More school counselors call Texas home than any state in the nation, aside from California. The Lone Star State is also home to more than 10,000 substance abuse, behavioral health, and mental health counselors. For those interested in learning how to become a counselor in Texas, this guide covers average salaries for different types of counselors as well as education, licensure, and continuing education requirements.
Counseling Careers in Texas
Counseling licensure can lead to diverse career paths. Texas counseling professionals can work in schools, rehabilitation centers, private practices, and hospitals. Below are some job titles counselors can hold and resources for learning more about each job.
School, Guidance, Vocational, and Educational Counselors
School counselors work directly with students to facilitate academic success and emotional well-being. They also address schoolwide issues, including truancy and drug use. Vocational counselors work with adults to find and secure employment.Explore Career Information Explore Texas School Counselor Certification
Marriage and Family Therapists
These professionals help individuals, couples, and families process emotional difficulties and develop coping mechanisms. They address many relational difficulties, including divorce, grief, and behavioral disorders.Explore Career Information
Rehabilitation counselors help people with emotional, developmental, mental, and physical disabilities to work and live independently. They identify client needs and develop treatment plans that promote community reintegration. Approximately one-third of these counselors work in community and vocational rehabilitation centers.Explore Career Information Explore Texas Rehabilitation Counselor Certification
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorders Counselor
These professionals work in settings such as outpatient facilities, private practices, and hospitals. In addition to helping clients develop behavioral management strategies, they treat underlying mental disorders that can lead to addiction.Explore Career Information Explore Texas Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
Mental Health Counselors
These counselors provide therapy to families, individuals, and groups. They use talk therapy techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to guide patients and help them heal. Some mental health counselors specialize in treating specific populations or disorders, such as pediatric therapists and eating disorder counselors.Explore Career Information
How Much Do Counselors Make in Texas?
School, guidance, vocational, and educational counselors in Texas earn median wages above the national average. Other types of counselors earn below-average salaries in the Lone Star State; however, the state boasts a lower cost of living than many other states. The data below comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Students should note that the data combines substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors into one category.
Education Requirements for Counselors in Texas
Education and Coursework
Although the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors does not require specific undergraduate majors, a bachelor's degree in psychology or counseling can help applicants gain admission to master's programs. LPC candidates must hold a graduate degree in counseling or related fields from accredited universities. Texas considers degrees in social work, psychology, marriage and family therapy, guidance counseling, and psychiatry as counseling degrees. Counseling-related degrees also qualify with specific courses, including sociology, education, theology, and dance therapy. Other degrees may also qualify if they include courses in the core subjects that the state outlines and qualifying practicums.
LPC candidates must hold a graduate degree in counseling or related fields from accredited universities
The Texas counseling board requires applicants to hold between 48-60 graduate credits in related fields to qualify for licensure. Candidates who started their graduate programs before August 2017 only need 48 credits, but those who started after that time need to earn 60 credits. Coursework must cover social, cultural, and family issues; typical human growth and development; individual counseling; group counseling; career development; research; assessment or appraisal techniques; counseling theories; and abnormal human behavior. Applicants with counseling-related degrees must submit documents that detail which classes meet these requirements.
Practicum and Internship
Qualifying degrees must consist of at least 300 practicum hours, 100 hours of which must include direct contact with patients. This experience does not count unless it shows on a candidate's transcript. This requirement is separate from the internship, which candidates complete after graduation when they earn provisional licenses.
Online Counseling Programs in Texas
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) accepts counselor candidates who earn graduate degrees online so long as the programs meet the requirements listed above. For example, Texas A&M University offers an online master's in education with an emphasis in school counseling. Learners can also take courses online through accredited out-of-state schools that offer enough credits; however, candidates must complete their practicum in approved venues. For example, students in school counseling programs must complete their practicums in schools that the Texas Education Agency approves.
How to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Texas
The Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors oversees counselor licensing. Once candidates earn a graduate degree, they must pass both the Texas Jurisprudence Exam and the National Counselor Exam. Then, they must apply for provisional licenses with the Texas counseling board.
