To become a counselor in North Carolina, candidates need at least a master's degree, along with clinical experience. In addition, they must fulfill other requirements, such as taking the licensing exam and the jurisprudence exam.
This guide explores the various types of counselors licensed by the state and offers details about how to become one. You can explore education requirements, online programs, and salary expectations. Learners gain insight into the various services provided by different types of counselors and the professional organizations they might join.
Read on to learn about how to become a counselor in North Carolina.
Counseling Careers in North Carolina
Students interested in pursuing a counseling career have many options based on their interest area. They learn how to help individuals of all ages overcome challenges. For instance, they might learn how to assist children with emotional issues, treat teens dealing with eating disorders, or support adults coping with loss.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors provide social, academic, and career support to their students and clients. Most of these counselors work in an educational or nonprofit setting. In addition to providing individual counseling to students, they may also meet with parents, teachers, and potential employers.Explore Career Information Explore North Carolina School Counselor Certification
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists help individuals and families cope with problems in their lives. They may offer one-on-one counseling or group therapy. Many of these therapists work in private practice.Explore Career Information
Rehabilitation counselors help their clients overcome the physical and psychological effects of their disabilities or challenges. They often work for community health centers or government agencies. Some specialize in serving specific populations, such as the elderly or veterans.Explore Career Information Explore North Carolina Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
Counselors in this area offer counsel and care to individuals struggling with a variety of addiction issues and behavioral disorders. To better serve their clients, these counselors often seek out advanced training in working with particular groups, such as individuals with alcoholism or those battling eating disorders.Explore Career Information Explore North Carolina Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
These counselors treat clients dealing with mental health issues, whether personal, family, or social. Their goal is to help their patients achieve emotional wellbeing. They might work with clients one-on-one or in groups, usually providing healthcare on a regular basis to help them overcome challenges.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in North Carolina?
In some positions, counselors in North Carolina earn a higher median salary than their colleagues in other states. The below chart compares salaries earned by in-state counselors to those across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) combines wage data for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors.
Education Requirements for Counselors in North Carolina
Education and Coursework
In North Carolina, all licenses require education at the master's level or higher. While candidates with a bachelor's outside of behavioral science can apply to a master's program, learners typically first earn a degree in psychology or social work. For example, a student might earn a bachelor's in psychology and then enroll in a master's program in rehabilitation counseling. Students may earn their degrees from either a residential or online program.
While candidates with a bachelor's outside of behavioral science can apply to a master's program, learners typically first earn a degree in psychology or social work
No matter the form, students should ensure that they enroll in an accredited master's program, preferably from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs or the Master's in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council. Programs should also have their own accreditation.
Generally, a master's program requires 60 credits of coursework. While classes might vary depending on the program, specialization, and electives, all prospective counselors should expect to take courses in counseling theories and techniques and other fundamental studies. They should also expect to participate in group work and hands-on learning.
Before graduating, students must complete a thesis project, pass an exam, and complete required clinical hours to prove their competency in key areas.
Practicum and Internship
In addition to their coursework, learners must complete practicum and internship hours. They must demonstrate at least three semester hours each in eight content areas, such as lifestyle and development and research. Students must also accumulate at least 300 hours of supervised experience and document 17 hours of supervision.
Online Counseling Programs in North Carolina
Online counseling programs provide a flexible and affordable way to continue your education. In asynchronous online programs, you can take classes entirely on your own schedule and from anywhere with an internet connection. In some cases, online offerings cost less than campus programs. Beyond potential tuition savings, you also do not need to pay for room and board or certain fees associated with campus activities when earning your degree online.
In asynchronous online programs, you can take classes entirely on your own schedule and from anywhere with an internet connection
Through the University of North Carolina online system, you can earn a bachelor's in psychology, a master's and a certificate in rehabilitation counseling, and a certificate in substance abuse counseling. Many smaller private universities also offer degree and certificate programs in the professional counseling field.
Another benefit of online education lies in your ability to enroll in programs across the country. In many cases, you can even qualify for the equivalent of in-state tuition no matter where you live. Before choosing a school, make sure to understand the full breadth of your options, as well as the challenges that come with learning at a distance.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in North Carolina
The North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors handles all licensures for the state. In addition to completing the necessary education level, applicants must provide education transcripts, professional disclosure statements, and exam results, including the jurisprudence exam. Prospective counselors must pay an application fee and pass a criminal background check.
