Becoming a Counselor in Ohio

What does it take to become a counselor in Ohio? In most cases, it takes a master's. Chemical dependency counselors may be licensed with less, but the highest level of practice, Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor, requires a graduate degree.

School counseling is another master’s level profession. The more comprehensive professional counseling licenses also require advanced degrees – you’ll need to go to graduate school to become a Licensed Professional Counselor and continue your training post-master to become a Professional Clinical Counselor.

CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:


If you are a High School Student or Grad

Step 1:

Put in a strong performance at the undergraduate level. Schools may set a minimum GPA in the 2.7 to 3.0 range. Having higher grades can work to your advantage, but graduate counseling programs consider a number of factors besides academics. Learn about the undergraduate preparation here.

A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.

Step 2:

Try to get some experience in the field. If you don’t find a paid position, there will be volunteer organizations that will be glad to have you. One option you might consider is the Compeer program, which is offered by the Mental Health Association of Southwest Ohio (and some other MHA branches). As a Compeer volunteer, you serve as a companion to an individual with severe mental illness.

There are many organizations where you can tutor children or serve as a mentor to individuals of varying ages. You may want to volunteer for NAMI if you have serious mental illness in your own family.

If you already have an Undergraduate Degree

Step 1:

Familiarize yourself with the graduate application process well in advance. You will typically be asked to write an essay or even a short autobiography. Some programs require you to take the GRE.

Step 2:

To become a professional counselor, enroll in an approved counseling program. You will need 60 semester hours of coursework in core areas identified by the Board. If you do not complete an Ohio program, you will fill out a course worksheet when you apply for licensing. (Some classes may be taken either as part of the master's program or as an adjunct.) The 60 unit requirement does not apply to school counselors, but do look for a state-approved master's program in guidance counseling.

Step 3:

You may need counselor trainee status to complete your professional counseling practicum or internship. This depends on the agency where you’ll be working. One of the first steps in the licensing process will be a criminal background check.

Step 4:

In order to be licensed as a Professional Counselor, you will need to pass the NCE. You may be able to take it as early as your final semester. There is an online rules and laws examination that is also required for practice. You will need to write a professional disclosure statement at this stage.

In order to get a school counseling license, you will need to pass the Praxis II: School Guidance and Counseling or the NTE. If you don't have two years of teaching experience, you will need to do a one year induction under supervision.

Step 5:

Depending on your specialty and intended practice, you may be satisfied to be a Professional Counselor. You may need to complete additional supervised experience, though, and become a Professional Clinical Counselor.

If you opt to train for the higher license, you will need to complete some additional paperwork. You’ll be classified as a Professional Counselor - Clinical Resident. You will be evaluated after 1,500 and 3,000 hours.

Step 6:

You will also need to pass the NCMHCE to get the PCC credential. You will find an exam approval form on the site of the Ohio Board.

Ohio Credentialing Agencies and Additional Information

Licensed Professional Counselor Requirements in OH (Application Information and Links to Forms)

Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board

Chemical Dependency Professionals Board

Licensure-School Counselor

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

Sponsored Schools