Counseling Licensing Requirements in Minnesota

Minnesota offers two levels of licensing for mental health counselors: licensed professional counselor (LPC) and licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC). The two differ in experience, education, and examination requirements. The state recognizes LPCCs as "mental health professionals."

Counseling Careers in Minnesota

Schools, nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses find great value in hiring licensed counselors who assist students, families, and employees in dealing with issues. Counselors help individuals and families address, manage, and overcome serious challenges, including relationship and marriage troubles, substance abuse, mental health issues, and behavioral disorders.

While schools and public agencies continue to work with licensed counselors, increasing numbers of large-scale private employers now recognize the benefits of hiring counselors for their teams. This change adds to the significant growth in the counseling field.

  • Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: Serving in K-12 or postsecondary settings, these counselors assist students with mental health, family violence, and substance abuse issues. They often provide career counseling and help with applying to college and financial aid benefits.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: These therapists help couples and families work through serious issues. They attempt to remove barriers to communication and help people address areas of contention in their relationships.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: Working with physicians, psychologists, and other therapists, these counselors create treatment plans for their patients who may need to overcome issues like substance abuse, mental health challenges, or physical injuries.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: These counselors help individuals and families address prevalent issues directly and by developing tools that work for them on a long-term basis.
  • Counselors, All Other: Licensed counselors can focus on many other areas, helping individuals and families with financial problems, childhood development, eating disorders, attaining educational success, and overcoming serious phobias.
Occupation Average Salary in Minnesota
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $56,310
Marriage and Family Therapists $52,070
Rehabilitation Counselors $40,940
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $48,570
Counselors, All Other $50,400

Source: BLS

Other Professionals Who May Be Licensed as Counselors

With the exception of psychologists and psychological practitioners, applicants need to meet the same standards regardless of profession or speciality. However, other professionals -- such as art therapists -- need to meet the requirements to qualify for licensure.

Education Requirements for Counselors

License seekers need a degree at the master's level or higher to achieve either level of licensing. Those hoping to earn the LPC need to complete a CACREP-accredited master's degree totaling at least 48 credits. Learn more about selecting a master's in counseling program here.

Your graduate education must include coursework in the following content areas:

  • The Helping Relationship
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Group Dynamics, Processes, Counseling, and Consulting
  • Lifestyle and Career Development
  • Assessment and Appraisal
  • Mental and Emotional Disorder and Dysfunctional Behavior
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Family Counseling and Therapy
  • Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethics
  • Research and Evaluation

Your program must include 700 hours of supervised field experience. If your program does not meet the above standards, you may take additional coursework later. Under normal circumstances, students can take up to 20 semester hours (or 30 quarter hours). Those who need to take more courses must do so through a sequential plan of study.

Those with a completed degree that did not include field experience may earn the field experience through an accredited institution. LPCCs also need to complete additional work, including:

  • Psychopathology (Including Developmental Pathology), Diagnostic Assessments for Adult and Child Mental Disorders
  • Clinical Treatment Planning
  • Clinical Intervention, as Informed by Community Practice Standards and Research
  • Evaluation Methodologies
  • Professional Ethics
  • Cultural Diversity

Online Counseling Programs in Minnesota

Minnesota students enjoy dozens of undergraduate and graduate counseling programs. Minnesota State University Mankato offers master's degrees in mental health counseling, professional school counseling, and college student affairs. Likewise, St. Cloud State offers a master's degrees in college, community, and school counseling. Nearly all programs hold approval from CACREP, allowing students to meet the counseling requirements in Minnesota.

In online programs, students view lectures, complete assignments, and take tests through a digital platform. However, they typically must complete a significant amount of hours in an internship or practicum, learning from established counseling professionals in their area of specialization. A student seeking a degree in school counseling, for example, may spend one or more semesters working directly with a guidance counselor in an elementary, middle, or high school.

Online programs also allow professionals to continue to work full time or part time as they make progress toward their degrees. They also prepare students for the counseling licensure process, giving them the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to become a certified LPC or LPCC in Minnesota.

