Counseling Licensing Requirements in North Dakota

North Dakota counseling licensure is offered at three levels. If you're just beginning your career and haven't satisfied the requirement for supervised practice, you will be credentialed as a licensed associate professional counselor (LAPC). Later you can become a licensed professional counselor (LPC).

You may eventually become a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC), which is a specialty designation. To become an LPCC, students must meet more stringent requirements at multiple stages, beginning with education.

The information below is designed to serve as a guide to counselor licensure in North Dakota. Contact the North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners if you have any questions regarding this process.

Counseling Careers in North Dakota

Licensed counselors have several career paths available. In North Dakota, you can become an LPC or an LPCC. It is particularly exciting and lucrative to pursue this kind of career right now because of the need for counseling services in the United States. More than 8 million Americans struggle with substance abuse and a similar number contemplate suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that there are 123 suicides each day. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 18% of U.S. adults in the United States suffer from mental illness every year. Now, more than ever, is the time to get into the field of counseling and start helping your fellow citizens.

  • Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: Educational, guidance, and school counselors work with students in elementary, middle, and high schools. Collaborating with parents and teachers, they help students improve social skills and prepare for the next step in their academic endeavors.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: Marriage and family therapists conduct counseling sessions for couples and families. With a family-centered approach to therapy, they help people face challenges by sharing their emotions and communicating about their relationships.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors help individuals cope with the aftermath of accidents, illness, and disease. The goal of a rehabilitation counselor is to help people maximize their independence through programs and activities in one-on-one settings and treatment centers.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors help individuals cope with the symptoms of mental illness and emotional trauma, as well as improve their well-being through one-on-one and group sessions.
  • Counselors, All Other: Counselors help people cope with life's challenges. Working in hospitals, healthcare settings, schools, residential care facilities, and more, they help individuals improve their overall mental and emotional health.
Occupation Average Salary in North Dakota
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $56,260
Marriage and Family Therapists $46,850
Rehabilitation Counselors $45,990
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $55,570
Counselors, All Other $50,340

Source: BLS

Education Requirements for Counselors

The minimum degree requirement for North Dakota counseling licensure is a master’s. In order to become an LAC, and later an LPC, you'll need to demonstrate that you have completed a graduate program of at least 60 semester hours, or 90 quarter hours.

Your degree should be in counseling or some variant like counselor education or counseling and guidance.

Whether your degree is in counseling or a related field, you will need to demonstrate coursework in the following areas:

  • Counseling Theories
  • Counseling Methods
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Career and Lifestyle Development
  • Professional Orientation and Ethics
  • Group Counseling
  • Research Methods or Statistics
  • Individual Appraisal or Testing

Your program will also need to include a counseling practicum or internship. The North Dakota board will allow you to take most of you coursework through distance learning. However, you must take a course in group process and counseling techniques on the physical campus. Additionally, you will need to make sure that your institution is able to approve and supervise the counseling practicum.

You can find accredited programs at North Dakota State University.

There are also online programs that have been accredited by CACREP.

Additional Requirements for LPCC Status

In order to become a licensed professional clinical counselor, you'll need a master’s degree of at least 60 semester hours. It must cover clinical counseling skills, abnormal psychology and psychopathology, and diagnostic assessment and appraisal utilizing the DSM IV. Your practicum and internship hours must total 700 hours.

In addition, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a total of 3,000 hours of supervised experience in a clinical setting.
  • You will need to videotape a counseling session that’s at least 30 minutes in length.
  • You’ll need to have three letters of recommendation.
  • You will need to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

Online Counseling Programs in North Dakota

Earning an online counseling degree is the most flexible option for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a professional counselor. Students who prefer to work independently often enjoy the benefits of completing a program in a distance format. Online colleges allow distance learners to participate in classes and complete coursework at their convenience.

North Dakota has a few regionally accredited program and colleges that offers online degrees in counseling and related degrees. The University of North Dakota has a synchronous master's-level program in school counseling. Valley City State University offers a hybrid bachelor's degree in psychology. The University of Mary offers an online bachelor's degree program in psychology. North Dakota State University offers an online bachelor's degree in psychology, as well as a graduate certificate program in financial and housing counseling. Minot State University offers an online bachelor's degree in human services with a concentration in intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Nearby in South Dakota, students may opt for the the online clinical mental health counseling graduate certificate from the University of South Dakota. South Dakota State University offers a hybrid master's-level program in rehabilitation and mental health counseling.

How Do You Become a Counselor in North Dakota?

All students must fill out applications and forms.

Applying for Associate Status

You will need three recommendations as a supplement to your LAPC application. One must be from a contact person at the agency where you completed your practicum, one must be from the program adviser at your school, and the third should be from a counseling professor or teacher.

Applying for LPC Status

You must fill out an abbreviated application form when transitioning from associate to professional status.

Applicants will summarize their supervised experience and make a self-assessment. At this stage, you will also need to write a statement of professional intent. Applicants will identify their intended client population and work settings. They will also describe their counseling approaches and what they have based them on. Applicants must include a $100 fee with their application.

Your supervisor will document your experience and mail the form separately. Application materials are to be mailed to the North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners.

Licensing Fees

The North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners mandates that profespective counselors apply and pay certain fees in order to become licensed to practice in the state. First, there is an application fee for earning initial licensure as an LAPC, LPC, or LPCC. There is another fee associated with advancing from LAPC to LPC. Counselors who have not yet taken the National Counselor Exam are subject to review fees. Those who want to be certified supervisors also have to pay a fee to the board. Counselors are required to renew their state licenses every two years. There is a renewal fee plus a late fee for those who do not renew within 30 days before the expiration date.

