Georgia sets specific requirements for professionals interested in becoming a licensed counselor and has recently changed the number of practicum hours required and the qualifications supervisors must maintain for licensure. Because of this, learners must ensure they follow the latest mandates set by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists.
The following guide provides details on common Georgia counseling jobs, salaries, licensure requirements, and steps for maintenance and renewal.
Counseling Careers in Georgia
Georgia counseling jobs exist in many different forms and provide a variety of options for students to tailor their careers to best meet their skills and passions. We highlight a few of the most common counseling careers in Georgia below.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
Marriage and Family Therapists
Therapists with this focus assist clients with their relationships, which can include navigating problems within their families. Mostly working in private practice and mental health clinics, marriage and family therapists are most commonly employed in individual and family practices.Explore Career Information
Rehabilitation counselors help clients cope with difficulties and live healthy lives while dealing with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. Primarily employed by community rehabilitation services, these counselors may also work in residential care facilities and youth organizations.Explore Career Information Explore Georgia Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
Working with a variety of concerns, including addictions, behavioral issues, and eating disorders, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors may work in treatment facilities or private practice.Explore Career Information Explore Georgia Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors provide evaluations, recommendations, and treatment to individuals as they work to understand how behaviors, events, or chemical imbalances contribute to mental health concerns. They may also refer clients to other mental health specialists.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in Georgia?
Salaries for Georgia counseling professionals vary based on location, education, level of experience, title, industry, and individual companies. When looking at the table below, note that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) combines wage data for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors, but these figures may differ for individual jobs.
Education Requirements for Counselors in Georgia
The Georgia counselor board, called the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists, sets specific rules on the type and level of education required for counselors in the state. Aspiring counselors must possess at least a master's degree in counseling or a related subject accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CRE), as approved by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Aspiring counselors must possess at least a master's degree in counseling or a related subject
Applicants need credits in six of nine content areas, which include human growth and development, multicultural counseling/diversity training, counseling techniques/skills, group dynamics and group counseling/psychotherapy, lifestyle and career development, appraisal/assessment of individuals, research methods and evaluation, professional orientation and ethics, and psychopathology. Learners must also complete classes in counseling and psychotherapy theory and participate in a practicum or internship.
After completing all these requirements, individuals must pass the National Counselor Examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors prior to receiving licensure.
Practicum and Internship
Individuals who graduated prior to September 30, 2018 must complete 300 supervised practicum or internship hours; those who graduated after that date must complete 600 hours. Applicants must register with the state board through the Directed Experience Under Supervision Contract and find a suitable practicum site.
Online Counseling Programs in Georgia
The Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists regulates the profession in the state, ensuring that potential counselors hold the necessary education and training. Education remains one of the state's key counselor requirements, and counseling licensure mandates a master's degree.
Online programs generally offer more flexibility and allow students to complete their coursework at a time most convenient for their schedules
Some offerings include Thomas University's online master of science in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling, and for those interested in working with students, Albany State University in Georgia offers an online master's degree in school counseling.
Online programs generally offer more flexibility and allow students to complete their coursework at a time most convenient for their schedules, especially for those balancing other work and family commitments. Potential counselors can also pursue programs in other states. However, most online counseling programs still require students to complete practicums, though they can often be completed in the student's local area.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Georgia
The Georgia Composite Board handles all professional counselor licensure requests in the state. Students must provide a notarized license application that includes transcripts from all institutions attended, scores from entrance examinations, two letters of reference, and proof of completed practicum hours from their supervisors. They must also pay a $100 non-refundable application fee.
Next, learners schedule the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination through the National Board for Certified Counselors. These exams are taken on a computer and offered on a monthly basis.
Out-of-State Counselor Candidates
Requirements for out-of-state counselors looking to move to Georgia vary by where the applicant lives. Individuals from states with similar or higher requirements compared to the Georgia Composite Board do not need to retake the examination, but they do need to provide evidence of good standing from their current board of licensing. This process is known as reciprocity or endorsement.
Individuals from states with lesser licensure requirements must take one of the two available certification examinations, pay an application fee, and submit all required applications and supporting materials. They must also demonstrate that they met specific supervision requirements during the practicum portion of their training.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Georgia
Counselor licenses in Georgia expire on September 30 of even-numbered years, at which time the counselor must have completed all renewal requirements. Applicants for renewal must demonstrate the completion of at least 35 continuing education hours, five of which must be related to professional counseling, social work, or marriage and family therapy. Only 10 of these hours can come from online coursework for each renewal period.
Individuals should complete a renewal application, pay the biennial renewal fee, and show evidence of satisfying the continuing education requirements. Those who submit materials after October 1 must pay a late fee.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Georgia
- Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia In addition to operating as a professional organization, LPCA is an NBCC-approved education provider. LPCA offers a calendar of CE events, including several free workshops.
- Anxiety and Stress Management Institute Located in Marietta, Georgia, the institute offers anxiety and stress management services, resources, and workshops. Workshops from this NBCC-approved continuing education provider occur several times a month, including Saturdays. Counselors can receive a multi-workshop discount for registering for two or more workshops at once.
- Cornerstone Counseling Services Cornerstone Counseling offers counseling for individuals, couples, and children. This NBCC-approved continuing education provider boasts several online courses. In-person continuing education workshops take place on Saturdays and Sundays.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Georgia
- CDC Training and Continuing Education Online The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers nearly 500 online courses on topics like health equity and the status of Georgia health priorities. Learners can search courses and CE certificates.
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Certification Board of Georgia ADACBGA provides information on certifications, ethics, and exams. It also offers a job board, a continuing education providers list, and an annual conference. Counselors can also view current and past newsletters.
- Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists The board helps regulate the fields of counseling, social work, and marriage and family therapy. Current and future counselors can find information about the licensure application process and fees, and applicants can check the status of their applications.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Georgia NAMI provides education about a variety of mental illnesses, lists of Georgia support groups, and an annual conference. NAMI helps those affected by mental illness by providing support, advocacy, and education.
- NBCC Approved Education Providers - Georgia Counselors can search for NBCC-approved continuing education providers on this site. Learners can search a list of providers organized by location, with live and home-study providers noted.
- Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia LPCA brings together Georgia LPCs and future LPCs and represents their interests to state legislators and the state licensing board. The association provides continuing education opportunities, training programs, and a yearly convention. Member benefits include discounts on insurance, free workshops, and professional resources. Membership rates vary, with special pricing for students and associate LAPCs.
- Georgia Addiction Counselors Association GACA boasts over 650 members and seeks to help members by developing their counseling skills. The organization offers certification information, lists of educational providers, events, and a job board. Membership is available at several different rates, including a half-price student rate, and state members also receive membership in the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy - Georgia Division GAMFT is a professional association for licensed marriage and family therapists in Georgia. It offers regional chapters across the state and provides conferences, continuing education, and legislative updates. With several membership levels, GAMFT provides its members with special insurance rates, marketing opportunities, and discounts on certain products and events.