Counseling Licensure Requirements in Minnesota

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), mental health counselors remain in high demand in the state. DEED projects 16.8% job growth for these counselors over the next 10 years and reports that the state struggles to meet the demand for mental health professionals, especially in rural areas.

Minnesota law mandates that mental health providers hold state licensure. Five separate state boards (related to psychology, behavioral health and therapy, marriage and family therapy, social work, and education) oversee licensure of counselors and other mental health workers. This guide provides information about becoming a licensed counselor in Minnesota.

Counseling Careers in Minnesota

Individuals who pursue counseling careers in Minnesota help people deal with a variety of challenges. Counselors can work in settings like schools, prisons, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and private practices. The section below explores the types of counseling careers available in Minnesota.

How Much Do Counselors Make in Minnesota?

Counselors in Minnesota typically earn salaries above the national average. Median salaries for counselors in the state range from about $40,000-$55,000, with school, guidance, vocational, and educational counselors earning the highest salaries. The table below contains data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which combines salary data for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors.

Education Requirements for Counselors in Minnesota

Education and Coursework

All counseling positions in Minnesota require at least a bachelor's degree, and most require a master's degree in counseling or a related field. Specific educational requirements vary for each type of counselor. All mental health workers providing clinical care must hold a master's degree from an accredited program that includes courses related to their specific type of licensure.

All counseling positions in Minnesota require at least a bachelor's degree

Licensed professional counselor (LPC) candidates, for example, must complete a master's program that includes at least 48 semester credits. They must take coursework in 10 specific subject areas, including human growth and development and family counseling.

Practicum and Internship

Minnesota requires licensed counselors to possess hands-on experience in the field. State-approved counseling programs include practicum hours, and counselors planning to provide clinical care must also complete postgraduate professional hours. LPC candidates, for example, must complete 700 hours of supervised fieldwork during graduate school and a year of full-time supervised practice after graduation.

Online Counseling Programs in Minnesota

Minnesota students can access online undergraduate and graduate counseling programs throughout the country, including options in Minnesota. For example, Minnesota State University Moorhead offers a master's degree in counseling through a hybrid format, with some instruction on campus and the rest online. This program holds approval from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and meets Minnesota's licensure requirements.

Online programs may allow professionals to work full time or part time as they earn their degree

Online students view lectures, complete assignments, and take tests through a digital platform. However, learners must typically devote a significant number of hours to an internship or practicum, during which they learn from established counseling professionals in their specialization area. A student pursuing a degree in school counseling, for example, may spend one or more semesters working with a guidance counselor in an elementary, middle, or high school.

Online programs may allow professionals to work full time or part time as they earn their degree. Distance programs also prepare students for the counseling licensure process, providing the tools, resources, and knowledge necessary to become an LPC or licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) in Minnesota.

How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Minnesota

Minnesota licensing requirements for counselors vary depending on the type of license. The Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy oversees licensure for LPCs, LPCCs, and licensed alcohol and drug counselors (LADCs). LPC candidates must hold a graduate degree from a CACREP-accredited program in counseling or a related field. The program must include at least 700 hours of supervised fieldwork and coursework in 10 specific content areas.

LPCs must also complete 2,000 hours of supervised clinical practice and pass a national exam and a background check. Because Minnesota recognizes LPCCs as independent mental health providers, the state requires them to meet all LPC requirements and complete additional courses related to clinical practice and 4,000 supervised professional hours.

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Out-of-State Counselor Candidates

Out-of-state counselor candidates must demonstrate their out-of-state license meets Minnesota standards. The state retains reciprocity agreements with many states with similar licensing requirements. The Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy reviews reciprocity applications from substance abuse counselors on a case-by-case basis.

Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Minnesota

Minnesota requires licensed counselors to complete continuing education credits to qualify for license renewal. Specific requirements for renewal differ according to the type of license. LPCs and LPCCs, for example, must renew their license the first time after four years. During this time, they must complete 12 credits of postgraduate credits.

Thereafter, LPCs and LPCCs must complete 40 continuing education credits every two years to renew their license. Alcohol and drug counselors and marriage and family therapists must also complete 40 continuing education credits every two years to maintain licensure.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Minnesota

  • PESI Based in Wisconsin, this nonprofit organization offers regular courses and seminars that meet Minnesota counseling licensure requirements. Course subjects include multicultural awareness, mindfulness, dealing with self-harm behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy, and the aging brain. PESI offers courses in person and online.
  • AtHealth At Health offers 41 courses that meet continuing education requirements for licensed alcohol and drug counselors. Professionals can choose from five diversity-focused courses on topics including cultural complexities, immigrant experiences, and multiculturalism. At Health also delivers several courses focused on addiction and ethics, which also fulfill continuing education requirements for LADCs.
  • NetCE One of the most popular professional development resources in the United States, NetCE offers dozens of courses that meet continuing education requirements for counselors in Minnesota. Available course topics include ethics, mindfulness in clinical settings, borderline personality disorder, behavioral addictions, sexual assault, and men's and women's health issues.

Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Minnesota

  • State School Counselor Licensure Rules All practicing school counselors must obtain Minnesota counseling licensure. 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 complete at least 40 credits of continuing education every two years. The Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy maintains these requirements and issues and renews licenses to LAPDs statewide.
  • Licensed Professional Counselor Exam Requirements This exam tests professional counselors on 10 core tenants of the field while ensuring that all licensed professionals have completed at least 2,000 hours of supervised training. 
  • Minnesota Council of Nonprofits MCN helps Minnesota nonprofits connect and collaborate on projects. The council also maintains a widely used job board for professionals seeking positions with nonprofit organizations, such as counselors.
  • Minnesota Psychological Association MPA enhances public welfare through the advocacy and promotion of psychology professionals. The association facilitates continuing education for mental health professionals through the Minnesota Board of Psychology, while also helping counselors and other professionals network and share best practices. Additionally, the organization 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. The association maintains high ethical standards and a code of conduct to which all members must adhere. MSCA also lobbies for state policies that advance the school counseling field.
  • Minnesota Association of Counselors of Color MnACC works to improve access to higher education for people of color. The association's members include counseling professionals, as well as two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions throughout Minnesota. MnACC provides professional development, training, and networking opportunities for students and members.
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