Program FAQs

What are the students like?

They range in age from high schoolers to grandparents. Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) has students from around Washington, from across the United States, and from nations such as Japan, El Salvador, Gambia, Somalia and Sweden. Their backgrounds are pretty varied but they come with a shared set of values and a shared interest in working to give everyone a fair opportunity to live a healthy, productive life.

We asked our students to describe themselves and their classmates. “We are people people. Human-oriented. People who want to help others.” “We want to make a difference in someone’s life. We have a passion to help, to contribute.” “We’re open minded.” “We’re working as a group towards a common goal, not just focusing on yourself. We treat each other with respect because we’re all here for the same goal. We’re like a family working to better society.”

What are the teachers like?

Ask our students. They told us: “We came to LWTech to be one-on-one with our professors.” “The faculty are real, genuine, and honest. They tell you about their life experience and give you advice.” “They’re compassionate and personable; they want to help you.” “Your instructor has time to meet you.”

Both of the Behavioral and Social Services faculty members come with decades of real-world work experience, and a passion for sharing it.

How can I fit in school along with work and my family?

School is a real commitment, but not the only one our students make. LWTech students are hardworking people, most of whom are balancing school with work and family.

One way we help is by scheduling classes carefully. LWTech makes sure none of our program classes will conflict with one another, and all of our classes can be completed in the morning. Often our students can schedule all of their classes on two to three mornings per week, leaving them the rest of the week to schedule their other responsibilities.

We also have our own on-campus child care services, in addition to a library, tutoring centers, cafeteria, bookstore and more.

How long will it take to get my degree?

That depends on a few things: do you already have college credits? Are you able to enter straight into college-level English and Math courses? Are you attending part-time or full-time? Will you be attending school during the summer?

Many students complete our Certificate of Proficiency in four quarters. They’re done one year after starting. Many students earn an AAS degree in Behavioral and Social Services in seven quarters. They graduate less than two years after starting.

Our commitment is to giving you the support you need to succeed, including personal attention from your instructors and tutoring assistance as needed. Together we can get you your degree.

Can I count my credits from another school?

Often you can. Enrollment Services staff can examine your transcript from another institution (even ones outside the US) to see whether those courses satisfy LWTech's General Education Requirements

Students can also get credit for some Advanced Placement classes, CLEP work or military training. Please contact our Enrollment Services department directly to discuss your circumstances.

When are classes?

We have set up a class schedule that will get our students through the program as quickly and as simply as possible. All of our required courses and electives for the Behavioral and Social Services associates degree are available weekday mornings. Behavioral Healthcare bachelor’s degree courses are held weekday evenings, online, or Saturday mornings (senior year).

All our students still have access to the full catalog of LWTech classes, including evening, weekend and online classes as well.

Will you help me find an internship?

Yes. The BAS in Behavioral Healthcare program has established relationships with local behavioral healthcare organizations. We place students in internships based on their personal interests.

Can you really get a job with this degree?

Yes. In fact social service jobs are growing, fast. The state expects there to be 21% more social service jobs in 2023 than in 2013. The more education an individual has the more jobs they become eligible for. Individuals with AAS in Behavioral and Social Services degrees are hard at work (and well employed) in our schools, hospitals, day centers, community centers, shelters, housing projects and more.

Many Behavioral and Social Services graduates will go on to get a 4-year degree, to give themselves more options. We have transfer agreements in place with a variety of local colleges for that reason.

Does social service work pay?

Contrary to popular opinion social service wages are actually above average. While we go into this work to help make others’ lives better we can make a reasonable salary doing so.

I’m not sure this is the program for me. What if I’m also interested in nursing or another type of helping?

Consider yourself normal. Most of us are weighing several options, because there are lots of ways we can make a difference in the world. The best way may be to try us out for one eleven-week course. Take our Introduction to Behavioral and Social Services course and you’ll get a real taste of what the program is all about, with a look inside each of the courses and a chance to meet all of our faculty. By the end of that first course you’ll likely have a good understanding of who we are, what we offer, and whether it’s for you.

I’ve had my own history of using social services. Does that help? Do you take people like me?

You might be “one of us.” Many of us studying human services or working in the field came because of our own personal appreciation for those who made a difference in our lives or in our loved ones’ lives. We come from all walks of life with a lot of different experiences.

Some of us have learned by coming through the fire.

What if I have a disability or mental illness? What if I’m in recovery?

Having a disability, living with a mental illness, or being in recovery from an addiction by no means prevents us from being fabulous human service professionals. To the contrary it can add to our understanding and empathy. We welcome you and want a variety of people in our program.

One of the strengths of the people in our program is their resistance to labeling people, or trying to fit people into boxes. They resist seeing one aspect of our identity as definitive of us as a person. Working in social services means working with people and appreciating them as they are.

It also means exposing ourselves to the traumas they face. Studying social services requires sitting with and exploring controversial or painful subjects. Each of us should carefully consider whether this is the appropriate time for us to do so. 

In this program we do have to address difficult subjects. We will have to prepare ourselves to work with people who have been mistreated and those who mistreat others. Everyone is welcome here but students and prospective students should consider whether they are in a position currently to consider multiple perspectives on issues that may have touched them personally.

Behavioral and Social Services courses will challenge us intellectually, morally and ethically. We all come here to grow and LWTech does offer a supportive environment. If you have questions about whether this program is best for you please consider contacting the program faculty or LWTech’s Disability Support Services.

What if I’ve been convicted of a crime?

We understand that people make mistakes. And we certainly believe that people, all people, can change. Criminal history does not prohibit people from joining our program. It does not prevent most people from getting internships. It also does not prevent people from working in our profession. The state Department of Health and most social service agencies will consider applicants’ criminal histories on a case-by-case basis.

We do have some suggestions:

  • Be transparent with employers and the state. Tell the full truth on your applications. Be 100% up-front, including sharing whatever penalties you paid for it.
  • Get credentials. Earn a college degree and/or get a state-issued credential.
  • Volunteer for an organization. This can get you valuable experience and positive references.
  • Show evidence of change. Point out what is different about you/your life/your behavior from that time. Discuss the lessons you learned. Tell the story of your life since that time.
  • Point out the advantages of your various experiences. Include ways that you can better understand and serve their clients.
  • Apply for peer specialist positions.
  • Consider employment serving non-vulnerable adults.
  • Apply for work in a harm-reduction setting. They are likely to be open to second chances.
  • Apply for jobs that are desperate for staff. Be open to hard work, night shifts, and on-call work. You can work your way up from there.
  • Stay as long as possible in the jobs you get. Build a track record of stability. Earn strong references.
  • Consider trying to seal your juvenile records.
  • Try to get your record expunged, such as through a certificate of rehabilitation.

Traffic offenses are not a serious barrier for most non-driving jobs. Felony convictions are, of course, more serious than misdemeanors. It is harder (though not impossible) to hire folks that were convicted of murder, a sex offense, or armed robbery. Multiple convictions, too, are a larger barrier than single offenses. The passage of time helps; the longer it has been since your conviction, the easier it is for an agency to consider hiring you.

Will I be able to get into UW/another school with a degree from LWTech?

The community college allows students a local, affordable start. Upon completion of the Behavioral and Social Services AAS at LWTech, students may transfer to the following baccalaureate programs at junior status:

Graduates from our BAS in Behavioral Healthcare should be well prepared for Master’s degrees in social work, counseling, public health, and related fields. 

Can I talk to someone about this?

You bet. The you can contact the department chair, Rex Rempel, at (425) 739-8285 or

You can also contact our program’s Student Success Navigator Mony Loeum at (425) 739-8166 or email her at