Upon receiving the provisional license, candidates can begin their internship. Candidates must complete at least 3,000 hours in their internship with at least 1,500 hours of direct client contact. After completing these requirements, candidates submit their applications and supporting paperwork to the Texas counseling board and earn their licenses.
Out of State Counselor Candidates
Texas does not maintain reciprocity agreements with any states. As such, licensed counselors from other states must meet all of the requirements in Texas to practice in the Lone Star State. Candidates must ensure that their graduate degrees meet Texas requirements before passing the Texas Jurisprudence Exam and submitting records of their internships. If their internships meet Texas requirements, counselors can apply for full LPC licenses. If not, professionals must complete more internship hours before applying through the HHS.
Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal in Texas
Counselors in Texas must renew their licenses every two years. The Texas counseling board sends out reminder notices about 45 days before LPC licenses expire. Renewal candidates must complete 24 hours of continuing education during the two-year cycle. One continuing education hour comes from passing the Texas Jurisprudence Exam, which candidates must take each renewal cycle. Candidates can take this no-fail exam online. Three more hours must come from ethics courses. Candidates can earn the remaining 20 hours in any subjects from approved continuing education providers. The exam costs $40, and professionals pay $106 for license renewal applications.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Texas
- Texas Counseling Association TCA hosts conferences that feature continuing education opportunities emphasizing professional growth, school counseling, and leadership. In addition to face-to-face workshops, TCA features a variety of online continuing education courses with topics in areas such as child and adolescent counseling, professional ethics, and lifespan development.
- Texas Department of State Health Services Grand Rounds Facilitated by the medical educator Grand Rounds, this state organization offers continuing education credits for healthcare professionals, including licensed chemical dependency counselors and LPCs. Professional counselors can attend presentations in person or virtually through live video conferencing. Previous presentations explored evidence-based treatments for opioid dependency and therapeutic responses to child abuse and intimate partner violence.
- NetCE.com This online continuing education database offers credit bundles in categories such as alternative medicine, community health, and pediatrics. Promoting a variety of cost-effective options, NetCE.com allows counselors to pay for unlimited access to courses each year. Course topics include behavioral addictions, borderline personality disorder, and clinical documentation. NetCE.com holds approval from the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Resources & Professional Organizations for Counselors in Texas
- MentalHealthTX.org Developed to inform Texas residents about mental health disorders and treatment options, this website features information on children's behavioral health, mental first aid, and community support contacts to assist various populations.
- Texas Education Agency This organization provides information for high school counselors who work with students nearing graduation. Resources include state financial aid opportunities and job search strategies.
- Texas Health and Human Services Offering service coordination strategies to counselors, this agency facilitates client advocacy by connecting professionals with state resources for aging populations and individuals with developmental and physical disabilities.
- Texas Rehabilitation Association An affiliate of the National Rehabilitation Association, this organization hosts subchapters throughout the state. Student members benefit from a variety of resources, including professional mentorship and scholarship opportunities.
- CounselorResources.com This site provides school counselors with resources on topics such as mindfulness, punishment alternatives, and college preparation. It also features counseling games that promote the exploration of mental health topics through play.
- Lone Star State School Counselor Association Emphasizing professional development for school counselors, LSSSCA promotes ethical conduct and community advocacy through outreach programs. In addition to its annual conference, LSSSCA hosts an annual leadership summit in conjunction with the American School Counselor Association. These networking opportunities feature information on suicide prevention, compassion fatigue, and academic support.
- North Central Texas Counseling Association A chapter of TCA, this organization offers discounted membership to students, allowing members to attend monthly programs and acquire continuing education credits at no additional cost. NCTCA also provides a unique internship opportunity for current students, letting them sit on the NCTCA board and participate in decision-making processes.
- Texas Association of Addiction Professionals This state branch of the National Association for Addiction Professionals fosters professional development and provides members with access to more than 90 different continuing education credits. TAAP also hosts Young Addiction Professionals, which is an educational and networking community of addiction counseling students and emerging professionals between the ages of 18-35.