What are the Professional Counselor License Requirements in Alaska?
You’ll need licensing as a Licensed Professional Counselor through the Alaska Board of Professional Counselors to become a Professional Counselor in Alaska. Alaska licenses mental health professionals as counselors based on education, test scores, and professional fitness. The process will be a little different depending on whether you’re completing your education and getting your initial license within the state or coming from another municipality. (In the latter event, you may find the process relatively easy.)
The information provided below is recent, however, any questions regarding eligibility or related topics should be directed to the Alaska Board of Professional Counselors at (907) 465-2551
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Select a topic below...
- Education requirements for Alaska counselors
- Are you a therapist trained in another field?
- The application process
- Testing process
- Supervised practice requirements
- I am a professional counselor in another state
- Renewing your license in Alaska
- Contact information for the licensing board and Schools Offering Counseling Degree Programs.
- Alaska School Counselor Certification Requirements
- Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in Alaska
- Chemical Dependency Counselor Requirements in Alaska
What is the Minimum Required Education for Professional Counselors in Alaska?
Alaska statutes specify that you must have graduate level education. One option is to have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field from a regionally or nationally accredited school. Coursework must include at least 60 units of counseling, but courses count toward this requirement whether they were taken as part of the master’s program or afterward. Professionals who have a master’s degree in a counseling-related field, but whose education doesn’t meet the licensing standards that Alaska has in place, have the option of enrolling in a post-master’s certificate program. The University of Alaska-Anchorage notes that specific courses are not listed because the program is designed to supplement the education that a candidate already has. Your academic advisor at UAA will put together an individual plan based on licensing board requirements. Learn more about selecting a Master's in Counseling program here.
Antioch University offers a new Online MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program that is in the CACREP accreditation process and mirrors the CACREP-accredited program delivered on campus. Specializations in: Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling (SAAC) and Counseling Military Service Personnel and their Families (MSPF). Antioch is a private, not-for-profit university. (*This program is NOT available to students in CA, IL, IA, KS, MO, NH, ND)
Another option is to have a doctorate degree in a counseling related field from an institution that holds national or regional accreditation. Regional accrediting agencies include the following:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
If your program was accredited by CACREP or one of the approved six regional accrediting bodies at the time you graduated, you do not need to document that you have met specific content requirements. If it had a different accrediting agency, you will submit a form that lists the courses that you have taken that meet each competency area. You will provide relevant data, like course dates and credit awarded. The Alaska board has defined ten areas of competency. You must have coursework in at least eight of these. Competency areas include the following:
- Helping relationships
- Group dynamics
- Social and cultural foundations
- Lifestyle and career development
- Individual assessment, appraisal, and testing
- Marriage and family therapy/ counseling
- Mental/ emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior
- Professional orientation and ethics
- Human development
- Research and evaluation
If you do not have 60 units of acceptable coursework, you can take what you’re lacking through an online school or actual classroom attendance.
Therapists Trained in Related Fields
Alaska’s broadly defined education standards make it possible for some therapists who are trained in related fields to attain licensure as professional counselors. The American Art Therapy Association notes that Alaska’s art therapists are eligible for licensing if they meet licensing standards – and that most art therapy programs are working toward aligning themselves with professional counseling standards.
The Professional Counselor Application Process
Click Here to access the application forms you need.
You may apply to the board when you have completed all requirements except testing and supervised practice. The application will ask you to list professional positions that you have held during the previous five years. It will also ask professional fitness questions. You will need to get your application notarized.
You will also submit certified transcripts, a $50 application fee, and a criminal records check. You can get the criminal justice information from the Department of Public Safety, Alaska State Troopers. Your application packet will include a list of sites. All materials should be received by the board 90 days before the date that you plan to test..
You must submit professional recommendations from two people who are engaged in counseling (whether or not they are actually licensed as counselors). References should fill out the form that is included within the application packet and submit it directly to the board.
Materials should be sent to the following address:
State of Alaska, Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing, Board of Professional Counselors, P.O. Box 110806, Juneau, Alaska 99811-0806
Alaska requires the National Counselor Examination, which is given by National Board for Certified Counselors. The state uses the computer-based version of the test. According to Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP), the exam is administered in Anchorage in the Carrs Center (7731 E. Northern Lights Blvd). Questions may be addressed to Alaska’s Licensing Examiner at [email protected]
You must practice 3,000 hours under supervision. Your supervisor may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, family therapist, mental health nurse practitioner, psychological associate, social worker, or counselor. They may hold their license/ certification in a state other than Alaska. However, it will need to be someone who has at least five years counseling experience and has gone through a certification process to become a supervisor within the state.
The supervised practice must take place over at least a two year period. At least 1,000 hours must be direct practice of counseling. In most cases, the experience must include 100 hours of face-to-face supervision (50 of them individual, as opposed to group). If the counseling takes place in a very remote location, however, the board may allow supervision by electronic means or by telephone. A written request must be submitted beforehand, and good cause must be provided – i.e. that there is not an appropriate supervisor within a reasonable distance.
Your supervisor must fill out a form and have it notarized before licensure is granted. The form will ask her to state the number of counseling hours and supervision hours. She will also answer questions about your character and professional competency.
Out of State Applicants
If you have earned a counseling license in another jurisdiction (either a U.S. state or a foreign country) you may be licensed in Alaska. The process you go through will depend on whether the jurisdiction has standards that are the same or higher than those in Alaska. If they are at least as high, you are eligible for licensure by endorsement.
The NCE may not be required if you have had another licensing exam that is equivalent. Documentation of passing scores should be sent directly to the board.
You must have a license verification form completed by every state where you have ever held a license. The form will ask whether your license is current or expired and if it was granted by endorsement or reciprocity. It will also ask if there have ever been disciplinary actions. Some states may require you to pay a fee to get the verification.
As an out-of-state applicant, you’ll also need to provide criminal justice information from your state of residence.
If you are a foreign applicant, you are also expected to show that your program included content in eight out of ten of the content areas. In addition, you must demonstrate English language competency.
Licenses must be renewed every other year. They expire on odd numbered years, on the 31st of October. License renewal is dependent on meeting continued education requirements. Generally, this means 40 contact hours (with at least 6 in ethics). If it’s your first renewal, though, your requirement may be less. If you’ve held your license at least a year, but less than 18 months, you should be prepared to document 30 contact hours. If you’ve held it under a year, 20 contact hours are expected.
The board will audit some candidates. If selected for audit, you will be expected to submit verification within 30 days of the time that you received the notification. You should retain records of your continuing education for three years.
License renewal also depends on not being in default on a student loan or in arrears on child support. (If a person is, they are issued a temporary certificate, good for 150 days, which they can work under while correcting the situation.)
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to becoming a counselor in Alaska.
The board maintains, as per guidelines by the NBCC, that if you’re providing counseling at a distance to Alaska residents, you should have licensing through the state.
You may want to become a member of the Alaska Counseling Association to stay current.