Request Type Fee
Initial License Application Fee - LAPC, LPC, LPCC $150
Advancing from LAPC to LPC Application Fee $100
Certified Supervisor Application Fee $100
Renewal Fee - LPCC $75
Renewal Fee - Certified Supervisor $100
Renewal Late Fee $100
Review Fee (if National Counselor Exam has not been taken at time of application) $40

Source: North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners

The Licensing Exam

The licensing exam you take depends on the level of licensing you seek. To become an LPC, you will need to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE).

If you're working toward licensed professional clinical counselor status, you will need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Both exams are offered through the same organization: the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

You will need to be approved by the North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners before you can schedule an examination. You will get your approval by turning in a licensing application. The board will send you a registration form, which you will mail to the NBCC.

You will need to include a $195 fee with your registration. Your fee will be processed first, then your application. This will take about four weeks. After you receive confirmation, you can contact Pearson VUE to schedule an examination by phone or online.

You can take the test in person in Bismarck or Fargo. You can select a location in a different state if you prefer. Examinations are administered during the first two weeks of the month. Scheduling early can help you get the session you want.

The North Dakota Board of Counselor Examiners will receive your scores approximately four weeks after the end of the testing week.

Supervised Practice Requirement

You will need to work under supervision for two years. You will need to have at least 400 client contact hours a year and see at least ten different clients. You will need to have a supervisory plan on file with the board. The board notes that social service agencies, hospitals, and mental health centers are better than private practice settings for developing the needed skills.

Your supervisor will be a professional counselor. The board recommends that your supervisor be someone who is on site where you work.

You will need to have at least 100 hours of direct supervision during your two years as an associate. Meetings should be held at regular intervals. At least 60 of the supervision hours will need to be individual.

In cases of hardship, you may ask the board to allow you to do a nontraditional form of supervision. Electronic supervision is permissible if it meets requirements for security and HIPAA compliance.

Although your associate licensure is good for only two years, you may ask for an extension under certain circumstances. You will need to have your supervisor, a counseling professor, and two other professional counselors join with you in making the request.

If you do plan on becoming an LPCC later, you will want to look ahead and be aware of the supervision requirements.

Out of State Counselor Candidates

You may be licensed by reciprocity as an LPC if you are licensed in a jurisdiction that has similar requirements. You will need to provide the following documentation to the North Dakota board:

  • An Application and Application Fee
  • A Copy of Your License
  • A Copy of Your State's Statutes and Rules Regarding Licensure
  • The Name and Address of the Licensing Body
  • NCE Test Scores

License Maintenance and Renewal

You must renew your license every two years, whether you have LPC or LPCC status. As an LPC, you will need to complete 30 continuing education hours.

As an LPCC, you'll have to meet the same basic requirements, plus an additional 10 extra hours that relate directly to your practice intent. These 10 hours mustbe pre-approved.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in North Dakota

  • Becoming a Data-Driven School Counselor: The University of Mary offers this three-credit, online continuing education course. The goal of this course it to enhance school counselors' abilities to collect and analyze data for the purpose of creating lessons that adhere to core curriculum standards and communicating program development to stakeholders. This course ultimately helps schools develop appropriate curricula for individual needs.
  • Ethics for Counselors: NetCE offers this NBCC-approved, six-hour course on ethics. Counselors learn the historical background of human rights and discuss decision-making models, ethical theories, and principles. Participants discuss values and morality of the counseling profession in the evolving socio-cultural context. By taking this course, counselors gain access to case studies, an eBook, interactive practice questions, and other useful content.
  • EMDR Therapy -- Treating Anxiety: At Health offers this four-credit continuing education opportunity for practitioners who have experience using EMDR. EMDR is a psychotherapy approach to treating phobias and panic disorder. The goal of this course is to deepen the understanding of the standard procedures and protocols for using EMDR therapy and help professional counselors create individualized treatment plans for their clients.

Resources for Counselors

  • ACA Midwest Region Institute for Leadership Training: The American Counseling Association offers a weekend training opportunity for counseling students and professional counselors. The goal of this training is to help participants become strong, confident leaders.
  • NetCE: NetCE is a nationally accredited online provider of continuing education for professionals counselors. The mission of NetCE is to improve the overall quality of healthcare delivery by enhancing the expertise of professional counselors through NBCC-approved coursework.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness: The NAMI is the largest grassroots mental health organization in the United States. An association of affiliates, state organizations, and volunteers, the NAMI supports individuals who are affected by mental illness through education programs, public policy, direct support, events, and activities.
  • Quality Interactions: With more than 160,000 alumni, Quality Interactions is a leading trainer of cultural competency healthcare providers. Through many high-quality eLearning programs and online courses for counselors, this organization contributes to the development of a culturally competent and diverse healthcare workforce.
  • North Dakota State Board of Addiction Counseling Examiners: The North Dakota State Board establishes core curriculum requirements and approves training programs for addiction counselors in North Dakota. The board provides information on licensing, code of ethics, continuing education opportunities, and general laws regarding the profession.

Professional Organizations for Counselors

  • North Dakota Counseling Association: The NDCA is the North Dakota chapter of the American Counseling Association. Made up of more than 400 counselors and human development-related professionals, the NDCA provides continuing education and professional development opportunities as well as networking events, activities, and other research to promote leadership within the counseling profession.
  • National Board for Certified Counselors: The NBCC is a credentialing body for counselors. An independent nonprofit organization, the NBCC works to advance the professional development of counselors by providing continuing education opportunities. Becoming a national certified counselor is considered a high-quality counseling certification.
  • North Dakota School Counselor Association: Representing the profession of school counseling, the NDSCA is an advocate for addressing and solving critical issues in schools to ultimately promote excellence in the development of students. The organization offers many resources to school counselors, including access to events, conferences, job opportunities, and scholarships.
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