College students interested in working with younger patients and clients later may want to know if counselors who work with teens need any special licenses or credentials.
The truth is that it depends on what type of career path you choose and your state. Most states require that those working in social work or counseling fields have a state license, and you may need other credentials depending on the area of counseling that interests you.
You can learn more about the different types of credentials and licenses available before you graduate.
National Certified Counselor
According to the National Board for Certified Counselors, the National Certified Counselor certificate is one type of credential available to counselors working with younger patients. The NBCC offers this type of credential for those who successfully pass The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification and meet other requirements. Prior to taking and passing the test, you must have a master's degree in accounting, psychology, social work or a similar field. You must also have a minimum of 3,000 hours of experience working in a counseling field and complete 100 hours or more of supervised clinical work.
Counselors who work with teens must usually have some type of license to work in their states. The type of requirements for obtaining a license often varies based on where you live. Most states require that counselors have a minimum of a Master's degree, and some states may only give licenses to those who complete an accredited PhD program. You'll usually need to demonstrate that you completed a set number of hours working in the field as part of your studies as well. Many states ask that applicants complete a minimum of 1,000 hours or more of supervised work before applying.
Other Types of Credentials
Depending on how and where you want to work with high school students and teenagers, you may need other types of credentials as well. School counselors must go through an advanced graduate degree program that trains them on working with students with special needs, identifying the signs of abuse and helping kids deal with common problems. They will also need to pass a national licensing examination. If you want to work with teenagers suffering from substance abuse, you'll need to complete a substance abuse counseling program and pass a test that lets you work as a substance abuse counselor.
Many people who work with children and teenagers must also pass a background check. You'll typically go through a background check during your graduate school studies and a separate check when you apply for counseling positions later. A civil background check looks at whether you have or had civil cases filed against you, which shows employers if you are responsible. A criminal background looks at whether you have any arrests or convictions on your record. Though some minor offenses may not hurt you, crimes like sexual assault or even a DUI can prevent you from working with teenagers.
Prior to working as a counselor, you need to go to college and graduate school. You'll also need to obtain certain credentials if you want to become one of the counselors who work with teens, and some of those credentials may include the passing of a background check, a state license or specialized credentials.