How Do You Become a Counselor in Minnesota?

Normally, individuals complete supervised practice after earning an LPC. However, the board will consider supervised practice that took place beforehand. You must send in the Verification of Past Supervised Professional Practice form when you turn in your application for licensure as an LPC. You must also send in a supervisor application form if any of the supervision took place after July 5, 2005; otherwise, you need to send in the supervisor verification form.

Those who meet the minimum supervision requirements will receive LPC licensing with a designation that you can engage in independent practice.

Candidates Licensed as Psychologists or Psychological Practitioners

Those already licensed with the state as a psychologist or psychological practitioner do not need to demonstrate their academic performance. As a psychologist, you must show that you completed supervision appropriate to your license level. Psychological practitioners need to verify the completion of 2,000 hours of practice. Your supervisor does not need to meet the criteria for LPC supervisor.

Licensing Fees

Those seeking to become a licensed counselor in Minnesota need to understand the various fees required. These fees amount to the same whether you seek to get approved as an LPC or an LPCC. The funds generated through the fees go to the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy (MBBHT), the state agency responsible for reviewing applications for LPCs and LPCCs and approving or denying licenses.

Once you pay a fee, MBBHT will not issue a refund, nor will the agency waive or reduce any of the fees based on financial need. Applicants must pay renewal fees before their official renewal date passes, or else they will be subject to a monthly late fee.

Request Type Fee
Initial License Application Fee $150
Initial License Fee $250
Annual Active License Renewal Fee $250
Annual Inactive License Renewal Fee $125
License Renewal Late Fee $100/month
Copy of Board Order or Stipulation $10
License Verification $25
Duplicate Certificate Fee $25
Professional Firm Renewal Fee $25
Sponsor Application for Approval of a Continuing Education Course $60
Professional Firm Initial Registration Fee $50
Approved Supervisor Application Processing Fee $30

Source: MBBHT

The Licensing Exam

Minnesota accepts four different licensing exams for licensed professional counselor, including two offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors: the National Counselor Exam and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). The state also accepts the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination and the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology. The LPCC licensure requires the NCMHCE.

The NCE and NCMHCE use the same registration form, so make sure to indicate which exam you want to take. You can download forms directly from the NBCC site. You will send your registration with official, sealed transcripts and a $195 fee. The application should include your original signature in ink. You will receive confirmation from the NBCC approximately a month later. You can then visit and register at any of the AMP's computerized testing centers. Minnesota harbors testing sites in Duluth and Minneapolis.

If you took an exam other than the ones approved for LPC licensure, you may submit a request for review. The Examination Evaluation Committee will determine whether it is acceptable, or if you need to take another exam. The only approved exam for LPCC licensure is the NCMHCE. However, those with a completed exam at a lower licensing level only need to the take the NBCC's Examination of Clinical Counseling Practice.

Supervised Practice Requirement

As a licensed professional counselor, a supervisor much overwatch your first 2,000 hours of practice. In order to eventually move up to LPCC status, you need to complete 4,000 hours of supervised practice. Your 4,000 hours must include at least 1,800 hours of direct client contact.

When you turn in your LPC application, you need to include a supervision plan. You may begin supervision before you receive approval on the condition that your supervisor serves as an approved individual.

Supervisors not already board-approved need to fill out an application and complete 45 hours of training. You may request a list of approved supervisors from the board. The board specifies that in order to meet your supervision requirements as an LPC, you must complete two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of experience. This equals 100 hours over the course of the required 2,000 hours. At least 75% of your supervision must occur in-person (as opposed to over the phone or through electronic devices), and 50% must occur one-on-one.

To qualify for LPCC status, you must also complete two hours of supervision for every 40 hours of professional practice.

Out of State Counselor Candidates

If you hold an eligible license in an approved state, you can receive licensure by reciprocity. Because licensing in another state requires license seekers to meet similar expectations, you do not need to document your post-degree experience or provide field experience.

The board notes that other states not on the list may qualify for license by reciprocity. You will need to fill out an application for licensure.

