Counseling Licensing Requirements in Michigan

Becoming a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in Michigan requires a graduate-level education, passing scores on a licensing examination, and a clean background check. To achieve full professional licensure, you also need to accumulate a certain amount of supervised work hours.

Counseling Careers in Michigan

Counselors work in a variety of settings, from schools and government agencies to behavioral health and substance abuse clinics. Counselors may serve those struggling with mental disorders or disabilities, children and teens, or those seeking to improve their family relationships. A 2016 government report found a significant shortage in the number of behavioral health providers. With record numbers of people seeking help for opioid addiction and depression, the demand for licensed counselors in Michigan remains high.

  • Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: Some counselors work in educational settings, from the elementary school level through college, to help students overcome challenges, find needed resources, resolve conflicts, and prepare for future academic and career opportunities.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: These counselors help families identify problems and create strategies to improve relationships. Many MFTs work in private or group practices to serve the needs of individuals, couples, and families.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: 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 services agencies, residential care facilities, and schools.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: These counselors provide clinical care to people suffering from mental or behavioral disorders, such as depression and anxiety, as well as addiction and substance abuse. They work at community agencies, therapy practices, and addiction treatment centers.
  • Counselors, All Other: Counselors can also find employment in many other areas. For example, professionals may specialize in working with veterans, incarcerated persons, parents, or the elderly.
Occupation Average Salary in Michigan
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $55,030
Marriage and Family Therapists $50,180
Rehabilitation Counselors $39,010
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $45,860
Counselors, All Other $35,430

Source: BLS

Education Requirements for Counselors

You must complete a graduate degree that includes at least 48 semester hours (or 72 quarter hours) of coursework. Your degree may be in counseling or in student personnel work. To learn more about selecting a master's in counseling program, feel free to visit this site. Aspiring counselors need to complete coursework in each of the following areas:

  • Counseling techniques
  • Consulting
  • Career development
  • Counseling philosophy
  • Professional ethics
  • Group techniques
  • Research methodology
  • Testing procedures
  • Counseling theories

Counseling requirements in Michigan also require the completion a practicum and an internship lasting at least 600 hours.

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 busy, working adults. Distance learners complete most coursework using a computer, 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.

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 do need to join their cohort on campus twice during the program. Learners at Cornerstone may specialize in addictions counseling, trauma counseling, multi-state 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 -- 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 Do You Become a Counselor in Michigan?

Your application package includes several supplement forms. For example, before you can earn a license, you need to have your fingerprints taken. You may choose to have this fulfilled by L-1 Identity Solutions or Cogent Systems; make sure to include the code 71734k. Also, you need to bring the request form that is included in your application packet. You should have any previous academic transcripts and your certification of counseling education form sent directly to the Michigan board.

Additionally, you must complete a professional disclosure form, which you will eventually provide to your counseling clients. This disclosure form includes information related to your education, experience, practice, and fees. It also includes contact information for the regulatory department of the Michigan board. You can find a sample disclosure statement on the website of the Michigan Counseling Association.

If applying for limited licensure, your disclosure statement also includes the name of your supervisor and a statement indicating that they agree to supervise you. Approximately three weeks after you submit your application, you will receive a customer number. You can track your application online on this website. Currently, the fee is $115 for professional licensure and $85 for limited licensure. Click here to find your application form.

Licensing Fees

After earning a graduate degree in counseling, individuals pursuing Michigan counseling licensure must apply to become a limited licensed professional counselor and pay a fee of $83.20. This limited license enables one to begin supervised practice. This training consists of 3,000 counseling hours carried out within 24 months. After earning these hours, counselors can apply to become a licensed professional counselor by passing an examination and paying a fee of $199.60. This same fee applies to those already licensed in another state who wish to apply for a license by endorsement.

Request Type Fee
LPC - By Endorsement $119.60
LPC - By Exam $119.60
LPC - Relicensure $139.60
Limited LPC $83.20
Limited LPC - Relicensure $103.20
LPC - Application for Reinstatement of Suspended/Revoked License or Registration $55.55
Limited LPC - Application for Reinstatement of Suspended/Revoked License or Registration $55.55
Limited LPC - Application for Reclassification of Limited License $55.55
LPC Renewal Fee $187.20
Limited LPC Renewal Fee $26.00

Source: LARA Application, Renewal Fees

The Licensing Exam

You may take the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) Certification Examination to qualify for licensure. The NCE is for candidates with degrees in counseling or related fields; this is the most widely used professional counseling licensing examination in the U.S. If you opt to sit for the NCE, you can download the registration form from the website of the Michigan board or NBCC. A registration form is included in the application package.

