How to Become a Licensed Counselor in Washington

How Do I Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in Washington?

Compassionate and caring individuals who have the desire to help individuals would settle well into a career in counseling. With the medical field growing at a faster rate than most other industries in the state of Washington, licensed mental health counselors, and other licensed counselors are in high demand. The pay for counselors in the state of Washington is competitive, and the right training and credentials can help you secure a bright future in the field of counseling.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Counselor in Washington?

Those who are called into the counseling field are smart, versatile individuals willing to go to great lengths to make the lives of others brighter and healthier. Gaining a solid education and training is part of the responsibilities that come along with this career choice.

Counseling Educational Track
Education Requirements Education Length Available Programs
Undergraduate Work Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Counseling 4 Years Online or Campus
Graduate Work Earn a Master's Degree in Counseling 5-6 Years Online or Campus
PHD or Doctoral Work Earn a Doctorate in Counseling 7-8 Years Online or Campus

The first step in becoming a counselor in the state of Washington is obtaining a high-quality education. A master’s or doctorate’s degree is required, and the program must be nationally accredited. It’s recommended that you choose a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), as you will automatically be credited with fifty hours of postgraduate supervision and five hundred hours of postgraduate experience.

What Are the Supervised Experience Requirements to Beceome a Counselor in Washington?

Obtaining supervised experience enables future counselors to become familiar with client care and to gain wisdom that will serve them throughout their entire career. Washington law (WAC 246-806-230) requires candidates for licensure to gain a minimum of thirty-six months of full time counseling experience or 3,000 hours of postgraduate mental health counseling. This must be completed under the supervision of a qualified licensed mental health counselor or practitioner in a healthcare setting. At least 100 of those 3,000 hours must be spent in immediate supervision with the supervisor and 1,200 of those hours should include direct counseling with patients.

What Are the Examination Requirements to Become a Counselor in Washington?

The Washington State Department of Health requires that future counselors pass either the National Certification Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), both of which are administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). Applicants must have their scores sent from the NBCC directly to the department of health prior to being granted a license.

Note: For more information on how to become a counselor in the state of Washington, please visit the Washington State Department of Health.

Counselor Career Outlook in Washington

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in May of 2011, there were 3,590 mental health counselors in the state of Washington; 9,130 rehabilitation counselors, 1,950 substance abuse counselors and 310 other types of counselors. These counselors made a mean annual salary ranging from $38,600 to $45,190. The salary of a counselor in the state of Washington is highly dependent upon where he or she lives within the state and their experience level.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from Washington

Additional Resources for Washington Applicants: