Counseling Licensure Requirements in New York

Exploring how to become a counselor can be a complicated process. Requirements vary from state to state, and different specializations often list different requirements. Generally, each aspiring licensed professional counselor (LPC) must fulfill certain minimum education requirements, complete an exam, and possess good moral character.

New York counseling professionals must also complete a period of supervised training. This guide provides an in-depth look at several LPC counseling careers, salary data and comparisons, minimum education and practicum requirements, and common licensure procedures for in-state and out-of-state candidates. It also discusses maintaining licensure and continuing education requirements.

Counseling Careers in New York

Counselors may specialize in several areas, which can impact their location and the clients with whom they work. Explore five popular counseling careers below, including their most common workplaces and job expectations. Visit the career information links for more details, including typical education requirements, degree comparisons, and employment outlooks.

How Much Do Counselors Make in New York?

Using employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the table below displays salary comparisons for several popular LPC careers in New York state and nationwide. Readers should note that BLS combines wage data for behavioral, mental health, and substance abuse counselors into a single category.

Education Requirements for Counselors in New York

Education and Coursework

Each counselor in New York must possess an undergraduate degree. For LPCs, a preferred undergraduate discipline is not specified. Aspiring school counselors generally earn their undergraduate degrees in education, while behavioral and substance abuse counselors typically pursue undergraduate degrees in a closely related field.

In addition to college education requirements, mental health counselors and marriage counselors must complete training in the identification and reporting of child abuse

Mental health counselors, along with marriage and family counselors, must earn graduate or postgraduate degrees in counseling from qualifying programs. To satisfy licensure requirements, degrees must hold accreditation from the Commission on the Accreditation of Counseling Related Education Programs, the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education, or another acceptable agency.

Education guidelines for counselors also include specific credit and coursework requirements. Mental health counselors, in addition to marriage and family counselors, must complete at least 60 credits and 45 credits, respectively. Students must take relevant curricular content areas such as human growth and development, psychotherapy, professional ethics, and counseling theory. In addition to college education requirements, mental health counselors and marriage counselors must complete training in the identification and reporting of child abuse, in accordance with New York state law.

Practicum and Internship

Mental health counselors and marriage and family counselors must complete 1,500 and 3,000 supervised contact hours, respectively. All hours must consist of direct client contact under the supervision of a licensed and registered counselor. These clinical experience requirements typically take between 1-2 years to complete.

Online Counseling Programs in New York

New York is a state of diverse and numerous educational opportunities and hosts many specialized online counseling programs. One such program is New York University-Steinhardt's online counseling and guidance master's degree, which certifies students in as little as 18 months to work in pre-K-12 environments.

Students can take three semesters or internships to get work experience in New York

Students in this master's program can participate in weekly classes and online labs that prepare them for internships in their local areas. The school also offers in-person networking sessions. Another offering indicative of the diversity present in New York is a specialized master's program with a bilingual counseling concentration.

Medaille College also offers an online master's degree in clinical mental health counseling comprised of 17, seven-week classes. This program provides students with licensure to work in the state. Students can take three semesters or internships to get work experience in New York.

How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in New York

After completing a graduate or postgraduate degree and required client contact hours, the final key in how to become a licensed counselor is state examination. Before sitting for an exam, candidates must submit a formal licensure application and a fee.

Licensure for LPC professionals is handled by the State Board for Mental Health Practitioners, part of the New York State Education Department's (NYSED) Office of the Professions. Certification for other counseling careers, including substance abuse counseling and school counseling, is handled by other state offices. Certification requirements for these non-licensure careers vary, but these candidates typically need to complete relevant examinations, as well.

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Out-of-State Counselor Candidates

Out-of-state professionals wondering how to become a counselor in New York will be glad to know that the licensure by endorsement process is fairly simple for qualified candidates. To qualify for licensure by endorsement, candidates must be at least 21 years old and have completed five years of licensed practice in the past decade (requiring previous completion of a relevant graduate degree and licensure examination). Endorsement candidates must submit an application, a fee, licensure verification, endorsement experience record, and certification of experience (submitted by a colleague).

Out-of-state candidates who do not meet endorsement requirements must apply as an applicant for initial licensure.

Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in New York

New York law states that counselors working in mental health or marriage and family practice must renew their licenses every three years to continue practicing. To qualify for renewal, counselors must complete at least 36 hours of approved continuing education courses within each three-year period.

Continuing education activities may include completing courses administered by NYSED-approved providers, preparing and teaching a higher education course, authoring a first-time article or book, or making a technical presentation at a professional conference. NYSED-approved self-study educational activities are also acceptable but cannot account for more than 12 of the 36 required hours.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in New York

  • Creative Arts Therapy Certificate Program This program teaches mental health counselors and social workers how to utilize creative arts in their work as a form of therapy. The idea is to "facilitate person-centered communication" to help clients communicate their emotions through nonverbal therapy. The program is 66 hours and offers 60 continuing education hours.
  • Holding on and Letting Go: The Red Thread of Adult Bereavement Students can earn two continuing education hours by attending this online webinar offered through the New York University Silver School of Social Work. This webinar covers information about common grieving behaviors of an adult, in addition to practice-based and evidence-based interventions.
  • Providing Counseling Services to Emergency Workers, Military, and Their Families The New York City Marriage and Family Therapy, PLLC, offers a rolling catalog of continuing education courses available in-person at its New York City office. This course is worth two continuing education hours. Students can explore the on-the-job stressors that impact emergency service workers and how to treat them.

Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in New York

  • New York State Career Development Association The NYSCDA, part of the American Counseling Association, promotes career development by providing greater access to job services and by fostering networking opportunities for working professionals. The organization hosts several events throughout the year, including webinars and a biennial conference.
  • New York State Department of Labor This resource is particularly handy for New York counselors looking for job postings, job fairs, tips on how to update their resumes, and local career centers. The site also provides integral information about counseling requirements.
  • Higher Education Services Corporation Students in New York State will appreciate all of the helpful tips about state and federal financial aid available on the Higher Education Services Corporation's website. There are also links to scholarship applications and information on applying for the New York State Tuition Assistance Program.
  • State University of New York Career Development Organization SUNYCDO is a career development organization composed of 64 state university campuses. Employers often utilize this organization to publicize internships and jobs. SUNY graduates, students, and employees qualify for membership.
  • Vibrant Emotional Health Vibrant Emotional Health provides essential crisis programs for the community, including NYC Well and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The organization also serves to network professionals working in counseling through its internal job positions.
  • American Counseling Association of New York This regional chapter of the ACA helps counseling students and counselors in New York excel in their careers. ACA-NY holds free networking events and free continuing education courses four times a year for its members. Members can also receive discounts on rental cars, insurance, and subscription.
  • New York State School Counselor Association The NYSSCA provides support for school counselors and counseling students. The association also holds an annual conference where it names the School Counselor of the Year, among other awards. Members receive access to the NYS Comprehensive Model Program and school counseling resources, such as links to low-cost summer and after-school programs and cybersafety websites.
  • New York Mental Health Counselors Association This advocacy association serves New York's clinical counselors. Membership pays for in-person and online continuing education programs, which are needed for license renewal in New York. Members also get dental insurance, access to Find-a-Supervisor and Find-a-Counselor directories, and career development opportunities. The NYMHCA mentorship program also connects students with working clinical counselors.
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