How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor in New Jersey

Rehabilitation counselors work with individuals who have some type of permanent or temporary disability. They help their clients lead independent and more productive lives by helping them secure needed support services. Rehabilitation counselors coordinate with other professionals to craft an individualized plan that addresses their clients' specific needs and objectives. They work with individuals who may have an emotional, psychological, physical, or developmental disability.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster than average growth rate for the rehabilitation counseling profession — 13% versus 7%, which is the average projected growth rate for all other jobs. Rehabilitation counselors enter a healthy job market when they pursue this challenging, yet richly rewarding, career. This guide presents information on how to become a rehabilitation counselor in New Jersey. Continue reading to find out more about the Garden State's counseling licensure requirements.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in New Jersey

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in New Jersey here

Education and Experience Requirements

To ensure that clients seeking the assistance of a rehabilitation counselor receive timely and quality care, New Jersey sets high educational and practice standards for rehabilitation counseling licensure. Candidates must pass a national examination and submit to a criminal background check. Read on to explore the educational and training requirements for New Jersey rehabilitation counselors.

Education and Coursework

Many professional counselors begin their counseling career by earning an undergraduate degree in a field such as psychology, sociology, or social work. Some universities offer a bachelor's program in counseling, but most schools offer a concentration in counseling in the disciplines mentioned above. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in other fields can still pursue a counseling career, although they often must enroll in prerequisite coursework.

Rehabilitation counselors who want to practice in New Jersey need at least a master's degree in the field before they can apply for a license. The state further requires that individuals complete a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The degree must comprise at least 60 credits and include courses in the following mandated content areas:

  • Introduction to rehabilitation counseling
  • Counseling theories and practice
  • Psychological aspects of disability
  • Medical aspects of disability
  • Evaluation and assessment
  • Community counseling and resources
  • Research methods
  • Group methods
  • Social and cultural diversity
  • Career counseling and consultation

Candidates who complete a program with fewer than 60 credits must make up the deficit number of credits by enrolling in additional graduate-level coursework prior to licensure.

Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:

Practicum and Internship

In addition to meeting the educational requirements for licensure, rehabilitation counselor candidates must also complete supervised field experience that typically consists of at least 600 internship hours. Most candidates complete their internship within three years. They can complete one year of internship prior to earning their master's degree. The remaining supervised experience must occur in a rehabilitation counseling setting after they have earned their master's degree.

Application and Exam Requirements for New Jersey Rehabilitation Counselors

Counselor licensure in New Jersey lies within the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Professional Counselor Examiners Committee, which in turn is under the banner of the State Board of Marriage and Family Therapy Examiners. The state maintains a clear distinction between the Licensed Rehabilitation Counselor (LRC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credentials, although requirements for both licenses may be similar.

New Jersey maintains a clear distinction between the Licensed Rehabilitation Counselor (LRC) and Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credentials, although requirements for both licenses may be similar

In addition to fulfilling the educational and supervised training requirements mentioned above, candidates must also pass the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) exam. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification administers this exam. Some CACREP-accredited programs include the CRC exam as part of their program requirements. Most states recognize the CRC credential and many states, including New Jersey, require it for licensure.

Licensure candidates can download the application form and other materials by visiting the website of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. New Jersey requires applicants to submit to a fingerprint background check. The Division of Consumer Affairs exempts applicants from this requirement if they have already completed a fingerprint check after November 2003 with an agency they supervise. However, they must still complete a new background check (without fingerprinting) prior to licensure. Individuals must pay a $75 non-refundable licensure processing fee.

Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates

New Jersey supports counselor licensure through reciprocity. Out-of-state licensed rehabilitation counselors can practice in the state by applying for reciprocity with the Professional Counselors Examiners Committee. The committee requires the following items to be submitted directly to them: Verification of applicant's counselor license from the original licensing board, official transcripts from the applicant's college or university, a current resume, and a $75 application fee.

The license verification documents must include the applicant's national test scores and a record of their supervised counseling hours. The committee extends reciprocity licensure for applicants who hold a current and unencumbered counselor license from another state.

Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

Counselor licenses in New Jersey expire every two years. License holders receive a notice in the mail approximately 60 days prior to the expiration of their license to give them ample time to renew. Renewal candidates must complete 40 continuing education units every two years, at least five of which must be in ethics and three in social and cultural competency. Candidates who complete more than 40 continuing education units within the two-year renewal period can transfer a maximum of 10 units toward their next renewal date. Renewal candidates can complete continuing education units online.

Counselor licenses in New Jersey expire every two years

Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in New Jersey

The resources below give rehabilitation counselors in New Jersey several opportunities to network with their peers, learn about the latest field developments, and update and add to their skill set and knowledge base. By tapping into these programs and services, rehabilitation counselors can assist their clients to live independent and productive lives.

  • American Rehabilitation Counseling Association ARCA provides a range of resources that benefit rehabilitation counselors, including workshops and trainings, a newsletter featuring legislative and emerging trends updates, professional liability insurance, and collaboration and networking opportunities.
  • Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification Rehabilitation counselors can find the latest news in licensing regulations at CRCC's website in addition to other useful and updated information such as an active job board and contact information for all the state professional counseling licensure boards.
  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs CACREP keeps members apprised of the latest issues in general counseling practice and provides a searchable database of accredited programs. The group also sponsors onsite workshops that can count as continuing education units.
  • International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals IARP members can access informative on-demand courses, an updated career center, and online articles on a variety of topics that impact the rehabilitation counseling field. The group also hosts an annual conference and offers continuing education units at no cost to members.
  • The National Council on Rehabilitation Education The NCRE sponsors two national conferences each year that gather rehabilitation practitioners from various disciplines such as counseling, education, trainers, and researchers. The NCRE works to formulate and maintain the professional and educational standards for the field.
  • New Jersey Counseling Association NJCA is the New Jersey chapter of the American Counseling Association. Members can take advantage of free confidential consultations in matters regarding ethics and professional standards via phone call, letter, or email.
  • New Jersey Department of Human Services – Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired The CBVI's webpage contains information about several federal and private programs and services designed to assist blind or visually impaired individuals live productive and independent lives. Rehabilitation counselors working with this population can help their clients access these programs and services.
  • New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services Rehabilitation counselors working with individuals with cognitive, physical, emotional, or some other type of disability can use the resources featured on the DVRS webpage to help their clients find reliable and suitable employment.
  • North Atlantic Region Association for Counselor Education and Supervision NARACES offers continuing education units approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors. The group also supports counseling-related research by making grant funding available and publishes a peer-reviewed digital journal called the Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors & Educators Association RCEA focuses on giving rehabilitation practitioners opportunities to build their professional support network and collaborate on research and practice projects. RCEA provides members with continuing education units and training programs.

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