How To Become A Licensed Professional Counselors

Know what it takes to become a licensed professional counselor. Here, we list counseling licensure requirements by state.

Updated August 19, 2022

How To Become A Licensed Professional Counselors

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Counseling Licensure by State

Counselors positively impact people's lives. They help clients overcome issues and provide them with outside resources. Counselors need education and training to do their job well. Top counseling programs prepare enrollees to enter the field. These programs also play a significant role in each state's licensure process.

This page discusses becoming a licensed professional counselor and counseling license by state requirements. Information for each state includes a link to its licensure board. Please confirm the information in this article with a state board. Counseling licensure requirements may have changed since this article's publication.

Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor

A licensed professional counselor (LPC) performs many duties, such as leading one-on-one and group sessions. They use different therapy techniques to help clients identify and resolve problems. However, they may sometimes refer clients to a licensed therapist or psychologist. The profession also involves professional development (PD). LPCs take PD to learn the latest best practices.

LPCs can increase their salary potential by becoming board certified. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) awards the National Certified Counselor (NCC) to professionals with a master's degree, license, and two years of work experience. NCCs may go further by earning a specialty certification in one of three areas, including school counseling and addiction.

Steps to earn a counseling license vary by state. Candidates typically register with their state board and then complete a criminal background check. They then pass a national exam and a state-specific exam. The latter assesses knowledge of state laws and ethics. LPCs can keep their license active by taking PD classes and submitting renewal paperwork.

Counseling Licensing Requirements by State

A C D F G H I K L M N O P R S T U V W

Alabama Counseling License

Earning a state counseling license in Alabama involves completing a master's degree from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). LPC and associated licensed counselor (ALC) candidates work under a licensed counselor for at least 3,000 hours. They then pass NBCC's National Counselor Examination (NCC), a 200-question, multiple-choice test.

Renewal requirements for ALCs include two hours of ethics coursework annually. LPCs must complete six hours.

Alaska Counseling License

Aspiring LPCs in Alaska need a master's degree requiring at least 60 credits. The curriculum should follow eight core areas. Graduates spend two years or 3,000 hours in a supervised work setting. They must spend 1,000 of these hours helping clients directly.

Candidates meeting the education and experience requirements can take the NCE exam. Alaska-specific PD requirements include at least three PD hours in ethics. LPCs may complete half of their PD by taking online classes.

Arizona Counseling License

Arizona professionals select between the LPC and licensed associate counselor (LAC). Education requirements for both tracks include a 60-credit, CACREP-accredited master's degree. Graduates then spend 3,200 hours working under an LPC or LAC. Half of these hours must involve direct client contact.

Arizona's counseling licensure requirements let candidates select from three exams, including the NCE. Renewal requirements vary between practicing counselors and supervisors. Supervisors take the same classes but need more hours.

Arkansas Counseling License

Arkansas uses the LAC as an entry-level state counseling license for recent graduates with a master's. Becoming an LAC also involves passing the NCE and a state-specific oral examination. LACs then spend 3,000 hours in a supervised work environment. Arkansas then lets them apply for the LPC.

Like many states, Arkansas requires three PD hours in ethics for licensure renewal. LACs and LPCs can earn other PD hours by taking classes or writing journal articles.

California Counseling License

Prospective counselors comparing counseling licenses by state should note California's many requirements. A master's program must meet eight curriculum and experience criteria. Recent graduates work as unlicensed professional clinical counselor interns (PCCIs) for 3,000 hours. PCCIs help clients, attend conferences, and perform tests.

PCCIs who pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) become licensed professional clinical counselors (LPCCs). LPCCs can maintain their license by earning 18-36 PD credits every two years.

Colorado Counseling License

Professionals with a CACREP-accredited master's degree first work as licensed professional counselor candidates. Colorado gives candidates two years to complete 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. Candidates may use teaching experience to satisfy up to 600 hours. They then take the NCE and the Colorado Jurisprudence Exam. Those who pass become an LPC.

