How to Become a Licensed Counselor in Arkansas

Qualified counselors are in demand all over America, and the state of Arkansas is no exception. According to O*NET, a partner of the US Department of Labor, the state is expected to experience a 27% growth in the counseling industry through the year 2030. This is great news for future Arkansas counselors, since a higher demand typically equates to better positions and more attractive compensation. Those who are interested in becoming a counselor in Arkansas must meet all the criteria for licensure set forth by the state.

Education Requirements to Become a Counselor in Arkansas

Future counselors in the state of Arkansas must have at least a Master’s degree in counseling or a related field. The state requires that the counseling program must meet the requirements of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), so programs that are accredited by this specific agency are a good choice. At least 60 semester credit hours are required.

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

The state of Arkansas requires that individuals obtain at least 3 or more years of supervised professional experience after obtaining their Master’s degree. This experience is designed to assist the future counselor in assisting patients and dealing with scenarios of all kinds. The supervisor must be a licensed professional counselor approved by the board, and internships do not count.

Those who have completed at least 30 credit hours of counseling-related post-masters coursework can substitute those hours for one year of supervised experience, up to a maximum of two year’s credit. Of the required 3,200 hours of supervised work, 1,600 hours must be in direct client contact.

Examination Requirements to Become a Counselor in Arkansas

Applicants for licensure in the state of Arkansas must complete two examinations: the written examination and the oral examination. The board will accept passing scores from the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) for the written examination. The oral examination will be administered by the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling (ABEC) and can be scheduled after completion of the NCE examination.

Becoming a Counselor in Arkansas

After completing all of the requirements set forth by Arkansas law, you must submit an application to the ABEC along with a $200 non-refundable application fee. There are other requirements, such as submitting to a criminal background check, in order to be considered for licensure. Upon approval by the board, a separate licensing fee will be required. Licensed must be renewed regularly in order to maintain validity.

Note: For more information on how to become a counselor in Arkansas, please visit the ABEC website.

Salary and Occupation Information for Counselors in Arkansas

There are a variety of different types of counselors within the state of Arkansas, and information about them is collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May of 2022, there were approximately 2,190 substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral disorder counselors, 2,200 educational counselors, and 260 rehabilitation counselors employed in Arkansas.

These professionals earned annual average salaries of $35,430 to $63,250. The actual salary of a counselor in Arkansas will differ depending upon location, experience and the branch of counseling they go into.

Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from Arkansas 

Additional Resources for Arkansas 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 educational, guidance, and career counselors, 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.