Working as a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in New Mexico requires individuals to complete several steps, including earning a master's degree, completing an internship, and passing the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). Once individuals complete these preliminary steps, they may apply for licensure with New Mexico's Counseling and Therapy Practice Board.
In New Mexico, substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors earn a mean annual salary of about $47,000. Read on to discover the additional benefits of a counseling career and learn what it takes to become a licensed counselor in New Mexico.
Counseling Careers in New Mexico
LPCs are typically employed in the education and healthcare industries. Common career paths to consider include school or vocational counselor, marriage and family therapist, rehabilitation counselor, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, and mental health counselor. The details for each of these positions and the requirements to practice are described below.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists help couples and families build stronger relationships, develop communication tools, and work through trauma. They devote much of their time to meeting with clients individually and in groups.Explore Career Information
Rehabilitation counselors work with people managing physical, mental, emotional, or developmental disabilities. They help clients live independently and manage the impact of their disabilities on everyday life.Explore Career Information Explore New Mexico Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
These counselors help people manage substance abuse and behavioral problems, such as alcohol and drug addiction and eating disorders. They may provide both individual and group counseling in inpatient and outpatient formats.Explore Career Information Explore New Mexico Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors help clients dealing with trauma, substance abuse, or relationship issues. A counselor's primary tasks include analysis, diagnosis, and developing treatment plans. Their main goal is to help patients change deleterious behaviors and develop coping mechanisms to better handle difficult situations. Most counselors work in private practice, rehabilitation facilities, or other medical centers.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in New Mexico?
The average annual salary for LCPs in New Mexico varies depending on a worker's field but typically ranges from $38,000 to $55,000. Note that the Bureau of Labor Statistics combines substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in one category. The table below details how the annual salary for counselors in New Mexico compares to national averages.
Education Requirements for Counselors in New Mexico
Education and Coursework
The first step to becoming an LPC in New Mexico is earning a bachelor's degree in counseling or a related field, such as psychology, social work, or human services. Individuals must then enroll in a master's program at an accredited institution. New Mexico prefers candidates who possess a degree in counseling, psychology, human and family studies, art therapy, or clinical psychology. Candidates must complete a minimum of 48 credits of graduate-level coursework to qualify for counseling licensure.
The first step to becoming an LPC in New Mexico is earning a bachelor's degree in counseling
New Mexico may allow graduates with a degree in an unrelated field to apply for counseling licensure if they demonstrate at least three semester credits (or four quarter credits) in each of the following subject areas: human growth and development, research methods, social and cultural foundations, helping relationships, career and lifestyle development, appraisal, professional orientation, and group work.
Other requirements to qualify for state licensure include completing a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience consisting of face-to-face supervision and direct client care. An individual's supervisor must be a licensed counselor practicing in social work, psychology, marriage or family therapy, or psychiatry. Once individuals earn their degree, they may apply for licensure with New Mexico's Counseling and Therapy Practice Board.
Practicum and Internship
To become a counselor in New Mexico, students must complete a minimum of nine semester credits (or the equivalent) of a practicum or internship. Most graduate programs include this in their program requirements, but students should check for this component.
Online Counseling Programs in New Mexico
Many prospective counselors benefit from the flexibility, accessibility, and convenience of an online counseling program. Working professionals and students with family obligations can arrange coursework around their schedule, and online programs often cost less than traditional programs. Some schools provide tuition discounts for online students, and students in an online program can save on commuting costs. Counseling students in an online program complete the same internship requirements to gain field experience. Online counseling programs often work with students to arrange internships in their local area.
Working professionals and students with family obligations can arrange coursework around their schedule, and online programs often cost less than traditional programs
Students in New Mexico can enroll in counseling programs across the country, extending their opportunities for educational advancement. While few colleges and universities located in New Mexico offer online options, students can apply to top online programs. For example, learners can enroll in the master's in counseling program at Northwestern University, which trains clinical mental health counselors. For students who prefer a local option, the University of the Southwest — located in Hobbs — offers an online master's in school counseling and a master's in mental health counseling.
Prospective counselors should learn more about the profession's education requirements to decide if an online counseling program will advance their career.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Mexico
Once students complete all education and clinical requirements, they can apply for the LPC credential through New Mexico's Counseling and Therapy Practice Board. To apply for counseling licensure, candidates must submit a notarized application and pay a $75 fee. Additional documentation includes official school transcripts, verification of supervised clinical experience, a recent photo, and documentation of disciplinary action (if applicable). They must also agree to New Mexico's code of ethics.
If New Mexico's Counseling and Therapy Practice Board approves the application, candidates can sit for the NCE. Candidates with passing scores receive their LPC license and can begin practicing as a counselor.
Out-of-state Counselor Candidates
New Mexico offers a relatively simple process for out-of-state professionals hoping to transfer their counseling practice through a reciprocity agreement. Candidates must submit proof of a master's or doctoral degree. They must also possess a current license and demonstrate active practice in good standing for the last five years.
If out-of-state candidates meet New Mexico's requirements, they do not need to take an examination to qualify for licensure. However, they will need to maintain their license according to New Mexico's renewal standards and maintain an ethical practice in accordance with New Mexico's code of ethics.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in New Mexico
An LPC license in New Mexico must be renewed every two years. To renew, professionals must complete a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education courses within the two-year licensure period. New Mexico's Counseling and Therapy Practice Board typically mails renewal reminders, but it is ultimately up to professionals to take responsibility for renewal of their license. If individuals do not renew before their license expires, they have 90 days to submit a renewal application. However, they also need to pay a $100 late fee.
To apply for renewal, professionals must submit proof of their continuing education hours and complete the renewal application. The Counseling and Therapy Practice Board recommends all counseling professionals visit its website for up-to-date information on industry trends and licensing information.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in New Mexico
- New Mexico Counseling Association The NMCA offers continuing education resources that meet the requirements for New Mexico counseling licensure. The association offers these opportunities throughout the year, and attendees at the annual conference can also earn continuing education credits.
- University of New Mexico The Counselor Education program at the University of New Mexico offers classes that meet requirements for continuing education credits toward New Mexico counseling licensure. The program offers courses that can be applied toward an MA or Ph.D. in counseling, with specializations in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling.
- At Health At Health offers online continuing education opportunities for counselors. In New Mexico, counselors may complete up to 12 of their 40 required continuing education credits online. At Health boasts over 138 course options for counselors.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in New Mexico
- New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Practice Board This board provides information on licensure requirements, renewal, and continuing education. Counselors can also renew their license online.
- New Mexico School Counselors Association This association — a state affiliate of the American School Counselors Association — helps school counselors by providing professional development opportunities and advocacy.
- New Mexico Career Development Association This association helps counselors advance their careers through free workshops, trainings, job market advice, and conferences.
- New Mexico Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling This association — a division of the NMCA — helps counselors gain an understanding of LGBT issues to improve the delivery of their counseling services.
- American Counseling Association ACA provides many resources, including professional guidelines, continuing education opportunities, and counseling publications. ACA also provides a career center for job seekers.
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy AAMFT provides access to online education and training resources. It also offers networking opportunities and publishes research to help professionals stay up to date in the field.
- American Rehabilitation Counseling Association Rehabilitation counselors rely on the resources offered by this association, including an annual conference, research publications, and professional awards. Members also benefit from workshops and training opportunities. The association's online peer network allows rehabilitation counselors to connect with colleagues.