According to the U.S. Department of Labor, licensed counselors will grow faster than many other professions in the years ahead. The specific requirements to become a Licensed Professional Counselor vary from state to state. However, all states have similar expectations, including an advanced degree. You will also need to complete a certain amount of supervised practice to get your license.
Things You'll Need
- Master's or doctoral degree in counseling
- Passing scores on exams
- Supervised practice
Earn a professional degree. Before you can get licensed as an LPC, you need to earn a degree in counseling at the master's or doctoral level from an accredited university. In addition to coursework on counseling methods and human behavior, your degree should also have involved an internship. If you are completing your degree in a state other than where you intend to practice, check with the latter state's board of mental health professionals to ensure your coursework complies with its requirements.
Pass exams. At a minimum, you will have to pass the National Counselor Exam. Some states also require you to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam, the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Exam, or a jurisprudence exam regarding the ethics of the profession and the mental health laws of your state. Passing scores for the national exams are calculated by the National Board for Certified Counselors, which administers the exams. The states determine passing scores for their jurisprudence exams.
Get your temporary license. In most states, you will receive a temporary LPC license after meeting the educational requirements and passing the required exams. You usually cannot renew this license. In Texas, for example, the license is issued for five years. Check with your state's board of mental health professionals to determine how long your temporary license will last.
Complete supervised practice. Once you receive your temporary license, you can begin your supervised practice. The average amount of required supervised practice is 3,000 hours over a two-year period. Some states require less. For example, Oregon only requires 2,400 hours. Texas requires 3,000 hours but those hours must be completed before your temporary license expires in five years. In North Carolina, two-thirds of your supervised practice must be direct counseling, at least 100 hours must be clinical, and you must practice between 8 to 40 hours per week.
Tips & Warnings
- You can find study guides and testing information for the national exams by visiting the NBCC's website.
- You must renew your license regularly. Renewal rules vary from state to state but usually require continuing education. In Oregon, you need to renew your license every two years. You must complete 40 hours of additional education during that time, including six hours in ethics. You can earn your 40 hours through academic courses, seminars, conferences, supervising other interns, publication in journals, and professional presentations.
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