Alaska recognizes three levels of social work practice: Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Although there are certain exemptions, it is generally unlawful to call oneself a social worker without a license from the Board.
Baccalaureate and master social workers are differentiated by level of education. Clinical social workers have the same education as master social workers, but have additional post-graduate practice in clinical social work.
An application and an exam are required at each level. All exams are administered by the ASWB. In addition, applicants must submit three professional references. If the applicant is currently employed in social work, one letter must come from the current employer. If the candidate has past employment in social work, one must come from a past employer. Other references must come from individuals in approved professions.
All applications must include a $60 nonrefundable fee.
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The first step to becoming a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker is to complete a bachelor’s degree in social work that is approved by the Alaska Board.
The next step is to apply to take the basic or baccalaureate level exam and receive the LBSW credential (Click Here to download the LBSW application). These two steps are simultaneous – one must turn in an application and receive Board approval before registering for the exam. However, one does not need to wait for exam results to receive a credential. A temporary license is available for $60. It is good for one year, but may not be renewed.
LMSW is a step en route to LCSW and can be an end goal for those practicing non-clinical social work. After completing a graduate degree, the social worker can apply for LMSW status. The application is lengthy, but can simultaneously grant the privilege of taking the licensing exam and working under a temporary license as a master social worker.
You may also want to read the article "Master’s Degree in Social Work: Developing Skills and Competencies" if you have any questions about Master's of Social Work programs.
If the goal is clinical practice, the LMSW should find employment in the form of a clinical internship. In order for the hours to count toward the experience requirement, the candidate must apply the nine social work principles listed in the Board statutes and regulations. Among these are assessment, consultation, diagnosis, and client-centered advocacy.
Supervisors must have Board approval. The process entails doing some training. Supervisors must provide supervision in six content areas. These include clinical skills, practice management, and ethics, among others. If the agency where the supervisee works is not able to provide an appropriate person, the candidate may use an outside supervisor. However, the administrator at a workplace must sign a release. This must be sent to the Alaska Board.
During the period of supervised practice, the social worker must have a total of 100 hours of face-to-face meeting time with the supervisor. Up to 50 of these hours may be conducted in a small group setting. If a social worker lives in such a remote part of Alaska that normal face-to-face supervision is not feasible, the candidate may submit a request to be allowed to use a telephone or electronic device. The request must be submitted before supervision commences. (The number of hours of group supervision that are permitted may also be increased at the Board’s discretion, provided there is a compelling reason.)
When supervision requirements have been met, the social worker may apply to the Board to take the clinical exam (Click Here to download the application). After the candidate passes, the candidate will be issued the higher license.
A social worker who is licensed in another state may apply to be licensed by credentials. Evidence of continued competency is required.
Licenses must be renewed biannually.
Download the Social Work statutes in Alaska from the Board of Social Work Examiners by Clicking Here.
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Social Worker in Alaska.