Pennsylvania's 6,800 rehabilitation counselors work as Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC's) — the only licensed counselor title offered by the state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania LPC's earn an above average median salary and enjoy rewarding counseling careers that improve the lives of Pennsylvanians coping with disabilities.
In addition to passing a criminal background check, candidates for LPC licensure must complete an accredited master's or doctoral degree in counseling, supervised work experience, and a licensed counselor examination. The guide below further outlines how to become a rehabilitation counselor in Pennsylvania.
Counseling License and Career Requirements in PennsylvaniaExplore more pathways to becoming a counselor in Pennsylvania here
Education and Experience Requirements
Pennsylvania requires rehabilitation counselors to earn an accredited graduate degree, and accumulate between 2,400 and 3,000 hours of supervised work experience — including a practicum and internship — prior to receiving licensure from the state board.
Education and Coursework
Pennsylvania LPC's must complete a behavioral science bachelor's degree and a minimum 60 hour graduate degree program in counseling or a related field.
Only graduate degree programs pursued at colleges and universities accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation qualify for licensure
LPC candidates must also demonstrate a total of 60 hours of coursework, including at least two hours in each of the following areas: professional orientation, career and lifestyle development, appraisal, research and program evaluation, group work, social and cultural foundations, helping relationships, human growth and development, and clinical instruction. Courses must cover content specified in the educational requirements section of the board's code.
For master's degree students, the clinical instruction portion must include a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship.
Only graduate degree programs pursued at colleges and universities accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation qualify for licensure. You can learn more about counseling education and careers at this link.
Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:
Practicum and Internship
Supervised experience requirements for Pennsylvania LPC's depend on the graduate degree held; master's candidates require 3,600 clinical hours, while doctoral degree holders only need 2,400. Hours completed during the graduate degree practicum and internship can count toward this requirement.
Candidates may complete their clinical hours in 2-6 years, at a rate of 500-1,800 hours per year. At least 50% of supervised work experience hours must involve "direct client services" which includes assessment, therapy, and/or counseling of clients. The remaining hours must pertain to client duties such as advocacy or case documentation. Finally, 150 of these hours involve direct supervision by a master's-educated, licensed clinical supervisor (LPC, MFT, or CSW) with five years of recent field experience.
Upon approval by the Pennsylvania board, Ph.D. candidates can count 1,200 doctoral program experience hours and 1,200 postgraduate study hours toward their experience requirement.
Application and Exam Requirements for Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Counselors
Counselors in Pennsylvania earn their licensure from the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors. Many Pennsylvania LPC candidates take the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) licensure examination, which they must apply for four months in advance; however, some exemptions apply, and several other examinations can qualify candidates for LPC licensure in Pennsylvania.
Counselors in Pennsylvania earn their licensure from the Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors
To take the CRC, candidates need to meet Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) eligibility requirements, which include completion of the educational experience outlined above.
Candidates whose programs do not feature CRCC accreditation — or whose degrees pertain to counseling disciplines other than rehabilitation — also need to complete at least some of the experience requirements described above before taking the examination. Those with alternative counseling degrees can enroll in the CRCC's 21-hour certification programs to qualify.
Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates
Out-of-state counselors can apply for licensure via reciprocity, provided that the candidate holds licensure that meets standards equivalent to the Pennsylvania's licensure standards. Candidates demonstrate proof of equivalency by submitting official copies of their current licenses, official transcripts that demonstrate equivalent educational requirements, and documentation of supervised work experience.
The Pennsylvania Board also grants some out-of-state counselors licensure via endorsement; professionals must have five recent years of counseling, equivalent education, and 3,000 hours of supervised experience.
Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements
LPCs renew their licenses every two years by completing 30 or more continuing education credits (CEC's), three of which must pertain to ethics. Counselors may complete up to 20 of these hours by studying at home, but CE hours must derive from an official CE provider approved by the board. Additional credits beyond the required 30 do not roll over to the next two-year licensure renewal period. Candidates should consult the board website and PA Code to stay current on CEC requirements.
LPCs renew their licenses every two years in Pennsylvania
Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania rehabilitation counseling students can find a wealth of information from professional counseling and government organizations. Whether they're seeking education programs, scholarships, awards, jobs, networking opportunities, current rehabilitation research, or professional counseling events, counseling students and professionals can use these organizations to plan and advance their careers.
- American Rehabilitation Counseling Association ARCA provides rehabilitation counselors with an online peer network, resources, awards, newsletters, workshops, trainings, and ARCA student chapters, as well as updates on policy, conferences, and rehabilitation counseling trends. ARCA also offers members professional liability insurance and tools for finding research subjects.
- Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification The CRCC, the largest rehabilitation counseling organization in the world, sets quality standards for rehabilitation counseling by providing a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certification program. The CRCC also connects counseling students and professionals with job postings, continuing education offerings, and its large community of practitioners.
- National Council on Rehabilitation Education The leading professional organization in the field, NCRE offers academic programs, a job board, a scholarship, and newsletters, as well as spring and fall conferences and awards. The NCRE also publishes a journal on rehabilitation research, policy, and education.
- National Rehabilitation Association The first professional member organization of its kind in the country, the NRA boasts a long history of advocacy for people with disabilities. The NRA increases cultural awareness, provides leadership, encourages research, and assists rehabilitation counselors in their careers.
- Pennsylvania Association for Marriage and Family Therapists PAMFT, a volunteer organization, dedicates itself to expanding and enhancing marriage and family therapy by encouraging licensure, continuing education, and networking. The organization provides news, resources, events, community, and legislation updates relevant to professional therapists and counselors.
- Pennsylvania Counseling Association A branch of the American Counseling Association, the PCA assists counseling students and professionals by providing a career center, counseling resources such as the Journal of the Pennsylvania Counseling Association, and eight special-interest divisions within the counseling field.
- Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation The OVR, a state government office, helps people with disabilities obtain jobs. In addition to offering employment opportunities to rehabilitation counselors, the OVR collaborates with other professionals in the field. The OVR provides diagnosis, assessment, referrals, counseling, and other services to disabled Pennsylvanians.
- Pennsylvania Psychological Association The PPA facilitates counselor education and networking through its workshops and other continuing education opportunities, which include its Continuing Education and Ethics Conference and its Annual Convention in June.
- Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Association Through events, awards, a newsletter, and other offerings, the PRA promotes the recruitment, growth, and retention of Pennsylvania rehabilitation counselors. This association encourages disability education and advocates for rehabilitation counselors and their clients.
- Pennsylvania State Board of Social Workers Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors The state board safeguards Pennsylvania counseling quality by producing and enforcing professional standards, rules, and regulations for licensed professional counselors.