Counseling Licensing Requirements in Maryland

As a Maryland counselor, you may obtain a license that allows you to practice on two levels. When you first complete your education and testing requirements, you can apply to become a licensed graduate professional counselor. Once you meet your experience requirements, you can take the next step and become a licensed clinical professional counselor.

Capella University offers three online master's programs that are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP), including clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, and school counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request program information.

Northwestern's top-12 ranked CACREP-accredited online M.A. in counseling program offers both full- and part-time options that allow you to earn a degree on your own schedule. This program does not require GRE scores.

Counseling Careers in Maryland

Data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness indicates that over 43 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some sort of mental illness, requiring a great need for mental health professionals. A diversified field, counseling assists people who struggle with very different issues. Specialty areas include veteran counselors, rehabilitation counselors, community health counselors, and grief counselors. Potential students should examine the specialty areas offered to see what area of counseling they feel most passionate about. More lucrative specialties include school counseling, marriage and family counseling, and career counseling.

  • Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: These counselors help children and adolescents with developmental problems through assessments and workshops. Professionals also act as advocates for the minors’ best interests.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: Professionals in this specialty work with couples to solve problems within their relationship and often deal with very personal information. Professional settings primarily include the practitioner’s office or residential visits.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: Clients in rehabilitation counseling require help for developmental delays, injury, mental illness, or debilitating sickness. Counselors may work directly with clients or indirectly as an advocate.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: In this specialty area, professionals advocate for clients to receive help rather than jail sentences due to addiction and mental imbalances. Work settings include mental health centers and prisons.
  • Counselors, All Other: Counselors leverage their ability to build a professional relationship by providing guidance and solutions for clients experiencing a variety of issues at varying stages in their lives.
Occupation Average Salary in Maryland
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $63,840
Marriage and Family Therapists $49,480
Rehabilitation Counselors $42,250
Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors $43,870
Counselors, All Other $37,040

Source: BLS

Other Professionals Who Can Be Licensed as Counselors

The American Art Therapy Association reports that Maryland’s art therapists can obtain licensure as professional counselors if they meet all requirements.

Education Requirements for Counselors

In order to practice at either level, you must complete a master's or doctoral degree in counseling or another related field. As mentioned earlier, Antioch University offers a new CACREP-accredited online MA in clinical mental health counseling program. Specializations include substance abuse and addictions counseling and counseling military service personnel and their families. Antioch is a private, nonprofit university.

You must obtain at least 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours) of education, with at least three semester hours (or five quarter hours) in each of the following content areas:

  • Human Growth and Personality Development
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Counseling Theory
  • Counseling Techniques
  • Career and Lifestyle Development
  • Group Dynamics, Processing, and Counseling
  • Appraisal
  • Research and Evaluation
  • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Responsibilities
  • Alcohol and Drug Counseling
  • Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Diagnosis and Psychopathology
  • Psychotherapy/Treatment of Emotional Disorders

The board notes that acceptable courses may go by a variety of names. The appraisal requirement, for example, might be met through a class in individual appraisal or tests and measurements. Required subtopics exist within each area. Diagnosis and pathology must include categories of mental illness, DSM and ICD diagnosis, theories of etiology, and societal impact.

In addition to academic coursework, your program must include a practicum or supervised field experience, requiring at least 125 hours of direct client care. To ensure coursework meets board demands, you may fill out a pre-application credentials evaluation. You will include transcripts and course catalog descriptions if the names of required courses differ from those listed on the form. This can be done by hand or by computer. Include the $50 servicing fee and your return address, so that the board can send a response.

Read more about selecting a master's in counseling program here.

Online Counseling Programs in Maryland

In Maryland, professional counselors can choose from two licensure levels: graduate and doctoral. Because professionals considering these degrees often work with adults with families, many credible online programs meet the counseling requirements in Maryland. These online programs occur in a variety of formats, such as asynchronous learning, which allows students to work on their own time with set due dates for assignments, tests, and projects. Students may engage in group discussions by posting and responding to prompts. However, students can do this at their convenience within the allotted time. Maryland counselor requirements include a 125-hour field experience completed at an approved local area of the distance learner’s choice. Students need to make sure that the online program meets the Maryland counseling licensure requirements. Therefore, students should look for a CACREP-accredited school.

How Do You Become a Counselor in Maryland?

You will fill out an application packet to become an LGPC and additional paperwork later to achieve higher status. The initial application must be completed before taking the licensing exam in order to gain testing approval. Include contact information for three professional references and basic information about the required courses, including the university where you took the class, the dates, and the grade you earned. You will also list the additional courses that make up your 60-unit requirement.

With your application, you will answer all questions, attach a recent 2x2 photograph, and have an affidavit notarized.

You should request that your graduate school send transcripts directly to the Maryland Board. Your LGPC application will include a $200 nonrefundable fee, with additional fees to come later. You should mail your application materials to the Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists.

Licensing Fees

When calculating the cost of a counseling degree in Maryland, students should consider mandatory fees outside of program costs. For example, some students choose to complete a pre-application evaluation for credentials to qualify for service hours, which includes a $25 fee. Student also pay for and complete two tests prior to obtaining licensure, including the National Counselor Exam (NCE) and the American Measurement Professionals (AMP) exam. Licensing costs vary by state and specialty area. Application costs also differ for residents and out-of-state applicants. Students should contact their guidance counselors ahead of time to identify and prepare for pertinent due dates.

Request Type Fee
Application Fee $200
Credential Evaluation Fee $25
Licensed Professional Counselor $150
Licensed Professional Counselor Renewal To renew, professionals must pay a $275 renewal fee, plus a $36 fee in the form of a check to the Maryland Health Care Commission.

