Pursuing work as a rehabilitation counselor makes for a challenging and rewarding career. These professionals must possess patience and determination as they inspire and guide clients to integrate into society after a setback or despite a mental or physical disability. Individuals who seek assistance from rehabilitation counselors sometimes need help recovering from injury or drug addiction, while other people with disabilities need guidance performing everyday tasks. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects this career to grow by 13% from 2016-2026.
After earning the proper college education, gathering practical work experience through internships, and obtaining a state license, you can start making a positive difference in this lucrative field. Keep reading to discover what you can expect to learn during your studies, application and exam requirements, and how to maintain certification in Georgia.
Counseling License and Career Requirements in GeorgiaExplore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Georgia here
Education and Experience Requirements
Before launching your career and changing lives for the better, each aspiring counselor needs to obtain a master's degree at an accredited higher education institution. While prerequisites vary by employer, we've outlined the most common Georgia counseling education requirements below.
Education and Coursework
To practice as a rehabilitation counselor, the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists requires each professional to obtain a bachelor's and a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field. Employers only accept degrees from accredited colleges and universities, and the Georgia counselor board only licenses individuals who obtain a degree from a regionally accredited institution.
To practice as a rehabilitation counselor, Georgia requires each professional to obtain a bachelor's and a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling or a related field
While earning a degree from a school with programmatic accreditation offers some benefits, it is not required. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the most common programmatic accrediting body in the counseling field. Potential employers typically expect applicants to have earned around 120 undergraduate college credits and 50 graduate degree credits. The National Board for Certified Counselors requires at least 48 master's credits.
The Georgia board requires each licensure applicant to take classes in human growth and development; multicultural counseling or diversity training; counseling techniques or skills; group dynamics and group counseling; and lifestyle and career development.
Before enrolling in a program, check with your admissions counselor to make sure the program aligns with the expectations set by the Georgia counselor board. This organization requires proof and levels of competency in counseling subjects, which is why each license applicant must submit their official college transcripts with the application.
Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:
Practicum and Internship
Completing a practicum or internship is an excellent way to learn outside of the classroom. These opportunities provide hands-on experience and a way for students to apply knowledge to practical situations. Licensure candidates in Georgia must also complete a practicum or internship during their graduate degree studies. As of September 30, 2018, each applicant must complete 600 hours.
Application and Exam Requirements for Georgia Rehabilitation Counselors
After fulfilling the academic requirements for state licensure in Georgia, each candidate must complete an application, submit their official transcripts, and complete supervision hours as associate professional counselors. They must also turn in a notarized affidavit of citizenship, a copy of their driver's license or passport, and contact information for two professional references.
The number of required supervised hours varies depending on the specific counseling degree. For example, if the professional earned a master's degree, the Georgia counselor board requires them to acquire two years of supervised work. However, those with a doctoral degree must only complete half a year of supervised work.
Taking the Exam
Once the applicant meets their requirements, they can take the state licensing exam. Georgia accepts two exams: the national counselor examination or the national clinical mental health counseling examination. Each candidate must complete the exam in Decatur, Lilburn, Marietta, Macon, or Savannah, Georgia. The licensing fee costs $100. Once an applicant passes the exam, they must take steps to maintain and renew their license. Georgia requires 35 hours of continuing education every two years for license renewal. Georgia licenses expire on September 30th of each even-numbered year.
Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates
Holding a license from another state does not exempt a person from practicing as a rehabilitation counselor in Georgia, as the Georgia counselor board accepts endorsements. Individuals who already hold a license to practice counseling in another state can often receive licensure by endorsement in Georgia.
These individuals must hold a license in a state with very similar licensing requirements. They won't need to take the exam in Georgia, but they must verify that their license is in good standing. Candidates must download and fill out this form and send it to their former state board for verification.
Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements
After a person obtains their license to practice counseling in Georgia, they must take steps to renew their license. Licenses expire on September 30 of even-numbered year. To renew a license, individuals must pay a $100 application fee.
Licenses in Georgia expire on September 30 of even-numbered year
Since the counseling field frequently changes as researchers make discoveries, the Georgia counseling board requires each professional to obtain 35 continuing education hours every two years. Five of these continuing education credits must relate to professional ethics, and these credits must be obtained in an in-person classroom setting. Additionally, 15 of these credit hours must focus on professional counseling content. These core hours can be obtained through graduate-level education, professional conferences, counseling workshops, seminars, or online courses.
Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in Georgia
Even current students can benefit from seeking additional education outside the classroom. Aspiring professionals and seasoned counselors alike can join organizations that offer helpful tools like resource libraries, weekly industry newsletters, and webinars. Take advantage of the following resources to stay connected to fellow rehabilitation counselors and learn about the latest counseling discoveries.
- American Counseling Association of Georgia The ACA aims to grow and advance the counseling profession on the state level in Georgia. This association provides free regional networking events and continuing education opportunities for its members.
- American Rehabilitation Counseling Association This organization offers workshops and training, awards, newsletters, and opportunities for networking and continuing education. Membership costs $85 per year for seasoned professionals and just $50 per year for new counselors.
- Georgia Addiction Counselors Association More than 650 counseling professionals can benefit from this association's lists of continuing education providers, events, and exclusive job board. GACA provides membership rates for nearly any budget, including a half-price student rate.
- Georgia Career Development Association GCDA serves private practice counselors and provides professional development programs delivered by local and national speakers. Members also benefit from a listing board to advertise their professional counseling services on the GCDA website.
- Georgia Christian Counselors Association This religious organization aims to educate, encourage, and equip professional Christian counselors to succeed in their work by providing networking, training, and self-care opportunities. The organization has three chapters across Georgia.
- Georgia College Counseling Association Although this organization primarily unites college counselors, it still serves as a helpful organization for rehabilitation counselors who work with college-aged clients. GCCA promotes professionalism, offers continuing education through workshops, hosts an annual conference and regional workshops, and helps members secure state licensure and national certification.
- Georgia Secretary of State This government-run website hosts the important forms each counselor needs to obtain and renew a license in Georgia. Rely on the Georgia Secretary of State to gather correct information about licensing, since this organization sets the requirements.
- Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia The LPCA helps unite Georgia LPCs and future LPCs for networking events and free workshops. This organization also represents these professionals in front of state legislators and the state licensing board.
- National Association for Addiction Professionals NAADAC brings together rehabilitation specialists from all over America for networking opportunities. They also guide professionals through the certification and license renewal processes, in addition to providing professional development resources.
- Metro Atlanta Therapists' Network If you live near Atlanta's metropolitan hub, joining this organization can help you meet like-minded professionals and stay inspired through continuing education events. Members can also publish their name on the website's list of licensed counselors.