How to Become a Rehabilitation Counselor in South Dakota

Rehabilitation counselors help clients with disabilities live as independently as possible, helping patients in ways other medical professionals cannot. They often work in hospitals, schools, agencies, and other job sites where people with disabilities have needs.

The Board of Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners acts as the South Dakota counselor board. Through this board, counseling candidates can pursue one of three licenses, two of which apply to rehabilitation counselors:

  • Licensed professional counselor
  • Licensed professional counselor - mental health

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the need for rehabilitation counselors will grow 13% from 2016 to 2026 — higher than the median projected growth for all professions in the United States. This projection indicates that professionals who complete rehabilitation counselor training programs in the next few years should find abundant rehabilitation counselor jobs in South Dakota and many other states.

Continue reading to learn the latest information on how to become a counselor in South Dakota.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in South Dakota

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in South Dakota here

Education and Experience Requirements

Each state sets its own education requirements to become a rehabilitation counselor. The South Dakota counselor board boasts different licensure tracks to allow professionals to start helping South Dakotans with disabilities.

Education and Coursework

To earn a licensing professional counselor (LPC) license, candidates must meet rigorous education and coursework requirements. Candidates can possess a bachelor's degree in any subject but must also earn a master's in counseling from a university accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

LPC candidates can possess a bachelor's degree in any subject but must also earn a master's in counseling from an accredited university

CACREP-accredited programs emphasize human growth and development, social and cultural foundations, and the helping relationship. South Dakota accepts licensure applications only from candidates with at least 48 graduate credits.

Candidates with master's degrees from non-CACREP-accredited universities may still apply but must submit additional forms detailing their educational background. South Dakota does not allow candidates to substitute experience for education.

Although South Dakota does not grant a license specific to rehabilitation counselors, aspiring counselors can select master's in counseling programs that boast specializations in rehabilitation counseling. In these programs, students complete coursework in counseling theories, advocacy, and individual appraisal and assessment methods. Master's programs also require a master's thesis and practicum.


Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:


Practicum and Internship

Although CACREP-accredited master's programs include practica and internships, South Dakota requires candidates to acquire an additional 2,000 hours of professional experience after earning their degrees. Specific requirements include working with patients one-on-one for at least one hour each week. Candidates have up to five years to complete the state's experience requirement.

Application and Exam Requirements for South Dakota Rehabilitation Counselors

The South Dakota Board of Examiners for Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists regulates South Dakota's LPCs. The state uses other boards and licenses to regulate chemical dependency counselors, psychologists, and social workers. In addition to meeting education and experience requirements, LPC candidates must earn a passing score on the national counselor exam (NCE). Out of the exam's 200 multiple choice questions, only 160 determine candidates' final score. Candidates must correctly answer 95/160 questions to pass.

In addition to meeting education and experience requirements, LPC candidates must earn a passing score on the national counselor exam

Once candidates pass the NCE, they can submit an application to become an LPC. The application form asks candidates to submit an application fee, recent photograph, and contact information for work supervisors who can verify work experience. South Dakota does not require a background check, but candidates do answer questions related to prior criminal behavior and financial histories. Candidates must sign the final page in front of a notary public.

Licensure candidates should check the South Dakota counselor board's website to learn how to become a counselor in South Dakota. Candidates can submit an online form to ask questions concerning the licensure process.

Out-of-State Rehabilitation Counselor Candidates

South Dakota allows licensed counselors in all states to transfer their licenses. In addition to the requirements for initial licensure, out-of-state counselors must submit a copy of their current licenses. They must also have the licensure boards for their original states to send official licensure verification to the South Dakota counselor board.

South Dakota allows out-of-state rehabilitation counselors to license by endorsement if they plan to move to South Dakota. In addition to the other requirements for out-of-state counselors, those with endorsements also need at least three years — 1,500 documented hours — of professional experience.

Rehabilitation Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

LPC licenses expire annually on December 31. To renew, LPCs must complete 44 hours of continuing education every two years. Four of these hours must pertain to professional ethics. Counselors can earn continuing education hours by completing online or in-person courses. LPCs renewing their licenses must submit proof of continuing education documentation in odd-numbered years.

In South Dakota, LPC licenses expire annually on December 31

Renewal involves a fee, and rehabilitation counselors can renew their licenses online. If professionals miss the renewal deadline and renew on January 1 or later, they pay an additional fee — approximately 150% of the standard renewal cost.

Resources and Organizations for Rehabilitation Counselors in South Dakota

Undergraduate and graduate students preparing for careers as rehabilitation counselors can benefit significantly from joining a professional organization. Although organizations charge membership fees, they also boast resources that explain how to become a rehabilitation counselor in South Dakota. The links below also include free resources that can help you make your career goals a reality.

  • American Association of State Counseling Boards AASCB represents state counseling boards. The association strives to standardize licensure requirements so that counselors can practice in as many states as possible. Although AASCB does not accept individual members, it provides counselors with information on the latest licensure reciprocity rules and regulations.
  • American Counseling Association ACA represents counselors in all fields. Student members receive excellent benefits, including discounts on continuing education courses, publications, and liability insurance. The latter protects students while they are completing internships and practica.
  • American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association ADRA brings together professionals who work with individuals who are deaf. Membership benefits include a private job board and invitations to ADRA's national conferences. Student members pay half the standard membership fee.
  • American Rehabilitation Counseling Association ARCA promotes rehabilitation counseling best practices by bringing together professionals and students living throughout the United States. ARCA student members can start new chapters on their college campuses.
  • Association of Veteran Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals Rehabilitation professionals who work at the VA help injured soldiers adapt to their disabilities. Graduate students can join as affiliate members once they complete an internship at the VA.
  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs CACREP awards programmatic accreditation to the best rehabilitation counseling bachelor's and master's programs. Prospective students researching programs should verify those programs' accreditation on the CACREP website.
  • International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals IARP provides its members with professional development courses, local events, and professional groups that bring together counselors with similar interests. Student members save 94% on membership fees compared to professional members.
  • The National Council on Rehabilitation Education NCRE advances rehabilitation counselor education programs by performing original research in counseling best practices. Student members receive the NCRE journal and discounts on conference registration.
  • The National Rehabilitation Association NRA lobbies at the state and federal levels to improve both the rehabilitation counseling profession and the services that patients receive. Unlike other professional organizations, NRA boasts divisional memberships so that members can receive benefits that apply specifically to rehabilitation counseling.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors and Education Association A division of NRA, NCEA matches rehabilitation counselors and instructors with resources, including online and in-person collaboration events. Members must first join NRA before applying for NCEA membership, which involves an additional fee.

Explore More Pathways to Becoming a Counselor in South Dakota

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