In this guide, we’ll thoroughly break down everything you need to know about becoming a social worker in Oregon, including the steps to full clinical certification. The guide will focus on master’s in social work degrees (or MSWs), since these degrees are both popular with aspiring social workers and are required to acquire a clinical license.
CONTENTS OF THIS GUIDE
- Social work in Oregon
- Online MSW programs
- How to become a social worker
- License requirements
- Social worker salary
- Job outlook
- School Listings
Social work in Oregon
Oregon is well known for its mild climate and free-living culture. While the environment is often described as idyllic, the state’s population faces a number of issues that social workers are uniquely trained to assist with.
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Featured Online MSW Programs
|School Name||Program||More Info|
|University of Southern California (USC)||Accredited Online MSW Program from USC||website|
|University of Montana||Master of Social Work Online||website|
|University of Denver||DU’s Online MSW—No GRE Required||website|
|Baylor University||Baylor's Online MSW—Now Accepting Applications||website|
|University of Kentucky||CSWE Accredited Online MSW Program||website|
|Simmons University||Earn a Clinically Focused MSW Online||website|
A master’s in social work or MSW degree is needed if you want to become a clinically licensed social worker regardless of state. While all MSW degrees are worthwhile, only Council on Social Work Education-accredited programs will qualify you for a clinical license. Thus, MSW programs with this accreditation are more valuable and should always be prioritized.
Any good MSW program will include:
- Classes that include modern and up-to-date social work concepts and practices. This ensures that all graduating social workers know how to help clients with all kinds of issues through modern methods
- Specializing classes which may enable you to focus your social work efforts in different spheres or different types of clients
- Practical and clinical experiences. You must have a certain number of clinical hours to graduate from your MSW program and a larger number of hours to acquire a clinical license
- Additional electives if you want to round out your education or earn a secondary degree at the same time
Fortunately, there are a plethora of MSW programs available in Oregon for aspiring social workers. Portland State University offers a full-time and part-time variation of its MSW program at the main Portland campus. It offers several specialization options during each student’s second year of studies. These specializations include Leadership of Community Organization, Social Work with Children, Youth and Families, or Health Across the Lifespan. Dual degree options are available from this university, as well.
Students can also check out Pacific University, which is a private institution and which has a very competitive program with smaller class sizes. It takes two years of full-time study to complete, and students can choose between Health and Wellness or Latino Families and Culture as their areas of concentration.
Online MSW programs in Oregon
Online MSW programs are an attractive alternative for many students since they allow you to complete your studies in part-time or more flexible formats. For instance, you can complete your MSW degree even while still working or maintaining your home and family responsibilities. Many online MSW programs allow you to complete the degree within four or five years instead of two.
However, just because the programs are online does not mean the practical hours aren’t required. Instead of completing the clinical hours at a nearby hospital or clinic relative to the university, students can apply for clinical hours at any nearby clinic or medical center relative to their home. Hours can be completed at a more relaxed pace, but must still be completed within a period of a four-five years.
Currently, only Portland State University offers an online MSW. While most of the lessons are delivered asynchronously, students must attend live online sessions to meet with professors and classmates twice per course period. Additionally, students complete the program in a cohort model, meaning that students are only admitted once in the fall, then complete all the coursework together. Students must also visit the campus for three days at the beginning of each year.
Besides this, students can still complete online MSW programs from out-of-state universities. This is often more affordable and allows students to finish their education at a university they may have acquired a bachelor’s degree from before moving to Oregon.
How to become a social worker in Oregon
Oregon offers three levels of social work licensing, each of which has unique requirements. Each license level essentially leads to the next.
Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW)
This license allows social workers to practice in non-clinical contexts, and it’s often used as a stepping stone certification to full clinical licensing. You must have a bachelor’s degree in social work.
- Fill out an application to the Board and submit a $150 fee
- Submit fingerprints and undergo a criminal background check
- Pass the Statutes and Administrative Rules Exam, which is multiple-choice and which focuses on social worker rules for Oregon
- Pass the Association of Social Work Board’s Bachelor’s Exam, which is 170 multiple-choice questions and which costs $230
- Receive your license if you passed the tests
Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW)
This certification still only lets you to practice in non-clinical contexts, but also complete more advanced social work, including supervision, treatment planning, and some types of counseling.
- Complete your application and submit the $200 fee
- Submit fingerprints and complete the criminal background check
- Pass the Statutes and Administrative Rules Exam
- Pass the ASWB Master’s Exam, which is 170 questions and which costs $230
- Receive your license if you passed all the tests
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
This last level of license allows you to open your own social work practice and/or practice social work clinically without supervision.
- Submit your application and pay the $260 fee
- Complete the criminal background check
- Pass the Statutes and Administrative Rules Exam
- Accumulate all the required practical experience
- Pass the ASWB Clinical Exam, which costs $260 and which has 170 multiple-choice questions
- Receive your license if you passed the tests
Social work licensing requirements in Oregon
The Board of Licensed Social Workers is responsible for determining licensing requirements and handing out new licenses in Oregon.
To become a licensed clinical social worker, you must have:
- 3,500 hours of supervised clinical social work experience. These hours must be completed in a time-frame between two and five years
- 2,000 of the hours have to come from direct contact with various clients
- 100 hours must be supervised by LCSWs who have had their licenses for at least two years
- A six-month evaluation report form must be completed every six months until you have 3,500 hours
You must renew your LCSW credential every two years. This can be done online, and you must complete 40 continuing education credits. At least six of those credits have to focus on ethics.
Social worker job and social worker salary in Oregon
Social worker salaries in Oregon can be determined by looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau separates social worker salaries into four categories based on job focus:
- Child, family, and school social workers can expect annual salaries of $54,790 and hourly wages of $26.34. There are 5,000 child, family, and school social workers are in Oregon right now.
- Healthcare social workers can expect an annual salary of $79,870 or an hourly wage of $38.40. Currently, 1,830 healthcare social workers are practicing in Oregon.
- Mental health and substance abuse social workers should expect an annual salary of $52,660 or an hourly wage of $25.32. There are approximately 1,950 mental health and substance abuse social workers in Oregon.
- All other social workers can expect an annual salary of $56,790 or an hourly wage of $27.31. This group of 2,600 includes private practice social workers, academics, and researchers.
Given that the national average salary for social workers hovers around $50,000, it’s clear that Oregon social workers don’t have anything to worry about. All types make more than the national average, and healthcare social workers, in particular, make excellent salaries that can provide a good standard of living.
Job outlook for social workers in Oregon
The job outlook for Oregon specifically is difficult to determine, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics does indicate that, from 2020 until 2029, approximately 91,000 new social worker positions will open up nationwide.
Since Portland is growing as a state instead of shrinking, the proportion of its population that suffers from mental health or substance abuse issues is also likely to grow. Future social workers will have multiple opportunities to make a difference and progress in experience and seniority, gaining better positions over time. Ultimately, the job market for future Oregon social workers is likely quite bright.
Social Work Programs in Oregon