Rehabilitation counselors help people with emotional, physical, psychological, or developmental difficulties overcome or cope with their disabilities on personal, social, and psychological levels. They assist clients with permanent and temporary disabilities, provide direct and indirect support services, and refer clients for additional treatment or aid.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average 13% growth rate for the profession. If you enjoy helping people and making a difference in communities often overlooked and underserved, a career in rehabilitation counseling may fulfill your professional and personal goals.
This guide provides information on how to become a rehabilitation counselor in Florida. Read on to learn more about state licensure requirements and the educational and professional qualifications you need to establish a career in this challenging and expanding field.
Counseling License and Career Requirements in FloridaExplore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Florida here
Education and Experience Requirements
All prospective rehabilitation counselors must meet certain educational and practical training standards before they can legally practice in the Sunshine State. The following sections provide an in-depth look at the path to becoming a licensed rehabilitation counselor in Florida.
Education and Coursework
Counseling professions may obtain the licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) designation from the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling. While the state does not issue a specific license for rehabilitation counselors, data from the Florida Area Health Education Center indicates that many rehabilitation counselors in the state do choose to become LMHCs.
Florida requires counselors to hold at least a master's degree before obtaining licensure
An undergraduate degree in psychology, sociology, or even social work provides prospective counselors with an excellent academic foundation. However, most states — including Florida — require counselors to hold at least a master's degree before obtaining licensure. Many postsecondary counseling programs comprise 48-60 graduate-level credits and require 2-3 years of study. However, many accredited colleges and universities now offer master's in counseling programs online, which can reduce the time spent earning a graduate degree.
A well-rounded master's curriculum focused on rehabilitation counseling typically addresses topics in individual and group counseling, medical aspects of disability, ethics and law in rehabilitation counseling, and career development and job placement theories. Some programs feature concentrations that train students to work with specific groups, such as children, trauma victims, the elderly, or individuals with mental or developmental disabilities. Most states require licensure candidates to complete counseling programs with accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:
Practicum and Internship
In addition to educational requirements, Florida candidates must complete a certain number of clinical practice hours. This supervised training period allows counseling students to apply classroom knowledge to practical counseling situations. In Florida, prospective LMHCs must complete at least 1,500 hours of supervised training, direct client contact, and observation sessions.
Application and Exam Requirements for Florida Rehabilitation Counselors
In Florida, counselors planning to work in private practice must earn the LMHC designation by taking the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). The National Board for Certified Counselors administers the NCMHCE. However, counselors who work strictly as employees, including rehabilitation counselors, are exempt from mandatory licensing. Rehabilitation counselors can seek voluntary certification from the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) by earning the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credential.
The CRC credential is a national designation recognized by several states. CRC-holders are recognized for completing advanced, specialized education and training in rehabilitation counseling
Candidates must complete at least 48 credit hours of CACREP-accredited graduate-level coursework and a minimum of 600 supervised internship hours before sitting for the CRC exam. LMHCs seeking the CRC credential may apply to waive the coursework requirement. CRCC administers the exam three times a year in more than 300 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Individuals who register for the exam before March 2020 pay a $410 testing fee.
The CRC credential is a national designation recognized by several states. CRC-holders are recognized for completing advanced, specialized education and training in rehabilitation counseling, and for adhering to the Code of Professional Ethics for Rehabilitation Counselors. The CRC credential can lead to many benefits, including professional advancement, career enhancement, and higher income potential.
Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates
Counselors licensed to practice outside of Florida can apply to become an LMHC by endorsement. Eligible applicants must complete at least three years of professional experience within five years of applying for licensure, hold a master's degree, and complete all mandated coursework related to Florida statutes, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence. Applicants who do not meet these qualifications can apply for licensure by examination. The Florida counseling board accepts previous NCMHCE results.
Out-of-state counselors with two years of supervised practice can apply for provisional licensure. CRC-holders may work as rehabilitation counselors in Florida without becoming LMHCs, as long as they do not establish a private practice.
Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements
Counselors in Florida must complete at least 30 hours of continuing education units every two years to maintain active licensure. First-time renewal candidates are exempt from this requirement. Continuing education units must include a three-hour ethics course and a two-hour course in medical errors. Renewal candidates must also complete a two-hour class in domestic violence once every three renewal cycles.
Counselors in Florida must complete at least 30 hours of continuing education units every two years to maintain active licensure
Every five years, CRC-holders must renew their status by completing 100 hours of continuing education units, including at least 10 hours of ethics coursework. Candidates can also renew their credential by retaking and passing the CRC exam.
Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in Florida
Professional counseling associations and field-specific organizations provide a wealth of benefits for rehabilitation counselors. Both regional and national associations present exclusive opportunities for mutual professional support and facilitate collaboration, research, and cutting-edge developments in the field. Many offer student memberships, career services, and scholarships.
- American Counseling Association The ACA's southern chapter serves Florida members through continuing education programs, networking events, funding opportunities, and a career center. Members receive discounted insurance and travel benefits.
- American Rehabilitation Counseling Association ARCA members can participate in on-site and online workshops, training sessions, and award programs. Members enjoy lower professional liability insurance rates and receive current practice updates through ARCA's regular newsletter.
- Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification With more than 15,000 credentialed members, CRCC is the world's largest rehabilitation counseling organization. CRCC's continuing education programs are developed by experts and include courses on ethics, multicultural counseling, vocational evaluation, and case management.
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs CACREP develops and implements standards to maintain and enhance counseling practitioners' professional competence. Visitors to CACREP's website can explore a database of accredited programs and institutions.
- Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling The Board's website features the latest information regarding rehabilitation counseling practice in the state, Florida licensing fees and requirements, and continuing education providers.
- Florida Counseling Association FCA's members-only digital library contains webinars and scholarly publications. Members also enjoy access to an active job board and a quarterly newsletter.
- Florida Mental Health Counselors Association FMHCA serves as a public policy advocate for rehabilitation counselors. The association keeps members apprised of current and emerging legislation regarding rehabilitation counseling practice in Florida.
- Florida Rehabilitation Association An affiliate of the National Rehabilitation Association, FRA supports rehabilitation counselors statewide through advocacy efforts. The association's digital newsletter covers recent developments in the field.
- National Employment Counseling Association NECA serves rehabilitation counselors who help clients find meaningful employment despite disability or developmental delay. NECA's resources include training programs and client support services.
- Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision SACES offers research grants, volunteer opportunities, and webinars on pertinent topics impacting the counseling field. The association also publishes a peer-reviewed journal and a newsletter.