Becoming a Counselor in Connecticut
Connecticut's counselors have master's level education. As a prospective counselor, you will not need to decide on a track until it's almost time for graduate school application. Your performance as an undergraduate, though, can make you a competitive candidate.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or Grad
You do not have to enroll in any particular program at the undergraduate level. If you want to be a school counselor and you select a major other than education or psychology (or something closely related), it's likely you will have a few prerequisites. Learn more about undergraduate preparation.
Graduate schools differ in their entrance requirements, but it's common to set a minimum GPA somewhere in the 2.5 to 3.0 range. This means that you will need to work hard during your undergraduate education to exceed the minimum graduate degree program requirements.
An undergraduate degree in Psychology is a common route for students interested in later pursuing graduate studies in counseling.
Your work experiences can strengthen your application, so you may want to take a volunteer or paid position in counseling at this stage. There are many technician level positions open to those without master's degrees.
An individual who opts to work with individuals with substance abuse problems may be able to count their pre-master's employment toward the experience requirement for a substance abuse counseling license. They will not, however, be able to count it toward the work experience requirement for the more comprehensive (and often more desirable) Licensed Professional Counselor credential.
If you currently have a Bachelor's Degree
Research programs and take steps to make yourself competitive. If you are pursuing certification as a school counselor and you're not already a certified teacher, you will need to take the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test (unless you have been granted a waiver based on other academic testing).
In order to be a school counselor (K-12), you will need to enroll in a master's program of at least 30 semester hours. Additionally, you will need at least 36 clock hours of special education training, which must include gifted learners as well as those who need special education services. If you aren't a teacher with at least 30 school months of experience, you will need a ten month internship as part of your program.
In order to be credentialing as a Licensed Professional Counselor, you will need a master's program in counseling or a related field. You will need 60 total hours of graduate coursework from regionally accredited institutions.
Licensing as a substance abuse counselor also requires a master's degree, but there are not as many specific coursework requirements. Your master's must include at least 18 semester hours of counseling-related coursework. If you are not already certified at a lower level, you will also need to document 300 hours of practical training and 360 hours of approved education (at least 240 of them related to alcohol and drug counseling).
Credentialing as a Licensed Professional Counselor requires 3,000 hours of supervised practice. There are specific supervision guidelines that must be followed.
Licensing as a substance abuse counselor will not necessarily require further supervised practice. You are expected to have a total of three years of employment and unpaid internship (with your master’s counting as one year).
If you are pursuing licensing as an LPC, you will need to take a licensing exam. You may opt for the National Counselor Exam. If your specialty is mental health counseling, you could opt instead for the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam. Both tests are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Learn more about the LPC requirements in CT here.
If you are pursuing substance abuse counseling licensing, you will take the International Certification Examination for Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Counselors (if you have not taken it already).