This detailed guide will contain everything you need to know about becoming a social worker in North Dakota. The guide will also prioritize MSWs or master’s in social work, which are advanced degrees necessary to acquire clinical licensure and which are extremely popular among all social work students.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social work in North Dakota
- MSW programs in North Dakota
- How to become a social worker in North Dakota
- Social work license requirements in North Dakota
- Social worker jobs and social worker salary in North Dakota
- Outlook for social workers in North Dakota
Social work in North Dakota
North Dakota is a sparsely populated state, but that doesn’t mean that its citizens don’t need social work assistance. Since 2007, in fact, the state has experienced a population rise, especially due to recent oil fracking job opportunities. This has led to an increase in both young, single people and families moving to the state.
North Dakota has a relatively low unemployment rate. But other social issues still impact North Dakota’s otherwise growing communities. For instance, many people working in fracking companies, or the small towns that see real business for only a few years before the miners move on, are particularly low income, meaning they suffer from poverty and drug abuse issues.
Furthermore, those who live on Native American reservations have a hard time dealing with issues related to alcoholism and abuse.
Ultimately, social workers in North Dakota will find plenty of opportunities to help the state’s people, whether it’s related to financial planning, family and childcare, or substance abuse and drug addiction problems. Furthermore, social workers who want to connect with and assist Native American populations will find lots of chances to do so in this state.
MSW programs in North Dakota
Any social worker who wants to practice clinically and independently will need a master’s in social work degree. This post-bachelor’s degree allows clinical level licensure, and most degree programs require a bachelor’s degree in social work in order to apply. All students should try to find MSW programs accredited by the CSWE or Council on Social Work Education. Such degrees are often required for licensure.
CSWE-accredited programs will always include:
- Social work classes that cover core concepts and techniques you’ll need to succeed. These will be up-to-date and contain the necessary amount of rigor to prepare you for social work in the real world
- Specialized social work classes, which may allow you to specialize your degree to some extent
- Elective classes if you want to round out your education or pursue a dual-degree option
- Clinical practice hours – some of these will be necessary to graduate with the MSW in question, while many more will be needed for clinical licensure
As a relatively rural state, North Dakota doesn’t have a lot of universities in general. But it does offer a single on-campus MSW degree program (plus prerequisite bachelor’s in social work programs). The University of North Dakota is a research university located in Grand Forks. Their MSW program is an advanced generalist degree, and it’s offered in both in-person and on-campus formats.
The on-campus program is only open to those with a bachelor’s degree in the subject. However, such social work students can begin with advanced standing and complete the degree in a single year. Both final project and graduate theses final segments are available depending on whether the student in question wants to focus on practical social work or research at universities.
Online MSW programs in North Dakota
Online MSW programs are a popular alternative to the on-campus college experience. That’s because online MSW programs can be taken from anywhere and most offer asynchronous scheduling; this allows students to juggle multiple routines or focuses while completing their education on their own time, and often through a part-time schedule or format. These programs aren’t easier than on-campus programs, however, and they still require you to complete clinical practice hours at a local clinic vetted by the university.
As mentioned, the University of North Dakota is the only college in North Dakota with an MSW program. The online program, however, is available to all students, regardless of whether or not they have a CSWE-accredited BSW degree or not. In this case, students can complete the degree in about two years: the first is a foundation year and the latter is a concentration year.
Students can also pursue an MSW degree from out-of-state if they want to practice in North Dakota after graduating or if they don’t want to move away from home.
How to become a social worker North Dakota
North Dakota’s Board of Social Work Examiners offers three levels of licensure for all social workers in the state. These require progressively higher credentials or practice hours to attain.
Licensed Social Worker (LSW)
This basic credential is the first level of social work licensure. License holders can provide basic social work services, though no clinical social work. A bachelor’s degree in social work is required to apply for this credential.
- Submit your application to the NDBSWE, which also costs $25 for an application fee
- Pass the Association of Social Work Board’s Bachelor’s Exam, which is 170 multiple-choice questions and which costs $230.
- Finish a criminal background check, which also costs $40
- Receive your license if you passed the exam and pay the $75 license fee
Licensed Certified Social Worker (LCSW)
This credential allows the holder to practice more general social work and some clinical services under direct supervision. An MSW is required for this credential.
- Submit your application to the Board and pay the $25 fee
- Pass the ASWB Master’s Exam, which costs $230 and has 170 multiple-choice questions
- Complete your criminal background check, unless you already hold a North Dakota LSW license
- Receive your license if you pass the exam and pay the $75 licensing fee
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW)
This final level of certification allows you to practice independently and clinically, or to practice social work privately instead of as part of an agency or organization.
- Gain all required experience after obtaining your MSW degree
- Submit your application to the Board and pay the $25 fee
- Pass the ASWB Clinical Exam, which costs $260 and has 170 questions
- Complete your criminal background check unless you have a prior North Dakota social work license
- Receive your license if you pass the exam and pay the $75 fee
Social work license requirements in North Dakota
The North Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners dictates all licensure requirements throughout the state. To become an LICSW, you must have:
- 3,000 hours of supervised and clinical social work experience
- The first 1,500 supervised hours have to be under a supervised LICSW, while the latter half can be under any other mental health provider
- 150 hours must be supervised in person, and no more than 50 can be supervised from a group
- All hours must be completed within four years
Any social workers who already have at least one level of licensure can apply for license reciprocity by paying a $100 fee and completing a background check. Visit the Board of Social Work Examiners’ website to begin the process.
Additionally, all North Dakota social workers must renew their licenses by November 15 every odd-numbered year (i.e. 2021, 2023). Renewal fees are $75. Furthermore, all applicants must complete 30 hours of continuing education credits, and 20 of these must be in-person rather than self-study. Two hours must focus on social work ethics.
Social worker jobs and social worker salary in North Dakota
Salary information for North Dakota social workers can be found by looking at information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This shows:
- Child, family, and school social workers will see an average salary of $57,590 or $27.69 per hour. There are 750 of these in the state at this time.
- Healthcare social workers can expect a salary of $53,070 or $25.51 per hour. 410 healthcare social workers practice in North Dakota at this time.
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers will see an average salary of 50,003 and $40 or $24.20 per hour, and they number 240 right now.
- All other social workers should see a salary of $59,960 or $28.83 per hour. These are the rarest social workers in North Dakota at 170 at this time.
As you can see, North Dakota social workers earn salaries mostly in line with the national average for the profession, which is around $50,470 per year according to the BLS. Still, it’s clear that there is some opportunity to make more money depending on your specialty or focus. Plus, North Dakota’s relatively low cost of living means that every dollar earned should go farther.
Outlook for social workers in North Dakota
The job outlook for North Dakota social workers is difficult to discern, although rising population numbers and greater economic activities likely means that new job opportunities should crop up regularly. Additionally, social worker positions nationwide are projected to grow by about 91,000 over the next nine years or so. This could lead to excellent opportunities for social workers based in North Dakota and who wish to stick around for many years.
North Dakota may just be the birthplace of a new frontier of social work science instead of being inundated with too many new social workers, as many more populous states will likely experience.