How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor in Hawaii

Hawaii employs around 190 rehabilitation counselors and continues to need qualified and dedicated professionals to fill positions in Honolulu and on the neighboring islands. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a nationwide increase of 134,400 jobs to the industry through 2026.

Rehabilitation specialists work in nursing facilities and hospitals, but the majority serve in rehabilitation services. About 30% of rehabilitation counselors work in community and vocational rehabilitation services and another 19% in individual and family services, according to the BLS.

To become a registered rehabilitation specialist with the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, candidates need to obtain the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC). Rehabilitation counselors can earn a mental health license through Hawaii's Professional and Vocational Licensing Division. Read this guide to learn more about how to become a rehabilitation counselor in Hawaii.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Hawaii

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Hawaii here

Education and Experience Requirements

A rehabilitation counselor's educational level and job experience influence their eligibility for different credentials. Whether you apply for licensure or certification, every credential comes with a set of necessary qualifications. Keep reading to find out what coursework and supervised work experience you need to complete.

Education and Coursework

The educational requirements you must fulfill to become a rehabilitation counselor depends on the occupation and specialty you pursue. Specific requirements also vary based on whether a professional wants to seek CRCC certification or become a licensed mental health counselor. Rehabilitation counselors do not need licensure to work in Hawaii unless they want to practice in mental health counseling.

rehabilitation counselors in Hawaii need to complete a master's degree in counseling

To obtain certification or licensure, rehabilitation counselors in Hawaii need to complete a master's degree in counseling. Counselors seeking CRCC certification must complete a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling or clinical rehabilitation counseling certified by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Professionals who want to become a licensed mental health counselor need to complete a master's or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field. Additional educational requirements for licensure include 48 semester hours in the following subjects:

  • Human Growth and Development
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Counseling Theories and Applications
  • Group Theory and Practice
  • Career and Lifestyle Development
  • Appraisal of Human Behavior
  • Tests and Measurements
  • Research and Program Evaluation
  • Professional Orientation and Ethics

For more information about how to find the right degree to suit your career goals, check out this link.


Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:


Practicum and Internship

To become alicensed mental health counselor in Hawaii, applicants must complete a minimum of six semester credits in a supervised internship. Prospective licensees also need to complete 300 supervised hours working directly with clients and 3,000 hours of post-graduate work experience in mental health counseling, including 100 one-on-one clinical hours completed in 2-4 years.

Application and Exam Requirements for Hawaii Rehabilitation Counselors

Hawaii's Professional and Vocational Licensing Division oversees the licensure of mental health counselors. After counselors complete the educational and experience requirements, they must pay test fees and pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).

The NCE requires test takers to complete 200 multiple choice questions in a computerized format. It takes up to three hours and 45 minutes to complete the exam. Applicants receive a pass/fail score. The test assesses an applicant's counseling skills and abilities. This exam is one of two tests required to earn the National Certified Counselor (NCC) certification. The test covers eight CACREP domains:

  • Human Growth and Development
  • Social and Cultural Diversity
  • Counseling and Helping Relationship
  • Group Counseling and Group Work
  • Career Counseling
  • Assessment and Testing
  • Research and Program Evaluation
  • Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice

The test also assesses five work behavior areas, including fundamental counseling issues, counseling process, diagnostic and assessment services, professional practice, and professional development, supervision, and consultation.

Applicants must submit their official master's or doctorate transcripts with their applications. They also need to submit a practicum verification form and their complete post-graduate verification forms. Applicants can take the exam throughout the year.

Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates

Counselors who hold a mental health license in another state may transfer their license to Hawaii through a reciprocity agreement. Applicants must have received a licensure from a state that has the same or more stringent licensure requirements than Hawaii. Counselors must request that the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) send verification to the Hawaii board to prove they passed the NCE. They also need to submit proof of completing their post-graduation practicum requirements.

Counselors who completed a CACREP-accredited program in another state should ensure that the program meets Hawaii's requirements.

Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

The mental health counselor license expires every three years. To renew a license, counselors must submit a renewal fee no sooner than 90 days before June 30. Counselors can pay restoration fees to renew forfeited licenses only when they have expired within one year of the expiration date. If counselors fail to renew their license within this one-year grace period, their license will terminate.

hawaii's mental health counselor license expires every three years

The CRCC certification lasts for five years. Applicants can access an online renewal application four months before the expiration date. Counselors wanting to renew certification must pay all fees and either re-take the certification exam or complete 100 hours of continuing education, including 10 hours in ethics.

Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in Hawaii

Rehabilitation counselors in Hawaii must rely on a community of professionals to find resources and access career development opportunities. Below you can find professional organizations to join and other online resources to help seasoned professionals and students in their careers.

  • American Counseling Association Founded in 1952, ACA promotes and supports counselors through professional development opportunities and an awards program that recognizes outstanding members. Members gain access to the ACA Career Central and free or discounted online courses.
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association AMHCA, established in 1976, provides a network for clinical mental health counselors. Joining this association gives members free access to continuing education opportunities and discounts to webinars and conferences.
  • American Rehabilitation Counseling Association ARCA works to promote the highest standards in rehabilitation counseling through professional development, research, and counseling practices. Becoming a member provides counselors with access to trainings and workshops, conferences, awards, liability insurance, and continuing education courses.
  • Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development AMCD offers a network for professionals who want to improve the quality of counseling in multicultural communities. The association also offers numerous professional development opportunities, including an annual convention, workshops, and opportunities to create multicultural counseling guidelines.
  • Healthcare Association of Hawaii Comprised of 160 member organizations, HAH began in 1939 to promote advocacy. HAH's members include hospitals, hospices, and assisted living facilities. The association recognizes outstanding professionals at its annual awards and scholarships gala and offers webinars and other educational opportunities to members.
  • Hawaii Counselors Association HCA supports professional counselors in Hawaii by providing educational development and promoting the best counseling practices. Graduate and undergraduate students can apply for membership to learn about upcoming social events and professional workshops. Members also gain access to the membership directory.
  • Hawaii Division of Vocational Rehabilitation The Hawaii Division of Vocational Rehabilitation serves people with disabilities. The website publishes information about job vacancies and provides access to applications for grants, volunteerism, and various help phone lines.
  • Hawaii Public Health Association Founded in 1945, HPHA promotes public health. The association — open to professionals and students — organizes conferences and annual meetings for members to connect. Members also receive access to a membership network and internship opportunities.
  • Hawaii Workforce Infonet The Hawaii Workforce Infonet offers resources for job seekers and employers. The website provides labor market facts and a job search directory. Assessment tools also allow users to evaluate their career and personal skills.
  • ExploreHealthCareers.org ExploreHealthCareers.org addresses the underrepresentation of minorities in the healthcare industry, and the general shortage of workers in underserved communities. Users can find free information about health careers on this site and access the Career Explorer to find jobs.

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