Becoming a Counselor in Hawaii

Hawaii licenses mental health counselors and school counselors. Both roles require education at the master's level.

Rehabilitation counselors also have graduate education. State licensing is not a requirement, but rehabilitation counselors sometimes feel that it is an advantage to have a state license if they are indeed eligible for one.

CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:

Here are some tips for planning your education inside and outside the classroom.


If you are a High School Student or High School Graduate in Hawaii

Step 1:

As a potential undergraduate you have your choice of majors. Your academic performance can make the application process easier later. Chaminade University (the one in-state school that offers an approved school counseling program) recommends a 3.0 grade point average.

Step 2:

Social or behavioral science programs may give you a better foundation and allow you to get more experience before applying to graduate school. Learn more about counseling related undergraduate programs. Organizations like the Institute for Human Services take interns as well as volunteers – in cases like this, being enrolled in an appropriate program is a definite advantage. Learn more about counseling related undergraduate programs here.

An undergraduate degree in Psychology is a common route for students interested in later pursuing graduate studies in counseling.

If you have a Bachelor’s Degree

Step 1:

Request information from schools with graduate programs in the discipline of counseling you are interested in pursuing. Decide if you're ready to apply or if your application would be strengthened by additional professional experience. You can expect to be asked for academic or professional references. You may be allowed to take a few courses, though, before formal admission. Check out additional information for LCMH license requirements in Hawaii here.

Step 2:

If you're interested in school counseling, you should enroll in a state approved teaching program (or SATEP). Other programs are acceptable if they meet the standards of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification.

If you are interested in mental health counseling, you should enroll in a graduate program that includes at least 48 semester hours of coursework and meets Hawaii's content requirements. The core competencies are similar to those that have been identified by CACREP as being common to all professional counseling programs.

The program must include at least two terms of practicum; they should be three semester hours or five quarter hours each.

If you are enrolling in a program through an out-of-state school, make sure you will be able to fulfill experience requirements in a way that is feasible/ convenient for you and also meets supervision guidelines.

Step 3:

Mental health counselors need 3,000 hours of appropriately supervised post-graduate experience to earn the title Licensed Mental Health Counselor. This experience must be completed over a two to four year period and meet supervision guidelines set by the state.

Your supervisor will eventually need to sign a notarized form. You can find the paperwork you need on the “Mental Health Counselor” page of the Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing website.

The supervision requirement does not apply to school counselors.

Step 4:

Although it will take a while to earn your mental health counseling license, you’ll want to begin the paperwork process early. In order to be licensed as an LMHC, you will need to pass the National Counselor Examination, administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. You will first apply to the Hawaii Board. The application will include professional fitness questions as well as questions about your academic background.

If you are a school counselor, you will eventually take a series of exams. All school counselors are expected to pass the Praxis I exam (a pre-professional skills test) and the School Guidance and Counseling exam. Those who have not completed a SATEP program will need to take the Principles of Learning and Teaching exam as well.

Counselor Credentialing Agencies in Hawaii:

Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing -- Mental Health Counselor

Hawaii Teachers Standards Board

A Sample of Schools Offering Bachelor's and Master's Programs

Sponsored Schools