Source: American Counseling Association, Maryland Department of Health

Other Counseling Licenses

Maryland provides licenses for pastoral counselors who have completed master or doctor of divinity programs, master's or doctoral degrees in pastoral counseling, or other equivalent programs that meet all board requirements. Maryland no longer grants new licenses for registered counselors, but does allow those who hold the credential to continue to renew.

The Licensing Exam

Before you can obtain graduate professional counselor licensing, you will need to take two tests. The NCE requires an application to the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists for a registration form and authorization to test. After this, you will send an application to the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Your application must be signed in ink and include a $275 fee.

The NBCC will send your confirmation approximately four weeks later. At this point, you can contact the American Measurement Professionals to schedule a computer-based exam. Maryland exams take place in Baltimore and Randallstown and are generally available Monday through Friday for the first two full weeks of the month. Some sites also offer Saturday sessions. You should schedule well in advance, as sessions fill quickly.

The jurisprudence exam, or Maryland Law Test, takes place at the board's office. It is administered the third Wednesday and fourth Thursday of each month.

Supervised Practice Requirement

Before you can achieve LCPC status, you must work under close supervision, though your work experience requirement depends on your educational level. If you hold a master's degree, you will need three years or 3,000 hours of experience. If you hold a doctoral degree, two years and 2,000 hours will suffice. Experience may include work done prior to obtaining your degree. At least two years of the master's level requirement must be post-master's, and at least 1,000 hours of the doctoral requirement must be post-doctorate.

Supervision can come from a clinical professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychiatric nurse. Any supervisor should hold licensure in his or her respective field.

Your initial LGPC license remains in effect for two years.

Out of State Candidates - LPC Requirements

You will need to provide licensing verification from any jurisdiction where you held authorization to practice.

If you hold a license in good standing through another jurisdiction, you may achieve Maryland licensure through a simplified process.

You will need to show that you hold a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited, board-approved institution. You do not need to document all specific coursework that in-state applicants document, but you will need to show at least three semester hours (or five quarter hours) in the following content areas:

  • Diagnosis and Psychopathology
  • Psychotherapy and Treatment of Mental and Emotional Disorders
  • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Responsibilities

If you hold a doctoral degree, you may document two years of professional experience, or 2,000 hours, instead of the usual supervised experience. If you completed a master’s degree of less than 60 semester hours, three years of professional experience may be substituted for the supervised experience requirement.

If you hold a master’s degree, which includes at least 60 units, you will show supervised experience with a fairly simple verification form that can be filled out by a supervisor, employer, or colleague. You can find out-of-state application materials, including verification forms, on the board's site.

Either the NCE or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselors Examination will be accepted as a licensing exam. If you registered with either the American Association of State Counseling Boards or the National Credentials Registry, your registration shows that you met the requirements for Maryland licensure. This means you do not need to provide much documentation but still need to take the Maryland Law Exam.

License Maintenance and Renewal

Counselors must complete 40 continuing education units during each renewal period. At least 30 must be Category A, which includes workshops, symposiums, seminars, and materials for juried publications.

Board approved sponsors include the following organizations:

  • The American Counseling Association
  • The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
  • The National Board for Certified Counselors
  • The International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse
  • The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Maryland

  • The Counselor as Expert Witness or Witness of Fact: Professionals in the medical and mental health field can attend this webinar to learn about ethical conflict when called to testify in court. Participants explore ways to interact with attorneys regarding the status of their client and how to handle subpoenas in civil and criminal scenarios.
  • Ethics and Values in Real-Life Counseling Practice: Sometimes counselors work with people of different values than their own. In this webinar, counselors learn how to understand their own value system and how it can influence their ability to effectively serve clients. Participants learn techniques for making ethical decisions and discuss strategies to prevent counselors from imposing subjectivity.
  • LGBTQ-Affirmative Counseling Competencies: This course focuses on youth and young adults of the LGBTQ community struggling with college readiness or career skills. Completing this course provides professionals with the ability to think critically when interacting with this population. Counselors earn one credit of for each module completed.

Resources for Counselors

  • American College Counseling Association: This organization works with emerging professionals who plan to work in higher education or currently work in the field. Members benefit from a global network of peers, continuing education opportunities, and grants.
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: AAMFT offers resources for professionals who specialize in marriage and family therapy. Members receive access to professionals, continuing education, and cutting-edge information regarding the marriage and family speciality field.
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association: AMHCA offers opportunities for collaboration, education, and leadership among mental health professionals. AMHCA includes both student and practitioner memberships. Practitioners can receive liability insurance, while students receive advanced training.
  • American Counseling Association: As one of the largest professional counselor organizations, ACA membership includes insurance, continued education opportunities, and access to special offers from organizations in relationship with the ACA.
  • Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification: The CRCC works to set the standards for rehabilitation counseling services throughout the nation. The CRCC offers continuing education opportunities. Professionals also gain access to job postings and networking discussion boards.

Professional Organizations for Counselors

  • American School Counselor Association: ASCA members gain access to multiple scholarships for professionals in school or returning to school for school counseling. The ASCA also works to provide current professionals with resources and professional development. The ASCA ensures that students live fulfilling lives helping them focus on their academics presently.
  • Society of Counseling Psychology: SCP, also known as Division 17 of the American Psychological Association, promotes the facilitation of personal and interpersonal functions in people’s lives at any age. Students can apply to the Barbara A. Kirk Award and Donald E. Super Fellowship.
  • Counseling Academic & Professional Honor Society International - Chi Sigma Iota: This national honors society supports both professional and academic excellence in counseling. CSI promotes research and innovation within the broad field of counseling. Students can use this site to access scholarships and fellowships to help fund their education.
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