North Dakota Social Work License Requirements

Learn About The Social Work License in Mississippi. See Requirements for the LSW, LMSW and LCSW Licenses

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The North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE) issues three social work credentials:

Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW) – This allows you to practice social work at a generalist level, with the objective of restoring or enhancing the emotional and mental well-being of individuals, families, couples, and groups. You can engage in generalist social work practice that includes:

  • Case management
  • Evaluation, research, and assessment
  • Counseling
  • Education and consultation
  • Administration of programs, policies, and activities

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) – This license allows you to engage in the same scope of practice as an LBSW, and to additionally apply specialized knowledge and advanced practice skills as you engage in the practice of social work. You’re also authorized to practice clinical social work under supervision.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – This license allows you to engage in the same scope of practice as an LMSW. Additionally you can engage in the practice of clinical social work, including the provision of counseling and psychotherapy to individuals, families, couples, and groups. You can diagnose and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders and addictions. You can also become a supervisor for LMSWs pursuing licensure as an LCSW if you meet specific qualification requirements.





Steps Towards Licensure

To be eligible for licensure at any level from the North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE) you must:

  • Have a degree in Social Work from a school that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work
  • Education (CSWE) or its Canadian equivalent the CASWE-ACFTS; include a copy of your academic transcript with your application for licensure, and when you’re ready to apply for licensure have your school forward your official transcripts to the BSWE
  • Pass the appropriate exam sponsored by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB)
  • If it’s your first time applying for a license in North Dakota, you’ll need to complete a state and federal background check; the process for completing this will be mailed to you once you submit an application for licensure, and you must have this taken care of before your license will be issued
  • You can apply online or by mail with the documents linked to below; there’s a $25 fee, and you’ll need to pay a $75 licensure fee before you receive your license; you can check the status of your application here

Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)

Requirements:

    1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.
    2. Submit an application for LBSW licensure with the BSWE. Once the BSWE approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
    3. Register with the ASWB for its Bachelors exam. Once you pass this the BSWE will be notified and will issue your LBSW license.
    4. Note – References. Before the BSWE can issue your license, you’ll need to obtain three professional references and have these submitted to the BSWE. As a recent graduate of a social work program:
  • One reference must be from your academic program’s field placement supervisor
  • One reference must be from a licensed social worker, or license-eligible social worker
  • One reference must be from your social work department faculty advisor; you can also use this reference to apply for clearance to test with the ASWB early before you graduate

Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)

Requirements:

    1. Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
    2. Submit an application for LMSW licensure with the BSWE. Once the BSWE approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test.
    3. Register with the ASWB for its Masters exam. Once you pass this the BSWE will be notified and will issue your LMSW license.
    4. Note – References. Before the BSWE can issue your license, you’ll need to obtain three professional references and have these submitted to the BSWE. If you’re currently employed or unemployed as a social worker you need one reference from your work supervisor and two references from licensed social workers or license-eligible social workers. If you’re a recent graduate of a social work program:
  • One reference must be from your academic program’s field placement supervisor
  • One reference must be from a licensed social worker, or license-eligible social worker
  • One reference must be from your social work department faculty advisor; you can also use this reference to apply for clearance to test with the ASWB early before you graduate

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Requirements:

    1. Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
    2. Complete the supervised experience requirement. You’re eligible to start completing this once you’ve earned an MSW degree. To initiate this you’ll need to submit a Supervision Plan to the BSWE for approval. Once it’s approved you can start earning time towards the completion of 3,000 hours of supervised post-master’s social work practice within a four-year span. Once you’ve completed this requirement, submit a Verification of MSW Supervision Form and a Verification of MSW Employment Form with your application for licensure.
    3. Submit an application for LCSW licensure to the BSWE. Once the BSWE approves your application it will notify the ASWB that you’re cleared to test. At this point you have one year to pass the ASWB’s Clinical exam.
    4. Register with the ASWB for its Clinical exam. Once you pass this the BSWE will be notified and it will issue your LCSW license.
    5. Becoming a Qualified Supervisor

    6. You can become qualified as a supervisor for prospective LCSWs completing the supervised experience requirement. To qualify you need to complete 3,000 hours of post-master’s clinical social work experience in a four-year period. The first half of this must be completed under the supervision of an LCSW, and the second half can be completed under the supervision of a mental health professional.

Renewing Your Social Work License

All licenses issued by the BSWE expire every two-years on December 31st of odd-numbered years. You can renew them online. To be eligible to renew your license you need to complete 30 hours of continuing education every renewal period, including at least two hours in ethics. During your first renewal the required amount of hours are pro-rated based on when you became licensed. You can find a list of approved continuing education providers here.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in North Dakota?

