Counseling Licensing Requirements in Missouri
The Missouri Committee for Professional Counselors issues two different counseling licenses. You can be licensed as a provisional licensed professional counselor (PLPC) as soon as you complete your education, pass an exam, and submit paperwork to the board. In order to attain full licensure as a licensed professional counselor (LPC), you must meet additional experience requirements.
The information below can guide you along the path to Missouri counseling licensure. If at anytime you have questions or would like to make sure you are on the right path, contact the Missouri Committee for Professional Counselors.
Counseling Careers in Missouri
Aspiring counselors specialize in several different areas: they might work with high school students planning to enroll in college, couples on the brink of a breakup, or persons with an addiction struggling to beat their substance abuse problems. Counselors are in the business of helping people solve their problems, which can be a very fulfilling career. Additionally, the field is poised for growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of school and career counselors will increase by 13% by 2026. Even more striking, the number of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselor positions is projected to grow by 23% in that same time period.
- Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: School counselors help students overcome challenges in their schoolwork. They also map out paths for students to pursue their career goals.
- Marriage and Family Therapists: Marriage and family therapists help couples or families work through their problems. These therapists identify the mental or emotional disorders that rattle marriages and family units and provide exercises or recommend treatments.
- Rehabilitation Counselors: When people experience an injury or illness, they often need help re-adjusting to their jobs, social lives, families, homes, and routines. Rehabilitation counselors help these patients return to their normal lives.
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: The counselors diagnose and treat people suffering from substance abuse problems, behavioral disorders, or mental health issues.
- Counselors, All Other: Counselors can pursue several other specializations that suit their strengths or interests. Grief counselors, for example, assist people who have lost loved ones; art and music therapists work with people through fine arts; other counselors may work in correctional centers, prisons, or halfway houses.
|Occupation||Average Salary in Missouri|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$49,610|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$49,630|
|Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors||$39,250|
|Counselors, All Other||$30,950|
Education Requirements for Counselors
To receive provisional Missouri counseling licensure, you must have a master's degree in counseling, counseling psychology, clinical psychology, school psychology, or counseling and guidance. Your degree should be at least 48 semester hours -- or the quarter equivalent -- with coursework completed in the following areas:
- Helping Relationships
- Human Growth and Development
- Counseling Theory
- Individual Appraisal
- Career Development
- Social and Cultural Foundations
- Research Methods
- Group Dynamics
- Professional Orientation
You coursework must also include a six-semester-hour practicum. If you completed a program that was shorter than what Missouri requires, you may make up the coursework. Learn more about selecting a master's in counseling program here.
Online Counseling Programs in Missouri
Aspiring counselors in Missouri can enroll in programs at the certificate, master's, or doctoral levels. Some of these programs allow students to study general mental health counseling, while others focus on one specific area, such as family therapy or rehabilitation counseling.
Students wanting a program that fits within their busy work or family life should consider an online degree. These programs may offer accelerated courses, which allow students to finish the entire program more quickly than a traditional on-campus program. The online format also allows degree-seekers to study in a flexible manner. They can study at any time from any location, as well as work on coursework between a work shift or picking up the kids from daycare.
In Missouri, students can pursue an online counseling program through Missouri Baptist University. The school offers an online MA in school counseling that students typically complete within three years. Aspiring counselors may also apply to the University of Missouri in St. Louis, which offers master's of education in secondary school counseling. Classes include topics like psychoeducational differences and career information and development.
How Do You Become a Counselor in Missouri?
Aspiring counselors do not have to submit an application for provisional status, but they do need to provide supplemental materials and have their supervision approved by the board. They must also send National Counselor Exam (NCE) scores, documentation of all education, and background check results. Registration costs $75.
If you are an in-state applicant, your fingerprints must be done by L-1 Enrollment Services Division. Appointments are scheduled in advance, but the actual fingerprinting process only takes approximately ten minutes. A copy of your receipt is then sent to the Missouri Committee for Professional Counselors.
The application fee for licensed professional counselor (LPC) status is $100, though other fees may be necessary as you complete and document other requirements. Instructions for submitting a completed application can be found through the Committee for Professional Counselors.
Professional counselor licensure application forms, as well as additional materials you may need, can be found online.
In Missouri, licensing fees remain uniform across the board. Many other states operate differently: they might charge a higher fee to someone applying to become a school counselor than someone applying to become a family counselor, for example. In Missouri, aspiring counselors must pay $100 for their application fee, regardless of the counselor's specialization. However, the state takes late renewal fees seriously. Counselors may pay up to $275 if they do not pay their renewal fee on time. To avoid this, counselors should pay their renewal fees as soon as they receive reminders from the state.
|Application Fee, Licensed Professional Counselor||$100|
|Application Provisional Licensed & Supervision Fee||$75|
|Licensed Professional Counselor Renewal Fee||$125|
|Licensed Professional Counselor Renewal Fee, 1-60 days late||$175|
|Licensed Professional Counselor Renewal Fee, 61 Days-Two Years Late||$275|
|Change of Supervision Fee||$25|
Source: Missouri Division of Professional Registration
The Licensing Exam
To obtain your provisional license, you must take the NCE through the National Board for Certified Counselors. Registration forms are available from either the Missouri board's website or the National Board for Certified Counselors' (NBCC) website. The form must be signed in ink and submitted with a $185 fee and an official sealed transcript that shows the date you completed your master’s degree.
