social work practice you must work in consultation with a qualified professional for at least 96 hours. To establish this submit an Agreement to Provide Consultation for Licensure with your application for licensure.
- Submit an application for LSW licensure to the BSWL. Once the BSWL approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Bachelors exam. Once you pass this the BSWL will issue your LSW license.
- Once you’ve completed your consultative practice requirement submit a Verification of Consultation Form to the BSWL.
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
- Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Submit an application for LMSW licensure to the BSWL. Once the BSWL approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Masters exam. Once you pass this the BSWL will issue your LMSW license.
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) – Conditional Clinical
- Earn an LMSW license.
- Include official documentation in your application for licensure from the ASWB that you’ve passed its Masters examination.
- Complete the clinical internship requirement. How you complete this depends on whether or not your MSW degree included a clinical concentration. You can verify that your MSW degree did include a clinical concentration by completing the Clinical Concentration Worksheet and including it with your application for licensure. Completing the clinical internship requirement involves submitting an Agreement to Provide Consultation with your application for licensure to the BSWL. You’ll need to complete the clinical internship requirement through consultative practice according to one of the following:
- If your MSW degree included a clinical concentration then you need 96 hours of clinical consultation in the first 3,200 hours of your employment as an LMSW-Conditional Clinical licensee.
- If your MSW didn’t include a clinical concentration then you need 192 hours of clinical consultation during the first 6,400 hours of your employment as an LMSW-Conditional Clinical.
- Once you’ve completed the necessary documents, include them with your application for LMSW-Conditional Clinical licensure with the BSWL. Once the BSWL approves your application it will issue your LMSW-Conditional Clinical license.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Be an LMSW-Conditional Clinical licensee who has completed your period of consultative practice. To verify this include this form with your application.
- Submit an application for LCSW licensure with the BSWL. Once the BSWL approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
- Register with the ASWB for its Clinical exam. Once you pass this the BSWL will issue your LCSW license.
Renewing Your License
All licenses issued by the BSWL expire after two years. You can renew your license online, and renewal reminders are sent out by email a month before a license is set to expire. To be eligible for renewal you need to complete 25 hours of continuing education and pay a renewal fee of $70.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in Maine?
You can start practicing social work in Maine as an LSX or LSW in as soon as four years after you’ve graduated from high school. That’s the amount of time it usually takes to earn a bachelor’s degree. If you invest two additional years to earn an MSW degree you can qualify for the LMSW license. Becoming an LMSW-Conditional Clinical and ultimately an LCSW takes about two more years of consultative experience, for a grand total of eight years altogether.
Social Work Degrees in Maine
The traditional road to social work licensure in Maine starts by graduating from a program that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Currently there are eight such programs in the state, half of which offer options for online study. You can also find a non-traditional path towards licensure as an LSX by earning a non-CSWE-accredited bachelor’s degree in a field that’s related to Social Work. Finally, while the CSWE doesn’t accredit Social Work doctoral programs, you can still earn a degree at this level to demonstrate you’re committed to achieving the highest education possible in this field.
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)
Earning a BSW degree from a CSWE-accredited school will qualify you for licensure as an LSW. Right now Maine is home to five such programs, including one that’s offered online. These are typically at least 120 semester credits. A BSW degree is a natural first step towards earning an MSW degree, which will meet the education requirement for all remaining levels of social work licensure in Maine.
Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)
Maine currently hosts three CSWE-accredited MSW programs. These are offered from campus locations, and additionally all also offer options for online study. Earning a CSWE-accredited MSW degree fulfills the education requirement for becoming an LMSW, LMSW-Conditional Clinical, and LCSW. These programs typically include at least 30 semester credits and a field education experience that’s a minimum of 900 hours.
Doctoral Degree in Social Work
While a doctoral degree in Social Work doesn’t fulfill the education requirements for licensure in Maine, it still represents the highest commitment you can make educationally to this field. You’ll find degrees are offered as PhD in Social Work programs, and as Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programs. PhD programs can be more focused on research and take longer to complete than DSW programs, which can be more focused on clinical elements of social work.
You can apply for an equivalent social work license in Maine if you hold a similar valid social work license in another state and meet Maine’s education and exam requirements. The State Board of Social Work Licensure recognizes equivalent experience gained in out-of-state social work practice. To apply follow the application process detailed above for your desired license. The BSWL also needs the following materials:
- Official verification, and a copy of, your out-of-state social work license
- A copy of your state’s social work licensure laws
- Your ASWB exam scores forwarded to them by the ASWB
Social Work Salaries in Maine
The US Department of Labor reports the following average annual salaries for select social work careers in Maine in 2020:
- Social and Community Service Manager – $62,600
- Healthcare Social Worker – $55,490
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $59,340
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $57,900
- Social Work Teachers, Post-secondary – $64,260
- Social Worker, All Other – $53,790
Social Work Resources in Maine
Maine Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers – This local chapter provides updates on the latest legislative developments, career prospects, and networking opportunities for its more than 800 members. Maine’s chapter of the NASW places a particular emphasis on human rights, unimpeded access to social work services for everyone, economic justice, and social justice. Nationally the NASW counts around 120,000 members.
Career Opportunities in Maine
Maine Department of Health and Human Services – This state-level organization sets the standard for ensuring Maine’s most vulnerable residents have access to the care and services they need. Not only does it include resources for food assistance, health insurance, education, and safety; this organization specifically provides behavioral health services for children and adults, services for adults with intellectual disabilities and autism, and protective services for both children and adults.
Portland Public Schools – The largest school district in the state, PPS depends on its staff of 1,309 regular employees to ensure its 6,750 students have access to the best quality education possible. By the most recent count, among its schools this district is home to 155 Pre-K students, 3,070 K-5 students, 1,464 middle school students, and 2,061 high school students. PPS is proud to trace its roots back to 1733 when it hired a blacksmith as its first schoolmaster.
MaineHealth – The largest integrated healthcare system in Maine, this not-for-profit network of providers is recognized as being one of the best of its kind in the nation. It provides services from more than a dozen locations throughout the state, and relies on its 22,000 employees and 12 community hospitals to serve the local community with dedication that’s second to none.
Maine Behavioral Health – Under the umbrella of the MaineHealth system, this branch of specialty service providers offers outpatient treatment options from 10 different municipal locales in additional to hospital locations in four cities. This agency offers clients resources, information, and treatment options about issues related to children with autism, intensive treatment for mental health issues, and much more.
Lewiston Public Schools – One of the largest school districts in the state, by the most recent count LPS provided foundational education to over 5,000 students. This district is home to five elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. School social workers play a particularly vital role at LPS, where 69% of students qualify for free or reduced lunches.
Central Maine Healthcare – This is an integrated healthcare delivery system that’s proud of its 400,000 clients. Its network includes three hospitals, a primary and specialty care practice organization, and renown specialty centers and institutes.
Liberty Bay Recovery Center – This organization believes that with compassionate support and comprehensive care, those who are committed can overcome addictive tendencies and achieve sobriety. Its range of programs run the gamut from inpatient residential to partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and community programs.