Oregon issues four social work credentials. Licensing is mandatory for social workers who practice clinical social work. The licensing agency describes other social work licenses as voluntary but also notes that they are a title protection – not just anyone can call himself or herself a social worker.
Oregon credentials are as follows: Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) is for the practice of clinical social work (Master’s in Clinical Social Work). The LCSW license carries a supervised practice requirement as well as education and examination requirements. Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA) is the credential that prospective LCSWs will hold while they are meeting their supervised practice requirements. Licensed Master’s Social Worker (LMSW) is for master’s level social workers who practice nonclinical social work. Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW) is for bachelor’s social workers; it is the only state credential available to those with education below the master’s level. LMSW and RBSW credentials are awarded on the basis of education and examination.
Applicants at all levels must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Board that they are fit to practice social work.
Foundational Requirements: Social Work Education and Examination
A prospective social worker will need to earn an accredited social work degree. Degree programs are to be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education or the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (Master’s of Social Work programs in Oregon). International education can also be accepted if it is found equivalent by the CSWE International Social Work Degree Recognition and Evaluation Service.
Oregon licensure candidates take a national licensing exam and also a test of state laws and rules.
All licensing examinations are offered under the banner of the Association of Social Work Boards. Oregon candidates take the examination that is intended for the level of practice they seek: clinical, advanced generalist, masters, or bachelors. (Titles vary from one state to the next. Advanced generalist is the exam associated with the Oregon LMSW license while the masters exam is for CSWA practice.)
In the case of credentials that do not carry a supervised practice requirement, the application also serves as the request for examination permission. A person who is working toward LCSW becomes eligible to take the ASWB clinical exam after accruing 75 supervision hours. The candidate will submit a request for examination.
The Oregon Jurisprudence Examination assesses knowledge of statutes and rules. It is open book; the candidate will need to submit it to the licensing agency for scoring. Statutes and rules do change occasionally. The licensing agency notes that in the event that there are changes before licensure, a second jurisprudence exam may be required.
Supervised Practice for LCSW Licensure
The CSWA will work in an agency setting as defined by state code; this allows for a wide range of options. Oregon mandates 3,500 hours of total experience with at least 2,000 hours consisting of direct contact with people who are receiving services.
Oregon requires a minimum 100 hours of supervision. At least 50 of the supervision hours are to be individual. In some cases, the CSWA will have separate supervisors for individual and group supervision. In almost all cases, clinical supervision is to be provided by an LCSW. The Board may approve supervision by another mental health professional in cases where the supervisee lives very far from the nearest LCSW.
The CSWA will meet with his or her supervisor at least bimonthly until such time as requirements for supervision hours have been completed.
The social worker will need a plan of supervision in place before beginning. The plan can be revised during the course of the supervision period but the individual will need to submit a plan modification form.
The Application Process
Application forms are available for download from the website of the Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers (http://www.oregon.gov/blsw/Pages/forms.aspx).
Education is to be documented through an official transcript sent directly from the school (or from the ASWB Registry if the individual has opted to use this service). Schools may opt for electronic transmission using the email address found in the application section of the Board website.
Oregon requires applicants to verify all licenses, even if they are in a field other than social work.
The application fee is $50 at the RSW or LMSW level, $150 at the CSWA or LCSW level. Background checks and licensing incur additional fees. The total paid to the licensing agency will range from $150 for an RSW applicant to $460 for an individual who applies for the first time at the LCSW level.
Approved examination candidates register with the ASWB, then schedule their own exams through Pearson VUE. Fees run $230 to $260. Examination scores are received directly by the Oregon Board.
A candidate who first submits a license at the CSWA level does not need to submit a new one at the LCSW level; the license can be issued when all requirements have been met and documentation has been received by the Board.
Oregon mandates fingerprint-based national criminal background checks. Fieldprint Oregon is the state’s Live Scan vendor. Applicants can register online. The necessary code can be found in the application section of the Board website (http://www.oregon.gov/blsw/Pages/cswa.aspx#How_to_Apply).
Renewal is annual for clinical social work licenses and certificates, biennial for nonclinical credentials.
Out-of-State Social Workers
Out-of-state credential holders can be credentialed in Oregon if they meet educational and professional fitness requirements and have otherwise met standards at least substantially equivalent to those of Oregon. They will need to meet the Oregon jurisprudence requirement.
Clinical social workers from out of state may be authorized to work at the CSWA level until such time as they have met all LCSW requirements.
The Board reports in its FAQ that hours accrued in another state under a status equivalent to the Oregon CSWA almost always transfer. However, certain basic standards do need to be met.
The Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers (http://www.oregon.gov/blsw/Pages/index.aspx) can be reached at 503-378-5735.
The Oregon Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers has provided additional resources, including a supervision directory (http://nasworegon.org).