While counseling licensure requirements typically vary by state, most states look for similar professional qualifications, such as a completed master's degree and a practicum or internship program. This guide outlines some of the specific requirements to become a licensed counselor in the state. Continue reading to learn about topics such as online counseling programs, counselor salaries, license maintenance and renewal, and the different fields you can specialize in as a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) in Maryland.
Counseling Careers in Maryland
The field of counseling includes several areas of specialization areas, five of which are presented below. A counselor's area of concentration and scope of practice depends on several factors, including the type of facility they work for, their highest educational level, and their professional interests and career objectives. The counseling fields that follow make up the most common practice areas in many regions of the country.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
These types of counselors identify personal, familial, and social factors that impact a student's school performance and long-term academic future. They often intervene during crisis situations or work with students, parents, and school personnel to prevent crisis situations. They also provide testing services to help students discover their strengths and interests to guide them on their educational journey.Explore Career Information Explore Maryland School Counselor Certification
Marriage and Family Therapists
Counselors in this field often help clients deal with issues such as divorce, domestic violence, generational conflict, and financial matters as they impact family dynamics. They may provide counseling services to individuals, couples, and/or entire families, so they require the skills to communicate effectively with different age groups.Explore Career Information
Rehabilitation counselors work with people who live with an emotional, physical, mental, or developmental disability. They assist them in managing the personal and social effects of their disability. Rehabilitation counselors often help their clients develop independent living skills, qualify and search for jobs, and maintain positive and productive professional and personal relationships.Explore Career Information Explore Maryland Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
People who suffer from emotional disorders or drug or alcohol addiction benefit from working with substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. These professionals help their clients identify and modify problem behaviors, avoid potentially dangerous situations, and rebuild familial and societal relationships. They also provide referrals for any special service or intervention their clients may need.Explore Career Information Explore Maryland Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors work with clients who are suffering from varying conditions including depression, anxiety, grief, stress, and suicidal tendencies. Some counselors focus on clients from a specific population, such as children, teenagers, or the elderly,. They often help their clients cope with the professional and personal problems created by their mental health condition.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in Maryland?
As the tables demonstrate below, Maryland counseling professionals generally earn slightly higher salaries relative to their counterparts in the rest of the country. Note that there is no separate information for mental health counselors, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies them with substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors in Maryland
Education and Coursework
To qualify for licensure in Maryland, prospective counselors need at least a master's degree in the field, while counselors who wish to establish a private practice typically need a doctorate. Additionally, the state requires counselors to earn their respective degrees from an accredited college or university approved by the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists.
prospective counselors need at least a master's degree in the field, while counselors who wish to establish a private practice typically need a doctorate
The Maryland counselor board stipulates that the master's degree should consist of 60 credits, while a doctorate should consist of at least 90 credits. Both degrees must include coursework in 14 content areas identified by the Maryland counselor board; these topics include the social and cultural foundations of counseling; diagnosis and psychopathology; group dynamics, processing, and counseling; appraisal; and professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities.
Maryland issues specific counselor licenses to professionals who wish to provide art therapy, and for those who want to focus on clinical alcohol and drug counseling. Art therapists must earn their master's or doctoral degree at a board-approved institution accredited by the American Art Therapy Association. For clinical alcohol and drug counseling license candidates, at least 39 credits of their master's degree must consist of alcohol and drug coursework.
Practicum and Internship
Maryland counseling licensure requirements include a post-degree directed experience in a professional counseling setting. Prior to earning the LCPC designation, counselors with a master's degree must complete at least 3,000 supervised clinical hours of direct patient contact under an approved licensed supervisor. Candidates with a doctoral degree need to complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of supervision, at least 1,000 hours of which must be post-degree.
