Social Work License Requirements in North Dakota

Social work in North Dakota is a profession based around counseling and psychotherapy for individuals, families, and the community as a whole. A social worker’s responsibility is to improve the well-being of those they serve, while providing the best possible social and mental health services available. Much of the work consists of patient-facing roles that deal with behavioral or social interactions.

Social Work Licensure Requirements in North Dakota

North Dakota social workers are required to obtain a license that is related to their level of education, which dictates the type of care that can be practiced. The state recognizes three levels of licensure: licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).

The state recognizes bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from colleges and universities accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Those who hold a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) can begin work as an LSW and progress in licensure as they continue on to more-advanced graduate work. Those with a Master of Social Work (MSW) tend to begin at the LMSW level of licensure and work their way up to the LICSW.

At the bachelor's level of study, classes focus primarily on human behavior, substance abuse, and aspects of social policy. Master’s level coursework may be specialized and dive deeper into policy, counseling, and consultation. Generally, the North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners approves licensure if candidates first fill out an application to take the licensure exam for the candidate’s requisite level. Then they must pay all of the fees, pass a background check and finally, receive a passing score on the requisite exam. Students are allowed to intern with certified LSWs or LICSWs in the state of North Dakota if they are working toward a degree in the field of social work.

Licensed Social Worker

North Dakota defines bachelor's level social work as a Licensed Social Worker. This is the lowest level of social work in the state and is open to anyone with a BSW from a CSWE-accredited university. To acquire a North Dakota social worker license, candidates must first apply for eligibility to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Bachelors Exam. They must then pay the application fee, submit to a nationwide criminal record check and receive a passing score on the exam. The North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners also requires applicants to adhere to a code of conduct. Once these requirements are satisfied, the Board will grant licensure.

Licensed Master Social Worker

In North Dakota, those who hold an MSW may apply to become an LMSW. This level of licensure is the first step toward higher career prospects in social work, including both independent and clinical work. A license holder at this level cannot practice independently but may begin the path toward that goal. Candidates interested in an LMSW must first apply for eligibility to take the ASWB Masters Exam and pay an associated fee. They must then submit to a nationwide criminal background check and receive a passing score on the ASWB Masters Exam. Once the candidate has satisfied the above criteria, licensure can be granted. The next phase depends on whether the applicant wishes to advance to clinical or independent practice.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker

To become a LICSW, an applicant must follow the same steps as the LMSW, but there is an added work requirement at this level. Once a candidate becomes a LICSW, they may practice independently or at the supervisory level. To reach this level, candidates must first apply for eligibility to take the ASWB Clinical Exam, pass it and pay the corresponding fee. They must then submit a background check. After, they must complete 3,000 documented hours of supervised clinical work within a four-year period after the post-graduate degree is acquired. The additional work requirement demands that applicants submit an MSW Supervision Plan. This plan outlines certain stipulations, including 150 hours of face-to-face supervision and 50 hours of face-to-face client consultation by group supervision.

Social Work License Reciprocity in North Dakota

North Dakota does allow for reciprocity, and candidates are encouraged to apply for the endorsement. This means the state Board typically approves licensure once all documents of current license and education levels have been received and reviewed. The state will ensure the education requirements meet regulations or request a candidate to supply additional documentation as needed. Licensure is granted at the candidate’s level once the state's Board fee has been paid.

Licensing Renewal and Continuing Education Information

North Dakota’s social work licenses expire on December 31 of every odd-numbered year. Licenses can be renewed assuming the candidate has paid the renewal fee and has completed all continuing education requirements. North Dakota social workers are required to earn 30 continuing education hours, with a minimum of two hours dealing with ethics. A maximum of 10 hours may be used for self-study or long-distance learning. New candidates have slightly different requirements. If their license was granted between January 1 and June 30 of an odd-numbered year, they must complete 15 hours of continuing education. If licensed after July 1, the continuing education requirement is waived for the initial license period.