In Michigan, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) acts as Michigan's counselor board and oversees licensure for counselors and other health professions that fall under the Michigan Public Health Code. LARA assists candidates during the licensure application process and maintains records for more than 400,000 licensed professionals throughout the state.
Per LARA mandates, prospective counselors in Michigan must meet certain academic criteria and complete postdegree training requirements to become a licensed professional counselor (LPC). This guide covers how to become a counselor in Michigan. Read on to learn about accepted degrees and courses, application materials, postgraduate training, and other requirements for counseling licensure in the state.
Counseling Careers in Michigan
Day-to-day duties and responsibilities for licensed counselors in Michigan vary based on their specific job title. This section offers brief descriptions of common counseling occupations, including school counselors, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors. To learn more about LPC positions in Michigan, please visit the links included with each description.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
Some counselors work in educational settings — from the elementary school level through college — to help students overcome challenges, find necessary resources, resolve conflicts, and prepare for future academic and career opportunities.Explore Career Information Explore Michigan School Counselor Certification
Marriage and Family Therapists
These counselors help families and couples identify problems and create strategies to improve relationships. Many marriage and family therapists work in private or group practices to serve the needs of individuals, couples, and families.Explore Career Information
Rehabilitation counselors help people with mental, emotional, and/or physical disabilities lead more fulfilling and independent lives. These professionals work in a variety of settings, such as human service agencies, residential care facilities, and schools.Explore Career Information Explore Michigan Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
These counselors provide clinical care to people suffering from behavioral disorders, such as OCD or eating disorders, as well as addiction and substance abuse. They may work at community agencies, therapy practices, and addiction treatment centers.Explore Career Information Explore Michigan Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors assist individual patients and groups dealing with substance abuse, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other issues that affect emotional health. They may work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities to provide inpatient treatment or in-home consultations. Mental health counselors routinely work with other healthcare professionals, law enforcement agencies, and educators to assist and effectively treat their patients.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in Michigan?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), salary expectations for licensed counselors depend on the specific job title. The table below compares the median annual salaries for Michigan counseling professions against earnings for the same professionals nationwide. Note that the BLS combines wage data for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors in Michigan
Education and Coursework
According to LARA, students planning to earn a counseling license through examination must hold a master's or doctoral degree in counseling or student personnel work. Applicants must submit official transcripts showing at least 48 semester credits or 72 quarter credits related to counseling topics, such as career development, counseling techniques, counseling theory, multicultural counseling, and professional ethics.
students planning to earn a counseling license through examination must hold a master's or doctoral degree in counseling or student personnel work
The applicant's degree-granting institution must also submit a Certification of Counseling Education form. This document confirms the candidate has completed an approved counselor training program. If the institution or program has not received accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs or the Council on Rehabilitation Education, then the candidate's program needs to include coursework in all content areas listed in the certification form.
Michigan issues limited counseling licenses to candidates who have completed the educational requirements for licensure but not the postgraduate supervised experience requirements. Graduates with a master's must complete at least 3,000 supervised hours, including at least 100 hours under the direct supervision of a licensed counselor. Those who have completed coursework beyond a master's only need to accrue 1,500 supervised hours with at least 50 hours under direct counselor supervision.
Practicum and Internship
In addition to coursework requirements, applicants for counseling licensure in Michigan must complete an internship while earning their master's or doctoral degree. The internship should include at least 600 hours of supervised clinical experience related to counseling practice. LARA does not mandate where this internship takes place.
Online Counseling Programs in Michigan
To pursue Michigan counseling licensure, students must first earn a graduate degree in counseling; this can be done either online or in person. Pursuing an online degree offers numerous benefits, including the potential for additional affordability and flexibility. Many schools tailor online programs to fit the schedules of working professionals. Distance learners complete most coursework online, allowing them to avoid commuting to school regularly or living on campus. Even hands-on field experiences can typically be completed near a student's home.
Distance learners complete most coursework online, allowing them to avoid commuting to school regularly or living on campus
Michigan students can select from several online course and program offerings. For example, Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids offers a master's in counseling in a mostly online format; however, students must join their cohort on campus twice during the program. Learners at Cornerstone may specialize in addictions counseling, trauma counseling, multistate licensure, or interdisciplinary studies. The program also includes internship and practicum requirements.