Licensure renewal requirements include 40 PD hours during each renewal period. LPCs must also submit a practice survey and personal learning goals.

Connecticut Counseling License

Counseling licensure requirements in Connecticut include a 60-credit master's in counseling or a related field. Graduates then complete 3,000 hours of work experience under a Connecticut LPC. They must complete 100 hours under direct supervision. The state lets candidates take the NCE or the NCMHCE.

LPCs can renew their license annually by earning at least 15 PD hours. The state requires one hour of instruction in cultural competencies. Other approved activities include leading a PD class.

Delaware Counseling License

Earning a counseling license in Delaware requires completing a 48-credit master's in mental health from an accredited institution. Graduates work as a licensed associate counselor of mental health (LACMH) for two years or 3,200 hours. They must spend half of this time under direct supervision.

LACMHs must pass the NCE or NCMHCE to become a licensed professional counselor of mental health (LPCMH). LPCMHs complete 40 PD hours every two years to maintain their license.

Florida Counseling License

Florida professionals earn a counseling license by completing a 60-credit, CACREP-accredited master's program. Licensure candidates with a related degree may qualify if their program meets specific criteria. Master's programs must include a 1,000-hour practicum. Licensure candidates then undergo additional supervised training before taking the NCMHCE. Florida does not accept the NCE.

Licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs) can renew their license every other year by earning 34 PD credits. Some PD classes must cover domestic violence, medical errors, and qualified supervisor training.

Georgia Counseling License

Licensure candidates with a master's work as an associate professional counselor for up to five years. They complete 2,400 hours of supervised training during this time. Workers meeting the experience requirement must pass the NCE to become an LPC.

Renewing a state counseling license in Georgia involves completing 35 hours of PD every two years. Five hours must come from classes covering professional ethics. LPCs split the remaining 30 hours between core classes and electives.

Hawaii Counseling License

A 48-credit master's degree qualifies graduates to start the licensure process in Hawaii. A program must include two semester-long internships with 300 hours of client contact. Graduates then complete an additional 3,000 hours of supervised work experience. Hawaii accepts only the NCE. Those who pass become LMHCs.

LMHCs renew their license every three years by paying a fee.

Idaho Counseling License

Idaho offers counselors an initial and an advanced license. Both require a master's degree featuring a six-semester practicum experience. Aspiring LPCs must complete 1,000 hours of supervised experience and take the NCE. LPCs with an additional two years of training may work as licensed clinical professional counselors (LCPCs) if they pass the NCMHCE.

LPCs and LCPCs take 20 hours of PD every licensure renewal cycle. Three hours must cover professional ethics.

Illinois Counseling License

Entry-level counselors with a master's degree qualify for the LPC if they pass the NCE. LPCs with two years of work experience pass the NCMHCE to work as LCPCs. LPCs with a doctoral degree need only one year of additional experience.

LPCs and LCPCs renew their license by completing 30 PD hours every two years. LCPCs in their first renewal cycle must also undertake 18 hours of clinical supervision training.

Indiana Counseling License

Indiana counselors begin their career by earning a master's degree from a CACREP-accredited program. The program must include a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. Graduates take the NCE and apply for the licensed mental health counselor associate (LMHCA). LMHCAs complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience over 21-48 months. LMHCAs then take the NCMHCE. Those who pass earn the LMHC.

LMHCs earn 40 PD credits every two-year renewal cycle. Approved activities include attending workshops, taking computer classes, or completing a home-study program.

Iowa Counseling License

Iowa offers the temporary licensed mental health counselor (T-LMHC) for workers who graduated from a CACREP-accredited master's program. T-LMHCs complete two years of supervised work experience. This experience must include 200 hours of clinical rotations. T-LMHCs meeting this requirement take the NCE or NCMHCE. Passing either test lets professionals work as LMHCs.

LMHC licensure renewal requirements include specific classes in ethics. LMHCs also take PD classes aligning with their specialization, such as children, families, or schools.

