Counseling Licensing Requirements in Oregon

Oregon offers two counseling credentials in the state: licensed professional counselor (LPC) and registered intern. All counselors begin their career in Oregon as interns while they accrue the necessary experience to practice without supervision. The requirements are slightly different if you begin your career in another state.

What follows is a detailed guide to counselor licensure and the LPC requirements in Oregon. If you have questions about the process or want to make sure you are on the right path, contact the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists.

Counseling Careers in Oregon

Licensed counselors have several career paths available to them in the state of Oregon, but most begin as registered interns while they work toward licensure as an LPC. However, now is an excellent time to pursue a career in this field, as the need for counseling services is on the rise. According to the American Counseling Association, nearly 20% of adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness, and more than 8 million people deal with substance abuse each year.

Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the field of substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health will see a job growth rate of 23% by 2026, a rate that is much faster than the average for all other careers. Earning your Oregon counseling licensure prepares you for a fulfilling, lucrative career in the years ahead.

  • Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: Educational and school counselors develop and improve students’ academic and social skills. They work with students, parents, and other teachers in elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as colleges and universities.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: Marriage and family therapists use family-centered approaches to help people tackle challenges in their relationships. They may conduct individual, couple, or group therapy.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors help people maximize their employability and independence after suffering from an illness, disease, or other life stressors. They assess client needs and design rehabilitation programs.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Working in one-on-one and group settings, substance abuse and mental health counselors help people treat the symptoms of mental illness such as depression, anxiety, grief, and suicidal tendencies.
  • Counselors, All Other: Counselors work in individual, group, and community settings. They work with people to improve their overall mental and emotional wellbeing by identifying and solving life's challenges.
Occupation Average Salary in Oregon
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $61,370
Marriage and Family Therapists $50,350
Rehabilitation Counselors $43,360
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $57,420
Counselors, All Other $52,270

Source: BLS

Other Professionals Who Can Be Licensed as Counselors

Oregon defines qualifying degrees somewhat broadly. Professionals in any related field that meets standards set by the state may be candidates for licensure. For example, rehabilitation counselors are eligible for licensure within the state, and according to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapists can also be licensed as counselors in Oregon.

Education Requirements for Counselors

To earn Oregon counseling licensure, counselors must complete a graduate level education. You need at least two semester hours (or three quarter hours) in each of the following areas:

  • Human Growth and Lifespan Development
  • Counseling Theory
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Helping Relationships
  • Group Dynamics
  • Research and Evaluation
  • Individual Appraisal and Diagnosis
  • Professional Orientation
  • Lifestyle and Career Development

You must also have clinical experience as part of your degree plan, and at least 16 semester hours of supporting coursework in specialty areas. If you earned a master's in a mental health field -- but lack any specific coursework -- you may need to take additional graduate courses.

If your master's degree is not accredited by CACREP or CORE, your school must complete a worksheet showing which courses meet the state’s curricular requirements and submit this along with your application.

Online Counseling Programs in Oregon

Attending an online program in counseling can be ideal for students who need maximum flexibility while completing their degrees. Online learning allows students to complete assignments and attend classes when and where it is most convenient for them. Oregon has several online counseling options: some are part-time, and some are hybrid programs that feature both online coursework and in-person classes or field work.

In the Portland area, prospective counselors have two options at George Fox University: the three-year master of arts in counseling psychology program or the master of arts in marriage and family therapy program. Portland State University also offers two master's level counseling programs. In Willamette Valley, Corvan University offers a master's level program in counseling, and Oregon State University offers master's level degrees in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling. The University of Oregon has a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, while Western Oregon University offers a master's degree in mental health counseling. Prospective students should note that the Oregon State Board will only accept degrees from regionally accredited online programs and colleges.

How Do You Become a Counselor in Oregon?

Whether you’re applying for licensure as an intern or a professional counselor, Oregon’s application requires several additional materials. You should begin by reviewing the application form.

