The state of Mississippi licenses counselors as licensed professional counselors, or LPCs. If you have the requisite education and experience, you can apply to the State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors. There is only one level of licensure within the state, but the process may be a little different if you already have some counseling experience.
The information below is designed to be a navigable resource for professional counselor licensure in Mississippi. If at any time you have a question or would like to make sure you are on the correct path, contact the Mississippi State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors.
Counseling Careers in Mississippi
Career opportunities for professional counselors are expanding throughout Mississippi. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the demand for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors to climb 23% across the U.S. from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average increase for the economy as a whole. The job prospects for mental health counselors are growing quickly, particularly in underserved communities. Mississippi’s mental health counselors earn an annual mean salary of $43,680. Average salaries for other counseling positions in the state range from $32,990 for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors to $48,640 for educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These counselors help students identify their interests and skills. During a typical workday, they may offer personal and career guidance, assisting students individually or in small groups.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: These therapists spend their day helping individuals, couples, and families understand their feelings, adjust behaviors, and make decisions. They often work with clients facing challenges such as divorce, unemployment, or difficult relationships with their children.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors assist people with disabilities. They provide services that help their clients to function independently by locating resources, developing treatment plans, and working with employers to provide accommodations.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: These dedicated professionals provide essential services to people struggling with addictions, alcoholism, and other mental and behavioral problems. They often endure stressful working conditions.
|Occupation||Average Salary in Mississippi|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$50,140|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$38,700|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$38,630|
Other Professionals Who May Be Licensed as Counselors
In Mississippi, LPC licensure is open not only for mental health counselors, but also for those in other counseling specialties, including school counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors
You will need to complete a graduate degree from a regionally or nationally accredited institution. Your program should include at least 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours). If you graduate from a shorter master's program, you will need to complete additional coursework to make up the difference.
Your degree may be in counseling, guidance, or another closely related field. You will need to take courses in the following areas:
- Social and Cultural Foundations
- Human Growth and Development
- Helping Relationships
- Career and Lifestyle Development
- Professional Orientation
- Research and Evaluation
- Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling
- Diagnosis and Treatment
Online Counseling Programs in Mississippi
In most states, a master’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for licensure as a professional counselor. An online master’s provides a convenient alternative to a traditional on-campus program. The round-the-clock flexibility of an online program appeals to busy adults with family or work commitments. Anyone with an internet connection can access course materials, turn in assignments, and interact with faculty and students through a desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Structured like brick-and-mortar programs, an online master’s in counseling allows students to specialize in high-demand fields like mental health, substance abuse, and school counseling. Like on-campus programs, online offerings require practicums or internships as part of their graduation requirements. Most programs help online students arrange these supervised experiences at a convenient location.
Students will find several online counseling degrees in Mississippi or one of its neighboring states, which prepare them to earn Mississippi counseling licensure. For example, Mississippi College, a Christian institution based in Clinton, offers a fully online master's in psychology and counseling. Just across the state’s eastern border in Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama’s distance learning branch offers a CACREP-accredited master’s in rehabilitation counseling. In nearby Arkansas, John Brown University has developed an online master’s programs in clinical mental health, school counseling, and marriage and family therapy.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Mississippi?
The application for Mississippi counseling licensure requires several steps to complete. You will need to get a criminal background check, which can be done through the Department of Public Safety. Generally, the board disqualifies applicants with felonies or misdemeanors of “moral turpitude,” but will consider various mitigating factors, including age and record since conviction.
You also need to submit your academic records. Generally, all supplemental materials should be sent in the same packet, but the board will accept transcripts sent straight from your university. If you send them yourself, make sure they are official copies and that they’re in sealed envelopes.
Your supervision verification should be included in your application packet in sealed envelopes. Supervisors must sign across the seal of the envelope. You must have your application notarized. You also need to include a $100 fee, made out to Mississippi Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors.
Mississippi only authorizes one level of counseling: licensed professional counselor (LPC). Once you've completed the requisite educational and supervised practice requirements, applicants may apply for licensure to the State Board of Examiners for Licensed Professional Counselors. Candidates must submit their notarized LPC application to the Mississippi Board of Examiners, with the required $100 fee, to receive approval to take the National Counselor Examination. The LPC fee must be submitted with the application and all supporting documents. The non-refundable fees must be paid by check or money order. This chart provides a sampling of the fees associated with obtaining and renewing professional licensure in Mississippi.
|Application Fee for Professional Licensed Counselor||$100|
|Initial and Biennial License Renewal Fee||$220|
|Application for Board Certified Supervisor Fee||$50|
|Biennial Board Qualified Supervisor Renewal Fee||$40|
|License Verification Fee||$25|
|NBCC National Counselor Examination Fee||$185|
The Licensing Exam
Before you can get your LPC license, you need to take the National Counselor Examination. You’ll need to apply to the Mississippi board for approval to test. If you are already licensed in another jurisdiction, or if you hold National Counselor Certification, you can have the score report sent to Mississippi. Scores should come straight from the Nation Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) or be included with your license file.