Kansas Counseling License

Kansas licensure candidates need a master's degree requiring at least 60 credits. They must also pass the NCE. Kansas LPCs then complete 4,000 hours of work experience. An LCPC must directly supervise 100 of these hours. Becoming an LCPC also requires passing the NCMHCE.

LPCs and LCPCs need 30 PD hours to renew their license. PD requirements include three hours in ethics and six hours in diagnosis and treatment. Publications and self-directed learning projects count toward PD.

Kentucky Counseling License

Aspiring Kentucky LPCCs must graduate from a CACREP-accredited master's program that includes a 400-hour practicum or internship. Graduates become licensed professional counselor associates (LPCAs). LPCAs must complete 4,000 hours in a supervised clinical setting. They can then become an LPCC by passing the NCE or NCMHCE.

LPCCs need 15 PD hours annually to maintain their license. Six hours must relate to suicide assessment. Kentucky also requires PD classes in domestic violence and law.

Louisiana Counseling License

Counseling licensure requirements in Louisiana include holding a master's degree in counseling or a related field. Candidates need a "C" minimum in all classes. Graduates work as provisional licensed professional counselors (P-LPCs) when completing 3,000 hours of supervised experience. They must work 1,900 hours directly with clients. P-LPCs who meet the experience requirement and pass the NCE or NCMHCE become LPCs.

LPCs renew their license by completing 40 PD hours every two years. Louisiana requires coursework in diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and ethics.

Maine Counseling License

Maine offers the LPC and LCPC. Recent graduates with a master's take the NCE to work as a conditional LPC or LCPC. Professionals use their conditional license to satisfy Maine's experience requirement. LPCs need 2,000 hours and LCPCs need 3,000 hours. LPCs do not take an additional exam. However, LCPCs must pass the NCMHCE.

Maine LPCs and LCPCs can renew their license by completing 55 PD hours every two years. Maine requires at least four hours in professional ethics.

Maryland Counseling License

Maryland counselors select between the LCPC and the licensed graduate professional counselor (LGPC). Both licenses require a 60-credit master's degree with coursework in specific areas. Licensure candidates also need 3,000 hours of clinical experience. Workers with a doctorate in counseling complete only 2,000 hours.

Aspiring LCPCs and LGPCs take the NCE. LGPC candidates must also pass the Maryland Law Test. Professionals can renew their counseling license by completing 40 PD hours every two years.

Massachusetts Counseling License

Massachusetts LMHCs need a master's degree from a regionally accredited university. Approved counseling programs require a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. Graduates complete 3,360 hours of supervised clinical experience before passing the NCMHCE.

LMHCs renew their license by earning 30 PD credits every two years. The renewal deadline falls on Dec. 31 in odd-numbered years. Approved PD providers include the Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association. LMHCs may earn some PD credits online.

Michigan Counseling License

Michigan counselors start their career by graduating from a master's program requiring a 600-hour internship. This degree qualifies graduates to work as a limited license professional counselor (LLPC). LLPCs spend 2-3 years satisfying the state's 3,000-hour experience requirement. Workers with this experience can become LPCs by passing the NCE and a state-specific exam on human trafficking.

Michigan does not require LPCs to take PD for renewal purposes. LPCs pay a fee to renew their license every three years.

Minnesota Counseling License

Minnesota LPCs must graduate from a CACREP-accredited master's program. The curriculum should align with the state's 10 required content areas. Graduates work for 2,000 hours in a supervised setting before taking the NCE. LPCs can advance their career by becoming an LPCC. Doing so requires an additional 4,000 hours of experience and the NCMHCE.

Unlike other states, Minnesota lets LPCs and LPCCs renew their counseling license by taking graduate-level classes from a regionally accredited school. Counselors must earn 40 PD credits each renewal cycle.

Mississippi Counseling License

Mississippi P-LPCs need a master's degree in counselor education or a related field. They must also pass the NCE. P-LPCs then work for 3,000 hours in a clinical setting. They must work directly with clients for 1,200 of those hours. Counselors satisfying the experience requirement pass the NCMHCE to become an LPC.

