Social work is a good fit for those who are passionate about social justice and helping children, adults, and families. A social work degree prepares you to work in schools, hospitals, criminal justice and correctional facilities, community mental health centers, and other organizations.
Oregon currently has over 3,000 child, family, and school social workers and over 2,000 mental health and substance abuse social workers
Oregon has several thriving social justice communities. It also has a long history of traditional and alternative healthcare for physical and mental health, and there are several online social work programs in this state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Oregon currently has over 3,000 child, family, and school social workers and over 2,000 mental health and substance abuse social workers. The state also ranks as one of the highest-paying states for social work. Healthcare social workers earn about $70,000 per year, while child, family, and school social workers earn about $51,000 per year, and substance abuse social workers earn around $50,000. The BLS projects that social worker positions will increase by 16% between 2016 and 2026 in the U.S.
There are several nonclinical and assistant positions available for professionals with bachelor's degrees in social work. However, to be a licensed clinical social worker, you must have a master's in social work. This degree also prepares graduates to work as business consultants, community development coordinators, and nonprofit professionals.
The Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers oversees social work professionals in this state. To become a licensed social worker in Oregon, you are required to first earn your bachelor's degree in social work or a related field, followed by a master's degrees in social work (MSW). Your MSW must be from a social work school In Oregon that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) or the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work (CASSW).
Prospective licensed social workers in Oregon must also take the Oregon Jurisprudence Exam
Once you've earned your MSW, Oregon requires you to work at least two years in a supervised social work setting. This includes at least 3,500 total work hours; 2,000 of these hours must involve direct work with clients, 100 of them must be supervised, and 50 of which must be individual supervision. Individuals are required to take the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam. Those who have not taken this exam start out as clinical social work associates (CSWA). Oregon does not accept California's ASWB exam.
Prospective licensed social workers in Oregon must also take the Oregon Jurisprudence Exam, which is a self-test and is included in the state's general social worker application. The Oregon social worker application requires fingerprints, an official graduate school transcript, and a $460 fee. This fee includes $50 for a criminal background check, $150 for the application, and $260 for an initial two-year license. LCSW licenses are renewed every two years for $286, while CSWA licenses are renewed every year for $66.
While researching social work programs in Oregon, keep in mind that there are several different levels of social work degrees. An associate degree takes about one to two years to complete and prepares students to earn their bachelor's degree in social work. A bachelor's degree takes about four years to complete and prepares you for graduate programs in social work. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in social work can also earn jobs as behavioral management and case aides, probation officers, and community outreach and rehabilitation case workers.
A master's degree in social work is the minimum degree needed to become a clinical social worker in Oregon, as well as in most other states. This degree takes about one to three years to complete and is considered to be the terminal degree in this field. However, students who are interested in becoming educators, scholars, or researchers should earn a doctoral degree in social work. This degree is research focused and takes three to five years to complete.
- Associate Degree
- Students earning their associate in social work learn foundational theories, strategies, and other concepts in order to eventually continue their studies in this field. The degree also prepares students to work as gerontology aides, social work assistants, and mental health technicians.
- Bachelor's Degree
- A bachelor's program offers students a broader range of social work theories and skills. Most programs require learners to complete internships or field work. This degree prepares students to work as probation officers, juvenile court liaisons, behavioral and case management aides, eligibility workers, and human services specialists.
- Master's Degree
- An MSW is considered to be the terminal degree for social work. Students are required to earn their MSW in order to become a clinical social worker in Oregon. Students learn advanced skills and knowledge in human behavior, conflict management, community organization, social policy, psychology, and child welfare. The degree typically requires an internship or field work.
- Doctoral Degree
- A Ph.D. in social work prepares students for careers as educators, researchers, and scholars. Doctoral programs in social work feature research-heavy coursework and teach students advanced theory, critical analysis, teaching methods, policy, and behavioral science. Ph.D. students typically conduct research and complete a dissertation.
Because social work is such a broad and diverse field, students can choose between several specialities to find the area that fits with their career goals and interests. Choosing a social work specialty can also often provide access to higher salaries and help you become a stronger job candidate for certain jobs. Below is a list of common social work concentrations and specialities.