You should obtain an original sealed copy of your graduate transcript from your school, which must include the date your degree was conferred. This, along with the signed registration form and a payment of $195, should be sent to the NBCC Assessment Department.

Allow NBCC four weeks to process your materials and send you approval. Once approved, you can schedule an exam through AMP. Michigan contains three exam sites: one in Flint, one in the greater Detroit area, and one in the Grand Rapids area. You may also choose a testing site in another state if you prefer. All sites offer exams Monday through Friday, and some also offer exams on Saturday. You can schedule a testing session during the first two weeks of the month, but you should schedule in advance as exam spots fill up. If you have additional questions, you can email

CRC's exam is designed for rehabilitation counselors, although counselors with degrees in related fields can also sit for this test. This exam uses three testing windows each year, and you will need to turn in your application approximately 4-5 months in advance. The organization will review your credentials and screen your legal and professional background. If you receive approval and pass this examination, you can become certified as a rehabilitation counselor.

The application requires the payment of a $385 fee. You can find upcoming deadlines on the CRC's website . The exam is scheduled through Prometric, which boasts more than 300 testing sites in the U.S and Canada. For more information, you can email Whichever exam you opt to take, you should have your score report sent directly to the Michigan board.

Supervised Practice Requirement

You also need to work under supervision before you can get a professional license, and you must attain limited licensure status before you begin accruing professional experience hours.

The number of professional experience hours you need depends on your educational level. If you have a master's degree plus 30 additional semester hours (or 45 quarter hours) of counseling coursework, you need to accrue 1,500 hours of experience completed over a period of at least one year. If you only have a master's -- without additional coursework -- this requirement is 3,000 hours; these hours can be completed over a two-year period.

For some of these experience hours, you need to be supervised by someone who has training in supervision. If your overall experience requirement is 3,000 hours, you must accrue at least 100 of these hours with a supervisor in the immediate vicinity. Alternatively, if your experience requirement is 1,500 hours, your direct supervision requirement is 50 hours.

Out-of-State Counselor Candidates

You must send a verification of licensure or registration form to any state where you have held permanent licensure. States may charge a fee for verification; if required, make sure you include payment with your request.

If you have been practicing counseling for at least five years, you can apply for full licensure through reciprocity. Your application is good for two years; during this period, you must complete certain requirements.

Ongoing disciplinary sanctions, including fines, will disqualify you from Michigan licensure. However, if you have had sanctions in the past, you may still be eligible.

If you opt to undergo fingerprinting out of state, you should select an agency that will do these on either an FBI card or the official card of that state. You can make a money order or business check out to L-1 Identity Solutions and submit it, along with the Livescan Fingerprint Request Form, to L-1 Enrollment Services/Livescan Processing Unit.

License Maintenance and Renewal

Your initial license expires on the next year's expiration date, meaning it is good for a period not exceeding one year. Thereafter, the renewal period is three years. You can renew your license online at this website. The state of Michigan does not currently enforce any continuing education mandates for professional counselors.

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 that might be of professional interest to Michigan counselors. The collaborative offers courses face-to-face in classrooms or 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 charge.

Resources for Counselors

  • Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs: This government agency oversees 25 of Michigan's health professions by providing licenses, customer service, pre-licensure support, application processing, and application reviewal for over 400,000 of Michigan's professionals.
  • Michigan Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: MAMFT is a division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Its mission is to advance professional marriage and family therapists and support their practices. It provides resources to the public, counseling students, and licensed therapists.
  • NAMI Michigan: The Michigan affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness advocates for both children and adults affected by mental illness and emotional disorders and their families. It 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, as well as medical benefits and liability insurance to those serving 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. It lists agencies, therapists, support groups, and treatment services by location and provides links to resources and additional reading material.

Professional Organizations for Counselors

  • Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association: The goal of MMHCA is to promote mental health in Michigan and support mental health counseling professionals through advocacy and education. It offers networking opportunities and professional training related to topics like human trafficking.
  • Michigan Counseling Association: MCA was founded in 1965 and represents the state's largest association for professional counselors. MCA helps these professionals by providing continuing education opportunities, publications, and advocacy services. It 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. It also recognizes a school counselor of the year, runs an annual conference, and offers a scholarship for graduate study.
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