Counseling Licensure Requirements in Ohio

A counselor works to make a real difference improving the mental and emotional stability of clients going through trauma, substance abuse, and other difficult situations. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Ohio earn an average annual salary of about $47,000. However, a worker's earning potential varies depending on their location in Ohio and experience level.

Becoming a licensed counselor in Ohio requires individuals to complete several steps, including earning a graduate degree, completing clinical hours, passing the National Counselor Exam (NCE), and applying for licensure with Ohio's Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board. Read on to discover more details about how to become a counselor in Ohio.

Counseling Careers in Ohio

Ohio counseling careers typically fall in the education and healthcare industries. The main career paths available include school or vocational counselor, marriage and family therapist, rehabilitation counselor, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor, or mental health counselor. The details for each of these positions and the requirements to practice are described below.

How Much Do Counselors Make in Ohio?

The earning potential for counselors in Ohio varies depending on an individual's chosen field, but salaries typically range from $35,000-$55,000 annually. Note that the Bureau of Labor Statistics combines substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors into one category. The table below details how the annual salaries for counselors in Ohio compare to national averages.

Education Requirements for Counselors in Ohio

Education and Coursework

The first step to becoming a licensed counselor in Ohio is earning a bachelor's degree in counseling or a related field, such as psychology. Candidates must then earn a master's degree in counseling. Ohio's Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board prefers students to hold degrees from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Ohio boasts 21 in-state programs with CACREP accreditation, and individuals should look into different programs to ensure they find one that matches their academic and career goals.

Candidates must earn a bachelor's degree in counseling or a related field and a master's degree in counseling

Candidates must complete a minimum of 60 master's-level credits to qualify for counseling licensure. Coursework must cover key industry topics, including counseling techniques, counseling theory, research methods, human growth and development, and group dynamics. Specifically, Ohio requires candidates to demonstrate the successful completion of credits in evaluation; diagnosis; prevention and intervention methods; treatment; and psychopathology, personality, and abnormal behavior.

A master's degree is the minimum requirement to earn counseling licensure in Ohio. However, prospective counselors may consider earning a doctorate to pursue advanced career opportunities and higher salaries. Regardless of which graduate degree candidates choose to pursue, they must obtain a license to practice as a counselor in Ohio.

Practicum and Internship

Most graduate degree programs in Ohio include a practicum or internship component. For counseling licensure, the practicum must include a minimum of 100 hours, with 40 hours of direct client care. The internship must include at least 600 hours and include 240 hours of client care. To pursue an internship, candidates must apply with Ohio's Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board to receive their counselor trainee (CT) license.

Online Counseling Programs in Ohio

To become a practicing counselor, you must obtain an advanced degree, which can be difficult for working students or students with families. Distance learning may represent an appealing option for such students.

Distance learning may represent an appealing option for working students or students with families

Online programs often feature asynchronous formats, meaning students can work on their own time, completing assignments, tests, and projects by assigned deadlines. Students may engage in group discussions by posting and responding to prompts as their schedules allow. These counseling students still need to complete an internship or practicum, which can take place at an approved local facility.

Online program applicants should ensure their prospective program meets Ohio counseling licensure requirements.

How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Ohio

Ohio offers three levels of licensure beyond the CT: licensed professional counselor (LPC), professional counselor-clinical resident (CR), and licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC). Candidates must submit applications to Ohio's Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage and Family Therapist Board. LPC candidates must pass a criminal background check, submit proof of a master's degree, and pass the NCE. Ohio also requires licensure candidates to pass a laws and rules examination.

To earn advanced licensure, such as the CR or LPCC credential, candidates must first earn their LPC. They must then complete two years of supervised clinical experience, including at least 3,000 clinical hours made up of 1,500 hours of direct therapy experience and 1,500 hours of diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.

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Out-of-state Counselor Candidates

Out-of-state counselor candidates may qualify for licensure in Ohio if they possess a current license or can provide a statement of eligibility from a qualifying institution. Candidates without a license who possess a qualifying degree from an out-of-state institution must submit a letter of eligibility from the dean or qualifying administrator to the board.

Applicants must also submit official transcripts, proof of passing the NCE (or an equivalent exam), and a copy of their current license. If applicants meet these requirements, candidates do not need to complete any other testing. Candidates may apply for temporary licensure if they possess an offer of employment allowing them to practice while completing the approval process.

Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Ohio

All counseling licenses in Ohio must be renewed every two years. To qualify for renewal, individuals must complete 30 hours of continuing education courses; at least three of these hours must be in ethics. To renew, individuals must submit proof of completed continuing education hours and pay the licensing fee. This fee varies depending on which counseling license an individual is renewing but ranges from $63.50-$103.50.

Ohio's Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board sends out renewal reminders to licensed counselors 90, 60, and then 30 days before a license's expiration date. The board encourages counselors to visit its website to stay informed of industry trends and licensing requirements.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Ohio

  • Ohio Counseling Association OCA assists licensed counselors, counseling educators, supervisors, and clients throughout the state of Ohio. OCA membership includes access to continuing education opportunities, a statewide professional network, and professional support. OCA offers in-person and distance learning courses for professionals; these classes meet continuing education guidelines established by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).
  • Counseling, Administration, Supervision, and Adult Learning Cleveland State University offers continuing education opportunities to professionals in the mental health field. Training is approved by NBCC and is offered through half-day and full-day workshops. CSU delivers courses at its downtown and West Center campuses. 
  • Free State Social Work Approved by NBCC, this organization provides continuing education for professional counselors. Counselors can complete up to 30 hours of distance learning during each renewal period to accommodate other professional obligations.

Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in Ohio

  • Ohio School Counselor Association OSCA provides support for professional school counselors in Ohio. Members can access professional development opportunities, leadership training, and a statewide network.
  • American College Counseling Association This organization serves professionals who work or plan to work in higher education. Members receive access to a global network, continuing education opportunities, and grants.
  • American Counseling Association ACA is one of the largest professional counselor organizations. Members can take advantage of insurance options, continuing education opportunities, and access to special offers from partner organizations.
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association AMHCA offers opportunities for collaboration, education, and leadership. AMHCA also offers both student and practitioner memberships. Practitioners can access liability insurance, while students can receive advanced training.
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy AAMFT offers resources for professionals specializing in marriage and family therapy. Members can network with other professionals, access continuing education opportunities, and stay up to date in the field.
  • Society of Counseling Psychology SCP -- also known as Division 17 of the American Psychological Association -- delivers training and education to students, counseling professionals, and counseling affiliates. Students can apply for the Barbara A. Kirk Award and Donald E. Super Fellowship.
  • American School Counselor Association ASCA members receive access to multiple scholarships that target individuals aspiring to work in school counseling. The association also provides current professionals with resources and professional development opportunities.
  • Counseling Academic & Professional Honor Society International - Chi Sigma Iota This national honor society supports both professional and academic excellence in counseling. The society promotes scholarship and supports research and innovation in the counseling field. Students can use this site to access scholarships and fellowships to help fund their education.
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