Online Counseling Programs in Maryland
The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the standard accrediting body for counseling programs. As a rule, state boards across the country accept CACREP accreditation for both on-campus and online counseling programs, and the Maryland counseling board is no exception. Johns Hopkins University, a leading Maryland institution, offers an online master's in counseling program in two fields: school counseling and clinical mental health counseling.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Maryland
In addition to the educational and supervision requirements stated above, the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists requires LCPC candidates to pass the National Counselors Examination and the Maryland State Law Test. Candidates for the licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor exam must take the Maryland State Law Test and the Master Addiction Counselor exam. Aspiring licensed clinical professional art therapists must pass the Art Therapy Credentials Board Exam and the Maryland State Law Test. The Maryland counseling also issues graduate licenses that allow holders to offer counseling services in a professional setting only under the supervision of a licensed clinical counselor.
Out of State Counselor Candidates
Professional counselors who hold a valid and unencumbered license from another state can go through a simple verification process to practice in Maryland. They need to show proof of their master's or doctoral degree and the completion of the required supervised hours. License transferees also have to show completion of at least three semester hours in the following areas: psychotherapy and treatment of mental and emotional distress, diagnosis and psychopathology, and professional ethics and legal responsibilities.
Maryland considers out-of-state licensees who registered with the National Credentials Registry or the American Association of State Counseling Boards as having met the requirements for state counseling licensure. All non-resident licensed counselors must still take the Maryland Law Exam.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Maryland
Maryland LCPC licenses expire every two years. Renewal applicants must pay the required fee and complete at least 40 continuing education hours. Continuing education consists of different types of activities, such as attending a workshop, seminar, or conference, enrolling in an onsite or online course or training program, and authoring or reviewing an article in a peer-reviewed publication. The Maryland counseling board recognizes several continuing education providers, including the American Counseling Association, the National Board for Certified Counselors, and the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Maryland
- The National Board for Certified Counselors An organization that certifies professional counselors across the United States, NBCC maintains a roster of more than 64,000 professional counselors. NBCC's searchable online directory of certified counselors features licensed professionals who voluntarily register their practice and maintain their counseling licensure by keeping their license current and fulfilling continuing education requirements.
- Maryland CEU Institute Founded in 2012, the Maryland CEU Institute provides regular continuing education training to mental health professionals practicing in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area. The workshops offered at the institute meets the continuing education requirements for counselor license renewal. They also help counseling professionals maintain, update, and increase their skills and knowledge base.
- Free State Social Work Approved by several professional boards including the National Board for Certified Counselors, this continuing education provider offers top-quality materials and resources for social workers, counselors, and therapists. They present a range of relevant continuing education topics that inform and impact clinical practice in these professional fields.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Maryland
- American College Counseling Association This organization works with emerging professionals who plan to work in higher education or currently work in the field. Members benefit from a global network of peers, continuing education opportunities, and grants.
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy AAMFT offers resources for professionals who specialize in marriage and family therapy. Members receive access to professionals, continuing education, and cutting-edge information regarding the marriage and family specialty field.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association AMHCA offers opportunities for collaboration, education, and leadership among mental health professionals. AMHCA includes both student and practitioner memberships. Practitioners can receive liability insurance, while students receive advanced training.
- American Counseling Association As one of the largest professional counselor organizations, ACA membership includes insurance, continued education opportunities, and access to special offers from organizations in relationship with the ACA.
- Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification The CRCC works to set the standards for rehabilitation counseling services throughout the nation. The CRCC offers continuing education opportunities. Professionals also gain access to job postings and networking discussion boards.
- American School Counselor Association ASCA members gain access to multiple scholarships for professionals in school or returning to school for school counseling. The ASCA also works to provide current professionals with resources and professional development. The ASCA ensures that students live fulfilling lives helping them focus on their academics presently.
- Society of Counseling Psychology SCP, also known as Division 17 of the American Psychological Association, promotes the facilitation of personal and interpersonal functions in people's lives at any age. Students can apply to the Barbara A. Kirk Award and Donald E. Super Fellowship.
- Counseling Academic & Professional Honor Society International - Chi Sigma Iota This national honors society supports both professional and academic excellence in counseling. CSI promotes research and innovation within the broad field of counseling. Students can use this site to access scholarships and fellowships to help fund their education.