Allow a month for your application to be approved, then you can register at your choice of AMP testing centers. There are four Missouri sites: Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Louis. You can opt for a testing center in another state.
If you are enrolled in a CACREP-accredited program, you may be eligible to take the NCE before graduation. This is the only instance in which the NBCC allows candidates to test prior to conferral of their master’s. If you qualify, contact your department about fees and registration.
LPC candidates must also pass a jurisprudence exam -- a test of Missouri laws and regulations. This is open book and administered through the NBCC. You do not need to complete the exam to receive provisional status, but must have it before applying for LPC status.
The fee is $45 and the exam is untimed; however, you are encouraged to review the laws and regulations beforehand.
Supervised Practice Requirement
Candidates who possess a master’s degree as their highest form of education must work under supervision for a minimum of two years. During this time, you must work at least 3,000 hours, with at least 1,200 hours of direct client care. The remaining hours may be spent in other counseling-related activities, like developing treatment plans, documenting cases, and attending seminars.
All hours should be completed after earning a master's. If you completed a degree higher than a master's, you may be able to count some of these hours toward your supervision requirement, however you should contact the board for more information. As a doctoral level provisional licensee, you may be able to complete these requirements in less than two years.
You may work part time to accrue your 3,000 hours, but you will be expected to meet the experience requirement within five years. You must work at least 15 hours a week while accruing experience.
While working as a PLPC, you will be supervised by a licensed professional counselor, a psychiatrist, or psychologist. Your clinical supervisor doesn't have to be an administrator at your workplace. If it is someone from outside your organization, there must be a formal contract. You can obtain a model contract from the board.
Before you can receive your provisional license, you need to register a supervision plan. If you need to make changes to your supervisory plan, you must file them with the committee.
You should have an hour a week of face-to-face supervision, and no more than half of your supervision hours may be group supervision. You are evaluated by your clinical supervisor, and their final evaluation is sent to the committee. You may begin counting your experience when your registration and fee are received by the committee.
Out of State Counselor Candidates
Applicants who previously completed supervision requirements must complete different paperwork. If you are licensed in a different state, you may document your supervision through a verification of post degree experience form or by having your licensing board forward your file.
If you have a doctoral or specialist degree from another state -- and you completed supervision hours as part of the degree -- the committee may count them toward your supervision requirement. You should contact the committee for additional information.
If you are missing some required coursework, you can include a plan with your application. Additionally, if you are living out of state while completing the application process, the Missouri board can send you a fingerprint card. Simply contact a local law enforcement agency about getting the fingerprints done.
License Maintenance and Renewal
The LPC credential must be renewed biannually. Counselors must complete at least 40 hours of continuing education each renewal period, with at least 20 of these from formal continuing education. After the reporting period ends, you must retain records for two more renewal cycles.
Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Missouri
- American Mental Health Counselors Association: A national organization with continuing education courses approved by the Missouri state government, the AMHCA allows counselors to build up their credits through multiple learning experiences. Counselors can enroll in webinars that cover topics like counseling people with cancer or eating disorders. They may also earn credits through the association's research journal.
- American Counseling Association: The American Counseling Association offers its members a free continuing education course every month. The group also hosts webinars teaching counselors about running a private practice or treating disorders like schizophrenia. Counselors may pick up credits at the organization's annual conference and expo, which features various speakers and workshops.
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: Counselors specializing in marriage and family therapy can complete continuing education credits from the AAMTF. The association runs an online learning system where therapists can enroll in courses on topics such as polyamory, kink lifestyles, or alcohol problems in intimate relations.
Resources for Counselors
- Committee for Professional Counselors: The Missouri Committee for Professional Counselors provides information for applicants and licensed counselors. It also updates professionals on changing education and licensure requirements as mandated by the state's legislature.
- Committee of Psychologists: The state's Committee of Psychologists includes links and resources for licensed counselors. The website features the latest news and tools, such as an interactive map meant to help health professionals connect with military personnel.
- Missouri Mental Health Counselors Association: The MMHCA is an advocacy group rather than a professional association. However, it does offer education information and networking opportunities for professional counselors.
- Online System for Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting: Licensed professional counselors must report child abuse and neglect as mandated by the state. This resource guides counselors through the process of online reporting.
- State Committee of Marital & Family Therapists: Missouri also runs its own committee for marriage and family therapists. This page provides instruction about training requirements, license renewal and reinstatement, and other sensitive information.
Professional Organizations for Counselors
- American Counseling Association of Missouri: The American Counseling Association of Missouri accepts counseling professionals who work in health care, business, education, and other industry settings. The organization hosts an annual conference, where counselors across the state can meet, network, and learn from one another. It also hosts a directory where counselors connect with each other.
- Missouri School Counselor Association: The Missouri School Counselor Association offers several resources to help educational counselors grow professionally. Every year, the MSCA sponsors a different project in which counseling professionals partner with another nonprofit organization to help kids at their schools. The association also holds an annual conference and trains members in legislative lobbying.
- Missouri Addiction Counselors Association: The Missouri Addiction Counselors Association is open to counselors who work with people struggling from addiction and substance abuse. The group presents two conferences every year, where professionals can attend workshops and talks. The association's leadership also publishes newsletters for members, which are filled with resources, summaries of recent research, articles, and group updates.