The board agrees that the following states meet similar requirements and qualify you for reciprocity for an LPC license. (Those with an asterisk will require some extra documentation.)

  • Licensed Professional Counselor: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado*, Connecticut, Georgia*, Illinois*, Louisiana, Michigan*, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
  • Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor: Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Montana
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor: Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Washington, New York
  • Licensed Mental Health Professional: Nebraska
  • Certified Professional Counselor: Nebraska
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor: North Dakota, Ohio
  • Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health: South Dakota

Those with a doctorate coming from Colorado need official verification of your supervision obtained directly from the Colorado board. Those with an LPC from Minnesota or Georgia also need supervision verification.

Under certain conditions, Illinois candidates with the lower level LPC status may earn reciprocity. In addition to meeting the supervision requirements, you must verify that you hold a license granted under Administrative Code, section 1375.30, subpart (a)(1)(A).

The following licenses have been evaluated and approved for licensure by reciprocity at the LPCC level:

  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor: Massachusetts
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor: Ohio
  • Licensed Professional Counselor: Virginia

The Minnesota board lists several states that fail to meet the LPCC requirements, and Minnesota has not yet evaluated all states.

License Maintenance and Renewal

Your initial license expires on the next expiration date, meaning that it lasts no longer than a year. You must renew your license once every three years at Currently, professional counselors do not need to meet continuing education requirements.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Minnesota

  • PESI: Based in Wisconsin, this nonprofit organization offers regular courses and seminars that meet the Minnesota counseling licensure requirements. Subjects available include multicultural awareness, mindfulness, dealing with self-harm behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy, and the aging brain. These courses take place both in person and online.
  • AtHealth: AtHealth offers 41 different courses that meet the BBHT's continuing-education courses for licensed alcohol and drug counselors. Professionals may choose from five diversity-focused courses, including those in cultural complexities, immigrant experiences, and multiculturalism. AtHealth also delivers several courses focused on addiction and ethics -- two other state requirements for LADCs.
  • NetCE: One of the most popular professional development resources in the United States, NetCE offers dozens of courses that allow counselors to meet state BBHT continuing education requirements. Topics available include ethics, mindfulness in a clinical setting, borderline personality disorder, behavioral addictions, sexual assault, and men's and women's health issues.

Resources for Counselors

  • MN Association of School Administrators Jobsite: This website features school administrator jobs at public and private schools across Minnesota. It includes open positions for school counselors looking to serve at the elementary, middle, or high school level.
  • State School Counselor Licensure Rules: All practicing school counselors must go through the Minnesota counseling licensure process. This website offers all the information you need to apply for school counseling jobs.
  • LADC Continuing Education Requirements: Licensed alcohol and drug counselors in the state must undergo at least 40 hours of continuing education every two years. The MBBHT maintains these requirements and issues and renews licenses to LAPDs statewide.
  • Licenced Professional Counselor Exam Requirements: This exam tests professional counselors on 10 core tenants of the field while ensuring that all licensed professionals hold at least 2,000 hours of supervised training. It serves as a resource to those looking at how to become a therapist in Minnesota.
  • Minnesota Council of Nonprofits: MCN helps Minnesota nonprofits find each other and collaborate on projects. It also features the most widely used jobs board for those who wish to work in a nonprofit setting.

Professional Organizations for Counselors

  • Minnesota Psychological Association: MPA enhances public welfare through the advocacy and promotion of psychology professionals. It facilitates continuing education for mental health professionals through the Minnesota Board of Psychology, while allowing counselors and other professionals to network and share best practices. It also lobbies for the psychology profession.
  • Minnesota School Counselors Association: MSCA promotes excellence in school counseling by offering training, advocacy, resources, and networking opportunities to professionals statewide. It maintains high ethical standards and a code of conduct to which all members must adhere. MSCA also lobbies for public policies that advance the school counseling field at the state level.
  • Minnesota Association of Counselors of Color: MnACC seeks to improve access to higher education for people of color. The association's members include counseling professionals and two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions throughout Minnesota. It also provides professional development, training, and networking opportunities for students and members.
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