Mississippi LPCs need 24 PD hours to renew their license. Six of these hours must come from classes on ethics. Approved PD providers include the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

Missouri Counseling License

Missouri provisional licensed professional counselors (PLPCs) need a master's degree and must pass the NCE. This counseling license lets them work in a clinical setting for the required 3,000 hours. PLPCs may work full or part time. PLPCs do not take an additional exam to upgrade their license to LPC.

License expiration dates vary by counselor. However, all LPCs need at least 40 PD hours for renewal. Professionals may earn up to 20 hours by completing self-directed classes.

Montana Counseling License

Montana LCPCs need a 60-credit master's degree and 3,000 hours of supervised experience. Licensure candidates may complete 1,500 hours while still in school. Other experience requirements include extensive one-on-one contact with clients. Montana requires the NCE.

LCPCs complete 20 PD hours annually to renew their license. The state uses many PD requirements, such as two hours in suicide prevention. Other classes must meet one of eight criteria, including professional conduct, scope and practice, or advances in the profession.

Nebraska Counseling License

Nebraska residents with a master's degree start their counseling career as a provisional licensed mental health practitioner (PLMHP). PLMHPs complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience before pursuing one of three professional licenses. Each license requires either the NCE or the NCMHCE.

Nebraska counseling licenses expire on Sept. 1 in even-numbered years. Professionals can maintain their license with 32 PD hours. Some counselors must take classes in major mental health disorders or professional ethics.

Nevada Counseling License

Nevada PLMHPs must graduate from a master's program requiring a 300-hour supervised internship. Professionals then complete 3,000 hours of work experience before taking the NCE or NCMHCE. Passing either exam lets them work as LPCs or licensed mental health practitioners (LMHPs).

Nevada uses the same PD requirements for counselors and therapists. LMHPs and LPCs must earn 40 PD credits every two years. The state requires coursework in suicide prevention and ethics.

New Hampshire Counseling License

Aspiring New Hampshire licensed clinical mental health counselors (LCMHCs) must graduate from a 60-credit, CACREP-accredited master's program. However, New Hampshire waives this requirement for graduates whose degree meets three specific criteria. Licensure candidates complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience before passing the NCMHCE.

LCMHCs renew their license by earning 40 PD credits every two years. New Hampshire classifies PD as Category A or Category B. Professionals complete PD in both categories to renew.

New Jersey Counseling License

New Jersey LACs need a master's or doctoral degree meeting nine curriculum criteria, such as appraisal of individuals, social and cultural foundations, and research. The state requires LACs to complete 2-3 years of supervised experience depending on their degree level. Experienced LACs then become LPCs by passing the NCE.

LPCs must earn 40 PD credits every two years to renew their license. New Jersey does not limit the amount of PD professionals complete online.

New Mexico Counseling License

New Mexico requires licensed counselors to hold a master's in counseling or a related subject. Approved master's programs require 48 credits or more. Graduates take the NCE and work as LMHCs for two years to meet the state's experience requirement. They must directly work with clients for 1,000 hours. LMHCs with two years of experience pass the NCMHCE to become LPCCs.

New Mexico LPCCs complete 40 PD hours each renewal cycle. Required PD classes include professional ethics.

New York Counseling License

Earning a state counseling license in New York involves graduating from a 60-credit master's program. Graduates apply for a limited permit. This permit lets them complete the 3,000 hours of supervised experience the LMHC requires. Aspiring LMHCs then pass the NCMHCE.

New York LMHCs renew their license every three years by completing 36 PD credits. This requirement does not apply to LMHCs in their first renewal cycle. Approved PD classes include law, ethics, and recordkeeping.

North Carolina Counseling License

Graduates with a master's degree take the NCE or NCMHCE to become licensed clinical mental health counselor associates (LCMHCAs). North Carolina also requires a state-specific law exam. Professionals work for 3,000 hours under an LCMHC. LCMHCAs with this experience do not take another exam to become LCMHCs.