Child and Family Social Worker
School Social Worker
Healthcare Social Worker
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker
While all states require clinical social workers to be licensed, each state maintains its own specific licensing requirements. In order to become a licensed clinical social worker in Oregon, you must first earn your MSW from a school that is accredited by the CSWE or the CASSW. After receiving a master's degree, graduates must complete clinical hours.
Professionals who have a master's degree and who have completed 3,500 hours of clinical work and supervision may apply for an LCSW in Oregon
In Oregon, there are four different types of social work licenses: a registered baccalaureate social worker (RBSW), a licensed master social worker (LMSW), a certified social work associate (CSWA), and a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Individuals who have a bachelor's degree in social work can apply for their RBSW. Professionals who have master's degrees in social work but who have not yet completed the 3,500 hours of clinical social work can apply for their LMSW. Similarly, individuals with a master's degree in social work who have not yet completed their clinical hours can apply for a CSWA; unlike the LMSW, this license does not require renewal. Professionals who have a master's degree and who have completed 3,500 hours of clinical work and supervision may apply for an LCSW in Oregon.
While earning your social work degree in Oregon, keep in mind that there is a difference between licensure and certification. While a license is required in order to become a social worker, certification is often a voluntary pursuit, completed after you have received your master's degree and licensure. Certification demonstrates that you have participated in professional development and other training to obtain specialized knowledge in your field, such as gerontology social work or school social work. While many organizations offer various certifications for social workers, the list below includes certifications offered by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
Registered Baccalaureate Social Worker (RBSW)
Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
Clinical Social Work Associate (CSWA)
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Advanced Practice Specialty Credentials
Certified Social Work Case Manager (C-SWCM)
Certified Advanced Children, Youth, and Family Social Worker (C-ACYFSW)
Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Social Worker (C-CATODSW)
Clinical Social Worker in Gerontology (CSW-G)
Certified School Social Work Specialist (C-SSWS)
Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Social Worker (ACHP-SW)
Choosing the right social work program can be a challenging decision. Be sure to consider the cost and location of social work programs in Oregon, how long the program will take, and which specializations the program offers. When researching program costs, it's important to carefully consider what you can afford. It's also important to keep in mind that online social work programs in Oregon are typically cheaper than on-campus programs, because most online coursework allows you to save money on room and board and on commuting.
When considering program locations, be sure to research whether or not the area has nearby resources such as internship opportunities. If you live outside of Oregon, research whether or not the program prepares you to meet the specific social work licensing requirements in your state. When considering program length, keep in mind that most social work undergraduate programs take four years, while master's programs take one to three years. Research whether or not the online program has special features that might affect its length, such as self-paced courses, summer classes, or internship requirements. Below is more information about online social work programs in Oregon, and how online coursework may affect license requirements and accreditation.
Can You Earn a Social Work Degree Online in Oregon?
There are several online social work degrees in Oregon. Online social work courses typically present the same material and are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus programs. Most social work master's degrees require in-person internships or field placements, as well as occasional meetings with faculty and peers. Some programs feature self-paced learning, in which you can complete work on your own schedule. Other programs are cohort-based, which means that you begin and end the program on set dates and move through the curriculum with a group of your peers.
Students who earn an MSW online receive the same education as students who earn MSW degrees on-campus. They are still eligible to find supervised social work positions after graduating, take the ASWB, and eventually apply for their social work licenses. Online social work programs in Oregon should be accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, which is a regional accrediting agency.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Social Worker in Oregon?
There are several program characteristics that can affect the length of an online degree, including whether or not the program involves self-paced or cohort learning, whether or not students need to take summer classes, and if an accelerated schedule is available. The type of internship or field work required will also affect the program length; most MSW degrees require students to complete at least one to two semesters of field work. For doctoral degrees in social work, the length of time it takes you to complete your research and dissertation may vary and will consequently also determine the program length.
On average, it takes about two years to complete an online associate degree in social work, four years to complete an online bachelor's degree, and one to three years to complete a master's in social work. It takes about three to four years to complete a doctoral degree in social work.
How Much Does a Social Work Program Cost in Oregon?
