How to Become a School Counselor in Louisiana

School counselors assist students in developing academic and career skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in counseling are projected to grow 13% between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than average.

To become a guidance counselor in Louisiana, prospective candidates must obtain a master's degree in counseling from an accredited college or university, take and pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE), complete the required supervised work experience, and apply to the state board to receive a licensed professional counselor (LPC) license.

This guide provides more information on education and experience requirements, the licensure application and renewal processes, and other resources for those exploring how to become a school counselor in Louisiana.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in Louisiana

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Louisiana here

Education and Experience Requirements

All school counselors in Louisiana need a postgraduate degree in counseling and must attain counseling work experience before they can become licensed. The section below provides an overview of the education and experience requirements for becoming a guidance counselor in Louisiana, including information on degree options, educational attainment, areas of coursework, and levels of competency.

Education and Coursework

School counselors must have a master's degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution. Undergraduate students considering pursuing a career in counseling should major in a socio-behavioral field, such as psychology, sociology, social work, human services, or behavioral health. Most bachelor's degrees require 120-136 credits and take four years to complete.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree, students should apply to a master's program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) that focuses on mental health counseling and incorporates a counseling practicum or internship.

School counselors must have a master's degree in counseling from a regionally accredited institution

Prospective counselors must complete 60 credits of graduate coursework in counseling, which should be distributed among the eight core areas of counseling as defined by CACREP counseling theories and practice, human growth and development, abnormal behavior, techniques of counseling, group dynamics and counseling, lifestyle and career development, appraisal of individuals, and ethics and professional orientation.

Post-master's degree counseling courses can be applied toward licensure if the program requires less than 60 hours and the student earns an "A," "B," or passing grade. Students must also engage in a practicum experience totalling 100 hours or an internship totalling 600 hours.

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

Practicum and Internship

Graduates of master's programs who have passed the NCE can apply directly for a provisional LPC license to practice under board-approved supervision. In order to qualify for an LPC license, candidates must complete a minimum of 3,000 post-master's supervised mental health counseling experience hours, including at least 1,900 direct client contact hours, 1,000 indirect client contact hours, and 100 face-to-face supervision hours. This supervised experience should be completed within 2-6 years of initial approval.

Application and Exam Requirements for Louisiana School Counselors

The Louisiana counselor board — the Louisiana State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors — regulates and processes licensing procedures and applications for counselors. It is in charge of various counseling specializations and corresponding licenses, including LPCs and licensed marriage and family therapists. The licensure and certification process differs between specializations.

candidates must document 3,000 hours of supervised experience in mental health counseling before applying for full LPC licensure

Beyond educational requirements, prospective guidance counselors in Louisiana should apply for a provisional licensed professional counselor (PLPC) license to start accumulating supervised experience. PLPCs are not permitted to practice independently and instead must find practicing counselors to become their board-certified supervisors.

Licensure requires supervisees to document 3,000 hours of supervised experience in mental health counseling and sit for the National Counselor Exam (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) before applying for full LPC licensure. In certain instances, coursework can be substituted for indirect supervision hours.

Supervised experience should be completed in 2-6 years after receiving a provisional license to practice. Candidates can then submit an application for licensure to the board along with verification of their degrees, exam scores, and supervised experience.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Out-of-state school counselors can apply for endorsement in Louisiana and transfer their credentials from another jurisdiction. Endorsement verifies that the current credential is equivalent to the credential held in another state or region.

Applicants for endorsement should complete the online application form, submit verification of their current license from their state of origin's licensing board, and provide an official score report from the NCE or NCMHCE examination agencies. Applicants should submit a license verification form to their licensing board and return it to the Louisiana licensing board.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

School counselors in Louisiana are required to renew their licenses every other year. The annual renewal period falls between April 1-June 30. To maintain their licenses and qualify for renewal, counselors must complete 40 continuing education hours. These hours can take the form of online courses, ethics workshops, coursework, home study, presentations, research, or case work consultation.

School counselors in Louisiana are required to renew their licenses every other year

Continuing education credits approved by the Louisiana Counseling Association, American Counseling Association, and National Board for Certified Counselors will automatically be accepted by the Louisiana counselor board. If a course, workshop, or other continuing education experience is not approved by these organizations, it must fall within one of 14 approved content areas.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in Louisiana

Professional organizations can be a great way for counselors to network with other professionals or for recent graduates and provisional practitioners to get their feet in the door. Many professional organizations provide useful resources for career development, job hunting, and continuing education.

Explore More Pathways to Becoming a Counselor in Louisiana

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