Requirements differ among the specialized levels: associate, professional, or supervisor. For example, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) must submit verification of supervised professional practice, while a licensed professional counselor supervisor (LPCS) must provide verification of professional counseling experience as well as meet additional education requirements.
Out of State Counselor CandidatesWhile North Carolina does not currently have reciprocity with other states, individuals with active licenses from other areas can apply for licensure through an endorsement process. For endorsement, applicants must be licensed by a board in another state and apply to the North Carolina Board providing all necessary documents.
They must possess the required education level, complete all necessary testing, and provide references. In addition, they must have practiced full time for five years and accumulated at least 2,500 hours of direct client interaction.
Candidates must have a notary validate their applications and have their out-of-state licensure verified.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in North Carolina
Licensed counselors must renew their licenses every two years. They can complete the process online.
Along with submitting a renewal form, counselors must fulfill various requirements. Some of these, such as the ethics attestation statement, require a signature. This can be done online. They must also take the jurisprudence exam sometime after January 1 of the renewal year and submit a certificate of completion with their materials.
Meeting continuing education requirements is important, and counselors must attest to earning the necessary number of credits in key areas between renewal periods.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in North Carolina
- American Counseling Association ACA provides state-authorized continuing education credits to licensed counselors in North Carolina. Counselors can earn credits by taking online courses; participating in webinars; or reading and responding to journal articles, policy briefs, and book chapters. Counselors can explore subjects such as working with the elderly or serving as an expert witness.
- Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification Authorized by North Carolina to certify continuing education providers, CRCC has approved more than 100 training programs across the country. Counselors can choose from online and in-person courses on professional ethics, substance abuse diagnosis and treatment, aging, alcoholism, burn management, human trafficking, and hearing loss.
- National Board for Certified Counselors Licensed counselors in North Carolina can earn continuing education credit for pursuing board certification in counseling or a specialty certification in an area like school counseling. Certification coursework covers subjects such as counseling for trauma or violence, substance abuse counseling, human sexuality counseling, and clinical counseling for special populations.
Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in North Carolina
- North Carolina Counseling Association As the state branch of the American Counseling Association, NCCA represents the interests of professional counselors working in North Carolina. It advocates for legislation and policies that benefit its membership, publishes a quarterly newsletter and a scholarly journal, and hosts an annual conference. Its website also features a job bank.
- North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors NCBLPC oversees licensure of all professional counselors in the state. It also allows consumers in the state to verify that their provider has received a state license and check to see if NCBLPC has disciplined that provider for violations of state law or the profession's code of conduct.
- North Carolina School Counselor Association NCSCA works to promote excellence in the profession of school counseling and support the academic development of all students in the state. In addition to events and professional development resources, NCSCA offers a grant and scholarship program as well as an emerging leaders program meant to recognize exemplary young professionals in the field.
- North Carolina Association for Marriage and Family Therapy NCAMFT serves licensed mental health professionals working in the area of marriage and family therapy. It provides online continuing education opportunities, organizes an annual conference, and maintains a job board on its website. The association also helps counselors navigate the unique licensure requirements of the North Carolina Marriage and Family Therapy Licensure Board.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness - North Carolina Chapter NAMI-NC raises awareness about mental health issues and provides support to individuals and families affected by mental illness. The alliance offers training programs in areas such as group facilitation, youth suicide prevention, and home-based care. It also hosts a statewide conference and local events.
- American Counseling Association Established in 1952, ACA boasts the largest membership of any professional counseling association in the country. In addition to advocating for legislation and policies on behalf of its members, ACA provides a wealth of online professional development and continuing education resources. It also organizes an annual conference and numerous state-level chapter events. Its website features a career center and information for counseling students and new professionals.
- American School Counselor Association ASCA serves professional school counselors and their students. It hosts an annual conference, webinars, and local workshops to help its members sharpen their skills and earn continuing education credits. It also publishes a bimonthly magazine and a quarterly journal covering the latest scholarships in the field of school counseling. Members can also access tools and resources designed for counseling practitioners.
- American Mental Health Counselors Association AMHCA works to enhance the profession of mental health counseling through advocacy and education. Licensed counselors can earn continuing education credits through the association's webinars and home-study courses. The association also conducts and publishes new research, hosts a job board, and offers a code of ethics to help guide the professional practice of its membership and others working in the mental health field.