North Carolina requires 40 PD hours every two years. These classes include 3-5 hours in ethics. LCMHCs select from many approved PD providers, such as the NBCC.

North Dakota Counseling License

New professionals with a master's degree pass the NCE and work as licensed associate professional counselors (LAPCs). LAPCs working toward the LPC need 500 supervised work hours, while aspiring LPCCs complete 3,000 hours. LPCCs must also pass the NCMHCE.

LPCs renew their license every two years by earning 50 PD credits. One credit equals a 50-minute lesson. LPCCs need 60 PD credits from approved providers. Like many states, North Dakota requires PD in ethics.

Ohio Counseling License

Graduates from a CACREP-accredited master's program work as a counselor trainee while meeting Ohio's 3,000-hour experience requirement. Candidates complete this experience over at least two calendar years. They become LPCs by passing the NCE. Ohio also offers the LPCC. This license requires the NCMHCE.

Ohio LPCs and LPCCs maintain their license with 30 PD hours every two years. Approved PD class topics include research and evaluation, abnormal behavior, and methods of intervention.

Oklahoma Counseling License

Oklahoma LPC candidates need a master's degree meeting at least five of 16 curriculum requirements. Candidates then complete 3,000 supervised work hours before taking the NCE. Those who pass the NCE earn the LPC.

Oklahoma LPCs renew their license annually. Counselors meet the 20-hour PD requirement by taking classes in counseling ethics and supervision. LPCs may take some PD classes online. As of March 2022, Oklahoma charges an $80 renewal fee.

Oregon Counseling License

Oregon LPCs must graduate from a CACREP-accredited program requiring at least two credits in diagnosing mental disorders. Licensure candidates then complete a 2,400-hour internship. They may complete 400 hours during the master's program. Oregon lets candidates take the NCE or NCMHCE.

LPC licenses remain valid for two years. LPCs can renew their license by completing 40 PD hours. LPCs in their first licensure renewal cycle complete only 20. Oregon requires PD on state laws and ethics.

Pennsylvania Counseling License

Pennsylvania residents can qualify for the LPC by earning a master's degree requiring at least 60 credits. Candidates' programs must include a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship. LPC candidates then spend three years in a supervised work environment. Professionals with a doctorate need only two years of experience. Pennsylvania lets test-takers select from seven licensure exams, such as the NCE.

Pennsylvania lets LPCs complete 15 of the 30 required PD credits by taking virtual classes. Approved PD providers include the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association.

Rhode Island Counseling License

Rhode Island LCMHCs need a master's or doctoral degree requiring at least 60 graduate credits. Licensure candidates must earn at least 12 of these credits by completing a practicum. They meet the state's experience requirement over two years and take the NCMHCE.

All Rhode Island LCMHCs must renew their license by July 1 in even-numbered years. They do so by completing 40 PD hours. Rhode Island lets LCMHCs complete some hours through distance and home learning.

South Carolina Counseling License

South Carolina lets aspiring LPCs with a master's degree work as professional counselor interns (LPC/Is). LPC/Is work for two years or 1,500 hours in a supervised clinical environment. All of this time must involve helping clients in group or one-on-one sessions. South Carolina accepts NCE and NCMHCE results.

LPCs complete 40 PD hours every two years to maintain their license. LPCs find approved PD providers by visiting the South Carolina Labor Licensing Regulation website.

South Dakota Counseling License

South Dakota offers two counseling licenses, the LPC and LPC-mental health (LPC-MH). LPC candidates need a master's degree and 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. Professionals meeting these two requirements take the NCE to become LPCs. LPCs with additional experience pass the NCMHCE to become an LPC-MH.

South Dakota counseling licenses last two years and expire Dec. 31. The state requires 40 PD hours for renewal. LPCs and LPC-MHs may complete some PD hours online.

Tennessee Counseling License

Tennessee licensed counselors need a master's degree with at least nine credits in treating mental disorders. Graduates work as temporary licensed counselors for two years as they meet the state's experience requirement. Professionals then take the NCE or NCMHCE to become LPCs. Tennessee also offers the LPC with a mental health service provider designation (LPC/MHSP).

