Maine licenses social workers across levels. Licensing is mandatory. There are avenues in place for individuals who have not completed traditional social work education to be licensed at the lowest level. There are five licenses. Three represent long-term career options: Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Licensed Social Worker-Conditional (LSW-X) and Licensed Master Social Worker-Conditional Clinical (LMSW-CC), on the other hand, are designed to be transitional. The conditional designation is for individuals who are working under consultation toward a higher level of licensure.
The scope of practice for different licenses is described in state rule (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/social_workers/laws.html).
Examination is required for LSW, LMSW, LMSW-CC, and LCSW licenses. However, this step takes place after application.
Graduate Level Social Work: LMSW and LCSW Requirements
The Licensed Master Social Worker credential represents full licensure for a social worker who has a purely nonclinical role.
A Licensed Clinical Social Worker is, as the name implies, qualified for clinical practice. While working toward the LCSW license, a person holds Licensed Master Social Worker-Clinical Conditional Licensing.
The beginning stages of the LMSW/ LCSW process look very similar. A prospective LMSW or LCSW will need to earn a Master of Social Work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (See: Master’s of Social Work Programs in Maine). Programs have different concentrations; it is advisable to consider these at the onset.
While a person can achieve clinical licensing without having a clinical concentration, the process is considerably longer. A person can be considered to have a clinical concentration if he or she has a total of six clinical courses, and coursework includes two personality theory courses (normal growth and development and abnormal adult psychology) and either four clinical methods courses or three methods courses and an additional personality theory course. Educational requirements are described in Board Rule Chapter 10, Section 1(4). The licensing agency will seek documentation of clinical coursework at the LMSW-CC application stage.
Paid experience will be the primary source of experience gained during the consultation period. A small amount of volunteer work may be credited. Supervision must be proportionate.
An LMSW-CC with a clinical concentration will need to work under consultation for a period of at least two years and accrue at least 3,200 creditable hours. It is necessary to hold the LMSW-CC before beginning the consultation period. The LMSW-CC is expected to have four hours of consultation a month (at least three of them individual). The total consultation requirement is 96 hours.
An LMSW-CC without a clinical concentration will need a four year experience period (6,400 hours). During this time, he or she will need to accrue fully 192 hours of consultation.
LMSW-CC experiences are to occur in settings where there is a sufficiently broad client base. The supervisee is to have contact with professionals from other disciplines.
An individual applying for the LMSW or LMSW-CC will take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) masters examination. At the LCSW level, the ASWB clinical exam will be required.
There will be some additional minor LCSW coursework requirements related to domestic partner or intimate partner violence beginning in 2020. Requirement can be met in various ways including contact hours or distance learning. In some cases, the requirement may be met after initial licensure.
There is a provision in state regulation allowing for partial Board waiver of post-degree experience for equivalent experience that was gained lawfully prior to conferral of the master’s degree.
Licensed Social Worker Requirements
The most straightforward path to credentialing as a Licensed Social Worker is a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program. A person can achieve licensure, though, with a bachelor’s degree that is related to social work/ social welfare. If the degree is not on the list provided by the licensing agency, the individual will need to list 12 courses that are directly related to social work or social welfare. Among the degrees that are listed, one finds psychology, rehabilitation services, and education and human development.
An LSW completes a consultation requirement after he or she is licensed and employed. A person with conditional licensure will complete one consultation requirement at the LSW-X level and then fulfill the LSW requirement. (This means that a person who does not meet initial requirements at the LSW level will need to be under consultation for a total of at least four years.)
3,200 hours of experience accrued in a two year period can be credited as two years. Consultation is to take place at a rate of at least 96 hours per 3,200 hours of experience.
Supervisor requirements will differ depending on whether one works for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Licensure at the LSW level is dependent on successful completion of the ASWB Bachelors exam.
The Application and Examination Process
Application forms can be found on the website of the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/social_workers/forms.html). There are separate application packets for different license categories.
Application, licensing, and background check fees total $116. The highest payment is the one made to the ASWB at the time of exam registration ($230 to $260 depending on examination level).
Applicants are requested not to call to check on the status of their application. Application checks can be made online.
Licenses are renewed every two years.
In the case of out-of-state licensees, the Maine licensing agency will seek both official license verification and a copy of the person’s license. They will also seek a copy of the licensing act under which the out-of-state social worker was credentialed.
Maine social workers are regulated by the Maine Board of Social Worker Licensure (http://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/social_workers/). The Board can be reached at (207) 624-8623.