Becoming a Counselor in West Virginia
Counselors will have master’s level education and a license or certification in WV. You can make the decision to become a counselor at virtually any point along the educational pathway, but if you decide early enough that it’s what you want to do, you can take more steps to make yourself a competitive candidate.
CACREP Accredited Online Master's in Counseling Programs:
If you are a High School Student or hold your diploma/GED in WV:
Look ahead to see graduate school requirements when deciding on an undergraduate degree program. Programs may have some degree of preference when it comes to a candidate’s undergraduate major. West Virginia University notes that most counseling students have degrees in people-oriented fields like social work, education, or psychology, and that this is given consideration. This isn't to say that people don't decide that they want to be counselors after entering some other field and still make the cut. But most people who have the aptitude and interest select these majors. Click Here to read about choosing an undergraduate major in counseling or a related field. An undergraduate Psychology degree is also common preparation for master's in counseling programs.
You will typically be expected to have at least some social science coursework on your transcript. Your grades don't necessarily have to be stellar, but they should be good. Schools often set a minimum GPA in the 2.7 to 3.0 range and only admit students with lower grades if they are really outstanding
Experience in the field is also valued. You can look on the site of VolunteerWV for volunteer opportunities. Some majors, like social work or human services, can make it easier to find paid employment in the field.
If you currently hold a Bachelor’s degree in any field:
Research available programs and prepare for graduate school application. You will probably need to take the GRE or MAT -- some schools have a preference as to which one. You will need academic or professional references.
Enroll in a program in your chosen specialty. You can become a Licensed Professional Counselor with a master's in a counseling specialty like mental health, addictions, rehabilitation, or pastoral counseling. If you are primarily a school counselor, you’ll have a separate licensing agency, the Department of Education. However, if you want the LPC license, too, that's an option. The West Virginia Board notes that other programs with the word "counseling" in the title may be accepted as LPC license qualifying.
A program intended to prepare you for licensure as an LPC will need to have 60 semester hours of coursework and field experience. It should have an appropriate accreditation. Programmatic accreditation may be CACREP, CORE, or NCATE. Institutional accreditation from a regional accrediting agency may also be acceptable.
You will need coursework in 12 core areas outlined by the Board. Your program must also include a practicum and internship. You may have some electives. These can be in areas like rehabilitation counseling, biological basis for behavior, or counseling special populations.
Take advantage of opportunities while you are in school. Your internship may lead to employment post-degree. It can be beneficial to make other professional affiliations. You may join the West Virginia Counseling Association or West Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors Association at very low rates when you’re a student.
You will need to work under supervision for a while before you can get your LPC license. Generally, you will need to accrue 3,000 hours post-degree. The exception is if you have a doctoral degree; then you will only need 1,500.
You will also need to take a licensing exam to become an LPC. In most cases, the exam is the NCE, which is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. You can also take the CRC. This is a specialty exam for rehabilitation counselors.
If you are a school counselor, you will take the Praxis.