You could be working as a licensed LBSW in as soon as four years. That’s the amount of time it takes to earn a BSW degree. Investing two years on top of that to earn an MSW degree fulfills the education requirements for an LMSW and LCSW. Adding an additional 1.5 years of work experience (approximately 3,000 hours) means you can fully qualify for the LCSW, a total investment of around 7.5 years total.

Social Work Degrees in North Dakota

To qualify for social work licensure at any level in North Dakota you need to earn a degree from a program that’s accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or its Canadian equivalent, the CASWE-ACFTS. Right now there a five CSWE-accredited programs in North Dakota, including two that are offered online.

    Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)

    If you want to qualify for LBSW licensure in North Dakota, then you must have a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program or its equivalent. There are four such programs in North Dakota, including one that’s offered online. Part of being CSWE-accredited means a BSW program will include a field education segment that’s at least 400 hours. You can use the program director of this education segment as one of your references when you apply for licensure.

    Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)

    Earning an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program or its equivalent fulfills the education requirement for the LMSW and LCSW licenses. Right now there is one such program located in North Dakota, offering both on-campus and online study options. By virtue of being CSWE accredited, this program automatically includes a 900-hour field education segment. You can use the program director of this education segment as one of your references when you apply for licensure.

    Doctoral Degree in Social Work

    While the CSWE doesn’t accredit programs at the doctoral level and earning a doctoral degree in Social Work won’t qualify you for licensure, you can earn one of these to demonstrate that you’ve made a solid commitment to this field and maximizing your education. Doctoral degrees are offered as PhD programs and Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programs. Earning a degree at the highest level ensures your career can advance to its maximum potential.

Reciprocity

You can apply for licensure via reciprocity at any of the three levels in North Dakota if your out-of-state licensing requirements are equivalent to or more stringent than North Dakota’s, and you hold a social work license that is current. Follow the application process detailed above for your desired licensure level. You are not required to submit professional references. For your application to be complete the North Dakota BSWE needs to receive:

  • A License Verification Form or official verifying letter from your state’s board of social work
  • Your ASWB exam scores from the ASWB
  • A paper copy or PDF file of your state’s laws for social work licensing that were in effect at the time you were licensed

Social Work Salaries in North Dakota

The US Department of Labor reports the following average annual salaries for several social work careers in North Dakota in 2020:

  • Social and Community Service Manager – $72,270
  • Healthcare Social Worker – $53,070
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $50,340
  • Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $57,590
  • Social Work Teachers, Post-secondary – $77,410
  • Social Worker, All Other – $59,960

Social Work Resources in North Dakota

North Dakota Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – This is the local chapter of the largest association of social workers in the nation. Locally it works on issues like political action for candidates, providing resources about the North Dakota legislative process, and serving as a hub for social work policies. This local chapter is also a member of the NASW’s Heartland group, which links it with six other regional neighbors who share common localized goals within the field of social work.

Career Opportunities in North Dakota

North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) – This state-level department provides vital resources to vulnerable populations throughout North Dakota. Its core services are tailored to people with disabilities, children and families, the aging, and those with behavioral health issues.

North Dakota Behavioral Health Services – A division of the DHS, this state-level agency is a familiar resource that many social workers engage with on a regular basis. It does things like manage campaigns to reduce drug addictions and overdoses, help homeless people transition into housing, and provide mental health services to children and adults.

Fargo Public Schools – One of the largest school districts in the state, the latest numbers show that the 1,900-plus employees in this district provide the foundational education for over 11,321 students. This district’s infrastructure includes 23 schools: 16 elementary, three middle, three high, and one alternative high school.

Mental Health America of North Dakota – This non-profit organization has been providing mental health services to North Dakotans since 1952. It additionally advocates for the needs of children, families, and adults. It sees the two biggest mental health challenges faced by those in the state as being substance abuse and the stigma surrounding mental health treatment.

Dakota Family Services – This organization specializes in outpatient behavioral health treatments for children, adolescents, and adults. Last year it served clients from 40 of the state’s 53 counties, with branches located in Fargo, Minot, and Bismarck.

Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas – By supporting a network of nine community health center organizations, this association strives to achieve its goal of providing quality health care to all patients, especially those in vulnerable demographics.

Bismarck Public Schools – The largest school district in the state, BPS’s roots stretch back to its founding in 1874. Today the latest statistics show a team of 2,160 employees provide vital education for the district’s 13,276 K-12 students. Learning takes place in more than 500 classrooms spread across facilities that include 16 grade schools, three middle schools, and three high schools.