How to Become a Counselor in Alabama
The counseling industry is the perfect place for individuals who are caring, compassionate and those who possess a genuine desire to help others. The state of Alabama is a great place to study and practice as a counselor and there are a variety of counseling branches available that suit a wide range of professionals. Recent graduates can work as substance abuse counselors, mental health counselors, or even school counselors. The Alabama Department of Labor has estimated that counseling jobs in the substance abuse and behavioral disorders sector will grow by 2.68 percent through the year 2020.
Education Requirements to Become a Counselor in Alabama
Alabama state laws require future counselors to first obtain a high-quality education which will serve them throughout their career and prepare them to adequately treat patients. A Master’s degree in counseling is the first step in the path to becoming a counselor.
This must be obtained from a nationally or regionally accredited school; finding a counseling program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a great indication that the program is high-quality. The state of Alabama offers up 21 accredited counseling schools, so finding a great program isn’t difficult.
|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|
Supervised Professional Practice Requirements
After you have obtained your Master’s degree in counseling, the next step is to apply for certification as an Associate Licensed Counselor (ALC) through the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling. This will give you the opportunity to work under a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and gain the experience needed to become certified as an LPC.
The application fee for certification as an ALC is $200. The Board requires that you send your transcripts along with 3 letters of recommendation and a plan for supervised experience. Upon being accepted, the ALC licensure fee of $150 will be due.
Once you have been certified as an ALC, you may begin work only under the supervision of a licensed professional counselor. State law requires future counselors to accumulate 3,000 hours of supervised practice. Those who have earned a degree higher than the Master’s can subtract 1,000 hours of required supervised experience for every 15 graduate semester hours earned beyond the Master’s up to 2,000 hours.
Examination Requirements to Become a Counselor in Alabama
After completing the previous steps to become a counselor in Alabama, individuals must prove the level and range of their knowledge by sitting for an examination.
The Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling accepts a passing score from the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE), administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). This examination is a 200-question, multiple-choice test that typically takes around 4 hours to complete. It covers a wide range of counseling topics, from human growth and development to career development and ethical practice.
Becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor in Alabama
After completing the supervised professional experience requirements and taking the NCE examination, future counselors must submit an application for licensure as an LPC to the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling.
The application fee is $200, and individuals must include all necessary documentation of experience, examination scores and graduate studies. If a license is issued, individuals will be responsible for a biennial license fee of $300.
Note: To learn more about the process involved in becoming a counselor in Alabama, visit the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling website.
Salary and Occupation Information for Counselors in Alabama
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has compiled data for counselors in the state of Alabama. In the year 2012, there were 710 mental health counselors, 650 substance abuse and 770 behavioral counselors and rehabilitation counselors employed within the state.
The annual median salary for these professionals ranges from $37,920 to $50,910. Various factors will determine a professional counselor’s actual salary, including their level of experience, their location within the state and their employer’s pay scale.