How To Become a Social Worker in Alaska

Social work in Alaska is a rewarding career that directly benefits the lives of Alaskan residents. To become a social worker in Alaska, job seekers need to have a minimum of a Bachelor’s of Social Work (BSW) combined with a state-issued license. Social workers in Alaska often use technology to work with clients, because the population is spread widely across the state.

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Alaska Social Worker License Requirements

Alaska in 2011 had: 431 Licensed Clinical Social Workers, 134 Masters Level Social Workers, and 71 Licensed Bachelor Social Workers according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.1 All applicants licensed by exam must hold a social work degree, provide certified transcripts, and three references.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers in Alaska must hold a masters degree or doctorate degree from a school approved by the licensing board, pass the exam, and have 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.

Masters Level Social Workers need a masters degree in social work at a school approved by the licensing board, pass the exam, and be supervised by a LCSW.

Licensed Bachelor Social Workers need a bachelors degree from a state board approved school and a passing score on the licensing exam. The Licensed Bachelor Social Worker work must be supervised.

Applicants may apply to be licensed by credentials rather than exam. This requires proof of licensure from another state; passage of the licensing exam within the last two years before applying to Alaska, or verification of having worked 1,500 hours in the last five years, completion of continuing education requirements, and three board approved references.

First time license renewals must submit 45 hours of continuing education with six hours in substance abuse, three hours in professional ethics, and six hours of cross-cultural education relating to Native Alaskans. All future license renewals require 45 hours of continuing education with only three hours relating to Native Alaskans. All licenses expire on June 30th of even numbered years regardless of when issued. However, if the license is issued within 90 days of an expiration date then it will be issued through the next expiration cycle.
(Source: State of Alaska)

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Alaska Social Worker Salary and Job Outlook

Social workers in Alaska make a annual mean salary of $47,340 – or a hourly mean wage of $22.76 – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, in 2011 there were a total of 485 licensed clinical social workers in the state.2 Due to the dispersed population of the state, many social work positions in Alaska involve travel to rural communities and contact with clients using technology such as teleconferencing.

Social Worker Type Number Employed Average Annual Salary
Child, Family, and School Social Workers 1,050 $41,500
Healthcare Social Workers 430 $51,100
Mental Health and Substance Abuse 580 $42,580
Social Workers, All Other 230 $55,680

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2011.

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Top Ranked Social Work Programs in Alaska

US News Best Graduate Social Work Programs
University of Alaska; Anchorage #104

Social Work Programs in Alaska

University of Alaska – Anchorage
University of Alaska – Anchorage has a competitive program leading to a Master of Social Work degree. All courses are anchored in three knowledge categories: Theoretical and methodological knowledge, ethics, and professional development. The MSW is typically awarded after two years of full time study, although qualified applicants may be admitted to an advanced placement program whereby the MSW may be earned within one year of full time study. The MSW program can also be completed through distance learning. The Council on Social Work Education has awarded full accreditation to University of Alaska – Anchorage’s School of Social Work, which was founded in 1973 and continues to provide top quality social work instruction.

Alaska Pacific University
Alaska Pacific University offers a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology that prepares students to meet the requirements for certification and licensure in various social work fields. This selective MS degree requires students to complete core coursework, professional-level research, and a broad, clinical internship. Although many counseling methodologies are covered in the two years of study leading up to the award of this degree, the school encourages students to develop their own understanding and practice of social work.

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Alaska Social Work Career and Job Resources

Job seekers can find current social work openings with the state government at Workplace Alaska. The National Association of Social Workers has an active job board which includes postings from Alaska.

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Schools with Social Work Programs in Alaska

In Alaska, both the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Anchorage offer undergraduate social work degrees.

Social Work Programs and Schools in Alaska and Online

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Additional Resources

National Association of Social Workers, Alaska Chapter
University of Alaska Anchorage
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
Workplace Alaska

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/2010/may/oes_ak.htm
2. State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development: http://labor.alaska.gov/research/dlo/socialwk.htm

Page edited by Charles Sipe.

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