Becoming a Counselor in Alaska
In Alaska, you can perform counseling-related roles with less than a graduate education, but licensure as a professional counselor will require at least a master's.
Most of the state's counselors are licensed by the Alaska Board of Professional Counselors. School counselors are certified by the Department of Education and Early Development.
Interested in taking the journey? Here are some tips to help you begin your preparation.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or High School Grad
Good grades as a high school student can help you get into an undergraduate counseling related program later. You don't have to choose any particular major, but some may give you better preparation. Psychology, Education, Counseling, Human Services and Sociology are popular undergraduate options. Volunteering early on may be helpful if you want to build counseling-related experience before applying to a professional counseling program. Read more about counseling related undergraduate programs.
An undergraduate degree in Psychology is a common route for students interested in later pursuing graduate studies in counseling.
If you want to become certified as a chemical dependency counselor or behavioral health counselor, you will apply to the Alaska Board for Behavioral Health Certification. You can achieve certification through work experience alone, but you will progress through the ranks quicker with a degree in a behavioral health field, for example, sociology, addictions, or human services. More importantly, this education may look good to the person doing the hiring!
If you have a Bachelor's Degree
Getting ready to apply to a professional program (Graduate program)? The admissions committee will look for commitment to the profession, which may be demonstrated by a resume, references, and/or personal statement. If you don't already have related work or volunteer experience, you may want to get some. Schools, crisis centers and human services agencies often look for volunteer services.
If you are pursuing licensure as a professional counselor (in mental health or a related field), you should enroll in a graduate program that is at least 60 semester hours. If your master's program is shorter, though, you will be able to take additional coursework to make up the difference.
Your program should be accredited by a CACREP or housed in a school that is regionally accredited. If it is not, or if it is not in counseling but in another related field, you will need to document that it met specific coursework requirements.
If you are pursuing licensure as a school counselor, you should enroll in a school counseling program at a regionally accredited institution. If you are a teacher, you can do an endorsement program. You will also need three semester hours of multicultural studies or cross-cultural communications and three semester hours of approved Alaska studies. If you did a program in the past, you will be expected to have six semester hours of coursework that was completed in the preceding five years.
You may be issued a provisional certificate if you have the basic preparatory program, but have not met all Alaska's specific coursework requirements.
A school counseling program does not have to be 60 semester hours, but there can be advantages to doing the extra coursework. Some people opt for dual counseling as a school guidance counselor and professional counselor.
To be licensed as a professional counselor, you will need to take and pass the National Counselor Examination, administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Alaska's school counselors are not required to take a licensing examination (unless opting for LPC licensing as well).
Licensure as a professional counselor also requires two years of supervised practice.
The LPC licensing process also entails a criminal background check and submission of letters of recommendation. On the licensing form, you’ll list your most recent five years’ of professional experience. If you’ve been licensed elsewhere, you’ll submit license verification. Check out the Licensed Professional Counselor requirements in Alaska where you will find application forms and additional information regarding the licensure to practice process.