Rehabilitation Counselor License Requirements in South Dakota

South Dakota rehabilitation counselors can pursue licensing by the Board of Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners. South Dakota has two professional counseling licenses, each awarded on the basis of education, examination, and supervised practice. The Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) is a generalist counseling license. Some rehabilitation counselor may progress to Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health (LPC-MH).

Counselors must hold licensing unless they fall under exemption categories described in state statute (

In some cases, a license may not be required. However, the rehabilitation counselor may be required to hold other credentials. The Division of Rehabilitation Services, for example, has set standards for Qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors. Third party certification is an expectation for some job roles.

Some South Dakota rehabilitation counselors hold multiple credentials; they are both state licensed and nationally certified.

Select a South Dakota Rehabilitation Counselor License Topic or a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Topic:

Rehabilitation Counselor LPC Education Requirements

A prospective LPC must complete a graduate program of at least 48 semester hours. The qualifying degree may be a master's or doctorate or may be an educational specialist degree or certificate. It must be earned through a regionally accredited institution.

If the program is not accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), it must meet the definition of an approved program. It must include coursework in counseling theory and technique as well as an acceptable practicum and internship experience. It must represent an organized, sequenced study.

An applicant must have coursework in each of the following content areas:

  • Counseling theory
  • Counseling techniques
  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Groups
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Appraisal of individuals
  • Research and evaluation
  • Professional, ethical, and legal considerations

The practicum is to be at least 100 hours. The internship is to be at least 600 hours.

Standards are more stringent for the LPC-MH license. An individual will need to complete a 60 semester hour program ( If the course of study was not accredited by CACREP as a mental health program, it must meet equivalency standards (

The LPC Examination Process for Rehabilitation Counselors

South Dakota utilizes the National Counselor Examination (NCE) for LPC licensure. The NCE is a generalist counseling examination, offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). South Dakota candidates are allowed to register directly; they will find application forms on the "South Dakota" page of the NBCC website ( The form must be submitted with a sealed transcript and $195 fee.

An approved candidate will be issued an Authorization to Test (ATT); this process may take four weeks. The ATT authorizes scheduling at any of more than 400 Pearson VUE assessment centers. There is one computerized assessment center in South Dakota: located in Sioux Falls.

A counselor who seeks the mental health designation will need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). The NCMHCE is also under the banner of the NBCC; the registration process is similar.

LPC Supervised Practice Requirements for Rehabilitation Counselors

A prospective LPC must accrue at least 2,000 experience hours under supervision ( At least 800 hours are to be spent in direct client contact. The supervisee will need at least an hour of supervision a week (with at least 100 total hours accrued over the course of the supervisory period). The prospective LPC will work under a supervision plan on file with the Board.

The LPC-MH license requires 2,000 client contact hours (

The License Application Process

Applications can be downloaded from the website of the Department of Social Services (

Individuals who are applying for LPC will select between two application packets: initial or endorsement. The application for initial licensure states that the professional must be a resident of South Dakota.

The application requires notarization. Application carries a $100 fee. A separate licensing fee will be assessed later.

There is only one application packet for the LPC-MH ( In South Dakota, an individual needs to hold an LPC license to be eligible for the LPC-MH.

State Employment in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling

The Division of Rehabilitation Services, in cooperation with the Bureau of Human Resources, has set standards for state vocational rehabilitation counselors. In some cases, individuals may be hired on the basis of baccalaureate education. However, they will need to work toward attainment of a master's. Costs may be paid by the agency (

Ultimately, a vocational rehabilitation counselor will be expected to not only attain a master's degree but achieve certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. An individual achieves examination eligibility through education or through a combination of education and experience (

A student who completes a rehabilitation counseling program that is accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) is on a fast track for certification. No job experience is required beyond a supervised 600-hour internship, which is typically completed as part of the program. A doctoral student who completes a 600-hour rehabilitation counseling internship is also eligible to test, provided the internship was CRC-supervised.

Other individuals will need qualifying work experience. The required work period will be shorter if the degree was in rehabilitation counseling and not in another counseling discipline or in a related field. Counseling graduates will need to have some coursework related to rehabilitation counseling. Graduates of programs that are not considered counseling will need to enroll in certificate or degree programs that are at least 21 semester hours and include content in seven areas identified by CRCC.

The CRC examination is available during three annual testing windows at testing sites around the nation. The CRCC posts the examination/ deadline schedule for the year (

While government agencies set minimum standards, the level of education/ credentialing necessary to actually be hired will vary.

Additional Information

The South Dakota Board of Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners regulates the state’s licensed counselors ( The Board can be reached by telephone at 605-331-2927 or by email at ‘sdbce.msp at’. The licensing agency notes that one should rely on the board office for information that is both accurate and up-to-date.

The South Dakota Counseling Association is an additional professional resource (

Sponsored Schools