You will need a master's degree to become a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, or school counselor.
You won't need to make a lot of career decisions early, though. If grad school is still a long way off, you just need to concentrate on getting a solid foundation.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or hold a Diploma/GED in Oklahoma:
If you are going into professional counseling, you will have a wide choice of majors. You may, on the other hand, have difficulty getting into a school counseling program if you don't have a background in education or a related area. It's a good idea to look ahead and be in touch with schools. Learn about selecting an undergraduate counseling degree here.
If you are interested in substance abuse counseling, you have the option of receiving a lower level of credentialing, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, by enrolling in a baccalaureate level program.
A bachelor's degree in Psychology is common preparation for graduate school in the field of counseling.
Whatever you opt for, keep your grades up. Oklahoma State University asks for an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75. Some universities require GPAs of 3.00.
Look for some experience in social services. Volunteer experience is acceptable. You can also check Oklahoma 's workforce site for paid employment opportunities that don't require an advanced degree. Another option could be to spend a year in Americorps Oklahoma.
If you currently hold a Bachelor’s Degree:
Lay the groundwork. Request information from graduate counseling programs well in advance. You may need to take the GRE or MAT. Expect to submit a resume and references and describe your professional experiences. Learn more about Master’s in Counseling programs here.
Choose a graduate program. Some programs will prepare you for dual credentialing.
Programs for Licensed Professional Counselors are 60 semester hours. You may opt for a traditional counseling degree or one in a closely related mental health field. Your program must cover all core content areas identified by the Oklahoma Board and include at least five electives in approved content areas. The latter includes a range of possibilities: rehabilitation counseling, addictions, gerontology, personality theories.
Programs for school counselors are often shorter. You can find information about Oklahoma programs on the site of the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation. If you enroll in a program that is CACREP accredited, you also have the option of becoming a National Certified School Counselor.
Programs for addiction counseling may also be less than 60 semester hours – unless you’re going for national certification or dual credentialing. Beginning in 2012, there’s a requirement that master’s programs for drug abuse counselors must be specifically focused on addiction counseling; in the past there was more leeway.
Licensure as an LPC requires a residency, or period of supervised work experience. Before you can begin working under supervision, you will need to submit a supervision agreement and have it approved. You will also need to make formal application. You’ll submit several documents at this time, including recommendation forms. You will have a criminal background check.
Licensing as a substance abuse counselor requires 2,000 hours of work experience. A supervision agreement is also required.
As a future LPC, you will take the National Counselor Examination. You will also take the Oklahoma Legal and Ethical Responsibilities Examination.
School counseling certification will also require one or more examinations. If you receive a National Certified School Counselor credential, this will satisfy your testing requirement. In order to receive it, you must take two exams through the NBCC. There are other testing options, though, that will qualify you to work as a school counselor in Oklahoma.