Becoming a Counselor in Mississippi
In Mississippi, school counselors are licensed by the Department of Education, and Professional counselors are licensed by the Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors. Both specialties require master’s level education.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
Programs can be competitive. You can make the decision at any stage, but it’s best to get an early start.
If you are a High School Student or hold your diploma/GED in Mississippi:
There is no particular undergraduate program you need to enroll in, but some programs may give you a head start completing your requirements. This is especially true if school counseling is your calling. School counselors do not need to hold standard teaching certification, but if they don't, they have additional requirement -- a yearlong internship requirement.
Programs in counseling psychology, meanwhile, may give preference to psychology students.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.
Ultimately, your grades will probably be more of a concern to the application committee than your undergraduate major. If your GPA is above 3.0, you’ll have more options (though it is possible to get in with less if you are an exceptional candidate). Learn about the undergraduate counseling program options here.
Seek experience within the field. You can look for volunteer opportunities through sites like United Way of South Mississippi. You may have the opportunity to assist clients with mental illness in a variety of capacities, doing anything from leading crafts to teaching computer skills.
It’s never too early. If you’re still in high school, you can apply to the DREAM Youth Advisory Council and teach younger students about substance abuse.
If you have a 4-year Degree:
Ready for graduate school? As a prospective professional counselor, you should enroll in a degree program that includes content in the ten areas required by the Board. The program must be at least 60 semester hours total and housed in a school that holds regional or national accreditation. There are multiple in-state options including mental health counseling and counseling psychology. You may have an opportunity to select an area of emphasis, for example, chemical dependency or counseling the elderly.
If you're interested in school counseling, look for an approved program that will allow you to meet your internship requirements.
You will need to practice under supervision before you can receive your LPC license. The Mississippi Board will allow you to begin accruing supervised hours while you're completing your degree -- up to total hours may be counted before you earn that master's. Your school may be able to arrange a paid internship.
You may take the National Counselor Examination before you graduate if you are enrolled in a CACREP-accredited program and you wish to apply for national certification. Otherwise you will apply to the Mississippi Board, receive candidate status, and then take the exam.
As a school counselor, you will take the Praxis.
You must complete a total of 3,500 total supervised hours (including those you might have obtained while completing your degree).
A minimum of 1,750 will be required post-master.
Your supervisor will be a board-approved LPC; s/he will consult with you regularly and help you develop professional expertise.
When you are ready to begin, you will provide the name of your supervisor to the Board. Your supervisor will verify your experience and supervision for licensing purposes.
As a prospective Licensed Professional Counselor, you must have a background check performed. The Mississippi Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors notes that rules do change periodically and that it is up to you to be familiar with current regulations and have current application forms. You may visit the Board site to download materials.