Social Work License Requirements in Alaska
Social workers in Alaska provide care for individuals, families and community members who are struggling with mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. All social work is governed by the Alaska State Board of Social Work Examiners, which controls licensure and regulatory actions in the state. Overall, a social worker’s goal at every level is to provide therapy and administer care to patients. The level of education a social worker has determines how involved he or she is throughout this process. At the clinical level, a social worker can shape care plans and oversee other therapists. To get there, potential candidates will need a master’s degree. At the bachelor’s level, work is more generalized and typically involves substance abuse or family counseling. Higher-level roles tend to shape and influence policy regarding mental health and social welfare.
Social Work Licensure Requirements in Alaska
Those interested in a career in social work must first determine the level of education they wish to pursue. This determination dictates the career path, although it is possible to work one’s way through a degree as a practicing social worker.
Candidates should hold either a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or a Master of Social Work (MSW) from a college or university that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Doctoral degrees are also accepted, but a master’s degree satisfies the educational requirement for every job available to social workers in the state.
A Licensed Bachelor of Social Work (LBSW) is not allowed to practice independently but can practice under the supervision of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW). A Master of Social Work (MSW) is the first step toward either clinical or independent practice, both of which require one to hold an LCSW.
Students who are enrolled in a BSW program will study human behavior and review social welfare policy. They may take on research tasks or begin social work practice in the field as part of their education. At the master’s level, all CSWE-accredited programs have an identical core curriculum, but classes, as well as the program's focus, may differ for individuals.
Licensed Bachelor of Social Work
Once a prospective social worker has obtained a bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited university, he or she can apply to take the ASWB Bachelors Exam. The candidate must submit a notarized application to the Alaska State Board of Social Work Examiners. Additionally, first-time licenses require a $225 fee on top of the $100 application fee.
The application must include transcripts from the CSWE-accredited university that granted the applicant’s degree, as well as three professional references. These references must meet certain defined criteria from the Alaska State Board of Social Work Examiners. One must come from a previous supervisor, another from a current supervisor and the final recommendation must come from an approved professional.
Candidates can apply for a temporary license from the state, which authorizes an applicant to practice social work while awaiting ASWB Bachelor Exam approval from the Alaska State Board of Social Work Examiners.
The ASWB Bachelor Exam may be taken at any Pearson View testing center and costs $230. Candidates are encouraged to study and gain work experience while awaiting approval from the state's social work licensing board.
Upon passage of the ASWB exam, a candidate will receive a permanent LBSW license with a two-year renewal period.
A person who holds only a BSW will not be able to practice social work independently in Alaska. For that, students will need to further their education with an MSW.
Licensed Master of Social Work
Those who hold an MSW and are looking to apply for LMSW licensure in Alaska must complete the application process and pass an exam before receiving their license. Alaska recognizes master’s degrees from CSWE-accredited universities, which focus on the same core curriculum.
Candidates must file a completed application along with a $100 fee. An additional $275 fee is collected for first-time license holders. This application must include transcripts from the MSW program the candidate completed, along with three professional references. One reference should be from a past supervisor of social work, one from a present supervisor of social work and the final reference should come from an approved professional.
The Alaska State Board of Social Work Examiners can grant a temporary license to candidates for a $60 fee. This license allows the candidate to earn work hours as an LMSW in preparation for the exam.
The state's social work licensing board will inform the candidate when he or she is approved to take the ASWB Masters Exam. Once the candidate receives a passing grade on this exam, a license is granted. This license would replace the temporary license if one were acquired.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
LCSW licensing is unique in Alaska in that candidates cannot obtain a temporary license. This license is the highest level available to social workers in the state, and it requires (at minimum) an MSW from a CSWE-accredited institution.
The process begins with an application to the Alaska State Board of Social Work Examiners. LCSW candidates must have a minimum of two years of continuous full-time employment in clinical social work at the post-graduate level. Alternatively, candidates can accumulate 3,000 work hours if their status is less than full-time. However, this requirement must be completed within two years of post-graduate work.
The candidate can take the ASWB Clinical Exam only after receiving approval from the state's social work licensing board. Testing can be done at any Pearson View testing center. Once the candidate has passed the exam, he or she will receive LCSW licensure.
Social Work License Reciprocity in Alaska
Alaska’s method of reciprocity involves the candidate applying for licensure by credentials, submitting all relevant transcripts and work hour requirements in the process. These requirements are relatively standard state to state, but Alaska also requires transferring social workers to submit recommendations. These references can be from a past supervisor, a present supervisor and an approved professional.
Additionally, the state's social work licensing board requires candidates to complete a competency requirement. Social workers must demonstrate they have worked 1,500 hours as a social worker while holding a license of the same level for which they are applying. Forty-five hours of continuing education is required; six of these hours must focus on cross-cultural relations with native Alaskans, and an additional six hours must focus on substance abuse. Candidates are also expected to complete the continuing education requirement for renewal status (documented below).
Once the candidate has submitted this application along with test scores, transcripts and other applicable licenses and documentation, the Alaska State Board of Social Work Examiners will approve licensure upon verification that the applicant has met the requirements.
Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information
The Alaska State Board of Social Work Examiners requires that all state-licensed social workers renew every two years. Alaska social workers are expected to complete 45 continuing education hours within that period, with six hours focused on substance abuse education. The state also requires three hours in ethics courses. Continuing education units can be earned from universities, and the state's social work licensing board may also approve seminars or workshops.