All applicants must complete a criminal history check and have their fingerprints made through LiveScan or a traditional method. If you had your fingerprints done in the past year by an agency that the board approves, you may submit verification through them.

Applicants also must submit a professional disclosure statement, which includes information like your background, education, counseling philosophy, fees, and board contact information. A sample is available on the board’s website. Note that the statement must be approved before you start work, but you may revise it at any time. The board will not contact you about revisions unless there is a problem.

All graduate school transcripts are mailed directly to the Oregon board. More information, including where to send fees and the application, is available on the board’s website.

Licensing Fees

To receive licensure by the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors & Therapists, prospective counselors must pay several fees. This includes application and renewals for licenses as a registered intern, a professional counselor, or a marriage and family therapist. The renewal fee varies for counselors with single licenses and those with dual licensure, and the board charges a late fee for those who miss their renewal expiration date. There are different fees for those with active versus inactive statuses, as well as an additional fee to change your status from active to inactive. Prospective counselors must also pay a small fee for the mandated healthcare workforce data survey.

Request Type Fee
Application Fee for Licensed Professional Counselor and Marriage & Family Therapist $215
Intern Registration Fee $215
Single License/Dual License Renewal Fee - Active Status $167 / $332
Single License/Dual License Renewal Fee - Inactive Status $102 / $ 202
Change in Status Fee $102
Renewal Late Fee $50
Re-Licensure Fee $380
Intern Registration Annual Renewal Fee $120

Source: Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists

The Licensing Exam

To earn Oregon state licensure, you must pass two exams: a licensing exam and a test of Oregon's laws and rules.

The licensing exam is the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination, and you must receive approval from the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists before you can sit for the exam.

Once approved, you then submit your application form and all applicable fees to the National Board for Certified Counselors. The fee provides six months to schedule your test. Contact Pearson VUE to schedule an exam.

You will find Pearson VUE testing sites in the cities listed below:

  • Beaverton
  • Medford
  • Portland
  • Salem

Test takers should email The Center for Credentials and Education with any questions about exam registration. The Laws and Rules Examination can be taken at home, and a copy is posted on the board website.

Supervised Practice Requirement

Counselors must work under supervision as an intern before they are licensed as a professional counselor. Supervision includes 2,400 hours of client contact hours, 2,000 of which must be earned post-graduation. A full 400 hours can be applied from your graduate program; however, hours must be verified by your school when you apply.

Not all work activities count as clinical experience. You may not, for example, count hours you spend in case management, training, or program administration.

As an intern, a clinical supervisor must review your case notes and audiotapes, and meet with you individually or in a small group setting. Your supervisor does not need to be someone who is on site at your workplace; you are permitted to contract with a supervisor from outside.

The board maintains a list of professional counselors who are approved as supervisors. However, you do not have to select one from the list. Your supervisor can be another mental health professional, such as a psychologist. Whatever the professional designation, the person must be trained in supervision.

At least two hours of supervision each month is required for up to 45 client contact hours. You must have three hours of supervision if you have 46 or more client contact hours.

Group supervision is acceptable in some circumstances, but it may not count for more than 50% of the total supervision hours. Electronic communication is also permissible for up to 75% of your supervision hours.

Clinical hours and supervision earned each month must be reported to the board, and must be completed by an appropriate supervisor for it to count.

An internship experience plan is also required as part of your initial application.

Your intern status must be renewed each year, and supervision requirements must be completed within five years. You may petition for a sixth year, provided you can show good cause.

Out of State Counselor Candidates

Although the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification is routinely administered in Oregon, the board also accepts the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination and the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination. If you have already completed a licensing exam outside the state of Oregon, your state board can verify it.

If you have a current, active license in another state -- and you have not been disciplined -- you may be a candidate for licensure by reciprocity. Out-of-state counselors must demonstrate they earned a graduate degree and have passed a licensing exam.

As a candidate for a reciprocal license, you are expected to have 2,000 hours of supervised experience. If you have significant experience in an active practice, your professional work may substitute a portion of the supervised practice requirement. You may be eligible to substitute five years of clinical experience (earned post-licensure) for 1,000 hours of supervised practice requirement.

