Becoming a Counselor in Utah
In Utah, substance abuse counseling licenses are available to individuals who have an associate's or bachelor's degree in any field and who have completed an additional certificate program. This level of license doesn’t qualify you for independent practice, though.
You will need a master's degree and a license to become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor or school counselor. You won’t need a license to practice some branches of counseling (college counseling, for example), but a master's degree is generally expected.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
Fortunately, you won't have to make vocational decisions early in your college career. You should have plenty of opportunity if you have good grades and some related experience.
If you are a High School Student or hold a diploma/GED in Utah:
Volunteering can be a good way to begin to get experience. You might want to check the website of the Utah Commission on Volunteers -- there are a lot of opportunities listed. Even if you're in high school, you can participate in the Summer of Service. You may also want to contact your local United Way.
Select an undergraduate major and minor. Utah does not require school counselors to have a teaching background, but schools may prefer candidates who have backgrounds in education or related fields like psychology. They may also look for some experience in the schools. Mental health counseling programs often like to see some coursework in psychology as well. Learn more about undergraduate counseling & related degree programs.
If you hold a Bachelor’s Degree already:
Take a look at admission requirements early. If you still need experience, you could opt for a service program like Americorps.
Many programs require you to take the GRE. You will usually need to submit professional or academic references and a statement of professional goals.
If you are interested in becoming a school counselor, enroll in a master's program that meets the Standards for Utah School Counselor Education Programs.
If you are interested in mental health counseling, you will need to enroll in a professional counseling program that holds programmatic accreditation through CACREP or institutional accreditation through an accrediting body recognized by CHEA. The program must be 60 semester hours in length.
If you are interested in another counseling discipline, your program won't necessarily need to include as many courses or all the same ones. (If you have a degree in another counseling discipline, or in art or dance therapy, and you want licensing, you may enroll in additional coursework and ask the Board to consider your application.)
As a mental health counselor, you will need 900 hours of internship. This is more than what is required in many other states. The internship can be an opportunity to tailor your education to your strengths and interests. Some schools work with dozens of agencies to place their students.
As a school counselor, you will need to take the Praxis. You will get an institutional recommendation from your school and apply to the Office of Education for an Educator License with a School Counselor Area of Concentration.
If you're in the mental health track, your training won't end when you finish your education. You will be able to accept employment at a public or private agency, but you will need to spend at least two years working under supervision. You will be a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor during this time.
As a prospective Clinical Mental Health Counselor, you will need to take two licensing exams, the National Counselor Examination and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. If you are in a branch of counseling that does not require licensure, you can still seek certification through national organizations.