How to Become a Licensed Counselor in California
California is one of the most recent states to begin licensing professional Counsellors. To practice as a licensed Counselor in California you must fulfill all of the requirements set out by the California Board of Behavioural Sciences to become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. If you wish to practice as a School Counselor then you must become certified by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
Once you have graduated from a Bachelors degree it is important to consider your further education options and make sure the course you choose fulfills the necessary requirements for licensure. For example, if you wish to work as a licensed School Counselor in California you need to enroll in a program that includes 48 semester hours and a practicum with school children. If however, you are aiming to become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor then you need to complete a program then includes 60 semester hours of coursework.
Once you have graduated from your chosen Masters Degree in Counseling the next step in becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) is to complete the required hours of supervised experience, you will need to be registered as an intern while you acquire these hours. After you have achieved the required supervised professional experience you then need to start taking the credentialing exams, in order to qualify for licensure as an LPSS you need to pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination, administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. You will also need to take the California Law and Ethics Examination.
Once you have passed the two above exams you can then go ahead and apply for licensure as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in the state of California.
For further information on the licensure requirements in the state of California and all the necessary forms for applying then visit this website.
What Are the Degree Requirements to Become a Counselor in California?
If you are aiming to become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor then you must attain a Masters level degree in counseling, this is a minimum requirement to be considered for licensure. If you are working towards becoming a School Counselor then you also need to attain a graduate level program in School Counseling. If however, you desire to work as a substance abuse counselor you can be certified without a Masters degree.
|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|
What Counseling Licenses Are Available in California?
The state of California licenses three different types of Counselors. You can become certified as a Substance Abuse Counselor, or a School Counselor and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences can also license you to practice as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.
How Do I Become a Licensed Professional Counselor in California?
In order to become a Licensed Professional Counselor in California you must first graduate from a Masters Degree in Counseling, you chosen Masters program must have included a minimum of 60 semester hours of coursework. As part of your Master's degree, you must have completed coursework in at least 10 out of 13 core areas stipulated by the California Board of Behavioral Science. Beyond this is must also have included coursework covering the following topics: child abuse, partner abuse, human sexuality and gender and again and long term care. While studying for you Masters Degree you must also complete six hours of fieldwork.
After you have finished your Master's degree you can then register as an intern while you complete the necessary 3,000 hours of supervised professional practice. At least 150 of these hours must be done in either a hospital or community agency.
The final step after graduating and attaining the supervised hours needed to qualify for licensure is to sit the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination and the California Law and Ethics Examination. Once you have passed the two exams you have them met all of the necessary stipulation and can go ahead and apply for licensure.
Counselor Career Outlook in California
The average annual salary for a mental health, substance abuse, or behavioral disorder counselor in California is about $64,460. Those working at an entry-level position can expect to earn around $37,860 to $45130 which can increase to about $102,940 when working in a senior position. The average hourly wage for counselors in the state of California is $30.99.
Schools with Degree Programs Accepting Students from California
Additional Resources for California Applicants:
- California Psychologist Licensing
- California Social Work Licensing
- California Marriage and Family Therapist Licensing
- Explore Additional Counseling Careers
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2023.