Michigan students can also look for online programs in nearby states — such as the one hosted by Northwestern in Illinois — or find programs that offer a combination of online and hybrid courses, such as the master's in counseling available at Eastern Michigan University.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Michigan
Once they have obtained a limited license, master's degree candidates need to complete 1,500-3,000 hours of supervised counseling experience, depending on their degree level. Coursework in a degree specialization, such as substance abuse counseling, or training hours that candidates accrue prior to earning a limited license do not count toward supervised training requirements.
Counseling candidates in Michigan must also pass a certification exam. LARA requires prospective rehabilitation counselors to pass the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification exam. Candidates entering other counseling professions must earn a passing score on the National Counselor Examination produced by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Michigan also requires fingerprint reports and criminal background checks for all counseling licensure candidates.
Out-of-state Counselor Candidates
Candidates who have held a license in another state for at least five years may apply for a counseling license endorsement in Michigan. These applicants must submit a professional disclosure statement and verification of their counseling license. Like counselors seeking a license by examination, out-of-state counselors seeking an endorsement who have practiced for less than five years need to provide transcripts demonstrating a master's or doctoral degree with at least 48 semester credits or 72 quarter credits related to counseling coursework.
Endorsement seekers also must submit a fingerprint record and a criminal background check. Michigan does not hold any special reciprocity agreements with any other states for counseling licensure.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Michigan
Both the initial professional counselor license and the limited professional counselor license are valid until the next license expiration date, which fluctuates year to year. However, licenses issued less than 120 days before the next expiration date carry over to the following year. Subsequent counseling licenses are valid for three years. Michigan does not require licensed counselors to complete continuing education credits for license renewal. Licensed counselors can begin the renewal process 90 days prior to their license's expiration date. Michigan also permits online renewals of counselor licenses.
Individuals with the limited professional counselor license can renew their license annually, but it cannot be renewed after 10 years.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Michigan
- Michigan Social Work CE Collaborative Although Michigan does not currently require professional counselors to pursue continuing education, this collaborative maintains a list of continuing education programs for social workers. The collaborative offers on-campus classes and coursework online in the form of webinars, home study, or self-paced courses. Topics include bullying, anxiety, and racial justice.
- American School Counselor Association Michigan school counselors seeking professional development can turn to this national association. ASCA offers a variety of continuing education options, such as an annual conference, webinars, and training sessions. After completing webinars or reading journal articles, members can take online quizzes to earn credits.
- American Counseling Association ACA provides a variety of educational opportunities for Michigan counselors seeking professional development. These include an annual conference; interactive webinars; and online courses, podcasts, articles, and books. ACA members can take up to 12 online courses each year at no additional charge.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Michigan
- Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs This government agency oversees 25 of Michigan's health professions by providing licenses, customer service, prelicensure support, application processing, and application reviewal for over 400,000 of Michigan's professionals.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Michigan The Michigan affiliate of NAMI advocates for children and adults affected by mental illness and emotional disorders. NAMI operates numerous programs that educate the public and provides resources and support to individuals, families, and communities.
- Michigan Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, Inc. MAADAC is an affiliate of the National Association of Alcoholism Counselors and Trainers. This nonprofit offers education, support, and mentorship, along with medical benefits and liability insurance to professionals who serve people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction.
- Michigan Mental Health Networker This website provides information about mental health services in Michigan for treatment professionals, social service organizations, and the public. The site lists agencies, therapists, support groups, and treatment services by location and offers links to resources and additional reading material.
- Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association MMHCA promotes mental health in Michigan and supports mental health counseling professionals through advocacy and education. The association offers networking opportunities and professional training related to topics like human trafficking.
- Michigan Counseling Association MCA was founded in 1965 and operates as the state's largest association for professional counselors. MCA helps professionals by providing continuing education opportunities, publications, and advocacy services. The association actively distributes information regarding potential legislation that could impact professional counselor's in Michigan and their clients.
- Michigan School Counselor Association MSCA is a leading voice for professional school counselors in Michigan, providing information about current developments in the field, state and national legislative updates, and breaking news on counseling issues. MSCA also recognizes a school counselor of the year, runs an annual conference, and offers a scholarship for graduate study.