The cost of earning a degree in social work varies widely. Depending on the school you attend, the tuition for four years of undergraduate studies generally costs between $5,000 and $200,000. Tuition for one to three years of graduate studies costs between $40,000 and $60,000. Most doctoral programs are fully funded through research positions or teaching.
Some MSW programs require applicants to take the GRE, which costs $160. The ASWB, which most social work professionals take after completing their master's degrees and several hours of supervised social work, costs $230 for the bachelor's or master's exam. The advanced generalist or clinical ASWB exam costs $260.
To maintain your LCSW license in Oregon, you must complete 40 credit hours of continuing education every two years. To maintain an LMSW license, you must complete 30 hours every two years, and to maintain a RBSW license, you must complete 20 hours every two years. The cost of continuing education classes varies depending on the university and the specific class.
Directory of Social Work Programs in Oregon
Social work is a diverse industry. Professionals in this field work in schools, hospitals, prisons, corporate offices, and other settings to help individuals of all ages from many different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Successful social workers are typically interested in and passionate about people and social justice. Most of these professionals are empathetic and culturally and socially aware. Successful social workers also understand how to stay calm and effectively manage their own and others' stress in challenging situations. Below are five occupations for which a degree in social work can prepare you.
Licensed Clinical Social WorkerThese professionals identify and help individuals and communities in need. They refer clients to community and mental health resources, respond to crisis situations, develop and manage programs, and provide counseling services. They must have a master's degree in social work.
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health CounselorsThese professionals need at least a bachelor's degree, although many employers require a master's degree in social work or a related field. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors specialize in evaluating clients who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or other behavioral issues. They may refer clients to outside resources and treatment, or counsel clients themselves.
Social and Human Service AssistantsSocial and human service assistants must have at least a high school diploma, although some employers require them to hold an associate or bachelor's degree. These professionals often assist social workers in researching community resources, completing paperwork, and helping clients.
Probation OfficerProbation officers evaluate and support individuals who have broken the law. They connect people in custody or who are on parole with resources such as substance abuse and behavioral counseling and job training. Probation officers need a bachelor's degree in social work, criminal justice, or behavioral sciences.
Social and Community Service ManagersSocial and community service managers typically need a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field; some employers require a master's degree. These professionals work with community members to develop and maintain programs for children, the homeless, veterans, older adults, and many other populations.
Median Salaries and Employment For Social Work Specialties in Oregon
|Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Child, Family, and School Social Workers||3,440||$51,110|
|Healthcare Social Workers||1,480||$70,190|
|Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers||2,170||$49,580|
|Social Workers, All Other||2,020||$53,370|
Paying for an undergraduate or graduate education can feel overwhelming. However, there are many scholarships, grants, and other sources of financial aid available to college students. Out of these scholarships, many are specific to students who are pursuing social work degrees or who are attending college in Oregon. Below is a list of four scholarships for which social work students in Oregon are eligible.
Social Work Scholarships
Judith Holm Memorial Award $1,000
Shelomo Osman Memorial Award $500
American School Health Association Scholarship $250
- Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers This state board oversees social workers in Oregon. The board provides information about licensing requirements, continuing education, supervision guidelines, and other rules and regulations. The board aims to protect and support the public and social workers by regulating professionals.
- National Association of Social Workers Oregon Chapter The NASW Oregon Chapter supports social workers in Oregon and promotes diversity, cultural awareness, inclusion, and social justice. The organization's website provides job boards for social work positions and information about continuing education opportunities, workshops, and conferences.
- Oregon School Social Work Association OSSWA is a network of school social workers that aims to help these professionals connect and feel supported. The organization promotes social justice awareness in schools, hosts annual workshops and conferences, and advocates for school social workers.
- Oregon Research Institute While not dedicated exclusively to social workers, ORI is dedicated to supporting psychology and social work-related research regarding human behavior, quality of life, and health. ORI conducts research and publishes articles and other information.
- Oregon Hospice and Palliative Care Association This association facilitates a network of hospice and palliative care providers to support communication and collaboration across the state. The association also promotes research and advocates for standards in this field. The OHPCA's website features a job board and links to state resources.