Five years of post-licensure experience may replace up to 15 semester hours of coursework. You may not use experience in place of the required diagnosis training. If you are registered with the National Credentials Registry, you can use this to demonstrate education and experience requirements.

If you completed supervised experience elsewhere -- but are not a candidate for reciprocity -- you may apply using the direct method and demonstrate the full number of supervised clinical experience hours.

License Maintenance and Renewal

Licenses are renewed on even-numbered years. During this two-year period, counselors must complete 40 hours of continuing education (CE), including six hours in ethics. They also must undergo fingerprinting every five years. If your initial license period is less than two years, contact the board to see how many hours you are expected to complete.

A summary of all completed CE is submitted when you renew. Counselors are encouraged to keep documentation of all their CE hours, as 10% of renewals are usually audited.

If you are seriously ill or do not plan to practice for an extended time period, you may contact the board about receiving a waiver.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Oregon

  • Cross Cultural Care -- A Person-Centered Approach: Quality Interactions offers a one-hour continuing education opportunity. Counselors discuss the importance of cultural competence and effective communication in the delivery of high-quality healthcare service. The course explores cultural and social issues related to the care of diverse populations.
  • Cultural Competency and Ethics for Healthcare Professionals: The Portland Community College Institute for Health Professionals offers this continuing education opportunity for counselors in Oregon. The six hour course trains counselors to create culturally inclusive, non-judgmental healthcare environments for patients. Counselors discuss customized treatment plans, health literacy, intercultural communication, inequality, and the social determinants of health.
  • Developing Equity Leadership through Training and Action: Offered by Oregon Health Authority-Office of Equity and Inclusion, DELTA prepares counselors for effective community engagement with local Oregon organizations. The 40 hour training discusses historical injustices; race and ethnicity in workforce recruitment, hiring, and retention; health literacy and language access; and health leadership.

Resources for Counselors

  • Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists: The Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists regulates the practice of mental health counseling in Oregon. They develop and maintain standards of education and training, deter misconduct, communicate important information, and work cooperatively with professional associations to improve the counseling field.
  • Oregon Health Authority: OHA is a government agency that helps improve Oregonians’ mental and social wellbeing by increasing access to -- and lowering the cost of -- healthcare. OHA offers helpful information for counselors about employment opportunities, grants, policies, and public records.
  • Coalition of Oregon Professional Associations for Counseling and Therapy: COPACT is a collaboration of two professional associations that represent all counselors and therapists in Oregon. The group works with lobbyists to pass legislation that protects and enhances the field.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness: The largest grassroots mental health organization in the United States, NAMI helps people affected by mental illness improve their lives by raising awareness and providing direct support. NAMI is an association of local affiliates, state organizations, and volunteers.
  • Quality Interactions: Quality Interactions is a certified business that trains healthcare professionals. Through research and eLearning programs, they offer online courses and services that help counselors deliver inclusive, culturally competent healthcare.

Professional Organizations for Counselors

  • Oregon Counseling Association: ORCA represents the Oregon branch of the American Counseling Association, the largest association for professional counselors and therapists in the world. Dedicated to the improvement, advocacy, and protection of the profession, ORCA fosters collaboration through professional development and networking opportunities. Members benefit from discounts on liability insurance, continuing education programs, annual conferences, journal subscriptions, research assistance, research grants, a job board, and more.
  • Oregon Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: A state division of the AAMFT, OAMFT is a member organization that helps couples and families solve problems associated with their relationships. With research and education, the association provides resources to counselors and therapists to ensure they are properly trained and prepared to do their job. To become a member of OAMFT, members must meet rigorous education and training standards. Members include, students, associates, clinicians, and other affiliates.
  • Oregon Psychological Association: OPA is a nonprofit professional association that promotes the interests of psychology as a science. OPA protects the counseling profession through advocacy work, legislation, research, professional networking, and continuing education. OPA advocates for counselors through services to its members and to the public.
Sponsored Schools