If you are pursuing counseling licensure so that you can practice as a professional counselor, you will need to meet minimum requirements before you can sit for the licensure exam.
Every state has their own unique licensure requirements for counselors who will take on their own patients in various settings. In order to get licensed, you must take the time to review the educational and experience requirements in the state where you plan to work and not in the state where you have decided to study.
If you are approaching graduation and you are planning to pursue a career in an entirely different state, read on and learn what you need to know.
Do You Have to Study in the State Where You Apply for Your License?
Many students assume that it can be dangerous to study for a degree in a state where they do not plan on working. If you would like to attend a specific school that has a unique culture or a high-quality counseling program with a great reputation in the field, you do not have to limit yourself or stay in the state where you want to live long term. While you do have to meet educational requirements in order to take any licensing exam, where you study for your degree is not always important.
The only thing that state licensing boards consider as they are verifying your schooling and checking your completing coursework is that you graduated from an accredited program. To ensure that your undergraduate and graduate degrees are accepted, you should check a program's accreditation status with by a body like the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs. By only sticking with programs that meet the CACREP standards, you should have no problem meeting educational requirements.
What Are Common Licensure Requirements?
While the specific requirements to get licensed to practice as a counselor vary from state to state, many of them are very similar in nature. In most states, you must have a Master's in Counseling from a CACREP-accredited school and at least documented coursework in specific areas of study like: human development, counseling theory, social foundations, research, evaluation, career development and more.
In addition to having an education requirement, you will also need to meet supervised experience requirements. This is generally referred to as a practicum and an internship. You should check how many hours you need to complete interning before applying for the exam. Only after you meet the supervised practice and educational requirements will you be eligible to take the state board test. You must get a passing score, as established by the state board, before you can earn your license and practice in the state.
It is important that you know that you might not be limited to practicing in only the state where you are licensed. Many states are signing licensure reciprocity agreements so that professionals can easily qualify for licensing in many states by passing just one exam. You should check to see if there is license portability in the state that you want to practice in. This can benefit you when you want to relocate or also if a state has a very large shortage of counselors. In these scenarios, you will already have counseling licensure and can take advantage of the demand.