Become a Counselor in Georgia
To become a Licensed Professional Counselor, you will need a graduate degree. Certification as a school counselor also requires a master’s. In Georgia, you may work as a substance abuse counselor with less than a master’s, but a master’s will afford a higher level of credentialing.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or Graduate in Georgia
It's good to get some experience early. Your first career experience may be as a volunteer. You can visit the Volunteer: Georgia page on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development site to find links to service organizations.
Many students who enroll in counseling programs as graduate students have psychology or social science backgrounds; some schools do have a preference. Still you have a wide choice when it comes to your undergraduate major. Learn more about undergraduate preparation.
Good grades are imperative. Counseling programs may set a minimum GPA of 2.75 or so, but meeting the minimum does not ensure admission. Be aware that some programs are highly selective.
If You Already Have a Bachelor's Degree
Select a graduate program. Allow plenty of time for the application process. Expect to write an essay outlining your goals and formative experiences. As a prospective school counselor, you may need to take the GACE Basic Skills Assessment before admission.
If you are interested in becoming a professional counselor, you may opt for either a master's or doctoral program. If you get a doctoral degree, you will need substantially less supervised practice later to get full professional licensure. Some students begin as master's students, then continue through to get a doctoral degree in counseling or counseling psychology.
If you are interested in becoming a school counselor, enroll in a graduate program that meets 2009 CACREP standards. You will need a practicum of at least 700 hours (including at least 280 hours of direct service in school settings). You should have field experiences with children in each of the following grade bands: Pre-k -2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Georgia has some requirements beyond those specified by CACREP. You will need coursework in identifying and educating special needs students. When you successfully meet requirements, your school will recommend you for certification.
If you are certified as an educator in Georgia, you can get a nonrenewable certificate which will allow you to practice as a school counselor while you are enrolled in a school counseling program.
Give some thought to your future references while you’re completing your degree. You will need references from two of your teachers or supervisors when you apply for licensing as an associate professional counselor.
You may also wish to seek professional affiliations while you’re completing your degree. They aren't required for licensure, but can help you leverage your career. The Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia offers a number of resources to Georgia’s future LPCs. If you are in the school counseling track, you can become a student member of the Georgia School Counselors Association. The student rate is just $25.
If you are in a CACREP-accredited professional counseling program, you can take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) before you graduate. The exam is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
As a prospective school counselor, you will take the applicable GACE content exam.
If you are seeking licensure as a professional counselor, you will work first as an associate professional counselor. You will be drawing a salary as an employee but are subject to supervision requirements set by the state. You will submit an application packet to the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists to get your associate status.
Georgia Credentialing Agencies and Additional Information
Licensed Professional Counselor Requirements in GA (Application Information and Links to Forms)