Becoming a Counselor in Maryland
In Maryland, you will need master's level education to be certified as a school counselor or licensed as either a Clinical Professional Counselor or Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor. You won't actually have to make a lot of academic decisions before graduate school. What you will want to do, however, is make sure that your academic record and life experiences make you a strong candidate for a graduate program down the line.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or have your diploma in Maryland:
You do not need to major in any particular field at the undergraduate level, but do look ahead to see graduate requirements. If you opt for a program in counseling psychology, you may be expected to have some psychology prerequisites. Learn more about undergraduate program options here.
If you are going into addictions counseling at the graduate level, there is one undergraduate course that may be counted toward your licensing requirements in Maryland: an ethics/ professional practice course that specifically focuses on drug and alcohol treatment issues.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.
Maintain a competitive GPA during your undergraduate career. Requirements vary from master’s program to master’s program, but schools generally favor candidates with a 3.0 or above. Loyola University, one of two in-state schools with CACREP-accredited programs, notes that GPAs of 3.5 or above are typical.
You'll also want to get some experience, either volunteer or paid, at this stage.
You Hold a Bachelor’s Degree:
Take any steps you need to make yourself competitive. If your undergraduate GPA was below 3.0, you may want to take some additional college courses to signal that you have the academic aptitude. You may also be required to take the GRE. Another typical requirement is submission of three references.
If you are pursuing a professional counseling license, you will enroll in a graduate program that includes at least 60 semester hours. (If it is shorter, though, you can take additional courses to meet state requirements. Maryland has specific content requirements.)
You have multiple in-state options, including counseling psychology or traditional CACREP-accredited counseling programs. You may opt for secular or pastoral counseling.
Licensure as a drug and addictions counselor also requires a 60 unit program. Again, there are specific courses you must have. Some requirements are the same as those for mental health counselors.
If you are going into school counseling, you should select a program that is CACREP-accredited or that has been specifically board-approved. There are other options, but they require you to have teaching or counseling experience.
Complete your coursework and field work. If you are attending a state-approved school and you don't have teaching experience, you will complete a 500 hour practicum. If you do have a couple years of teaching experience, it's not a state mandate.
Professional counselors are required to do at least 125 hours of direct client care as part of their practicum/ internship requirements. The total number of hours spent as an intern is typically much higher. CACREP-accredited programs include at least a 100 hour practicum and 600 hour internship, though some time is spent in activities other than direct counseling.
You’ll be able to count some of the field experience that you gain as a student toward your supervised practice requirement.
Take licensing exams. As a prospective addictions counselor, you should take the Examination for Master Addictions Counselors. Clinical counselors, meanwhile, take the National Counselor Examination.
School counselors are not required to take a licensing exam.
If you are going into either professional counseling or addictions counseling, you will need to put in at least two years as a Graduate Counselor. You need three years of supervised practice, but you may count up to a year of experience that was earned before you got your master’s degree.