This guide provides information for licensed professional counselor (LPC) requirements by state. Because state boards -- rather than national organizations -- mandate and confer LPC credentials, licensed counselor requirements vary by jurisdiction. Most licensure boards, however, impose these common prerequisites: a master's degree in counseling or a related field from an accredited school; completion of a program that fulfills the requisite practicum and internship hours; a passing score on the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and the state's jurisprudence exam; and completion of state-mandated postgraduate clinical hours.
State boards rely on national testing for counselors, including national program accreditation, to ensure uniformity of knowledge and standards. The NCE comprises 200 multiple-choice questions and costs $275 to take. Some states (and employers) prefer graduates of Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); other states require degrees from programs with CACREP accreditation, which signifies compliance with high academic criteria. School counselors may also need to complete a program accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
While program accreditation remains voluntary, graduates who select accredited counseling programs benefit from increased academic and professional opportunities and interstate reciprocity.
Counselors renew their licenses pursuant to their state's requirements, which may include logging professional development hours, earning continuing education credits, or earning a specialty certificate.
For details about each state licensing board's expectations, explore the map below. You can find information about LPC requirements by state, along with forms and links to online master's programs in counseling.
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