How to Become a Social Worker in Oregon

Oregon Social Work Licensing Requirements

The Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers considers the practice of social work to be “the application of social work theory, knowledge, methods and ethics to restore or enhance the social, psychosocial or biopsychosocial functioning of an individual, couples, families, children, groups, organizations or communities.” Social work practitioners are highly regulated and licensed in order to ensure that they have the needed training, disposition and ability to work with the most vulnerable populations in the country. Practicing social working can include tasks such as providing guidance in the acquisition of social services, client advocacy and mental health services.

In Oregon, applicants seeking licensure in social work can apply for four separate types of licenses. These licenses include:

Registered Baccalaureate
Social Worker (RBSW)
Bachelor’s Degree in
Social Work 
None. Bachelor’s Level ASWB
Licensed Master’s Social
Worker (LMSW)
Master’s Degree in Social
None. Master’s Level ASWB
Certified Social Work
Associate (CSWA)
Master’s Degree in Social


3500 hours or equivalent
of two years.
Clinical Level ASWB
Licensed Clinical Social
Worker (LCSW)
Master’s Degree in Social
Two Years of Clinical
Work Experience.
Clinical Level ASWB

Learn more about social work degrees in Oregon

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RBSW Requirements in Oregon

  1. General Requirements: Applicants seeking licensure as a registered baccalaureate social worker (RBSW) have to meet some general requirements before a license can be granted. In addition to requirements outlining good moral character and basic standing issues, which can be found with the Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers (OBLSW), applicants must voluntarily submit to a fingerprint background check.
  2. Education: To be licensed as a RBSW in Oregon, an applicant must have completed a bachelor’s level degree in social work from a university or college that has been accredited by either the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (CASSW). You may still be licensed for social work if your degree has not come from an accredited university so long as the awarding institution is seeking accreditation at the time you receive your degree. An official degree transcript must be presented to the OBLSW for approval prior to licensure.
  3. Exams: Licensure as a RBSW is contingent on the passing of two exams: the bachelor’s level exam administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) and the Oregon Statutes-Administrative Rules Exam, which is self-ministered. Applicants may only take the ASWB exam after completing the other steps of the licensing application and getting approval from the OBLSW. If the applicant has already taken and passed the ASWB examination in another state, verification must be provided to the OBLSW.

LMSW Requirements in Oregon

  1. General Requirements: General requirements to become a licensed master’s social worker are the same for a RBSW, which you can briefly learn about in the previous section or by visiting the OBLSW.
  2. Education: Granting of licensure as a LMSW requires completions of a master’s degree in social work from a CWSE or CASSW accredited college or university. An official transcript must be delivered from the awarding institution to the OBLSW for verification before a license of master’s level social work will be issued.
  3. Exam: In addition to completing the same Oregon Statutes exam, potential LMSW licensees must receive a passing grade on the ASWB administered master’s level exam after approval has been granted by the OBLSW. Evidence of a previous passing grade must be submitted to the OBLSW for approval and verification.

CSWA Requirements in Oregon

  1. General Requirements: The same general requirements that apply to the two previous license types must be completed to become a certified social work associate (CSWA) in Oregon.
  2. Education: Proof of a master’s degree in social work awarded by a CWSE or CASSW accredited university must be submitted to the OBLSW in the form of an official academic transcript. This transcript must come directly from the awarding institution to be deemed as acceptable.
  3. Experience: Upon completion of a master’s degree, candidates must complete 3500 hours of work experience before they will be granted licensure. 2000 of these hours must be focused directly on client interactions. 100 of these hours should comprise of clinical supervision from a licensed social worker, and 50 of the 100 supervision hours must be in a one on one setting. All 3500 hours need to be completed in a period that is no more than two years. Additionally, a plan of supervision must be submitted to the OBLSW for approval before work experience to begin.Suitable supervisors must meet certain criteria before they will be approved for such work. Firstly, the supervisor of the associate candidate must have completed two full years of licensed social work. Secondly, the supervisor needs to have completed, and submitted to the board for approval, six continuing education hours centered on supervisory techniques that have been completed within the last five years.
  4. Exam: After completion of degree and work experience, the candidate may apply to the OBLSW for approval to take the ASWB clinical level exam. The Oregon Statutes exam must also be completed to a satisfactory level prior to licensure.

LCSW Requirements in Oregon

  1. General Requirements: Candidates to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) in the state of Oregon must comply with the same character and background check requirements as all of the other licensing types.
  2. Education: To be a granted a license to work as a LCSW in Oregon, candidates must have completed a master’s degree in social work from a school that has been granted accreditation by the CSWE or CASSW. An official transcript as proof of degree must be submitted to the OBLSW.
  3. Experience: Becoming a LCSW requires completion of two years of social work experience that takes place in a clinical setting. Upon completion, candidates should be able to demonstrate a wide range of clinical skills that can include evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of mental health patients. In addition, LCSW applicants must complete the same requirements as a CSWA as outlined in ORS 675.573.
  4. Exam: Once the education and experience requirements have been completed, the applicant may seek approval from the OBLSW to take the clinical level examination administered by the ASWB. Applicants seeking licensure as a LCSW must also attain a passing grade in the Oregon Statutes exam as well as the Oregon Jurisprudence exam before a license can be granted.

The Importance of CSWE Accreditation

The Council of Social Work Education provides accreditation standards to almost all fifty states in order to ensure that potential social workers have received the necessary training to perform social work in their communities compassionately and effectively. Accreditation is a multi-step process that helps universities to employ standards for areas involving critical thinking skills and social work theory. Upon completion of a social work degree from a CWSE accredited university or college, graduates will be able to practice social work in their communities at the highest level. Waiver of the accreditation requirement can sometimes be achieved, but it is usually only granted to those already licensed to practice psychology or medicine.

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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.

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Additional Resources for Social Workers in Oregon