How to Become a Social Worker in Alaska
Alaska Social Work License Requirements
A social worker is someone who has graduated from an accredited school of social work and who can use their knowledge and skills to help provide social services to clients. Social workers’ services typically include educating clients on methods and means of coping with hardship, especially in reference to government assistance programs or other means of social support. Social workers often conduct screenings or offer referrals for individuals who could be eligible for such programs. They also report valuable information to the state so that individuals or groups in crisis can have someone monitoring their situation, intervening if necessary.
Alaska maintains three levels of social work licensure for those who have met the requirements for education, training and experience as established by the Alaska Board of Social Work Examiners:
- Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
- Licensed Master's Social Worker (LMSW)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Each licensure stage holds specific requirements that permit the licensee to provide clients different levels of social work service and to publicly declare themselves official social workers. Read on for a summary of the basic eligibility requirements and board rules for each stage of licensure.
|Education Requirement||Supervised Experience||Exam|
|Baccalaureate Social Worker (BSW)||Bachelor's Degree in Social Work||No Supervised Experience Prior to Licensure||ASWB National Baccalaureate Social Work Examination|
|Master’s Social Worker (MSW)||Master’s Degree in Social Work||No Supervised Experience Prior to Licensure||ASWB National Master Social Work Examination|
|Clinical Social Worker (CSW)||Master’s Degree in Social Work||Three Years, Full-Time Supervised Experience. A Minimum of 3,000 Post-Degree Hours.||ASWB National Clinical Social Work Examination|
Learn more about social work degrees in Alaska
Alaska state statutes permit those granted a Baccalaureate Social Work license to perform all the duties necessary for a social work position, including providing counseling, evaluations, prevention and intervention services. Candidates’ eligibility for certain positions and their assigned responsibilities may differ on a case-by-case basis compared to people who hold an LMSW in Alaska.
To apply for licensure via examination, all candidates must have the following qualifications:
- Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work – Applicants must provide proof of completion of a board-approved college or university social work degree program in the form of an official transcript.
- Good Moral Character and Good Professional Standing – As determined by the board, candidates must possess personal and professional qualities that demonstrate responsible behavior and sound, ethical judgement. These criteria can be determined through the candidate’s experience record and their professional references.
- Three Professional References – Three professional references are required to assert the candidate’s viability as a licensed social worker. If the candidate has been employed or is currently employed in a social work position, at least one reference per past position and per current position is needed.
- ASWB Baccalaureate Social Work Examination – A satisfactory performance on the ASWB Baccalaureate Social Work exam is required within one year of the candidate’s approval of their application for licensure.
The State of Alaska authorizes licensed Master’s Social Workers to provide services in counseling, evaluation, intervention and prevention to clients in a public setting or in a private setting under supervision of a licensed clinician. Candidates applying for licensure must possess the following qualifications:
To apply for licensure via examination, all candidates must have the following qualifications:
- Master’s Degree of PhD in Social Work – All applicants must provide proof of completion of a board-approved Master’s in Social Work degree program in the form of an official certified college transcript.
- Good Moral Character and Good Professional Standing – The board will determine if the candidate possesses personal and professional qualities that demonstrate responsible behavior as well as sound, ethical judgement. These criteria are determined through assessment of the candidate’s experience record and their provided professional references.
- Three Professional References – Candidates will need to obtain three professional references attesting to their skills, knowledge and capabilities. Any prior social work employers and any current social work employers are required to be included within these references.
- ASWB Master Social Work Examination – All candidates must obtain a satisfactory passing grade on the ASWB Master’s level social work examination within one year of approval from the state board.
A Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Alaska may provide unsupervised social work services in a private or public setting, including offering counseling, evaluation, intervention and prevention services. Those wishing to possess an LCSW credential or who wish to run a private social work practice must obtain the following to gain clinical licensure:
- Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Social Work – Applicants must possess a Master’s or Doctoral degree from a board-approved educational institution. Documentation should be provided in the form of an official certified transcript.
- Supervised Experience – Candidates must document either two years of continuous full-time employment under an approved licensed social worker, licensed psychologist or licensed psychiatrist, or the candidate can fulfill 3,000 hours of less than full-time employment in a period of two years or greater under an approved licensed social worker, licensed psychologist or licensed psychiatrist. For a list of approved supervisors in Alaska or to learn how one might apply for approval of the state professional board, visit the Alaska Board of Professional Counselors’ Supervision Page.
- Good Moral Character and Good Professional Standing – As determined by the board, the candidate must possess qualities of a personal and professional nature demonstrating responsible behavior and sound, ethical judgement. These criteria are determined by assessing the candidate’s experience record and their provided professional references.
- Three Professional References – Candidates must obtain three professional references from employers, supervisors and educators who can attest to their knowledge, skills and capabilities. Prior employers for social work positions and any current social work employers must be included within these references.
- ASWB Clinical Social Work Examination – Candidates who meet the supervised experience requirements will apply with the state board for their LCSW licensure. Upon approval of the candidate’s application, they must sit for the ASWB’s National Clinical Social Work exam within one year. Applicants able to successfully achieve the minimum passing score on the exam are authorized to provide a full range of psychosocial and health services in settings that include private practices.
Continuing Education Requirements
To maintain social work licensure at any level, current social work license holders must complete and document a minimum of 45 contact hours of continuing education from activities deemed acceptable to the board during the two years prior to the applicant’s license expiration. Acceptable continuing education activities include postgraduate courses, either audited or for credit; courses offered by the ASWB; courses offered by the National Association of Social Workers; seminars, workshops and other courses offered by recognized professional organizations; and other courses as determined by pre-approval of the state board.
For the first instance of biennial renewal, license-holders must have the following minimum credit hours within their total 45 hours of educational contact:
- 6 hours in substance abuse education
- 6 hours in cross-cultural education relating to Alaskan-Natives
- 3 hours in professional ethics
After the first instance of renewal, the license holder must again fulfill the minimum 45 educational contact hours with the same requirements except that only 3 of the 6 needed cross-cultural hours must relate to Alaskan Native groups.
The Importance of CSWE Accreditation
The State of Alaska’s licensure board does not specifically require accreditation in order for a degree program to be board-approved, but accreditation from organizations like the Council of Social Work Accreditation can improve the overall quality of the coursework given.
The Council of Social Work Accreditation develops rigorous accreditation standards, and it also administers a multi-step accreditation process to eligible postsecondary and graduate-level degree programs. Most U.S. states require licensees to attend a CSWE-accredited program in order to obtain initial licensing or for license-holders from other states to transfer their credentials. This requirement ensures that graduates are prepared with both the knowledge and capacity for critical thinking that is necessary to successfully practice professional Social Work.
Persons without a CSWE-accredited degree could potentially apply with their respective state board for an exemption. However, the majority of exemptions are typically granted to individuals already licensed to practice other related disciplines like medicine or psychology.