This guide is all about social work programs in Alaska. Here, you will find information to help you get a master’s in social work degree and successfully become a social worker in Alaska.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Master’s in social work (MSW) programs in Alaska
- Online MSW programs in Alaska
- How to become a social worker in Alaska
- Social work license requirements in Alaska
- Social work jobs and social worker salary in Alaska
- Social work outlook in Alaska
Social work in Alaska
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Alaska’s population is 737,438. However, the BLS shows that there are only 1,860 social workers employed throughout the state. If you are thinking of becoming a social worker in Alaska, this guide is for you.
Common social work career options in Alaska are as following:
- Child, family and school social workers
- Healthcare social workers
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers
- Social workers, all other
Interestingly, Alaska is known for having the third highest concentration of mental health and substance abuse social workers in the nation. Reaching over 18 percent of the state’s population, Alaska also has the greatest number of Native American residents in the country. Within this group, there is a great need for social workers as alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide, and violence are very common.
MSW programs in Alaska
To practice more advanced social work or clinical work in Alaska, you are required to earn a master’s in social work (MSW) degree. The degree program must also be accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in order to start working as a social worker in the state.
Currently, there are no on-campus schools with a MSW degree program in Alaska.
However, you can still apply for licensure if you earn your degree from any school outside of the state as long as the program is CSWE-accredited.
Online MSW programs in Alaska
Instead of getting a MSW on-campus, residents of Alaska can also find many options for earning a degree online. Students who choose to pursue an online degree may also benefit from greater schedule flexibility and the freedom to work from any location.
Within the state, the University of Alaska, Anchorage is the only school in Alaska that provides a CSWE-accredited MSW program. While the program is primarily online and no longer campus-based, students must still have an in-state residence in order to be accepted.
More about the University of Alaska, Anchorage MSW Program:
- The program is devoted to preparing students for advanced generalist social work with a focus on remote and rural community needs in Alaska.
- The program is split into two categories including: a foundational curriculum and concentration curriculum.
- The foundational curriculum focuses on helping students become more aware of the basic needs of others and to formulate a better understanding and execution of social work practices.
- The concentration curriculum is more advanced and builds on the foundational courses to help students improve their skills, leadership and to put their knowledge to the test.
- A field practicum must also be completed. The placement for field work varies for each student depending on their area of interest. Students must also be prepared to interview with their desired work environment or agency in order to receive their final placement.
- To receive your MSW degree, it can take anywhere from one to four years. The school offers full-time attendance (two years), part-time (four years) or advanced placement (one-two years for those holding a BSW).
Before committing to this program or any other online MSW programs, make sure you take the time to research all your options in order to find the best fit for you. Here, you can find a list of other acceptable CSWE-accredited online programs.
Additionally, if you are seriously considering pursuing your degree online or want to learn more about online MSW programs, more information is provided here.
How to become a social worker in Alaska
If you want to become a social worker in Alaska, keep the following in mind:
- To become a licensed entry-level social worker, you must earn your bachelor’s degree from a CSWE-accredited program and pass the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB) exam. Your application must then be approved by the Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE).
- To become a licensed clinical social worker, you must have a MSW, doctor of social work degree (DSW) or PhD from a CSWE-accredited program. After the completion of 3,000 hours of field experience, you must submit an application, pass the ASWB exam and get approved for licensure by the BSWE.
To learn more about the licensing process in Alaska, refer to the section below.
Social work license requirements in Alaska
In Alaska, there are three kinds of social work licenses you can acquire. The licenses are as follows: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Unlike some states where a MSW or DSW is required to receive licensure, residents of Alaska may start practicing non-clinical social work with only a bachelor’s in social work (BSW).
LBSW requirements in Alaska:
- Have a BSW from a CSWE-accredited program
- Fill out the LBSW application. Include three professional references. The cost to apply is $100
- Pass a 170-question exam at the bachelor-level presented by the Association of Social Workers Board (ASWB). This costs $230
- The Board of Social Work Examiners (BSWE) must approve the application. Once approved and a $225 licensure fee is received by the BSWE, your license will be awarded
LMSW requirements in Alaska:
- Have a MSW from a CSWE-accredited program or university
- Send your LMSW application, three professional references and MSW transcript to the BSWE. The cost to apply is $100
- Pass a 170-question ASWB Master’s exam. The testing cost is $230
- Get approved by the BSWE after completing the requirements above and paying a $275 licensure fee
LCSW requirements in Alaska:
- Have a MSW or DSW from a CSWE-accredited program or university
- Complete 3,000 hours of part-time clinical social work experience or two years of full-time experience in the field after receiving a MSW or DSW. All work must be supervised
- Send an LCSW application to the BSWE that includes the following: work experience verified by your supervisor(s), three references and your MSW or DSW transcripts. The cost to apply is $100
- Pass a 170-question ASWB clinical exam. The testing cost is $260
- Get approved by the BSWE and receive your license after paying a $325 licensure fee
Remember, in order to become a licensed social worker in Alaska, you must go through the Board of Social Work Examiners.
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in Alaska
The numbers for the social work job category and for the average annual salaries is according to the BLS. The overall average salary for social workers in Alaska is $55,230. The salaries range from $51,390 to $72,530.
Below, you can see the annual mean wages for social workers in Alaska based on data taken from the BLS for each job category:
- Child, family and school social workers: There are 1,160 child, family, and school social workers employed in Alaska making an average salary of $52,710.
- Healthcare social workers: There are 210 healthcare social workers in Alaska, reporting an average annual salary of $65,020.
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers: Approximately 360 mental health and substance abuse social workers in Alaska report an average annual salary of $51,390.
- Social workers, all other: There are 130 social workers in Alaska BLS numbers that fit into this category. This includes management/administration and private practice social workers. This group reports an average annual salary of $72,530.
Differences in salary depend on experience and what kind of license you hold. Typically, those with a MSW degree or higher earn more than those who only have a BSW as they will be able to receive licenses that allow them to practice higher earning clinical work jobs.
If you want to become a social worker in Alaska, our job guide can help you learn more about social work jobs and which area of work to focus on.
Social work outlook in Alaska
The Projections Central shows the projected outlook for social work jobs in Alaska by 2028 in the following job categories:
- Child, family, and school social workers: expected increase in jobs by 6.3 percent
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers: expected increase in jobs by 11.4 percent
- Healthcare social workers: expected increase of jobs by 4.8 percent
- Social workers, all other: expected increase of jobs by 5.4 percent
If you are looking into becoming a social worker in Alaska, mental health and substance abuse social work is expected to have the most employment growth.