If you are taking the exam for the first time, submit your professional counselor application to the Mississippi board. The board will send you a registration form which you’ll fill out, sign in ink, and send to the NBCC along with a $185 fee. It will take the NBCC approximately a month to approve you. At that point, you can schedule an exam.
Mississippi's only testing site is in Ridgeland. You can also take the exam at a testing site in another state. Tests are scheduled between 9:30 and 1:30 on weekdays.
Computerized testing is generally available for two full weeks of each month. You should schedule as early as possible, as seats fill up quickly. Your testing fee allows you to reschedule one time.
The Mississippi board stipulates that you must take the exam within a year of your approval or pay additional fees to have your file reopened. The NBCC sets tighter limits; your application and fee give you a six-month testing window.
Supervised Practice Requirement
You will need to have 3,500 hours of supervised practice before you can get your license. You cannot claim more than 40 hours in a single week.
All hours must be completed post-baccalaureate, but you may earn up to 1,750 while enrolled in your graduate program. Internships and practicums may be counted toward the total.
At least 1,167 of your hours must be in psychotherapy service or direct counseling. Activities like case consultation and client assessment are included in this total. Your supervisor must be board-qualified, unless you completed your supervised experience before July 1, 2008.
You will need 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. Group supervision may be counted, but is worth less -- two hours of group supervision counts as one hour of individual. No more than half of your requirement may be met through group supervision.
Out of State Counselor Candidates
The Mississippi board notes that national registry in Tier II by the American Association of State Counseling Boards can qualify you for a reciprocal license. Registry with the American Association of State Counseling Boards can also simplify the application process. Otherwise, the board will consider out-of-state applicants on a case-by-case basis.
License Maintenance and Renewal
As a Mississippi LPC, you'll need to renew your license biannually. During this time, you'll need to complete 24 hours of continuing education. At least six must be in professional ethics or counseling-related legal issues. You must ensure that your continuing education log, renewal form, and fee are received by the board. You should retain continuing education records for two years after the renewal deadline, as 10% of renewals will be audited.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Mississippi
- Mississippi Counseling Association: The MCA, in affiliation with the Mississippi Licensed Professional Counseling Association, sponsors an annual MCA fall conference and other continuing education opportunities that highlight current trends in counseling practice and provide continuing education credits. The MCA's website maintains an event calendar listing upcoming conferences and workshops carrying approved continuing education units for Mississippi and nearby states.
- Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals: The MSAAP supports professionals working in the field of chemical dependency in Mississippi and provides its membership with professional development opportunities. Its annual conference offers participants more than 20 continuing education units. Conference themes address a variety of contemporary issues relevant to professionals, including suicide prevention, relapse prevention, faith-based therapy, and current industry trends.
- Mississippi Addiction Counselor Training Program: The MACT provides addiction counselors and allied health professionals with the skills needed to work with individuals and families affected by addiction. In operation in Mississippi for over a decade, this program offers on-site training at two locations, in Oxford and Jackson. The program includes more than 90 courses that may be used to fulfill continuing education renewal requirements.
Resources for Counselors
- Mississippi Department of Human Services: This official state-sponsored website provides information on available assistance and health and safety initiatives for children, families, and seniors. It provides useful data on economic support, education, social services, and health care.
- Mississippi State Department of Health/Health and Safety Topics: This state-maintained resource provides downloadable reports on prescription drug abuse and the opioid and heroin epidemic in Mississippi. It also includes links to government and private agencies promoting drug awareness and addiction prevention.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: This independent health organization funds research, sponsors educational programs, and advocates for public policies in suicide prevention and mental health. It also provides resources and support for survivors of suicide loss.
- Counseling Today: This monthly publication for professional counselors maintains an accompanying website. Both formats feature news stories and in-depth articles on a range of issues.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: The SAMHSA advances public health initiatives to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness. Their website offers statistics, policy updates, and information about grants of interest to mental health professionals.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- American Counseling Association: The ACA, established in 1952, promotes public confidence in the counseling profession. Its membership includes professional counselors from the U.S. and 50 other countries. It offers a career information center and job bank, along with information about continuing education regulations and opportunities. ACA members have access to the organization's online professional development program.
- American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy: The AAMFT represents the professional interests of 50,000 marriage and family therapists in the U.S. and internationally. It sponsors an annual conference and provides information on licensing and professional development. The association has developed an online learning delivery system for NBCC-approved continuing education courses.
- Mississippi Licensed Professional Counselors Association: As the only organization working on behalf of mental health counseling professionals in Mississippi, the MLPCA maintains a political action committee to monitor legislation that affects the counseling profession. Its annual conference and workshops offer continuing education credits to its members. The MLPCA also sponsors the June Comola scholarship for graduate students who intend to enter the field.