The Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers (BLSW) issues the following credentials:
Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW) – This credential allows you to practice non-clinical social work at a basic generalist level. You can engage in activities like:
- Assessment, evaluation, and intervention
- Social work planning and referral
- Nonclinical supervision
- Consultation and case management
- Community organizing
- Development and administration of programs, activities, and policies
Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) – This license allows you to engage in the scope of practice of an RBSW at an advanced level with the application of specialized knowledge.
Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA) – This license allows you to gain the necessary hours of supervised clinical experience to qualify for an LCSW license. This is related to the Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Exam Candidate status, which although not a license to practice, indicates you’ve met all requirements to become an LCSW except having passed the required exam.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – This license allows you to engage in the LMSW scope of practice, and additionally engage in clinical social work. Practicing clinical social work means you can apply specialized clinical knowledge and skills to assess, treat, and diagnose behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders and conditions.
Steps Towards Social Work Licensure in Oregon
To qualify for any social work credential issued by the Board of Licensed Social Workers (BLSW) you’ll need:
Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW)
- Step One – Earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.
- Step Two – Apply online with the BLSW for an RBSW; $150 application fee. Once your application is approved the BLSW will notify the ASWB that you’re qualified to take its exam.
- Step Three – Register with the ASWB for its Bachelors exam. Once you pass this exam the BLSW will issue your RBSW credential.
Your RBSW needs to be renewed every two years. You can do this online, and the fee is $110. You need to earn 20 continuing education units (CEUs) for each renewal cycle, except for your first renewal when CEUs are not required.
Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW)
- Step One – Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Step Two – Apply online with the BLSW for an LMSW; $200 application fee. Once your application is approved the BLSW will notify the ASWB that you’re qualified to take its exam.
- Step Three – Register with the ASWB for its Masters exam. Once you pass this exam the BLSW will issue your LMSW license.
The LMSW expires every two years. You can renew it online for $220. Each renewal cycle you must earn 30 continuing education units (CEUs), however you’re exempt from CEUs on your first renewal.
Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA)
- Step One – Earn a master’s degree in Social Work.
- Step Two – Apply online with the BLSW for the CSWA; $260 application fee. The following forms are included in the application and are necessary to qualify you for supervised practice:
Approved supervisor – you’ll need to find an approved supervisor and register them as such with the BLSW using the form provided
Plan of supervision – you must file this with the BLSW to establish the parameters under which you’ll engage in supervised practice
Six-month evaluation – your supervisor will complete this every six months and file it with the BLSW
- Step Three – Once your application is approved the BLSW will issue your CSWA credential.
- Step Four – With your CSWA you can engage in supervised practice to fulfill the requirements for becoming an LCSW.
The CSWA needs to be renewed every year. You can do this online for $66, and there are no continuing education unit (CEU) requirements.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Step One – Earn a master’s degree in Social Work
- Step Two – Fulfill the supervised work experience requirement, which is done in-state as a CSWA: 3,500 hours of post-master’s supervised social work experience, including 2,000 direct-client hours, completed over a minimum of two years.
- Step Three – Get approval from the BLSW to take the ASWB Clinical exam. This happens automatically when you’re a CSWA and the BLSW sees that you’ve completed your supervised work experience requirement, as indicated by your supervisor on your six-month evaluation. At this point you’ll receive the status of Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Exam Candidate.
- Step Four – Register with the ASWB for its Clinical exam and pass it.
- Step Five – Apply online with the BLSW for the LCSW; $460 application fee. Once your application is approved the BLSW will issue your LCSW license.
The LCSW is up for renewal every two years. You can renew online, and you’ll need to complete 40 continuing education units (CEUs) during each renewal cycle. The renewal fee is $286, and you’re exempt from CEUs for your first renewal.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Social Worker in Oregon?
After you graduate from high school, the time it takes to become a social worker in Oregon depends on how much education and experience you need to be eligible for your credential:
- RBSW – Four years of education
- LMSW – Six years of education
- CSWA – Six years of education
- LCSW – Six years of education plus two years of experience
Social Work Degrees in Oregon
Oregon is home to five schools that offer degrees in Social Work that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), a requirement for every social work credential in the state. You can also find doctoral programs in Social Work that aren’t required by the BLSW, but nevertheless provide you with an advanced didactic level of specialized knowledge. Programs are offered both online and on-campus.
Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work (BSW)
The minimum requirement for the RBSW credential, there are currently five CSWE-accredited BSW programs in Oregon. These typically take four years to complete and total 180 quarter credits or 120 semester credits. Earning a BSW is the natural first step on your way towards earning an MSW and qualifying for additional social work licenses issued by the RBSW.
Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW)
Holding an MSW from a CSWE-accredited program is the minimum educational requirement for earning an LMSW, CSWA, and LCSW. Right now there are three CSWE-accredited MSW programs in Oregon, including one that includes the option for online study. Part of CSWE accreditation means the MSW program includes a field education component totaling at least 900 hours. Graduating from one of these programs typically takes at least two years.
Doctoral Degree in Social Work
While the CSWE doesn’t accredit programs at the doctoral level and these degrees aren’t required for licensure, having a PhD or Doctor of Social Work (DSW) means you’ve earned the highest academic qualification in this field. PhD programs can take longer to complete and be more research focused, while DSW programs may provide more of a clinical focus, though there is natural overlap between both types of programs.
If you’re a licensed social worker in another state at a level comparable to those in Oregon, and you meet Oregon’s education and experience requirements, then you can apply for an Oregon credential using your out-of-state qualifications. Follow the above application process for the appropriate credential and have the ASWB transfer your exam scores to the BLSW, or verify that your out-of-state license required passage of an ASWB exam.
Social Work Salaries in Oregon
The US Department of Labor reports these average annual salaries for the following social work career categories. These are reported in 2020 and specific to Oregon, which offers the third-highest average salary for healthcare social workers of all states in the nation.
- Social and Community Service Manager – $65,390
- Healthcare Social Worker – $74,050
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker – $51,150
- Child, Family, and School Social Worker – $53,360
- Social Work Teachers, Post-secondary – $76,510
- Social Worker, All Other – $55,000
Social Work Resources in Oregon
You can find additional information about careers, networking opportunities, and legislative developments with organizations like:
Oregon Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers – Founded in 1971 and today 1,800 members strong, this local chapter is part of its larger parent national organization that’s one of the most important social work organizations in the nation.
Oregon School Social Work Association – Established in 2011, the OSSWA advocates for a range of goals including being a networking hub for professional connectivity within the school social work community, planning conferences and workshops, fostering awareness of social justice in schools, and advocating for the use of school social workers across the state.
Career Opportunities in Oregon
Important employers in Oregon’s field of social work include:
Oregon Department of Human Services – The state-level organization tasked with ensuring the health and well-being of all Oregonians, this department coordinates a range of services that address issues including seniors, adults with disabilities, children with developmental disabilities, and assistance for victims of domestic violence.
Providence Health and Services – This not-for-profit Catholic network of healthcare facilities includes eight hospitals and medical centers, notably St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland. Founded in 1875, this hospital serves tens of thousands of patients every year and has a 520-plus bed capacity.
Eugene School District 4J – Spanning 155 square miles, this school district is responsible for the education of over 16,000 students and includes four high schools, eight middle schools, and 19 elementary schools. Its roots stretch back to 1854 before Oregon became a state.
Valley Mental Health – With three locations in Salem, this agency has grown from a small staff of six in 1994 to its present-day 40 professionals who help clients address issues related to outpatient mental health, with methods including equine therapy, group therapy, play therapy, and individual therapy.
Portland Mental Health and Wellness – Providing mental health and counseling services for children and adolescents, those in a relationship, families, and the elderly, this agency also specializes in transitioning new therapists into the world of practice through clinical training.
Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon – Holding the belief that recovering from addiction is a unique process that’s possible for anyone, and that individuals deserve validation, this organization provides training and support for mental health professionals as well as for clients managing addiction.
Portland Public Schools – As the largest school district in the state hosting nearly 50,000 students every year, PPS is made up of 79 schools, over 3,500 teachers, and over 4,000 staff members. It includes nine high schools, 13 middle schools, and dozens of elementary and mixed-grades schools.