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. O*NET, a website sponsored by the US Department of Labor, has estimated that counseling jobs in the substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral disorders sector will grow by 17% in Alabama through the year 2030.

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.

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

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.

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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 2022, there were 3,090 mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorder counselors in the state in addition to 600 rehabilitation counselors employed within the state.

The annual median salary for mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorder counselors in Alabama is $41,120 as of May 2022. For rehabilitation counselors, it’s $47,820. 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.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from Alabama

Additional Resources for Alabama Applicants:

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*NET (a website sponsored by the US Department of Labor) job market trends and salary figures for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors and rehabilitation counselors are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2023.