Counseling Licensure Requirements in South Carolina

South Carolina is an ideal place for licensed counselors to begin their careers. According to the Associated Press, the state recently increased funding for school mental health counselors by $2 million, driving demand for trained professionals. However, counselors in South Carolina must meet strict LPC requirements before they are permitted to work with the public. 

Are you wondering how to become a licensed counselor? In the following guide, we provide information about LPC counseling requirements in South Carolina, including education, supervision, and internship criteria for counseling licensure. We also look at different counseling careers and the South Carolina counselor board. Read on and learn how to become a counselor in South Carolina. 

Counseling Careers in South Carolina

Many students wondering how to become a counselor in South Carolina are interested in specialized counseling careers, such as rehabilitation counseling or family therapy. These mental health professionals serve different client bases, address particular challenges, or work in certain settings. Read on to learn more about these counseling careers, including job descriptions and average salaries.

How Much Do Counselors Make in South Carolina?

Salary potential varies considerably according to counseling specialty and location. The table below shows what different types of counselors earn in South Carolina and nationwide. Note that the BLS combines data for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors.

Education Requirements for Counselors in South Carolina

Education and Coursework

Applicants interested in becoming an LPC in South Carolina must meet certain educational requirements. Candidates are required to hold a master's, doctorate, or specialized degree in counseling or a related discipline with a minimum of 48 semester hours or 72 quarter hours of graduate-level coursework.

Candidates are required to hold a master's, doctorate, or specialized degree in counseling

The applicant must also demonstrate successful completion of one three-hour graduate course in each of the following 10 areas: human growth and development; social and cultural foundations; the helping relationship; group dynamics, processing, and counseling; lifestyle and career development; appraisal of individuals; research and evaluation; professional orientation; psychopathology; and diagnostics of psychopathology. Aspiring LPCs may substitute the helping relationship area with counseling theories and techniques, which explores basic counseling theories and approaches to professional helping.

Individuals applying for counseling licensure must also submit official graduate school transcripts and course descriptions for all 10 core areas. The state accepts syllabi in place of institutional course descriptions. All coursework must be completed at a regionally accredited college or university or through the Association of Theological Schools. While aspiring LPCs typically need a bachelor's degree to enter a graduate program, the state does not request undergraduate transcripts from candidates applying for counseling licensure.

Practicum and Internship

Candidates for counseling licensure are required to complete a 150-hour practicum, which must include supervised counseling in an appropriate mental health setting. Applicants must complete the practicum as part of a degree at a regionally accredited institution. Candidates interested in treating severe mental health challenges may also need to complete a 600-hour internship.

Online Counseling Programs in South Carolina

Online counseling degrees provide accessible, affordable alternatives to traditional, on-campus programs. Students who work full time or maintain other commitments benefit from flexible class schedules and round-the-clock access to course materials and assignments. Independent learners who enjoy self-paced study may also prefer online programs. In addition, many schools offer accelerated degrees that allow distance students to complete their studies quickly and enter the workforce.

Students who work full time or maintain other commitments benefit from flexible class schedules and round-the-clock access to course materials and assignments

Counseling programs vary according to specialization and degree level. Students may earn certificates, master's degrees, or doctoral degrees. Schools in South Carolina also offer specialized programs in education counseling, clinical mental health counseling, and rehabilitation counseling.

However, if state residents wish to pursue a degree online, they may need to look outside of South Carolina to its neighbor, North Carolina. Winston-Salem State University's online master's degree in rehabilitation counseling requires students to complete 60 credit hours in areas such as aural rehabilitation and crisis counseling.

How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in South Carolina

The Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, Addiction Counselors, and Psycho-Educational Specialists issues counseling licenses in South Carolina. Along with education and practicum requirements, applicants must complete at least 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience, including 120 hours under an LPC supervisor or supervisor candidate's immediate supervision. 

In addition, all applicants must successfully pass either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. The National Board for Certified Counselors administers both exams. Specialized licenses, such as marriage and family therapist, may feature different educational requirements.

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Out-of-State Counselor Candidates

Counselors licensed to practice in other states may receive South Carolina counseling licensure by endorsement. Professionals applying for South Carolina licensure must hold a current, active, and unrestricted out-of-state license to qualify for endorsement.

All applicants must meet South Carolina's counselor licensure requirements, including degree, coursework, and supervision hours. Since each state maintains different requirements, candidates may need to complete additional coursework before seeking licensure in South Carolina. Individuals applying for licensure by endorsement must provide a confirmation of clinical supervision form, proof of supervisor's licensure, notarized copy of the current license, coursework descriptions, official transcripts and exam scores, and licensure verification.

Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in South Carolina

Mental health professionals in South Carolina must renew their licenses every two years. To renew a license, applicants must submit a renewal fee, an application, and photocopies of continuing education certifications. LPCs must complete 40 hours of continuing education every two years to remain licensed. Continuing education credits must include 34 hours related to the professional license and six hours of ethical standards training.

The state board accepts late applications up to three months after the license renewal date. Individuals licensed both as professional counselors and marriage and family therapists must complete 50 hours of continuing education every two years.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in South Carolina

  • Continuing Education Guidelines Aspiring counselors who desire more detailed information on continuing education in South Carolina can find everything they need through the South Carolina counselor board.
  • South Carolina Counseling Association The South Carolina Counseling Association provides several ways for students to accrue contact credit hours. Counseling candidates may participate in workshops, conferences, trainings, and seminars. The organization's online continuing education program allows students to learn at a flexible pace.
  • American Counseling Association Members of the American Counseling Association may complete their required credit hours by enrolling in webinars and continuing education courses. Courses cover a variety of subjects, including ethics, starting a private practice, and traumatic stress in marginalized groups.

Resources and Professional Organizations for Counselors in South Carolina

  • Continuing Education Guidelines The Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Psycho-Educational Specialists provides detailed information on continuing education requirements for counselors.
  • South Carolina Counselors' Board FAQs The board's list of frequently asked questions covers topics such as licensure requirements for out-of-state counselors, internship qualifications, and national examinations.
  • South Carolina Counseling Forum This research journal informs counselors in the Palmetto State on the latest research and developments in the field. Counselors can subscribe to learn more about topics such as treating suicidal patients or advocating for special education students.
  • Code of Ethics and Board Policies Licensed professional counselors in South Carolina are obligated to uphold a strict, state-mandated code of ethics. The state's Labor, Licensing, and Regulation Department website features the code's full text along with the board of examiners' policies.
  • Mental Health America of South Carolina MHASC is a mental health advocacy organization affiliated with the national association Mental Health America. MHASC members enjoy access to professional development and continuing education resources, exclusive publications, and special events such as targeted workshops.
  • South Carolina Counseling Association SCCA functions as a state-chartered organization within the American Counseling Association. Along with an annual conference and regular yearly events, the organization sponsors professional development courses and professional certification programs. SCCA also publishes a newsletter and maintains a small online bookstore.
  • South Carolina Association of Licensed Professional Counselors The American Mental Health Counselors Association's South Carolina chapter advocates for LPCs across the state. The association provides members with continuing education resources, organizes professional lectures, and hosts educational workshops.
  • Palmetto State School Counselor Association As South Carolina's chapter of the American School Counselor Association, this organization connects educational counselors and facilitates opportunities for professional growth. The association hosts conferences and workshops throughout the year. Members also advocate for education counselors' interests at the state and national legislative levels.
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