Tennessee uses different PD requirements for LPCs and LPC/MHSPs. However, professionals in both groups must complete at least 10 PD hours annually.

Texas Counseling License

Texas requires a master's degree in counseling with a 300-hour practicum. Graduates work as licensed professional counselor interns (LPC-Is) for up to five years as they meet the state's 3,000-hour experience requirement. LPC-Is must pass the NCE and a jurisprudence exam to advance to the LPC.

LPCs complete 24 PD hours every two years to renew their license. Licensure renewal dates depend on counselors' birth month. Texas permits home study and online PD classes.

Utah Counseling License

Licensed associate clinical mental health counselors (LACMHCs) must graduate from a 60-credit master's program requiring an internship and practicum. LACMHCs work for 4,000 hours in a supervised clinical setting. LACMHCs take the NCE or NCMHCE to become LCMHCs. Utah also requires a state-specific law exam.

Utah requires 40 PD hours for each two-year renewal cycle. Acceptable activities include seminars, conferences, and home study. LCMHCs may complete up to 10 hours online.

Vermont Counseling License

Aspiring Vermont LCMHCs need a master's degree in counseling or a related field. Licensure candidates' programs must include a 700-hour supervised internship. The state also requires 3,000 postgraduate experience hours. Vermont accepts NCE and NCMHCE results no more than five years old.

LCMHCs renew their license by Jan. 31 in odd-numbered years. Requirements include 40 PD hours. LCMHCs may earn 20 hours through online classes or other distance education. Approved PD classes cover theory and practice, family therapy, and clinical mental health.

Virginia Counseling License

Virginia licensed counselors hold a master's degree from a CACREP-accredited program. These programs require a 600-hour internship. Graduates complete 3,400 hours of supervised work experience. They must work directly with clients for 2,000 hours. Licensure candidates then pass the NCMHCE to earn the LPC.

LPCs renew their license annually by completing at least 20 PD hours. Virginia lets them earn PD through online and distance learning. Professionals must submit renewal paperwork by June 30.

Washington Counseling License

Washington LMHCAs need a master's in mental health counseling. This license lets them complete the state's 3,000-hour experience requirement. Professionals spend nearly half of this time in individual and group counseling sessions. Washington lets LMHCAs take the NCE or NCMHCE to advance to the LMHC.

LMHCs need 36 PD hours annually to renew their license. Licensure renewal dates depend on LMHCs' birthdays. LMHCs may complete up to 26 PD hours online.

West Virginia Counseling License

West Virginia issues the P-LPC to professionals who graduated from a CACREP-accredited master's program. P-LPCs use their license to work for 3,000 hours in a supervised setting. Workers with a doctorate complete only 1,500 hours. West Virginia lets LPC candidates take the NCE or NCMHCE.

NCE licenses expire on June 30 in odd-numbered years. Renewal requirements include 35 PD hours. Three hours must come from coursework in professional ethics.

Wisconsin Counseling License

Recent graduates with a master's degree work as LPC trainees for 3,000 hours. This experience must include at least 1,000 hours of face-to-face contact with clients. Aspiring LPCs must also pass the NCE and a Wisconsin law exam.

Wisconsin LPCs complete 30 PD hours every two-year renewal cycle. Professionals submit PD paperwork by the Feb. 28 deadline. The state lets LPCs earn some PD hours through online and home-study classes. Other approved activities include seminars and conferences.

Wyoming Counseling License

Wyoming provisional professional counselors (PPCs) must graduate from a CACREP-accredited master's program. Professionals with a master's in another subject qualify for the PPC if their program meets specific curriculum requirements. PPCs complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised work experience before taking the NCE or NCMHCE.

The LPC lasts two years and expires on counselors' birthdays. LPCs complete 45 PD hours to renew. Wyoming lets workers earn PD online or through other distance-learning classes.

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